An account by John Rickman, Lieutenant on Resolution, of the murder of Captain Cook on 14 February 1779 (ADM 51/4529)
Remarks Moored in Carracucoa Bay, Owyhee
Matters had apparently a different appearance at our return to our old Station. We were very little visited and Provisions did not flow upon us as before, and the People were shy and reserved from reasons no doubt variously assigned by us. The Resolution since our departure from this place found the head of her Foremast so much damaged as to take it out and send it on shore to be repaired which was accordingly done and had our Carpenters to assist them with a marker and a Guard of Marines from the Resolution. On the 14th our large Cutter moored at our Sml Br. Buoy was missing. Boats were manned and armed from both ships with orders from Capt. Cook to lay at the mouth of the Bay and keep the Passage, that nothing should enter or go out while he himself with three of his own Boats manned and armed went to the town on the NW side of the Harbour to secure the Chief of all the Islands at his residence there. Capt. Cook landed with the Marine officer and party of marines and visited the Chiefs house, but was opposed in his Demands upon Tireoboo the Chief and was returning to the shore where the Boats lay surrounded both him and his Guard with a vast crowd who were alarmed at his boldness and perhaps at a loss to account for his return to the Boats – or from whatever motives it was soon perceived that many of them were Armed – tho at the same time others were crowding presents upon him, which with much Anger he threw from him – some insolence was afterwards shown him and he fired some small shot at the Offender without doing any damage, this is perhaps partly nearly the situation of matters when a Skirmish ensued and the fire became general from the Boats and then from the Marines, but without any Orders from any quarter as I can
understand, for Capt. Cook turned to the boats enquired the Reason of it and was ordering them to cease firing when a Chief came behind and stabd him between the shoulders with an Iron instrument like a Dirk (a type of knife) of which they had many made by Capt. Cook by their own directions. He fell immediately at the receipt of the Blow with his face in the water but did not expire till he had recd. several other wounds in different parts of his Body – every thing was in confusion now, the Indians were elevated at their success and a Corporal and three Marines shared the Fate of their Commander before the others got on board the Boats, the Lieut. of Marines was stabd in the shoulder and others badly wounded with stones which came like hail from such a multitude.
« Return to Captain Cook in Hawaii
2. Read Source 2, an account by John Rickman, Lieutenant on the Resolution, of the murder of Captain Cook.
- Who has written this document?
- What does the writer suggest by using the words ‘our return to our old station’?
- Now look at Source 1. Can you work out which is the Resolution?
- How were attitudes from the islanders towards Captain Cook and his men different?
- Can you explain why this might have happened?
- How did Captain Cook set about repairing the Resolution?
- How did his attitude and behaviour threaten and anger the islanders?
- Who was responsible for happened to Captain Cook in the end?
- Who do you think is the audience for this source?
- What other sources would be useful to compare to this account?