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

After leaving Mr Kerr's office in 1827 and for the next four years, James was engaged in manufacturing and selling linen products to an increasingly widespread customer base. He then formed a partnership with William Wallace, a retailer in Dundee, which did not work out in the long term and was eventually dissolved in 1835.

His next venture proved more lucrative - he successfully developed some rented land, but his good fortune did not last long. He was persuaded to enter into a speculative investment in imported flax which failed and left him owing money, a position that clearly rankled for several years until he was able to repay his creditors.

Photograph of Nethergate by Alexander Wilson
The drapers shop of William Wallace, James Cock's partner
was at number 5 Nethergate, on the left of the photograph.

Boring for Water

Archangel Flax
The harvested stalks are left spread on the ground
under the influence of the elements for 2-3 weeks.

Flax Bales

SOURCE: The James Cox Journal

Cock and Wallace

I left the Town Clerk's Chambers on the evening of the tenth of February 1827 and started next morning for Glasgow with a few introductions in my pocket to several of the principal warehousemen in the City, where I stayed about a week and returned home with a few orders in my book, which I executed very promptly and to the entire satisfaction of the receivers.

I continued my journeys to Glasgow regularly every two or three months, added new customers almost every time I visited this busy city, extending my journeys to Carlisle, Newcastle and Manchester etc, for several years with a considerable amount of success, until the 1st day of July 1831, upon which day I took in as partner in my business:
'William Wallace, Draper, Dundee - under the firm of Cock and Wallace, Merchants and Manufacturers in Dundee and Lochee, and that for the space of twenty years from and after that date, the 1st July, 1831, during which space the said James Cox and William Wallace severally oblige themselves or by others on their account, without obtaining the previous consent of the other partner thereto ... etc.'

This co-partnership was not advantageous to either party and it was dissolved by mutual consent and the following notice of dissolution was issued:
'Notice is hereby given that the partnership business heretofore carried on by the subscribers under the firm of Cock and Wallace, merchants and manufacturers in Dundee and Lochee, was this day dissolved by mutual consent and the dissolution was signed at Dundee, 7th November, 1835.'

This was a great relief to me, who had the whole charge of the business on my shoulders and yet had to divide the profits, if any, with a partner who knew nothing of the details of a manufacturing business. The losses were also divided. We did not calculate upon them being great.

SOURCE: The James Cox Journal

The Archangel Flax Venture

I was now idle, which is not a good state for any man to be in. The old saying and a very true one, that idle dogs worry sheep, which I found to be the case to my cost, that with my dear wife and childrenJames married in 1834 and his first child was born in October 1835 (see Page 5) depending on me, I must turn my attention to something that would bring in a livelihood for them. Being trained to industry by my Father and having always had, now as I had from my earliest days, a great fancy for beginning at the first process in manufacturing our fibres, that wish haunted me night and day, how I could accomplish it.

I had by this time feuedThe most common form of land tenure in Scotland, giving the right to use of land in return for a fixed annual payment (feu duty) a piece of ground from the Corporation of Dundee, opposite the jail, for the purpose of building a small spinning and weaving work, and began to sink for water, went through clay a depth of 28 feet and having got a most abundant supply, my friends advised me to make this clay into bricks, the proceeds from which paid the feu duty for several years, and by the removal of the clay I was constructing a reservoir for the water.

While this was going on a merchant fancied my ground and offered me a high feu duty for it, which I accepted and began to look out for another site, as I considered I was abler for it than before, but now I found that it is when danger seems past, when the sky is clear, that the storm is often nearest. After all these anxieties, and when fairly on the road to competence if not wealth, a new trouble overtook me which nearly wrecked my whole commercial life.

Three business firms, acquaintances and schoolday companions, induced me to join them in a joint venture in importing a couple of cargoes of Archangel Flax.Flax prepared by leaving the harvested stalks spread out on grass under the influence of the elements, for 2-3 weeks The proposal seemed feasible and in an evil hour I joined them. The flax was excellent and the business seemed likely to result in a profit.

One of the parties however, would not sell at a profit when it could be had. The flax was warehoused. First one and then another of my co-partners in the venture were overwhelmed in the commercial crises which overtook the Dundee trade.

I was able and anxious now to have the flax sold, pay my share of the loss and be done with it. The trustees objected, their estates in bankruptcy and sequestration, went to Court. Years of litigation followed. The roof of the warehouse was bad. The fine cargoes of flax were damaged. Interests on renewals, insurance, and rent, brought up the loss to more than half the whole cost of the cargoes.

I consulted Christopher Kerr,The Town Clerk for whom James worked after he left school my old Master and trusted friend. He advised me at once to divide my all among those to whom I had obligations. This I did with great grief and sorrow, because it was not enough.He was not able to pay off all his debts I was wrecked, disheartened and ruined by a venture which, properly handled, should have shown a profit.