Sapper

John Cox

Photograph from the group picture taken at the 1909 Royal Engineer Reunion

John Cox was born in 1837.

Sapper Cox traveled with the main body of the Columbia Detachment on board the Thames City and arrived in British Columbia in April 1859.

As a Sapper, Cox's Regimental Pay per Diem would have been 1s. 2 1/2d. plus Working Pay per Diem of 1s. to 4s.

In 1863, a vessel called the "Tynemouth" landed at Esquimalt.  It was ostensibly a "Bride-ship" and Sapper Cox was looking for a bride.

"John Cox's bride arrived on the Tynemouth and had to wait at Victoria harbour on board alone for 2 days, since she was going to Archdeacon Wright's house in New Westminster (1863).  One of the reasons he decided to stay in New Westminster was the fact that she was coming.  Archdeacon Wright married them in Holy Trinity Church.   The first child born in Victoria was the mother of this interviewee."

-- Information from Brian A. Tobin, Victoria,
Grand-child of Sapper John Cox
to the New Westminster Archives.
Date unknown.

Cox married Miss Minnie Gillan of London on August 29th of 1863.  It appears that Cox's friend, Serjeant Rylatt and his wife, were at the wedding.

Cox remained in the Colony after the Disbandment.

According to Frances Woodward, Cox was appointed constable in the Cariboo in August of 1867 after the "Grouse Creek War".  Cox resigned his position in June of 1868.

Cox received Crown Grant, February 10th 1871, for Lot 224, Group 1, New Westminster District, 150-acre military grant.

Cox had a number of jobs and worked as a gardener and a bridge contractor.  He also worked on  under Walter Moberly as part of 'S' party leaving civilization in 1871 returning 1873.  There he met with some of his old comrades of the Columbia Detachment including Robert Rylatt, ex-serjeant RE

29 Aug 1871 - Jack Cox reminded me that 6 years ago to day he was married, and it brought to me the fact that my poor wife and I were at the wedding.  Jack was also a Sapper and Miner.

2nd October 1871 - Day before yesterday we started down the Columbia river (no longer a stream) on rafts and in canoes.  It is astonishing how soon this stream assumes proportions, fed by tributaries from the mountains on either side: it was at our starting point a respectable river.  The raft I was on contained Jack Cox, Jas. Malloy, myself and two Douglas Indians.  All went well for some time, but coming to some rather dangerous rapids, which took a somewhat sudden turn in their course, we were forced too near shore on our unwieldy craft, and being in danger from projecting snags, and while straining to our utmost, we broke an oar: this caused some confusion, lessening our chances of getting into midstream again, onward we were borne, and before we could avoid the danger, came full tilt against a fallen tree, half submerged, and projecting out into the current. All leaped for dear life when close upon it, and clung desperately to the slimy log.  Jas. Malloy leapt short however, and he and the raft were both sucked under.  We never saw him again: in all probability he was held down beneath the surface by snags and sunken underbrush.

25 February 1872 - ...There are 7 or 8 roughs in our midst who are bully's of the first water , and would as leif cut a throat as a purse I take it, as however, is very frequently the case with bully's, they are, I am certain, cowards at heart, for so I proved them to be...Finding I bore their taunts, and that they could not incite me to retaliate, they waxed bolder, and as I always take my meals after they have left the table, today they collected in a body around the cook house door: Roberts, the ringleader, big Reilly, Jackman, Reynolds, Rainier (a Greek) , Keating and Joe Reuff (a Bavarian).  They were evidently waiting for me, and I knew things had about come to open rupture...They told me I had best look out for myself, as they had a heavy score to settle with me.  I told them I didn't care for their threats, I'd do my duty, did the devil himself stand in the way.  I passed into the cookhouse, when Jack Cox, the cook, an old Sapper like myself, told me big Reilly had snatched the fry pan off the fire and thrown my steak out of doors.  I asked the great ruffian what he did it for?  He answered, damned if you shall eat unless you let us go through the Store (room), and see for ourselves (what is there).  I told him I'd see about that, and told Cox to dish me up some Beans and bread: he went to comply, when Reilly tried to stop him; I snatched up a hatchet, and told him if he didn't stand back, I'd brain him: he glared at me, but thought it safer to keep off.  Cox placed my plate on the table, when Roberts said, there are 7 of us and we will see you damned but you shall not have it, and he thrust his hand for ward to take the plate.  I was thoroughly roused now - down came the hatchet, and he left portions of his fingers on the table: I guess I aimed for the whole hand, but he was too quick, yet not quick enough, the hatchet passed through them clean, and buried its edge in the pine board, such was the blow I dealt.  I now rushed for Reilly, hatchet raised but the whole cowardly crew escaped to the door.  Roberts they led away crying like a big boy, while they threatened me with some choice oaths.  I ate my breakfast, and taking the Hatchet with me, left for my hut: after an hour or so they came down in a body and told me Roberts had lost much blood, was very weak, and asked me for medicine and bandages.  I gave them what they wanted, when they asked me to go and dress his hands, I told them they should leave that to them, he was one of their gang, I wasn't!  Reilly had an axe in his hand, and as it appeared their object was to get me out of the way, he said, come boys, let's smash the store door in! if he won't open it.  I jumped back, got hold of my Henry Rifle, and as Reilly was then at the store door (not 15 yards away) I leveled the piece, covered him, and told him to throw down the axe instantly, or I would shoot him dead, and God help me, I would have done it.  He took in his chances at once and threw down the axe.  I told them I had stood it as long as I could and that the next of their number who insulted me, or used threats to me, I'd have his blood on my hands.  They knew I was a sure shot, having seen me shoot Duck in the river with this same rifle and they concluded I meant it.  They left slowly taking their hang-dog countenances out of my sight...I subsequently found out that the man Reilly had served a term in the chain gang at Victoria, BC and that Roberts had been a convict in Australia.

May 2nd 1872 - My chum Jack Cox had some bad news - his house being burned down; his wife, it would appear, was enjoying herself at a Ball, leaving her children with a neighbour...The house being isolated, he lost everything.  Cold comfort Jack.

-- From the Journal of Robert Rylatt.

[The Cox's] lived here (New Westminster) for 10 years then moved to Victoria.  They owned a grocery at the foot of Douglas St. by the water, but it was burnt down.  Had 13 children, 2 died, 1 at 2 months and 1 at 2 years.  He hated working for others for pay.  Rather make his own way himself.  Wife used to ride with 2 Indians up the river to help deliver a lady's baby, once had her own baby with her.  Told her daughter how scary it was.  There was 6 children born here before the family moved to Victoria in 1873, 7 born here.  The first child born in Victoria was the mother of this interviewee."

-- Information from Brian A. Tobin, Victoria,
Grand-child of Sapper John Cox
to the New Westminster Archives.
Date unknown.

Of 11 children, Cox was survived by 5 daughters, 4 sons, 15 grandchildren and 9 great-grand-children.

Cox died in 1926.