The earliest historically is the Endeavour, the vessel used by Captain Cook on his first voyage to New Zealand. When the voyage was projected two naval sloops were considered and rejected. The Admiralty then suggested that a cat-built vessel of about 350 tons, with sufficient room for the large quantity of stores needed for such a voyage, could be had in the Thames. Three were surveyed and eventually the Earl of Pembroke was purchased for £2,307 5s. 6d., the hull being valued at £2,212 15s. 6d. and the mast and yards making up the total. This ship was the vessel provided for Cook and not, as has been frequently stated, selected by him. She was a typical east coast collier with a bluff broad bow and had been built by Fishburn for Thomas Milner at Whitby, Yorkshire. In March 1768 at the time of purchase she was three years nine months old. Her length was 106 ft, and 97 ft 7 in. on her lower deck, with an extreme breadth of 29 ft 3 in. Her burthen was 368 71/94 tons. She was renamed Endeavour and registered as a bark, that is, a vessel without a figurehead and a straight stem. She was not a barque. In fact, she was square-rigged on all three masts though she also had a spanker sail. She was sheathed and fitted for guns at Deptford naval dockyard during.April. Further accommodation was provided for the scientific party. In all, the fitting out and stores cost £5,394 15s. 4d., bringing the total cost to £8,235 6s. 3d. In addition, a new pinnace, long boat, and yawl were provided. The Endeavour was provided with 10 carriage and 12 swivel guns; four of the former were stowed in the hold, and eight in all went below during the rounding of Cape Horn.
She was a most satisfactory ship for the task she had to undertake, and Cook himself selected two vessels of the same type (one somewhat larger) for his second voyage. She was not fast, for her fastest speed was 8 knots running with the wind, and she was at her best sailing with the wind abaft the beam when she did between 7 and 8 knots. In a heavy gale, laid to under a main sail or mizen, no sea could hurt her. She could be careened easily, a matter of importance when she was away from dockyard hands for a long period. She could be beached easily and repairs were made in this manner when she was damaged off the eastern coast of Australia in June 1770. Her best day's run was that of 210 miles on 9 March 1771 when she was sailing in the swift Agulhas current, the next best being 168 miles on 27 April 1771 on the St. Helena run. There were also a number of runs of about 160 miles.
When the Endeavour sailed from England in August 1768, she carried 96 men, crew, and civilians. When she returned three years later, the number was 90, though replacements had been taken aboard at Batavia and the Cape. On her return to England she was again refitted and employed on four voyages to the Falkland Islands. In March 1775 she was sold out of the Navy for £645. There is nothing definite about her fate after this, but her life span in the arduous service for which she was used would not greatly exceed 20 years. By 1790 she was probably a hulk and not, as has been sometimes suggested, still in service as a French whaler.
The name Endeavour has also been used for two ships of the Royal New Zealand Navy. The first was the Antarctic supply ship, formerly HMS Pretext, and the second a tanker supply ship commissioned in 1962. Another Endeavour was wrecked on the New Zealand coast in 1795.