The COX Family - in Angus and Perthshire

1776 in Lochee
16 Nov 1777 at Invergowrie
James Cock 1739-1816
Helen Smith 1750-1826
Helen 1771, Rachel 1781, Isobel 1784
3 Sep 1807 in Dundee
Helen Scott 1787-1824
James, David, William, Robert, Henry, Thomas, George, Edward
Jane 1806 (out of wedlock), Helen 1824
16 Jul 1848 in Lochee
Invergowrie Old Churchyard

James went regularly to the cloth and yarn markets, both locally and further afield. It seems remarkable that he chose to walk the huge distances to these markets but there were no railways and the poor state of the roads made travel on horseback or by horse-drawn vehicle both difficult and uncomfortable. Dundee was only 2 miles away but Inchture was 8 miles and Perth (the principal market for linens at that time) was more than 21 miles away, a total of 44 miles there and back on foot in one day.

When travelling to Glasgow he had the option of the mailcoach which he could pick up in Perth (though on one occasion this plan went awry - see the story below). Journeys to London were generally by sailing ship from Dundee but this necessarily involved waiting for a fair wind, frustrating for a busy man like James.

A View of Perth, published in Scotland Illustrated, 1837
Perth was the principal linen market in the early 1800s.

Edinburgh-London Royal Mail, by D. Dally of York

Moses Nobbs, the last of the mail coach guards.
Showing the full uniform of top hat and red braided coat.

Replica of an 18th century merchant ship
Approximately the same size as the ships that
sailed regularly between Dundee and London.

SOURCE: The James Cox Journal

Travelling to Market

My Father was a very active, steady and persevering man, who attended closely to his business and was never absent unless at the Cloth and Yarn Markets which he went to very regularly, travelling to them on foot where they were held in Perth, Inchture or Dundee, returning same day, for he bought the yarns he required over and above what was spun on his own premises.

Sometimes Father went to London and Glasgow for the sale of bleached and other linens. I have heard him say that when at Perth one day, he was to go on to Glasgow by the night mailthe night time mail coach which passed through Perth about two in the morning. He went early to bed leaving strict orders with Bootsa hotel employee who cleaned boots and ran messages to call him in good time.

He was startled however, by the rumbling of the mail on the rough causeway and got up. When half dressed, Boots came to his door, knocking and calling to get up or he would be too late. Father told him he would not trust him again. He took stick in hand and walked on to Glasgow,over 60 miles from Perth breakfasting about the Sherra MuirSherrif Muir near Dunblane, about halfway between Perth and Glasgow and got into Glasgow late in the evening. Father was one of the lightest walkers I ever knew. You would not hear his foot on the ground.

When he went to London it was by the Smack,a coastal sailing ship used extensively in the 19th century for transport of passengers and cargo between ports and sometimes it was days before she got out of the River waiting for a fair wind. I have heard him remark that he had been detained ten days at a time off BroughtyBroughty Ferry, a small port and residential suburb of Dundee afraid to leave the vessel for fear of the wind changing and going away without him.

SOURCE: Website of the British Postal Museum and Archive

Travelling on the Mail Coaches

Initially, four passengers were carried inside the mail coach but later one more was allowed to sit outside next to the driver. The number of external passengers was increased to three with the introduction of a double seat behind the driver. No one was permitted to sit at the back near the guard or the mail box.

The mail coach travelled faster than the stage coach but whereas the stage stopped for meals where convenient for its passengers, the mail coach stopped only where necessary for postal business. The journey could get quite rough in places and the passengers had to get out and walk if the coach was going up a steep hill in order to save straining the horses. The contractors organised fresh horses at stages along the route, usually every 10 miles.

The only Post Office employee aboard the mail coach was the guard. He was heavily armed, carrying two pistols and a blunderbuss. He wore an official uniform of a black hat with a gold band and a scarlet coat with blue lapels and gold braid. He also had a timepiece, regulated in London to keep pace with the differences in local time, and recorded the coach's arrival and departure times at each stage of the journey.

The guard sounded a horn to warn other road users to keep out of the way and to signal to toll-keepers to let the coach through. As the coach travelled through towns or villages where it was not due to stop, the guard would throw out the bags of letters to the Letter Receiver or Postmaster. At the same time, the guard would snatch from him the outgoing bags of mail.

SOURCE: The Dundee Directory for 1809

From the section on Shipping

The Shipping will be found on reference to the list in the ensuing pages, to be both numerous and respectable. Only a few years10 years previously ago, it was (comparatively with the present) extremely limited. There was no voyaging then after October, and at that period the vessels were regularly unrigged, and laid up for the winter.

The piers for the shipping and boats are greatly extended, and have cost large sums, particularly the shipping one, with arches for the passing tide, where the whole staple trade is loaded and unloaded. It forms a healthy and pleasant walk to the inhabitants.

Several shipbuilding docks are well occupied and employed, and vessels can be built there from 2 to 300 tons. The Craig, a declivitoussloping fairly steeply boat pier, built several years ago, under the management of Bailie Myles, gives easy access to passengers at all times. The London trade sail and arrive twice a week, and our home tonnage may be reckoned upwards of 10,000 tons. The Customhouse revenue may be calculated at £9000 per annum.