Poppy

First World War in Headington and Marston, Oxford

William Arthur COX (1895–1916)

William Cox

William Arthur Cox was born at 105 Magdalen Road in east Oxford on 19 January 1895, the son of John Evan Cox (born in Banbury in 1861) and Jane Cripps (born in New Hinksey in 1860/1).

Back In 1871 William’s father, John Evan Cox (aged 10) was living in the Cowley Road workhouse. The 1881 census was taken just before his marriage, and he was then a chimney sweep aged 20 living in the home of his master, Joseph Soden, at 2 Jericho Street.

His future wife Jane Cripps had given birth to a daughter in 1878, nearly two years before her wedding:

  • Selina Ann Cripps (born in Berkshire (probably south Oxford) on 16 October 1878 and baptised at St John the Evangelist Churchk Lake Street on 18 November 1881. The register described her mother as a spinter, and stated that Selina's surname was “now Cox”.

At the time of the 1881 census Jane (20) was a living as a servant at 10 Beaumont Street, Oxford and her daughter Selina (2) was being cared for by her widowed mother Ann Cripps (49), a laundress who lived in Church Street, South Hinksey.

William's parents were married on 16 May 1881 at South Hinksey Church: his father was only 20, and his mother 19. They settled in east Oxford, where they had thirteen more children:

  • Jane Cox (born in East Oxford in 1883 and baptised at Cowley SS Mary & John Church on 30 August)
  • John Evan Cox (born in East Oxford in 1884; died unbaptised shortly after birth and buried in unconsecrated ground at Cowley SS Mary & John Church on 11 November)
  • Florence Edith Cox (born at Magdalen Road, Oxford in 1885 and baptised at Cowley SS Mary & John Church on 3 September 1885)
  • Alice Cox (born at Magdalen Road, Oxford on 13 January 1887 and baptised at Cowley SS Mary & John Church on 13 February);
    died aged 6 months and buried in the children’s plot in the churchyard on 28 July 1887
  • John Cox (born at 105 Magdalen Road, Oxford on 28 April 1888 and baptised at Cowley SS Mary & John Church on 12 July)
  • Beatrice Rose Cox (born at 105 Magdalen Road, Oxford on 27 February 1890 and baptised at Cowley SS Mary & John Church on 3 June)
  • Thomas Arthur Cox (born at 105 Magdalen Road on 28 January 1891 and baptised at Cowley SS Mary & John Church on 10 May);
    died aged 16 months, buried in the churchyard on 19 June 1892
  • Lucy Cox (born at 105 Magdalen Road, Oxford on 12 March 1893 and baptised at Cowley SS Mary & John Church on 6 April)
  • William Arthur Cox (born at 105 Magdalen Road, Oxford on 19 January 1895 and baptised at Cowley SS Mary & John Church on 17 May)
  • Mary Mildred Nellie Cox (born at 105 Magdalen Road, Oxford on 15 November 1897 and baptised at Cowley SS Mary & John Church on 18 February 1898); died aged nine months and buried in its churchyard on 3 September 1898)
  • James Edward Cox (born at 105 Magdalen Road, Oxford on 25 July 1899 and baptised at Cowley SS Mary & John Church on 2 November)
  • George Henry Cox (born at 105 Magdalen Road, Oxford on 7 October 1901 and baptised at Cowley SS Mary & John Church on 1 November)
  • Charles Cox (born on 19 November 1906 but not baptised until 19 July 1912, when the family was living at 104 Charles Street).

At the time of the 1881 census William's parents were living at 105 Magdalen Road with Selina (12), who had taken William Cox's surname but was not necessarily his child, and their five children Jane (7), Florence (5), John (2), Beatrice (1), and Thomas (two months). John Evan and Alice had already died, and baby Thomas was also to die the next year.

At the time of the 1891 census William's parents were living at 105 Magdalen Road with their six surviving children. William himself was born there in 1895.

In 1901 William (6) was living at 105 Magdalen Road with his parents and his siblings Florence (15), John (13), Beatrice (11), Lucy (8), and James (1). His two eldest sisters had both gone into service as kitchenmaids: Selina (22) was at the Manor House in Hamble le Rice, Hampshire; and Jane (17) was at Boyton Lodge, Esher, Surrey.

By the time of the 1911 census, William (16) had become a chimney sweep like his father, but he was not at home: he spent census night as a patient in the Radcliffe Infirmary. His family had moved to 104 Charles Street, also in East Oxford. Beatrice (21) and Lucy (18) were still living at home and going out to work as domestic servants; Mary (13), James (11), and George (9) were at school; and Charles (4) was the baby. In addition William’s sister Jane (27) was also living with them with her new husband and their baby. William’s parents were also caring for Jane’s earlier illegitimate children: Alice Cox (4) and Frederick Arthur Cox (2), so a total of fourteen people were living in this house, which had six rooms (including the kitchen). William's sister Selina (32) was still single, and working as a cook at Scotch Farm, Wokingham; his sister Florence (25) was married; and his brother John, who had signed up to serve with the Princess Charlotte of Wales’s (Royal Berkshire) regiment back in 1907, is hard to locate.

