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Alfred Cox

Dr GRAEME SKINNER (University of Sydney)


To cite this:

Graeme Skinner (University of Sydney), "Alfred Cox", Australharmony (an online resource toward the history of music and musicians in colonial and early Federation Australia):; accessed 10 April 2020

Alfred Cox 1825-1911
COX, Alfred

Amateur flute player, grazier, memorist (pupil of Spencer WALLACE, senior)

Born Clarendon, Windsor, NSW, 3 June 1825 (son of William COX, 1764-1837, and Ann BLACHFORD, 1796-1869)
Married Mary MACPHERSON (1830-1899), All Saints, Parramatta, 26 November 1849
Departed NSW, 1854 (for New Zealand)
Died St Albans, NZ, 23 May 1911 (NLA persistent identifier) (TROVE tagged)

Anna Cox (SL-NSW) William Cox (SL-NSW)

Cox's parents, William and Anna, c.1830, by Charles Rodius, State Library of New South Wales 


"DOMESTIC INTELLIGENCE", The Monitor (8 September 1826), 2 

Clarendon, near Windsor, the hospitable mansion of Captain Cox, has been the scene of gaiety and festivity, during the past week; three of the infant grandchildren of the worthy proprietor were to be admitted within the pale of the church of England; and a numerous party were congregated together on the occasion. Captain Piper's Scottish band arrived from Sydney in order to enliven the scene, and add another species of harmony to the other hilarities of the scene.

[Advertisement], The Sydney Morning Herald (5 December 1844), 1

"MARRIED", The Sydney Morning Herald (28 November 1849), 3 

By special license, at All Saints' Church, Parramatta, on the 26th instant, by the Rev. R. Forrest, Alfred, youngest son of the late William Cox, Esq., Fairfield, Windsor, to Mary, second daughter of Major Macpherson, late of H. M. 99th Regiment.

"DEPASTURING LICENSES", Lyttleton Times (25 November 1854), 6

"NEW BOOKS", The Sydney Morning Herald (6 August 1884), 4 

"Recollections" is the title of a work by Mr. Alfred Cox, and published by Messrs. Whitcombe and Tombs, limited, of Christchurch, New Zealand. The book is a plain unpretentious one, that will be of considerable interest to colonists generally, inasmuch as it deals with matters of colonial history relating more particularly to New South Wales, but extending also to Soulh Australia and New Zealand. The writer's reminiscences cover a period of some 50 years, so taking the reador back to the childhood, if not the very infancy, of the colonies. In addition to the colonies the writer speaks of visits made by him to England, Ireland, and Scotland. Some interesting particulars are also furnished of many of the leaders of New Zealand politics. "Recollootions" is written in an interesting style, and will well repay the studont of colonial history for its purusal.

"DEATHS", Press (24 May 1911), 1

"MR ALFRED COX", Press (24 May 1911), 10 

Mr Alfred Cox, an old resident of Christchurch, died yesterday in his 86th year. The late Mr. Cox was born in New South Wales in 1825, and was a son of Mr, William Cox, an officer of the 102nd Regiment, which landed at Botany Bay about 1788. Mr. William Cox left the service and became a settler in New South Wales, and was a prominent man in that State up to the time of his death in 1837. Mr. Alfred Cox visited England in 1844 and again in 1855. He secured two grazing runs at Timaru in 1854, and settled in that district three years later. Deceased resided there till 1882, with the exception of some seven or eight years in the Waikato, Auckland, where he was interested in a very large block of swamp land, and on which he spent large sums of money on drainage. Mr. Cox came to Christchurch in 1882, and resided ever since at St. Albans. He was a member of the House of Representatives for Heathoote during 1863-65, and for Timaru during 1866-68, and unsuccessfully contested the Geraldine seat in 1884. He published a volume, entitled "Recollections," which contains a great deal of interesting information as to his career in England, Australia, and New Zealand, together with references to many of the public men of the colony. He also edited "Men of Mark in New Zealand," a work thht was published some years later in Christchurch. Mr. Cox was married in November, 1849, to a daughter of the late Lieutenant-Colonel Macpherson, 99th Regiment, and had a family of two sons and nine daughters.

