The COX Family - in Angus and Perthshire

Born:
1776 in Lochee
Christened:
16 Nov 1777 at Invergowrie
Father:
James Cock 1739-1816
Mother:
Helen Smith 1750-1826
Brothers:
none
Sisters:
Helen 1771, Rachel 1781, Isobel 1784
Married:
3 Sep 1807 in Dundee
Spouse:
Helen Scott 1787-1824
Sons:
James, David, William, Robert, Henry, Thomas, George, Edward
Daughters:
Jane 1806 (out of wedlock), Helen 1824
Died:
16 Jul 1848 in Lochee
Buried:
Invergowrie Old Churchyard

This James Cock was the father of James Cox the journal writer who has given us a detailed account of him - his physical appearance and character, as well as his business and way of life.

The earliest event of note in James Cock's life (though not mentioned in his son's journal) was the birth of his first-born child, Jean Cock. The baptism is recorded on 27th March 1806, a year and a half before he married Helen Scott. Jean, known as Jeannie or Jane, was brought up in the family as the eldest daughter so it's likely that Helen was her mother but either way, a child born out of wedlock must have been a scandalous and traumatic event for the family.

Around the time of Jean's birth, James built a house at Lochiefield and then married Helen. Their family grew rapidly and James increasingly took on responsibility for the family business as his father grew older. He undertook all the buying and selling of yarn and woven cloth, plus the supervision of the bleaching and manufacturing processes carried out at Lochiefield.


Detail from 'Bleaching Ground in the Countryside'
By Jacob van Ruisdael



'Handloom Weavers' by A.W. Bayes

SOURCE: The James Cox Journal

Physical Appearance

Father was a very energetic, active and handsome man, very strong and robust. His hair was long, light auburn approaching to yellow. His stature was over six feet and he walked as light as a feather.

SOURCE: The James Cox Journal

Father's Property

I shall try to describe the country around the place where my forefathers settled, as it appeared to one standing at the front door of my Father's dwelling house. This house he built for himself in the year 1805/1806, the year before he was married. It was of two storeys high and three rooms in length in the front, with three or four steps leading up to the front door and there were a few one-storeyed houses for various purposes and a small steading.a farm building

Looking south from Father's house you see the bleach-works along the side of the stream with the bleaching-greens extending to about 30 acres which I have often seen covered with cloth, together with the fields adjoining which were used when required, thus nearly doubling the extent of the bleaching ground. The grounds on the north of the house were used for agricultural purposes.

SOURCE: The James Cox Journal

The Bleaching Process

In these days all was hand spun over the surrounding districts and sold principally in large towns, or centres of country districts. He also purchased nearly all the cloth woven by the weavers in the district for miles around. These linens were of various descriptions, known as yard wide, three quarters wide, glass-cloth,closely woven linen, used for drying glasses and dishes shirting linen, scrim,durable loosely woven fabric birdie, Osnaburgh,a coarse heavy cloth originally made in Osnaburg, Germany etc. etc. These were all bleached on the grass with the exception of the three last which were sold and used as they came from the loom.

The cloth for bleaching was first boiled in a solution of Potash,potassium carbonate from wood ashes after which it was properly washed until all the refuse from the ashes and other impurities from the yarns and other substances were completely removed, and then spread on the grass to bleach by the action of the sun and exposure to the weather. Otherwise if not cleanly washed and freed from these impurities, the cloth would be injured by the exposure.

SOURCE: The Linen Trade, Ancient and Modern by A. Warden

From the section on Lochee (published in 1867)

It may be worthy of notice that on his premises the first broad hessian for the Manchester market was woven in 1815, and although it was only 45 inches wide it caused great excitement, and many visits were made by the surrounding operatives in wonder and curiosity to inspect the loom and its work.

The direct descendants of the weaver, son, grandson, and great grandson, have been continuously employed by this family,The Cox family and the two last are still in their works.