By 1916 the family had moved to 23 Quarry High Street. (The three Headington villages were scantily covered in Kelly’s Directory at this time, so the entry for his father reading “Cox John Evan, chimney sweep, 23 High street, Headington Quarry” does not appear until 1926.)

W. A. Cox's grave

 

Poppy In the First World War William Arthur Cox served as a Private in the 1st/4th Battalion of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (Service No. 4897). He was killed in action in France at the age of 21 on 14 July 1916.

He is buried at the Hébuterne Military Cemetery (I. E. 1). He is listed on the stone plaque in the porch of Holy Trinity Church in Headington Quarry.

 

 

Left: Photograph of William Arthur Cox’s grave in the Hébuterne Military Cemetery, kindly supplied by British War Graves. The text reads:

[Emblem of the OBLI]

4897 PRIVATE
W. A. COX
OXFORD & BUCKS. LIGHT INF.
14TH JULY 1916. AGE 21

PEACE, PERFECT PEACE

This is one of the 40% of war graves that bears a personal message at the end (for which the family had to pay 3½d per letter).


Postscript

Quarry memorial

William’s parents
  • Mrs Jane Cox died at 23 Quarry High Street at the age of 72 and was buried in Holy Trinity churchyard, Headington Quarry on 19 May 1934.
  • John Evan Cox continued to be listed as a chimney sweep at 23 Quarry High Street until at least 1936. He died at the age of 82 at 15 Chestnut Avenue, and was buried with his wife on 31 July 1943.
Some of William’s siblings
  • Selina Ann Cox, formerly Cripps (born 1878) married Albert R. Kinnard in the Headington registration district in the first quarter of 1919.
  • Jane Cox (born 1883) had two illegitimate children who were living with their grandmother in 1911: Alice Cox (born 1896/7) and Frederick Arthur Cox (born 12 June 1908): they were put in a Dr Barnardo’s home and later sent to Canada. Jane married Frederick John Davis, a tailor’s clerk, in the Oxford registration in the fourth quarter of 1910, and their son Albert John Davis was born in the same quarter, but was not baptised at Cowley St John Church until 20 August 1911, when the family was living at 36 Essex Street. Jane's second husband Frederick John Cox died at 77 Magdalen Road at the age of 40 and was buried in Cowley St John churchyard on 24 October 1912. Their daughter Lilian Freda Davis was born at 77 Magdalen Road around the time of her father's death and was baptised at Cowley St John Church on 10 November 1912. Jane’s next daughter, Beatrice K. Davis, who must have been illegitimate, was born in Headington Workhouse on 12 June 1914 and baptised at Holy Trinity Church in Quarry on 4 September. Jane Davis appears to have married a third husband, Henry J. Oliver, in the Upton, Worcestershire registration district in the fourth quarter of 1915. Jane’s daughter Lilian died in 2011 at the age of 99.
  • Florence Edith Cox (born 1885) appears to have given birth to an illegitimate daughter, Vera Cox in Torquay, Devon in 1908/9. She married Arthur William Hunaban in the Upton, Worcestershire registration district in the second quarter of 1910, and the 1911 census shows them living in Malvern with their daughter Edith Hunaban (5 months). They appear to have had six more children: Edna M. Hunaban (1912), Beatrice J. Hunaban (1914), Dorothy J. Hunaban (1915), Arthur William Hunaban (1919), Albert E. Hunaban (1920), and Eileen L. Hunaban (1927). Their son Arthur was killed in the Second World War.
  • Mary Mildred Nellie Cox (born 1897) continued to live with her parents in Quarry and married Frederick Leslie Harris of Barry at Holy Trinity Church on 21 April 1924.
  • James Edward Cox (born 1899) continued to live with his parents at Quarry and married Ada Margaret Hunt at Holy Trinity Church on 14 February 1925.
  • Lucy Cox (born 1893) married Albert Brian Gammon in the Headington registration district in the second quarter of 1914, and they lived in West Lodge Cottages, later renamed 3 Cemetery (Dunstan) Road, and then moved to 14 Chestnut Avenue by 1930. They had four children baptised at St Andrew’s Church: Phyllis Margaret Jane Gammon (born on 16 September 1914 and baptised on the same day); Alice Muriel Gammon (born on 8 March 1919 and baptised on 4 May): Joyce Audrey Gammon (born on 9 March 1923 and baptised on 6 May); and William John Phelp Gammon (born on 14 March 1930 and baptised on 6 April).

See also

Back to Holy Trinity Church, Headington Quarry roll of honour

Back to War Memorials page on Headington Community Website