National Library of Australia

Enjoy a CovidSafe visit to the National Library.

You must be logged in to Tag Records
Description of the sea coast of Nova Scotia, 1762 [manuscript]
Bib ID 2643061
Format ManuscriptManuscript, OnlineOnline
Cook, James, 1728-1779
Online Versions
Access Conditions Available for research. Not for loan. 
Description [1762] 
0.05 m. (1 v.) 

Manuscript notebook, 1762, in James Cook's hand, with caption title Description of the sea coast of Nova Scotia. Includes two maps, in watercolours and pen and ink, on folded leaves. The map titled "A sketch of Harbour Grace and Carbonere in Newfoundland" is signed and dated 1762. The untitled map shows Saint John River, New Brunswick. With autograph index.

Original notebook kept by James Cook in which he recorded observations relating to the coastlines of Nova Scotia, Cape Breton Island and Newfoundland. The remarks he made include descriptions of coastal features, both natural and manmade, compass readings, latitude and longitude, and depth of water and distances. Cook entered some of his observations in columns under the headings of: marks for anchoring, of wooding and watering, of provisions and refreshments, descriptions of fortifications defending places, and, further descriptions in regard to trade shipping.


James Cook (1728-1779) was a noted explorer, navigator and hydrographer. In 1769 he reached New Zealand and charted its coastline. Cook sailed further west and the coast of New South Wales was sighted in April 1770. Sailing north he charted 5000 miles of the eastern coastline with great accuracy. Cook landed at Botany Bay and collected many botanical and biological specimens for later study. He took formal possession of New Zealand and New South Wales for England. Cook's second expedition sailed far south and thus confirmed that a great southern continent did not exist. On his third voyage to explore the Pacific coasts of North America and Siberia, Cook visited the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) but was killed here in 1779. Cook was also known for successfully dealing with scurvy amongst his crew, a common disease at that time.

Prior to the Pacific voyages and his circumnavigation of the world, Cook served in eastern North America from 1758, on patrols, in conquests and on surveys. He was involved in the Seven Years' War between Great Britain and France (1756-1763), taking part in the siege of Louisbourg in Nova Scotia in 1758. It was during this period of warfare that Cook commenced his survey work. He made notes on navigation, prepared sailing directions and drafted charts. He made detailed surveys of parts of Nova Scotia from 1758. He sailed up the St. Lawrence River and helped to chart the river channel where little previous mapping activity had been conducted. This work formed the basis of his "A new chart of the river St. Laurence" published in 1760. In 1762 Cook charted part of the east coast of Newfoundland, including St. John's harbour, and from 1763-1767 he was responsible for the Admiralty survey of the southern and western coasts and harbours of Newfoundland.


Manuscript reference no.: MS 5.

Bound folio comprising 30 pages, numbered 1-11, measuring 39.8 x 26.0 cm. Nineteen pages of text and 11 blank pages. Two maps on inserted leaves. Includes index. Written in a cursive hand in ink. Title from caption of p. 1.

Title on spine: Captain Cook's exploration of Newfoundland.

Condition: Fair. Pages show some discoloration and staining.

Folio bound in morocco and housed in similar morocco clam shell box.

Photographic copies and negative photostats available for reference.

Reproduction available for reference in the National Library of Australia, Special Collections Reading Room at MAP G3401.s12.

Also available online

Cited In

Guide to collections of manuscripts relating to Australia ; A625.

Subjects Cook, James, 1728-1779 -- Archives.  |  Explorers -- Great Britain -- Archives.  |  Cartographers -- Great Britain -- Archives.  |  Surveying -- Atlantic Coast (Canada)  |  Atlantic Coast (Canada) -- Navigation.  |  Nova Scotia -- Discovery and exploration.  |  Newfoundland, Island of (N.L.) -- Discovery and exploration.  |  Harbour Grace (N.L.) -- Maps -- Early works to 1800.  |  Carbonear Bay (N.L.) -- Maps -- Early works to 1800.
Time Coverage 1762 
Occupation Explorers.  |  Cartographers.
Form/genre Manuscript maps.
Also Titled

Captain Cook's exploration of Newfoundland

Exhibited Exhibited: Treasures Gallery - 17B, 23 October 2017 - April 2018 

In the Library

Request this item to view in the Library's reading rooms using your library card. To learn more about how to request items watch this short online video Help Video.

Details Collect From
MS 5 Special Collections Reading Room - Conditions apply
Access details ... more

Order a copy

- Copyright or permission restrictions may apply. We will contact you if necessary.

Help Video To learn more about Copies Direct watch this short online video Help Video.
close Can I borrow items from the Library?

You need Flash player 8+ and JavaScript enabled to view this video embedded.

You can view this on the NLA website.

close What can I get online?

You need Flash player 8+ and JavaScript enabled to view this video embedded.

You can view this on the NLA website.

close Can I get copies of items from the Library?

You need Flash player 8+ and JavaScript enabled to view this video embedded.

You can view this on the NLA website.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flags
Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and other First Nations people are advised that this catalogue contains names, recordings and images of deceased people and other content that may be culturally sensitive. Please also be aware that you may see certain words or descriptions in this catalogue which reflect the author’s attitude or that of the period in which the item was created and may now be considered offensive.