and Elizabeth FOX
Bampton Parish Church
There are elements of uncertainty regarding the previous ancestors and family tree uncertainties compound, so, if we believe that each has a 50% chance of being accurate, then a three generation tree has only a 12.5% chance of being correct. From James onwards, however, we are on much firmer ground, other than his birth. On his marriage record he claimed to be a "sojourner of the parish of Neithrop" but every plausible James Cox baptism in Oxfordshire has been analysed and accounted for. He may have been baptised outside of Oxfordshire and his parents then moved to Neithrop or he may have been born to a family which didn't baptise him and didn't suffer from infant mortality. But the most likely explanation is that he was a surviving son of William and Mary because we have proof that they were having children in Neithrop during the period when James would have been born and we have proof that they did not baptise their children (in the Anglican church).
This chapter is really the story of Elizabeth Fox, born in Bampton in 1751 during the reign of George II, the year that Benjamin Franklin discovered electricity and Clive defeated the French in India. Her mother was 53 and her father 50 when she was born and both were dead by the time she was 17. She was living in Witney when she became pregnant by a labourer from Neithrop at the age of 24. Under the circumstances a quick wedding in Witney might have been prudent, or if they wanted family witnesses then Banbury would have been logical. Instead she managed to persuade the vicar in Bampton to marry them, and presumably both she and James had to attend the church three weeks in a row before the wedding. Bampton is some six miles from Witney so how did she organise the wedding without any parents or a telephone? Why did she go to so much effort? Was it just to fulfil a childhood dream to marry in the impressive church at Bampton or did she object to James' religion? It seems that she then managed to find employment for James and accommodation in Lew as the family settled there and had four children:
|COX||James||James & Elizabeth||Bampton||1776||baptised 12 May, s. of James & Elizabeth of Lew|
|COX||Elizabeth||James & Elizabeth||Bampton||1777||baptised 23 Nov, d. of James & Elizabeth of Lew|
|COX||Thomas||James & Elizabeth||Bampton||1779||baptised privately 27 Mar, s of James & Elizabeth of Lew received into church 11 Apr.|
|COXE||John||James & Ann||Bampton||1781||baptised 3 Jun, s. of James & Ann of Lew|
(N.B. There is no sign of a marriage between a James and an Ann around this date and I suspect the clerk has entered Ann in error)
Their first child was born 5 months after the wedding; up to the end of the 19th century this was normal for rural communities in Oxfordshire. The fact that the vicar was prepared to walk the 3 miles each way between Bampton and Lew to baptise the sickly new born Thomas further suggests that Elizabeth had a close relationship with the vicar. This makes the fact that they entered her name incorrectly when the fourth child was born all the more surprising (note also the altered Coxe spelling). The explanation for this is a change of vicars in Bampton:
|Name of Vicar||Date||Family event|
|Reynolds, William||1751||Birth of Elizabeth Fox|
|Hawtrey, Charles junior||1758|
|Thunton, Elias||1766||Death Father 1767
Death Mother 1768
Marriage to James Cox 1775
Birth James 1776
Birth Elizabeth 1777
Birth Thomas 1778
|Amphlett, Joseph||1780||Birth John 1781|
So we can see that Elias Thunton was the vicar when Elizabeth's parents died through to the baptism of Thomas but Joseph Amphlett was in charge when John was baptised. This seems a perfect explanation until a check of the marriage record reveals that it was Joseph Amphlett who married them!
There are no further records for the family in Bampton after 1781, so it seems that they lived in Lew for only a short period and are not related to the Coxes of Black Bourton:
The family moved to Neithrop, probably in the spring of 1785. The children would have been aged 8, 7, 6, and 3. The journey is 25.8 miles, about a nine hour walk for a fit adult, however, they would have been carrying all their possessions and the children would not have had shoes!
There were no enclosures around Bampton or Lew at that time but they must have been desperate to make the move. Had the family been supported in some way by the vicar, Elias Thunton? Neithrop would have been a hell hole in 1785, comparable to a smaller version of the notorious Daravi slum in modern day Bombay. Perhaps the "Black hole of Calcutta" is a more apt comparison, with our modern understanding of a black hole as an irresistible force which crushes its victims? Neithrop took a high price for James's absence and their eldest daughter Elizabeth was buried at St. Mary's, Banbury on the 29th July 1785, aged seven. Maybe she never recovered from the journey - without antibiotics, even a foot infection could be fatal - but it is more likely that she simply lacked the immunity to survive the unsanitary conditions of 18th century Neithrop.
They may have had up to three further children; William (1786), Joseph (1793) and Ann (1795) although the last two could have been the children of their oldest son James who would have been 18 by then but was neither married nor buried in either Bampton or Banbury. Remarkably all Anglican Cox baptisms from 1786 to 1835 (i.e. 49 years) were descendants of James and Elizabeth and Elizabeth acted as witness to not only the marriage of her two sons John and Thomas, but also for a Mary Cox who married William Southam. Further evidence that James had surviving family in Banbury and possible evidence of religious tension between Elizabeth and the indigenous Banbury Coxes.
Thomas's story comes next, but as a footnote it is worth recording that his younger brother John had nine children and that his family was responsible for the minor crime wave in Banbury - every Cox reference in the Banbury gaol records can be traced to a member of his family! The conditions in which they lived can best be summed up the description of his daughter Elizabeth, arrested for vagrancy on 24 Aug 1843, "Had been in custody for some days and was so filthy and diseased that she was unable at first to leave her bed". She was aged 21 at the time!