William Cox (pioneer)

William Cox (pioneer)

William Cox (born 19 December 176415 March 1837) was a soldier, explorer, road builder and Australian pioneer.

Early life

Cox was born in Wimborne Minster, Dorset, England, was educated at the local Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School and later lived in Devizes, Wiltshire.cite web |url=http://gutenberg.net.au/dictbiog/0-dict-biogCl-Cu.html#cox1|title=Cox, William |accessdate=2007-09-02 |author=Percival Serle |work=Dictionary of Australian Biography |publisher=Angus & Robertson |year=1949] He married Rebecca Upjohn in 1789.

Military career

Cox had served in the Wilts militia before being commissioned as ensign in the 117th Regiment of Foot in 1795, transferring in 1796 to the 68th (Durham) Regiment of Foot. In 1797 he became Lieutenant in the New South Wales Corps, being made paymaster the following year.

Cox sailed for New South Wales, Australia, on 24 August 1799 on the "Minerva", with his wife and four sons. Aboard the ship were around 160 convicts including General Holt and the Rev. H. Fulton who were among many political prisoners. Cox used his influence so that the prisoners were often allowed up on deck for fresh air, and Holt in his memoirs states that as a result "the ship was the healthiest and best regulated which had ever reached the colony". The "Minerva" arrived in Sydney on 11 January 1800. Cox purchased a convert|100|acre|km2|sing=on farm and made Holt its manager. Further land was purchased but in 1803 large liabilities led to Cox's estate being placed into the hands of trustees. He was suspended from office due to allegations that regimental accounts were involved. Cox returned to England in 1807 to answer allegations that he had misused army funds. Cox was cleared, and was promoted to Captain of 102nd Regiment of Foot, and placed in charge of Irish political prisoners.

Building career

Cox returned to Australia in 1811, where he resigned his commission and became principal magistrate at the Hawkesbury. He was also responsible for erecting many government buildings.

In 1814, Governor Macquarie approved Cox's offer to 'voluntary offer of your superintending and directing the working party' that would build a road crossing the Blue Mountains, between Sydney and Bathurst, Australia. The completed dirt track was 12 feet (3.7 m) wide by 101½ miles (163 km) long, built between 18 July 1814 to 14 January 1815 using 30 convict labourers and 8 guards. Macquarie surveyed the finished road in April 1815 by driving his carriage across it from Sydney to Bathurst. The Governor commended Cox and stated that the project would have taken three years if it had been done under a contract. As a reward Cox was awarded convert|2000|acre|km2 of land near Bathurst.

Rebecca died in 1819, survived by Cox and five sons. In 1821, Cox married Anna Blackford, sister of one of his tenants. William and Anna had three sons and a daughter.


* [http://www.penrithcity.nsw.gov.au/index.asp?id=1078 Local Family History Links, Penrith City Council] (links to [http://www.angelfire.com/rnb/mrbirrell/ Cox of Dorset] ; also see [http://www.angelfire.com/rnb/mrbirrell/pg000006.htm Rebecca & Anna] )
* Memoirs of William Cox, J.P.
* Historical Records of Australia, ser. I, vols IV, VI to IX
* [http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks04/0400191.txt Memoirs of Joseph Holt] Project Gutenberg ebooks

External links

*Edna Hickson, ' [http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A010248b.htm Cox, William (1764 - 1837)] ', "Australian Dictionary of Biography", Volume 1, MUP, 1966, pp 258-259.

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