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Photo - St.John's Alley, Devizes where the first six sons of William and Rebecca Cox were born.

It is appropriate to recall here, the wonderful feeling of standing in front of No.1 St.Johns Alley, Devizes in Wiltshire. Devizes has an old Corn Market denoting the town centre. The buying and selling of grain and livestock was the usual activity in the market square. These corn markets are still extant in many English villages, some encroaching on to the footpath showing their prominence in a past era.

Near Devizes Corn Market is the 'Bear Inn'. On leaving the town square we approached a little alley, leading around the corner to a long alley with the quaintest, old fashioned doorways and windows, overshadowed by strong oak beams, similar to the black and white Tudor style of Old England. A very narrow cobbled lane drew us from No.12 to the far end where the door stated No.1. At this point the path narrows to 4-5 feet' across. This last building was the home of William and Rebecca Cox and their six sons all born Devizes -1789-1800. This semi detached two storey building has seen some changes since then. St.John's Alley was constructed between 15th-16th century.

About 1795 William Cox served with the Wiltshire Militia before joining the regulars at age 31. Later, William accepted a post with the New South Wales Corps boarding 'Minerva' 24th August 1799. Commissioned as Captain, he was in charge of 165 Irish political prisoners who departed Cork, arriving in Old Sydney Town 10.1.1800 a voyage of 19 weeks and 4 days. Old Sydney Town was just 12 years old.(See Cox -Dorset)

CLARENDON Dight Street Richmond..

William Cox's sons - William and James received a grant of land (about 400ac.)on arrival in Port Jackson in 1804, naming it 'Clarendon'. William Cox Sen. stocked it with 150 sheep bought from Samuel Marsden's flock. This was to become home for Rebecca and some of their four sons who had arrived January 1800 - Charles (of whom later), George, Henry and Frederick (d.y.). Elder sons William and James arrived 1804 after their education at King Edward V1 Grammar School, Salisbury. The Cox's only daughter Frances was b.c.1802 Sydney, while Edward was b.1805 at the Hawkesbury. Frederick and Frances died young it seems, while some believe Charles who d.1813 aged 19 at Fiji, had returned to England for an education.

WILLIAM COX began to build at Clarendon 1804 -1806, prior to his sojourn in England and resumed construction from 1811 onwards. To confirm this there is testimony from a Mrs.Evans who says in 1806 that Mr.Cox had rescued her from the Hawkesbury flood - quote -"It must be Providence alone that sent the man to our assistance, his property at the same time floating off, besides a very great danger to himself.'

Clarendon, it is understood was built of brick, enhanced by a low-slung roof providing shelter to extensive flagstone verandahs. Rebecca and son James (17yrs) maintained the farm property during William's absence 1807-1810 (3 yrs), including many months at sea. They kept the property looking good and in a prosperous state - a feat in itself. Clarendon developed into a large and self-contained village, having assigned servants operating the many industries required for the farm, the road construction, building and etc., in the infant colony.

The only surviving picture of Clarendon, is of the extensive servant's quarters, brick barns and slab outbuildings, which is all that remain today. A picture of Clarendon would be a wonderful acquisition. Clarendon was a hive of industry around the 1820's. Assigned servants worked as smiths, farmers, herdsmen, butchers, harness makers, tanners, tailors, shoemakers, weavers, shepherds, shearers and of course bakers to feed host of people of the village, including all labourers and servants.

In 1828 - Clarendon resembled a small town, fully self- contained with about 100 men employed to provide all the necessities of life, right down to the boots and clothes. Unfortunately the pioneers knew nothing about the termites that invade timber and as Clarendon was built at ground level, the white ants took their toll, and the dwelling house of Clarendon Estate, had to be demolished in 1924.

William also possessed 'Mount Pleasant' situated on the road to Cornwallis.

Sadly, Rebecca died in 1819 aged 56, as the property was flourishing and after the many years spent in support of her husband William and offspring, in the variety of projects undertaken over that time. In 1821, William married secondly to Anna Blachford.

