1815, better remembered for the Battle of Waterloo, was also the year that John Cox was born in North Bar Street, the sixth child of Thomas and Hannah. Like his father, he seems to have been the victim of mistaken identity when in 1835 (ten years after his father) John Cox (aged 20) was acquitted of larceny at Oxford county court. The likely culprit was his cousin John Cox (1817 - 1866), because on 7 Jan 1837 John Cox aged 19, Henry Cox and George Pearson, each aged 15, were imprisoned for stealing four bushels of potatoes, the property of Thomas Perry of Banbury. It seems unlikely that this was "our" John, because if they recorded his age as 20 in 1835 it is unlikely that they would record a younger age two years later.
The 1841 census finds him living at "The Bank" in the house of Charles White, a plush weaver, apparently as a lodger. Robert Horwood, a fellow sawyer also lived there. Assuming the census was recorded door to door, his mother and younger sisters were living nine doors away. A year later on the 8th April he married Ann Colman, a millwright's daughter in a joint wedding with his sister Caroline and George Pearson (the potato convict above). Their younger sister Charlotte was the witness at both weddings. Both brides were pregnant at the time, Caroline gave birth on the 31st May and Ann on the 13th December.
Their son Lewis (Louis) was baptised on 1st Jan 1843 at St. John's Catholic Church and his godmother was Eliza Morley. Caroline's second child, George Owen had already been baptised a catholic on 31st May 1842, the godmother was also Eliza Morley. When Ann's daughter Helen was baptised in 1845, Caroline was the godmother. None of their children had a godfather, and neither John nor George ever acted as a godfather for anyone else. Moreover, when George was deported to Australia in 1862 he gave his religion as "Protestant", so what was going on?
The catholic mission moved from Overthorpe to Banbury in 1833 and the new church opened in 1838, dedicated to St. John the Evangelist (i.e. the gospel writer, not the Baptist) by which time the number of Catholics in Banbury had risen from fifty to two hundred. A 400% growth in five years implies an aggressive recruitment campaign, but although infant baptism records date back to 1771, no record survives of adult conversions during this period.. If the Catholics used door to door canvassers then when they got to Neithrop they would have encountered exactly the same problem that the Anglican vicar William Wilson faced in August 1850 when he carried out his survey. People from outside Neithrop would not venture into the area during the hours of darkness for personal safety reasons and during the daytime when their husbands were away working the wives would not converse with the opposite sex. Consequently any canvas or survey had to be carried out by women on women with inevitably skewed results. So whether by accident or by design, the Catholic Church seems to have become a support group for the young mothers of Neithrop, predating the Mothers Union by some 38 years! There is no evidence that either husband ever converted to Catholicism.
John died on 8 May 1848 at the age of 32 after suffering from consumption for one year and diarrhoea for 6 months. The death was registered by Eliza Morley (Louis's godmother) who was present at the death, she signed with an X indicating that she was illiterate.
Ann was full term pregnant at the time, giving birth 9 days after John's death on 17 May 1848. The baby was baptised John Owen 4 days later on the 21st May, with Eliza White as the godmother, but when he died at the age of 5, in Sept 1853, the name George was used. Maybe Ann found the name John too upsetting?
The use of the name "Owen" became increasingly popular with both the Coxes and Pearsons. Possibly, it's a reference to Charlotte Owen who married John's cousin William. There must have been a Welsh community in Banbury because Rachel Cox named her illegitimate son "Reece Llewellyn", so presumably the father was Welsh? Co-incidentally or not, a prostitute named Susan Owen lived in Gould's Row, until she was murdered by her pimp, the notorious William "the badger" Willson, in 1858, but it seems unlikely that the mothers of Neithrop would have allowed their children to be named after the local hooker?
The 1851 census found Ann living as a "smock frock maker and pauper" at 13 Oxford Road with two of her children, Helen and George, and a 10 year old lodger, Harriet Compton. Louis was missing and his whereabouts is unknown. On the 11th November 1855, she married John Sole, a widower and the doorkeeper-sexton at St. John's. By the 1861 census Louis had been re-united with the family and they were living at 68 Cathorpe Lane Upper. Ann was widowed again in 1876. By 1881 she was living at 32 Calthorpe St as a Tailoress, and she died in December 1900 aged 80.
- Newspaper report on County Sessions Jackson's Oxford Journal
- Anyone with an interest in Banbury Catholic Records will have already found
the Warkworth records for the period 1771 - 1812 on the OFHS disc OXF-BAN01.
However, not everyone may have noticed the index for the Overthorpe records
for the period 1813 - 1832 at the end.
For later records, the Catholic archives at St. Chad's in Birmingham has the St. John's Banbury baptism records for 1843 - 1885 and the conditional baptisms for 1877 - 1911
I had assumed that no other records existed until I visited St John's where they have the following:
Liber Baptizatorum 1771 - 1833
Liber Baptizatorum 1832 - 1843
Liber Baptizatorum 1884 - 1929
Marriages 1856 - 1945
Deaths 1857 - 1939
Confirmations 1855 - 1986
They are in Latin and generally not as meticulous as Anglican records, but they do give both birth and baptism dates - unlike the Anglicans!
My interest is now the period 1836 when the new church opened to 1842 when my ancestors started having their children baptised as Catholics. For this to be allowed at least one of the parents must have converted, but I've been unable to trace a record of adult conversions during this period. Can anyone help, please?
- Cake and Cockhorse Winter 1966