Palmerston was discovered by Captain Cook on 16 June 1774 on his second journey through the Pacific but he did not land on the island until 13 April 1777 on his third voyage to the area. Palmerston is the only island Captain Cook actually set foot on. Cook named the island after Lord Palmerston, the First Lord of the Admiralty. Tradition has it that the original name of the island was “Avarau” meaning two hundred harbours. The island was uninhabited at the time however ancient graves were found which suggest there was pre-european habitation.