Herewith, a BACKGROUND to CONDITIONS in the colony in 1821, while William's family resided at Clarendon. The government factory at Parramatta used a certain amount of coarse wool to produce cloth for garments and bedding for convict workers. Simeon Lord emancipist, manufactured hats and cloth blankets, which he sold to colonists. William Cox produced fabric for making garments etc., given to convict labourers. After an investigation in 1821 into farming techniques in Australia, Commissioner Bigge openly gave a special commendation to about eight farmers. He noted some of those who had made greatest improvements in breeding stock - Charles Throsby, John Macarthur, John Jamieson & William Cox. Men like William Cox would have been kept busy, even though they had overseers, as these large estates were in effect, were complete villages. He still had to plan the daily operation and keep the estate accounts up to date. Not only did William supply meat and grain to the market, but all things necessary for farmwork and maintenance of labourers in the infant colony. His property was renowned as one of the most productive in the colony at that time.

William Cox explained himself before Bigge saying " We manufacture cloth for trowsers(sic) and frocks from our coarse wool, also coarse blankets, boots and shoes from hides tanned on estate. We make our own hemp, we keep a tailor to make up the clothing." William also employed a blacksmith, carpenter, wheelwright and shepherds plus many other tradesmen, as stated before. The Flax industry was not very prominent in the Hawkesbury, but in the 1830's Bernard Lynch and William Cox were producing factory cloth. William is recorded as having two looms and Timmins as having one. A year later only Laban White (arr.'Eliza' 1822) was producing woollen cloth with two looms operating at Clarendon. Around this time, c.1833, William moved to 'Fairfield' at Windsor, which he had built on the grant to son Henry. It is thought that Laban White operated Cox's two looms, while managing at Clarendon.

LOOKING BACK to c.1810.

After William's return from England to Clarendon (1807-1810), Governor Macquarie was presented with an address by Hawkesbury Settlers and given by Magistrate Thomas Arndell - Extract, Sydney Gazette 8.12.1810 states "We the undersigned settlers, residents of the Hawkesbury and it's vicinity, beg leave respectively to congratulate your Excellency on your arrival at this settlement and earnestly hope your Excellency will be pleased with the agricultural improvements and industry that pervade here; and trust that the continuance of our exertions will ever merit your Excellency's approbation. We also beg leave to return our unfeigned thanks for your Excellency's recent appointment of William Cox Esquire as a Magistrate at this place - a gentleman, who for many years has resided amongst us, possessing our esteem and confidence who, from his local knowledge of this settlement, combined with many other good qualities will, we are convinced, promote your Excellency's benign intention of distributing justice and happiness to all......Signed by over 100 settlers of the Hawkesbury".

Rebecca COX d.1819 aged 56. Australian Encyclopedia notes - William COX d.15.3.1837 at Windsor. Both as a magistrate and an employer, he was noted for his humanitarianism and 'Cox's Liberty' became a catchphrase among convicts. Let this be the 'Epitaph of William Cox of Clarendon' stated Frank Clune. The inscription on the tomb of William and Rebecca at St.Matthew's Anglican Church at Windsor reads thus, in testimony of their lives:-

"Here lieth entombed the remains of Mrs.Rebecca Cox, wife of William Cox Esq., of Clarendon, who departed this life 5th March 1819 aged 56 years. In testimony of the exalted virtues that adorned her character not only as a wife and mother, but in all other relative duties of life, this tomb is erected to perpetuate her memory by her affectionate husband."

The lower half reads thus:-

"Here also lie the remains of William Cox Esq., J.P. who departed this life the 15th day of March 1837 aged 72 years. 'Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his own mercy he saved us.' Reader, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and Thou shalt be saved.'

After Rebecca's decease William maintained 'Clarendon' and from his second marriage to Anna Blachford, four more children were born, at Clarendon. William hadn't forgotten, his inability to get Rebecca to a doctor, when the river was in flood, so not being a well man himself, he relocated in 1833 to the site of 'Fairfield' Windsor. He built a palatial home on land granted to Henry, on arrival in 1804. This lovely home opens out on to the rolling greens of the scenic golf course and across to the foothills of the Blue Mountains. What memories he must have experienced in those twilight years. (See Homes - 'Fairfield' )

William COX married ANNA BLACHFORD b.1796 Isle of Wight and d.1869 N.Z. aged 80. Her sister Elizabeth Blachford married Windsor Lawyer Francis Beddek who arrived in the town in 1827, becoming tenants in Cox's 'CLAREMONT' Cottage. William Cox bought 'Claremont' in 1822 and began making repairs to outbuildings. William donated a large portion of this Claremont estate for the buildings and graveyard of St.Matthew's Anglican Church, Windsor. Anna and Elizabeth BLACHFORD descend from Joseph Blachford & Susan Pike of St.James, Clerkenwell, U.K.

