Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Richard Ferdinand Cox (1786–1845)

Mayor of Oxford 1826/7

134 High Street

Richard Ferdinand Cox was baptised on 1 October 1786 at All Saints’ Church. He was the son of the banker Richard Cox (who was himself Mayor in 1799, 1812, and 1823) and his wife Mary Adams. His older sisters Harriet and Louisa Sarah and four younger siblings James Henry, Julia Lavinia, Mary, and Charles Henry were also baptised at All Saints.

Richard Ferdinandc Cox joined his father in business as a linen draper in All Saints parish at 134 High Street (left). By 1790 Cox & Co were bankers as well as drapers.

In April 1801 Sir John Treacher was granted a licence of alienation to assign Richard Ferdinand Cox a cellar under the Town Hall.

In 1807 Cox and his father went into partnership with the cousins James and Robert Morrell to form the bank Cox, Morrell & Co., and by 1813 Cox was described simply as a banker

On 24 August 1812 at St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church, Richard Ferdinand Cox married Sarah Folker (born 1787, the only surviving child of William Folker, Mayor in 1802 and 1816) and they appear to have had just one child:

  • Louisa Sarah Cox (baptised on 31 July 1813 at All Saints’ Church)

Cox joined his father on the council in 1810. He was elected Senior Chamberlain in 1813 and Senior Bailiff in 1818. In 1826 he was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1826/7).

To finance their investments and purchases of land, all the partners in Cox, Morrell & Co borrowed from the bank’s joint funds. In 1831, probably when the accounts were made up, the Morrells discovered that Richard Ferdinand Cox had not only borrowed £14,000, but had contravened their express wishes by lending very large sums of money to a Witney carrier called Richard Parker.

His father, Richard Cox, fled a bankrupt to Calais, while Richard Ferdinand Cox was expelled from the partnership and took his shares in the bank premises and profits in compensation.

On 21 December 1838 the following notice appeared in the London Gazette:

25 December 1838: BANKRUPTS. David Davies, late of Lydney, in the county of Gloucestershire (but now a prisoner in the Queen’s Bench prison) and Richard Ferdinand Cox, late of High-street, Oxford, in the county of Oxford, but now of Regent-square, in the parish of St. Pancras, in the county of Middlesex, coal-owners, d.c. to sur. Jan. 15, and Feb. 5, at 11.—Sols. Richard and Motteram, Birmingham. —Pet. cr. Robert Pike, of St. John-street, Oxford, sheriff’s officer.

Presumably Richard Ferdinand Cox remained in London, because the 1841 census shows only his wife Mrs Sarah Cox and their unmarried daughter Louisa (who was then about 28), both described as independent, was still living at 134 High Street with two servants.

On 2 October 1841 Richard Ferdinand Cox and his brother Charles Henry Cox (a graduate of Christ Church) released to the Morrells various property that had been their father’s as final compensation.

The following case was reported in Jackson’s Oxford Journal for 16 July 1842:

Ferdinand Cox JOJ

Richard Ferdinand Cox died in mid-1843 at 19 Nelson Square, Christchurch, Surrey at the age of 58 in 1845 (reg. St Saviour's district, second quarter). He was buried at All Souls Cemetery, Kensal Green on 21 June that year.

Jackson’s Oxford Journal for 4 March 1848 reported on Parker v. Morrell in a Nisi Prius Court held the previous day:

to try whether a bond and warrant of attorney for 250l., dated the 30th of April 1831, had been obtained from the plaintfif by the present defendants or by Richard Cox or Richard Ferdinand Cox (their late deceased partners), by fraudulent misrepresentation, or by fradulent concealment, or both; and whether he had signed them as surety for his brother Richard Parker.

The Judge found in favour of the defendants.

At the time of the 1851 census Cox’s widow Sarah Cox (62) was described as an annuitant but had obviously come down in the world as she was lodging at 2 St Aldate’s Street in the household of the confectioner Thomas Biggerstaff. She died in St Aldate’s parish at the age of 69, and her funeral was at All Saints’ Church on 6 March 1857.

See also:

  • Richard Cox, Mayor in 1799, 1812, and 1813 (Richard Ferdinand Cox’s father)
  • Brigid Allen, Morrells of Oxford. The Family and their Brewery 1743–1993 (Oxfordshire Books, 1994), pp. 38–9

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 5 June, 2021

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