"DEATHS", The Sydney Morning Herald (1 June 1911), 8

COX. - May 28, at Constance street, St. Albans, Christchurch, Alfred Cox, in his 86th year.

"OLD SYDNEY . . . No. 191", Truth (11 June 1911), 12 

. . . My correspondent also writes: "Dear 'Old Chum,' - Re 'Old Sydney.' According to my records, William Cox, of the 102nd Regiment, who arrived here in the Minerva on July 10, 1800, had by his first wife, Rebecca Upjohn, nine children . . . By his second marriage to Anne Blatchford, sister of Mr. Beddick, solicitor, of Windsor, four children - (1) Edgar, (2) Thomas, (3) Alfred, went to New Zealand, (4) Anna Clarendon . . . I obtained my facts from a member of the family some time ago. I have no reason to doubt its authority."

Mr. Alfred Cox, who settled in New Zealand and wrote a book of reminiscences, died last week. He was born in 1825: settled at Waikato, became a large squatter and married a daughter of Major Macpherson of the 99th Regiment, and had, with other children, a daughter who married a son of the New Zealand statesman, Sir Walter. L. Buller, K.C.M.G.

King's School, Parramatta; by F. C. Terry, 1855

King's School, Parramatta, by F. C. Terry, c. late 1850s (detail); State Library of New South Wales (DIGITISED)

Windsor Court House, c.1870

Windsor Court House, built 1821, designed by Francis Greenway (1777-1837), photograph c.1870s

Musical recollections of the Wallaces

Alfred Cox was a pupil at the King's School, Parramatta, and it was probably there that he received music lessons from Spencer Wallace.

The concert by William Vincent Wallace that he attended with his grandmother, Mrs. Susannah Blachford, was almost certainly that held at Windsor on 4 January 1837; see:

[Advertisement], The Australian (3 January 1837), 1 

Leader of the Anacreontic Society, and Professor of Composition, Royal Academy
Will take place on WEDNESDAY, January 4th, 1837,
1. OVERTURE - Der Freischutz - Weber
2. SONG - Cease thus to palpitate - Rossini - MISS E. WALLACE.
3. SOLO, Piano Forte - Herz - MR. WALLACE.
4. FRENCH AIR - La Sentinelle - Boildieu - AMATEUR.
5. SONG - Rise gentle moon - Barnett - MISS E. WALLACE.
6. CONCERTO, Flute - Drouet - MR. S. WALLACE.
7. VOCAL DUET - O Pescator dell'Onda - Mozart - MISS E. WALLACE and AMATEUR.
8. GRAND CONCERTO, Violin - Mayseder in which will be introduced the favorite Irish Melody, Savourneen Deelish - MR. W. WALLACE.
9. OVERTURE - Italiana in Algieri - Rossini
10. CAVATINA - Uno Voce - Rossini - MISS E. WALLACE.
11. DUET, Piano and Flute - Henz - W. & S. WALLACE.
12. IRISH MELODY - Believe me if all those endearing young charms - AMATEUR.
14. VOCAL DUET - La ci Darem la Mano - Mozart - MISS E. WALLACE and AMATEUR.
15. FANTASIA - Dedicated to Paganini, introducing 'Tis the last Rose of Summer, Violin - MR. W. WALLACE.
16. FINALE - Overture to Il Barbiere de Siviglia
Tickets 7s. 6d. each, to be had at Mr. L. WHITE'S, Windsor.
By the kind permission of Colonel Wodehouse, Mr. Wallace will be allowed the aid of the Band of the 50th, Queen's Own Regiment.
In order that Families residing at some distance from Windsor may have an opportunity of attending this Concert, Mr. W. Wallace is induced to commence it at Four o'Clock, P. M., which arrangement will enable them to reach their Homes at an early hour in the evening.

