John Fleck, master mariner, was a nephew of Captain James Cook. His mother, Margaret, was Cook's sister, and married a fisherman, James Fleck, from Redcar, a few miles north of Whitby. John was born there in 1779, by coincidence the year of his uncle's death in Hawaii. He was baptized on 9 March 1779 at St Germain's Church, Marske. On 30 January 1819 he married Isabella Cropton at St Peter's Church, Monkwearmouth (Sunderland). His address is given as Waterloo Place, Monkwearmouth Shore, Durham with an alternative one, perhaps for communication, the Bridge Inn, near Fawcett Street, off Sunderland Street. He died on 9 October 1835 and was buried at St Peter's Church on 12 October. The identity of the painter is not known. It is possible that he may have been a local portrait painter, or a painter based in one of the ports that Captain Fleck traded to, such as London, or possibly a foreign one. The portrait was bequeathed to the NMM by Fleck's great-granddaughter.
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