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

James' early schooling was somewhat disjointed. By the time he started at the Dundee Academy at the age of 13, he had attended five different schools.

Errol Parish Church
The boarding school looked onto the graveyard of this church

A Gravestone in Errol Parish Church Graveyard

Engraving of Old Steeple viewed from School Wynd
The Dundee Parish School which James attended
was in School Wynd. The street no longer exists.

Looking north up Lindsay Street (formerly School Wynd)
Photograph by Alexander Wilson with Old Steeple on the right
The sparrow's nest was found below the Steeple's top balcony

Photograph of The Crown Hotel by Alexander Wilson
Close to the 'basin' used for the Carts game

SOURCE: The James Cox Journal

Boarding School

I left the Dames School by the time I was 6 to 7 years of age and went to the Parish School at Den Mill with Mr Smith, a very nice little old man, with whom I began writing and arithmetic, in addition to reading, but I did not remain long. The accident to my cheek compelled my parents to keep me at home.

After I got a little better I was boarded with a Teacher in Errol, whose household consisted of five persons: (1) a servant who slept out of the house (2) the School Master (3) the School Master's sister (4) another boarder, and (5) myself. The house was a very comfortable one, two storeys high, with the School attached. Our bedroom was the Parlour, with two wooden beds enclosed and which filled up the entire side of the room opposite the fire, which was in the South gable.

Besides this fire and a wall press, there was a window farther in than the fireplace that completed the wall opposite the beds and the bed that DominieScots word for a schoolmaster or minister and I occupied was the one opposite this window and this window was part of the boundary wall of a large burying ground with the head stones touching the house. I am thus particular in describing this room because Miss always visited us before returning to the bed she occupied during the night.

The School Master and myself occupied the farthest bed from which you saw through the window the last resting places of generations that had passed away. His sister and the other boarder, younger than I was, occupied their own bed. When we went into the room for bed, the light was put out and we had to grope our way the best we could to get into bed.

One night the Dominie and Miss were out at supper. My neighbour and I had been sleeping soundly in our respective beds (the servant having left some hours before to her father's house). When they came in the Master got in beside me as usual but whether he had got too much or not I cannot tell for he kept rolling about and pushed me against the wooden back, until I was nearly suffocated. When I awoke and coming to myself I asked him very politely to lie forward a little, which he did.

SOURCE: The James Cox Journal

A Spooky Weekend

Another time he, his sister and the young boarder who was a nephew of the teacher and his sister got a conveyance on a Saturday afternoon to pay a visit to a relative of theirs about 25 or 30 miles distant, with the intention of returning on Monday morning in time for School opening. The servant got orders to attend to my meals and to lock the doors at night and take the keys home with her, leaving me inside by myself to go to bed as best I could and to return on the Sabbath morning to give me breakfast.

In the dusk of the evening after the servant had left for the night, I took my seat inadvertantly by the side of the window which looked out upon the Parish Church graveyard. Very disconsolate I was and I got very eerie. After a little I saw a monstrous animal as I thought, running very fast through amongst the upright stones, fair in the direction of the window. I looked a short while, pulled down the blind, thinking it some evil spirit coming to devour me, got into bed amongst the clothes and went to sleep. By the time I awoke the visitors had arrived.

SOURCE: The James Cox Journal

The Subscription School

It was approaching the vacation. I got home and told how I had been treated and was not sent back. After the vacation I was kept at home and sent to a new Subscription SchoolSubscription Schools provided a basic education in return for a small subscription in Lochie which Father was the means of getting erected.

The first Master was Mr Dawson (a great snuffer that he got the name of Snuffie Dawson). I think he was only temporary until they got a permanent teacher that they did in D Watson, the son of a Cortachy farmer. He was a very lazy man and would not rise in the mornings. Often would the boys go up an hour after the School opening time to ask if he was well. One Friday they went to his lodgings near to twelve o'clock and found him in bed. This gave him the appellation of Long Friday, which stuck to him as long as he lived.

SOURCE: The James Cox Journal

The Rats

My next school was the Parish School of Dundee (Mr Wylie) in the School Wynd next to the Old Steeple. My brother David and I lived with Grandmother.Their maternal grandmother, Jean Scott (nee Milln) who lived in Dundee David and I slept together in Grandmother's in a little snug room off the parlour, looking out to the Street.

David said to me 'James, do you see the rats?'
I replied that I had seen them on the top of our chest in the window since daylight and that there were six. David said he did not mean those but four in a wrinkle of the clothes betwixt him and me. I turned my head and saw them lying close to my back and I got to my feet and screamed as if they were to eat me.

This brought up the WatchmanPoliceman and many others until the house was full, thinking a murder was being committed. The multitude that assembled in the house suggested many ways to put the rats away. One said write a letter and put it at the mouth of the hole where they come in. Another, a bagpiper to play for a day in the room, and another poison, and many other suggestions which the proposers were sure would be effectual.

Grandmother tried them all, besides which the hole was filled up with putty and broken glass and strange to say, although the house was near to a large Tan yard, a rat was never seen in the house again.

SOURCE: The James Cox Journal

The Sparrow's Nest in the Old Steeple

When we were at Wylie's School, the Old Steeple was open every day. Any person got access to the top on payment of a small fee and one day of the week it was open to the public free of charge. On one of these days a few young reckless, fearless fellows, noticed a quantity of straw hanging out of a sparrow's nest below the Upper balcony of the Old Steeple. Amongst them was a Barber Murray who said 'Come away up and let's harry the sproges nest.'

Up they went but could not reach it. Murray said 'Hold my bonnet and I'll hang by it.'
When he was taking out the young ones he said 'Now Jack, if you let go my bonnet you'll no get a spurdie.Scots word for a house sparrow'

SOURCE: The James Cox Journal

The Game of Carts

Sometime before this a few of the aristocrats who occasionally visited the town of a night for the purpose of diversion as they called it, met in the Crown Hotel at the harbour and when very happy a the githerScots term for altogether proposed a game at the 'Carts'. That meant to collect all the carters carts and hurl them at one another into the basin.

I remember very well of the basin. It was a large deep dirty pool situated between the Crown Hotel and the Weigh House and filled with the tide. It had a sluice that was shut when the basin was full and opened when the tide was back, for the purpose of carrying the silt out of the harbour. When the present Docks were made it was not required and was filled up.

These country gentry considered this grand sport and paid for carts in the morning, leaving the carters to fish the carts out or buy new ones with the money.