ASSOCIATIONS: Eliza Wallace (soprano vocalist); Spencer Wellington Wallace (junior, pianist, flautist); Band of the 50th Regiment; the "amateur", almost certainly, was Charles Rodius

Wallace had also gaven a concert at Parramatta, a month earlier, on 7 December 1836, see:

[Advertisement], The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (6 December 1836), 1 

Recollections: Australia, England, Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand by Alfred Cox (Christchurch: Whitcombe & Tombs, 1884), chapter 4, 24-25; chapter 5, 29-31

[24] When I was quite a small boy I used to fancy that my father cared for music, for he seemed proud of my flute-playing, but after his bumping my head against a verandah post for persisting in whistling after he had repeatedly told me not to make a row, I began [25] to be of opinion that he must indeed have been utterly indifferent to the higher kinds of music.

Touching my flute-playing, I well remember that when one day I was practising my very hardest, out of school hours, my master came up behind me and said, "Ah, boy, if you were only half as much in earnest over your other lessons as you seem to be over that flute-playing, we should have little fault to find with you." Fifteen years after this encouraging speech was made to me, I ventured to say to my wife, "I think I could sing if I seriously made the attempt." She remarked, "I think you could, if you had a voice." I once heard a married brother say, "Depend upon it, there is no one in this wide world so ready to speak disagreeable (un)truths as one's wife" ...

[29] CHAPTER V. Music - William Vincent Wallace.

I HAVE already spoken of my having been taught to play the flute when I was a youngster. My music-master was Samuel [sic] Wallace, an old bandmaster in the 17th Regiment [sic]. He was a charming player, warbling exquisitely on the flute, and playing upon many other instruments nearly as well. He was the father of William Vincent Wallace, the well-known composer, who was a first-class performer on the violin and pianoforte.

The first concert that I ever attended was one given by Wallace the son, in 1837 or 1838. He alone performed at this concert, first on the violin and then on the piano. It is hardly necessary to say that I had never before heard such music. I sat by the side of my dear old grandmother, who, always ready to indulge me, had taken me with her to listen to Wallace's warblings. I was fairly entranced, confessing that I had at last heard something that I could never forget, and I then and there resolved that I would try and become a player myself.

This man, William V. Wallace, who had thus tickled my ears and filled my young soul with indescribable sensations, became, not many years after this, a very great man indeed in the musical world, establishing a reputation that has outlived him. All who know his music, will not be slow to admit that the lovers of melody are under great obligation to this composer. I have not a word to say here of the preference shown by many in these days of musical culture and development to the new school of music becoming fashionable; but I am not myself so far gone in this direction as to have outgrown my love for simple and flowing melody. The best proof of the claims of Wallace to be regarded as a tuneful composer is that his music still lives, is as popular as ever, and holds its own in these days with new works of a host of new writers.

I would like to say a few words as to variety in music. To my mind, that is one of its chief charms. It is calculated to soothe and [30] excite. My own experience prompts me to confess that there are times and seasons when my nerves are thrilled, my heart touched, and my thoughts are raised by sounds sweet and simple; and there are times, also, when my mind or soul, as well as my heart, craves and longs for something fuller and greater, higher and holier. It seems to me strange that anyone should have ever thought it a suitable thing to say that only one class of music should be tolerated and taught. There is a beauty and perfection in natural music, as certainly as there is in music the outcome of cultivation. Not all the world are yet musically educated, and even if they were, there is still a wonderful variety in the many schools of music. Italy represents one; Germany another; France a third; and, let us in all diffidence add, England another. I am not quite sure that in these days, when there is such a craze for culture, so called, and such a passion for something new and startling, that music may not suffer by the many attempts to perfect it. Plain speech, plain writing, simple and natural manners are still in high repute in the world; why not, then, strive to preserve, in all its purity, simple and natural music? Let us have variety in music, as we have it, unquestionably, in all other things. Diversity is a law of Nature. It has been written of the voice, "There are many kinds of voices in the world, and none of these is without signification." May it not as truly be said of music, "there are many kinds of music in the world, and none of these is without power to move us." I should as soon think of maintaining that one class of music only is worthy of being cultivated as that all my friends should be of one age, of one type, or of one nationality. I have had many friends in my time. They have been of all ages and various nationalities, and of different idiosyncracies, and I have loved them none the less in discovering them to have been not cast in the same mould. Were a man to invite me into his orchard and to tell me to help myself to one kind of fruit only, where there was a great abundance and variety, I should not know what to think of him; and were he to show me into his garden blazing with a variety and a profusion of beautiful flowers, and to tell me to fix my gaze upon one sort exclusively, I should wonder at his folly. When men are in a mood to make ornamental plantations, they keep before themselves the necessity of variety, even contrast. And when poets rave about loveliness in women, there are as many to be found praising blue eyes and fair hair as there are [31] those who are ready - on paper - to lay down their lives for a flashing eye and a dark skin. Music in all its varieties is one of heaven's best blessings - without it this world to some of us would be a dreary place to linger in. With music at command, we have always within reach a something to excite or to soothe us. I think and speak of music, of melody and harmony, as of twin sisters. I am enamoured of both, but wedded to neither.

