The COX Family - in Angus and Perthshire

1 Apr 1816 at Lochiefield
James Cock 1776-1848
Helen Scott 1787-1824
James, David, William, Robert, Thomas, George, Edward
Jean 1806, Helen 1824
Possibly late 1840s in New Zealand
Anne Preston
Georgina Ellen born circa 1850
10 Mar 1886 in Dundee
18 Mar 1886 in Dundee

Henry was the fifth son of James and Helen Cock. He was born at Lochiefield and his schooling was probably similar to that of his older brothers, beginning at the local nursery and elementary schools in Lochie and progressing to the Parish School of Dundee and the Dundee Academy.

On leaving school he worked in the office of Alexander Rowan, a general merchant in Dundee, where no doubt he received a good commercial grounding. At some time after this he emigrated to New Zealand where he lived for a number of years.

It was probably in New Zealand that he met and married his wife Anne Preston. Very little is known about Anne, though from the 1881 Census we know she was born in England in about 1818. They had one child, a daughter Georgina Ellen, probably born around 1850 in New Zealand.

When Georgina was approaching adulthood, Henry and his family moved to Calcutta where Cox Brothers were in the process of setting up the Camperdown Pressing Company in Cossipore, a suburb of Calcutta. The purpose of this enterprise was to provide a facility for the selection and packing of jute fibre. Vast amounts of this raw material was required in regular shipments to Dundee for the massive Camperdown Works in Lochee.

At this time Henry's nephew William James Cox (son of his brother Robert) was also in Cossipore assisting with the new enterprise. No doubt this was where he first met his cousin Georgina and a few years later they married. However it did not last and they subsequently divorced. They had no children.

According to Harry Cox's book, Henry was 'one of the best known business men in Calcutta' and remained there with Anne for perhaps 10 years. The 1881 Census shows them back in Scotland living at 79 Woodstock (West) in Bridge of Allan, Stirlingshire. A few years later valuation records for 1885-6 show he was a tenant at 9 Windsor Street, Dundee, a property owned by Cox Brothers with an annual rental value of £65. He died in 1886 aged 70, presumably at this address.

Note - On the right are five photographs from a collection taken in 1875 at the Camperdown Pressing Company's premises in Cossipore. They form part of the Dunlop Smith Collection: Sir Charles Aitchison Album of Views of India and Burma, held by The British Library.

View over the roofs of the factory premises

Indian labourers carrying jute into the works

Interior view of the jute pressing works
The gentleman in the suit and hat may be Henry Cox.

Bales of jute stacked in the warehouse

The Company jetty near the works on the Hooghly River

SOURCE: The James Cox Journal

The Development of Jute Carpet

Brother Henry was in Mr Alexander Rowan's office, a general merchant in town for buying and selling. One day Mr Rowan sent Henry to find a manufacturer who could imitate a piece of heavy jute cloth dyed different colours in the yarn like a Dutch carpet. This was the first sample of jute carpet that had appeared in Dundee, and was made in Abingdon near Oxford.

Henry met brother William and asked him to make a piece, giving him half of the sample, and James NeishSon of a Dundee merchant, he proceeded to specialise in the production of jute carpets. of the Laws the other half, both imitated the article and did well with it. This became a great trade and formed a new fabric to take with me on my journeys, and which took amazingly.

SOURCE: The James Cox Journal

In Praise of Jute

The fibre used in the Camperdown Linen Works just described, is the production of India, bought there from the farmers and the merchants (same as corn is in this country) selected and packed in the works of the Camperdown Pressing Co Ltd at Cossipore five miles north of Calcutta, on the banks of the Hooghly, and shipped to this country, either direct to Dundee or to some other British port, thence by railway.

If to Dundee, it is then loaded on railway trucks at the ship's side and disloaded at Camperdown Linen Works into the warehouses along the sides of the railway and sidings within the works, where it is manufactured into yarns and cloth and various other articles.

Jute is the principal and best thing yet discovered for round the marine telegraph wire. It is made into common rope and twine, it makes a first rate imitation of human hair and is made up into wigs which sell at a low price of 1/6 eachAbout 7½p each! and upwards.

I remember once dining with a friend in Glasgow who had promised to supply the Theatre Royal with an article to imitate long flowing hair for fairies who were to take part in the pantomime, but was put to his wits ends afterwards to think what he could get.

He raised the circumstance at the dinner table, when it immediately occurred to me that jute was what he wanted, and I said 'Tell me how many heads you have to cover and I will send them to you after I get home.'
'Some twelve or thirteen.'
'Very well, you shall have them ten to twelve feet long - I fancy it please you, hanging over their shoulders and sweeping the stage.'

When I got home I prepared about 15 hanks beautifully heckled and dyed, in various colours, brown, red, blue, yellow, green, white, etc, etc, which they got made up in Glasgow, and which amused the audience amazingly.

Jute makes a common cheap sacking, packing cloth, carpet, window cutains, etc, etc. In fact, it would be difficult to say what it could not be made into of the fibre kind, the backs of satin for ladies dresses, etc, - though the ladies would be offended if told so.