The COX Family - in Angus and Perthshire

5 Jul 1808 at Lochiefield
James Cock 1776-1848
Helen Scott 1787-1824
David, William, Robert, Henry, Thomas, George, Edward
Jean 1806, Helen 1824
18 Aug 1834 in Dundee
Clementina Carmichael 1811-1888
James (1835), William, Charles, Edward, James (1853)
Grace, Ellen, Clementina, Beatrice, Adeline
1 Dec 1885 at Clement Park

In his journal James Cox gives an entertaining account of his childhood, from his birth through to the end of his schooldays. Pages 1 to 3 are devoted to excerpts from the journal in approximate chronological order.

The Birth of James Cock in 1808

The House of Gray, Invergowrie
Built 1714-16 by the 10th Lord Gray
Home of the 11th Lord Gray, benefactor of Kirsty Fitchie

Miniature Phaeton Carriage
James and his siblings would have been taken to School in
a small carriage like this, drawn by one of the housemaids.

Engraving of a Dames School

The Gardens of Lundie House (now Camperdown)
The gardens provided cuttings for Maggy's healing salve

SOURCE: The James Cox Journal

The Birth of James Cock in 1808

I was born with a Silver spoon in my mouth or rather I should more properly say a Golden spoon (but alas this soon vanishedHard times struck the family business during the 1820s away as you will hear afterwards) on a Friday, the 5th day of July in the year 1808 about 4 o'clock in the afternoon.

My father had been in Perth at the Market, for Perth was the principal Market for linens at that period, besides mid-summer Market was held as it always is held on that day. He 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.

In those days there was no conveyance on the roads, nor to hire, neither did he need any. He always started early and this morning, fearing what was to happenHis wife Helen was evidently already in labour when James left home that morning at home before his return, he was all the more active in walking both to Perth and back, a distance of forty-four miles. On approaching the house he was observed by the Lady Doctor Mrs Taylor who went to meet him and told him the news that he had got a son.

SOURCE: The James Cox Journal

James and the Cat

About this time my dress was made from blue flannel in the form of jacket and kilt - in the country at that age boys are easily clothed. On a beautiful morning in Spring I was in bed looking at the cheerful beams of the sun coming through the clear open windows, when a strange cat sprang at the cage with my canary. Before I got across the floor from my bed to the window where the cage was hanging, my darling birdie was dead, lying on its back in the bottom of the cage.

Oh how I grieved, my very heart was like to break for my pretty yellow birdie. At once I vowed vengance that I should kill the cat and next morning I got up and out by six o'clock, noticed the cat wandering about the garden, called to it 'Pussie', got it up in my arms and away with it to the horse drinking pond which was supplied from a well.

With an enormous spring in the bottom, this water rose and overflowed from the well, running below a pavement betwixt it and the pond. I stood on this pavement making ready to throw the cat into the pond but before I was ready, she placed her hind feet on my breast and taking a spring with a great force off my chest, threw me backwards head first into the well behind me and the great force sent me to the bottom.

Just at this moment an old woman, Beattie Doon 96 years old, was standing at the well (I have no doubt that she was sent there by my heavenly Father at the proper time to save me from drowning) her water pails in her hands ready to draw for her morning meal. She had seen me and what I was doing when she was coming down the hill, although I did not see her, my back being towards her. In a moment the great stalwart woman, also dressed in blue from head to foot, took hold of me and pulled me out saying I was to run into the house and get dry clothes for fear of cold.

Beattie, although looked upon as a Witch, was a very sensible old woman, the mother of the bleaching foreman James Robertson. Very different in build was he from his mother. He was thin and delicate and died of consumption. His wife Kirsty Fitchie, was a skee wittedLovely expression but no idea what it means! body. After her husband's death, she went to Lord Gray (Gray House)The House of Gray, Invergowrie, about 5 miles west of Lochee and said to his Lordship that the Angel of the Lord had appeared to her in a dream and told her to call on Lord Gray and he would provide for her and his Lordship did so, in a certain quantity of Oat Meal every fortnight and two shillings and sixpence.