Bibliography and resources

[c. 1836-37] Mrs. Edward Cox's journal (written about 1877) [in pencil: 1880]; transcribed by Andrew Houison (1850-1912) 

[c.1836-37] . . . and [I] was then married to my dear Husband and then went to live at Mulgoa Cottage. It was a very pretty place [MS transcript page 37] . . . besides which we had a grand neighbour in Sir John Jamison, about four miles from the Cottage. It was a fine residence, a large Stone house: he entertained in a liberal manner. My husband and I used to meet many pleasant people there among which I remember Sir Francis Forbes, Sir Richard Bourke, W. Charles Wentworth, Esq., Wallace, the Composer of Maritana, Mr. Manning, the Father of Sir W. Manning, Commissary General and Mrs. Laidley and many other Military Men. It was there I first met Lady Deas-Thompson, whose singing enchanted me.

ASSOCIATIONS: Jane Maria Cox (1806-1888) arrived in New South Wales with her parents, Richard and Christiana Brooks, in 1814. In 1823 the Brooks family moved from Sydney to Denham Court near Liverpool. In 1827 Jane married Edward Cox (1805-1868) of Fernhill, Mulgoa; Alfred Cox was her much younger brother-in-law.

Men of mark of New Zealand, edited by Alfred Cox (Christchurch: Whitcombe & Tombs, 1886) (DIGITISED)

Guy Scholefield (ed.), A dictionary of ew Zealand biography . . . volume 1, A - L (Wellington: Department of Internal Affairs, 1940), 179-80 

COX, ALFRED (1825-1911), was born at Clarendon, New South 'Vales, the son of William Cox, who came to the Mother Colony in 1788 as a captain in the 102nd Regiment, retired from the army and became a prosperous settler. Alfred received his education at the King's [180] School at Parramatta. As a pupil he was present at the funeral of Samuel Marsden (1837). Cox records that he was taught music by Samuel Wallace, bandmaster of the 17th Regiment, and father of William Vincent Wallace (q.v.). At the first concert that he attended young Wallace played on both piano and violin. Cox became an accomplished musician. In 1844, with the consent of his guardians, he paid a visit to England and to improve his knowledge of farming he stayed on a farm in Northamptonshire. In Ireland he saw the intense distress of the peasantry during the potato famine (1846). Returning to Melbourne (1847) Cox found many Tasmanians taking up the cheap runs offering in the Western District. On 26 Nov he married a daughter of Lieut-colonel Macpherson, of the 99th Regiment . . . In 1884 Cox published an interesting volume of Recollections and two years later a biographical dictionary entitled Men of Mark in New Zealand. Cox died in St. Albans on 23 May 1911 . . .

"Alfred Cox", Wikipedia

Ian Jack, "Homes of the Cox Family in New South Wales and Tasmania: a generational shift"

© Graeme Skinner 2014 - 2020