LOOKING BACK to c.1800

Returning to an earlier time we look at William Cox's first investment after arriving in the colony. BRUSH FARM is where William's knowledge of interacting with men became evident. He made Joseph Holt (political exile) manager of the farm. William inspected the property consisting of about 300 acres, that John Macarthur had on the market, approving it, as suitable for his farming interests.

With assigned men, Holt went to work and together they soon created a model farm. First crop was looking great and almost ready for harvest when a terrible hailstorm 'laid' the crop on the ground. They got up from their very many disappointments as they struggled with the forces of nature etc., and were flourishing again. Holt purchased adjoining land and soon had quantities of livestock and many acres of crops, much needed for all settlers and convicts in the new colony. The Vineyard at Ryadalmere was occupied by Cox in 1802 and, was later taken up by Blaxland.

CANTERBURY FARM was his next investment in 1801, purchased from Rev.Johnson. The property had been set up as an orange orchard with seeds Johnson brought from Rio de Janeiro. "The Burnside Homes" are built on Cox's Paddock (35 ac), part of 'Canterbury Farm'. With both farms combined and many proud men working for their esteemed employers, the work proceeded at a steady pace. Joseph Holt writes - "There was never a man who desired to serve another more than he (William Cox) did or do a kind act. When a purchaser of a horse or mare came to make his first payment, Mr.Cox would often indulge them with 6 months longer credit. He was truly a good friend to every honest man he met. His good treatment of the convicts in his service had the happiest effect upon many of those who were so lucky as to get into his service..........."

However, nature prevailed again with crops at Brush Farm and in October 1803, the 266 acres of wheat, a few weeks off harvest, was ruined by 'rust' with a loss of about £3,990. This spelt disaster for William Cox and many others as well. The whole colony was sent into a state of disaster, debt and starvation, while some felt absolutely in a state of ruination. To criticise in 2001 is easy, but to understand the frustration, one would have to have been in the fledgling colony, not many years in development from it's natural state.

GOVERNOR BRISBANE at some time made a grant of land in O'Connell Street, Sydney to William Cox. This property that afterwards became Colonial Treasurer's Office, was sold eventually to pay his debts. William had great faith and trust in Joseph Holt when he appointed him manager of 'Canterbury Farm' and 'Brush Farm'. Holt did however, buy many blocks of land for Cox during those busy first years, which became part of the reason for William's insolvency. Holt cleared/planted 80acs at 'Brush Farm' and 24acs at 'Canterbury Farm'.

Frank Clune describes farms bought by Cox :- 45ac. from Thomas Tilley; from Mr.Hume 50ac - £45; 30ac from Thomas Higgins - £35; Thomas McKellar 100ac - £50 and few gallons rum. Holt then adds - bought 25ac plus old mare with colt - £100. Holt continues - from Captain Campbell 100ac - £100 plus 100ac from Dr.Thompson plus 124 sheep, mare, two fillies, colt, cow and oxen - £500.

BRUSH FARM and CANTERBURY FARM employed 110 men costing £150 for a limited time. It was Dr.Thomas Jamison who in 1803 pressed Cox for £200 and when not forthcoming, spread the word that he had failed. This caused a multitude of creditors to press and trustees were set in place, to pay all these creditors through the sale of property and Cox's Army Commission. Detail :- Sydney Gazette 1803-1807. Properties were sold, while cattle and crops sold at auction, until all debts were cleared. Canterbury Farm, 900ac was 'knocked' down to Robert Campbell - £525; 2 x 100ac farms Prospect - £105 to Captain Bishop; Town lease Parramatta to Wentworth - £22; On this property Cox had 1700 Spanish bred sheep, some of the best in colony. To Mr.Driver of Chapel Row, a Parramatta lot - £15.