SOURCE: The James Cox Journal

Maggie Fleming's Dames Scool

I began to think our dear Mother had had enough to do with four unruly urchins about her feet and to lessen the work I was sent to School, of which there were few to choose from. I was sent to the nearest, drawn every morning by one of the housemaids in the most beautiful little PhaetonAn open carriage with large wheels Father brought from London for his boys. The School was kept by an old body we called Maggie Fleming. There I learned and got over the drudgery of the Alphabet. This was the only Ladies SchoolLadies or Dames Schools were small private elementary schools run by women in the place and about a mile to the east of Father's house.

Maggie was a very accommodating old body - she flattered the little children so nicely. During the Winter when the snow lay deep on the ground, a long cord was put out at the back window of the School room, attached to a small piece of wood which raised the edge of a riddleA garden sieve out of the snow, to allow corn to be thrown in so that the little birds might be enticed under the riddle. When full of these pretty birds, the string was drawn and all under were caught, which the old body made into what she termed next morning, a Sparrow Pie. This pie she never got me to taste.

SOURCE: The James Cox Journal

A Severe Accident

I did not remain long at Miss Fleming's School. By the time I was six years of age I had to be kept home in consequence of a severe accident I received on my face. It happened upon a Monday evening when Father and Mother were away from home. GrandmotherHis maternal grandmother, Jean Scott (nee Milln) who lived in Dundee from Dundee was staying with us children when in the dusk of the evening she said to me it was time for bed. I asked liberty for another half hour for I saw the workmen coming up the green with their hats full of eggs which they had collected on Saturday afternoon and on Sabbath (when they ought to have been at Church). These eggs were presented to me with orders to have them blown and put on a string.

I carried the eggs down to the Knowie to the west end of Widow Duncan's house where some 15 to 20 children were assembled. Her idiot son David Duncan came out of the house, lifted up a potato hoe by the extreme end of the handle and swung it round his head, calling 'Out! Out!'. The children hurried around the maniac and I got the stroke with the full force of the swine by the corner of the hoe, cutting the cheek open like a second mouth, injuring the jaw and as I fell tearing the front of the ear and also under the jaw-bone in five or six places.

The old men assembled and their cries sounded far and near that James Cox was killed, for I lay motionless as if I had been. I was lifted on an old door and thus carried home on the shoulders of four or five men and laid on the kitchen dresser. After a while I began to show some signs of animation. My poor Grandmother was in an awful fright. She got me to bed, tied up the wounds with rags steeped in Riga BalsamA traditional vodka-based herbal liqueur from Latvia which closed the wounds with all the dirt that was on the hoe inside, which made matters so much worse.

Father and Mother came home overnight. Well I do remember Mother leaning over the bed with a candle in her hand looking at me. Next morning Dr. Hogg, a young doctor, was riding past the house and I was put in his hands.

The front of the cheek near the nose was long in healing. With a laugh or a cry, the wound burst. Several doctors were consulted but all failed and for years I went about with a black ribband on the cheek to keep the cold away, until an old pensioner of Father's, named Margaret Kerr aged 84 years old, met Mother and me walking along the road and asked if she might be allowed to try what she could do and Mother said certainly.

Maggy, the poor old body, asked for a note to Mr Howe the gardener of Lundie HouseResidence of the Duncan family prior to 1828 when it was demolished and replaced by Camperdown House (now Camperdown) to give her some cuttings from the Alderberry tree or Country bush as she made a salve from the inner bark with bees wax and I tell you that by two or three drippings, the cheek was as whole as it is now. This was a very sad and serious accident for me for it kept me from School nearly all the most valuable part of my younger years when the great love for learning should have been formed and therefore kept me far behind all the boys of my own age. Any exposure or extra fatigue laid me up and confined me to the house for days or sometimes weeks at a time.