On 6.7.1804...From 'Those Were The Days'- TO BE SOLD at house of Andrew Thompson by auction. A quantity of Irish Linen, Bandana handkerchiefs, calicoes, shoe and sole leather, printed cottons, nankeens, leaf tobacco and an assortment of ironmongery belonging to estate of William Cox - Clarendon. (N.B. Clarendon 1804 - Auction - house of Andrew Thompson)

FRANK CLUNE writes "William Cox was sent to England to explain his situation and with explanations accepted and all creditors paid up, he returned to the colony - rejoining his regiment with rank of Captain. William was a man of the land, and on return, resigned his commission and began to establish himself again as a farmer at Clarendon." end quote.

From "Early Colonial Houses of New South Wales" by Rachel Roxburgh pub.1974 - "....On another visit in company with both Paterson and his wife, Lieutenant Thomas Laycock and (Francois) Peron dined at Cox's Castle Hill farm, which he found still more elegant than the Canterbury Farm. In 1803 these extensive concerns......... terminated abruptly. Paterson, William's commanding officer, advised Governor King that Paymaster Cox had overdrawn a 'considerable sum of money' and had been suspended. King in turn advised Lord Hobart, Secretary of State for the Colonies, that the 'whole of the paymaster's extensive farms and great stock, as well as about £4,000 worth of trading property' had been lodged in the hands of trustees. And later that year he reported the growing prosperity of settlers, 'not a few having profitted by the division of the Paymaster's..........large stock of cattle, horses and sheep.....'

The trustees appointed, stated that 'William's debts appear to be discharged satisfactorily, nearly £2,000 worth of wheat being paid into the government stores in 1804, while Brush Farm was bought by Gregory Blaxland.........William went on to achieve eminence in a community where his lapse was known to all. To fall so rapidly from the position of a well-to-do landowner to that of debt and disgrace, would have dismayed a man of less character, but William Cox seems to have found the experience salutory and to have emerged from it, with a strengthened resolve and a tolerant attitude towards others." End quote. R.Roxburgh.

From "A CRUCIBLE of a PROFESSION" 1996 by John Black of Bristol Business School, U.W.E. Quote " ....First Fleet arrived N.S.W. without any apparatus for government either in treasury function, mint, central or commercial bank. Indeed the first commercial bank in Australia was not established until 1819 (at Hobartville) Thus the function of government fell to other agencies, notably Commissiariat but more important to N.S.W. Corps. Officers of the Corps may have been controversial but their contraversiality ensured survival of the colony."

"The Paymaster of the N.S.W. Corps equated perhaps to the Colony's chancellor of the exchequer. Any currency in N.S.W. must had had high velocity as there were no banks or savings banks until 1817-1819 or any other method of deposit saving, both soldiers and free citizens who were able legally to hold currency, probably reflected a marginal propensity to consume......... There were periods when circulating coins were in short supply in N.S.W., yet this was not unique to N.S.W. Coin shortages were known in England and was the reason for bills of exchange. The argument that the paylists and general state of N.S.W. Corps reflected fraudulent entries over a 17 year period is rather naive. The comparison made within this micro study, within the New South Wales Corps and those of comparator regiments and corps reflect only marginal differences. Paymaster Cox could have easily exchanged with Paymaster Hans Fowler Hughes Esq., in England or the Caribbean and accounted for the 48th regiment with ease. Hughes could have equally fulfilled the office of Paymaster of N.S.W.Corps." end quote.

John Black states " However evidence to date suggests that officers of the Corps prevented bankruptcy, not only for the N.S.W. Corps, but the colony as well. The Colony's first three governors King, Hunter and Bligh, were unable, or particularly in the case of Bligh, unwilling to 'kick start' the economy of New South Wales. The officers of the N.S.W.Corps assumed this role for the benefit of 'society in general' in the emerging New South Wales Colony... "Paymaster William Cox was suspended for obfuscating accounts 1803. Despite being suspended for 5yrs and returning to England to face certain charges, none were ever brought. In 1808 Cox was promoted to (re-instated) as Captain Paymaster but chose to resign his commission. Cox returned to N.S.W., becoming a leading entrepreneur and pastoralist." end quote...... All debts were paid up and William began to build in the colony and for the colony, so much of which is still a treasure and maintained in use in 2001 for it's 'purpose built' function. Surely, a man of great honour and ability in my estimation - my (See Road Builder)

"We sleep, but the loom of life doesn't cease and the pattern that was weaving when the sun went down is weaving when it comes up again tomorrow."

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