Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Cox, Edward William

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COX, EDWARD WILLIAM (1809–1879), serjeant-at-law, eldest son of William Charles Cox of Taunton, manufacturer, by Harriet, daughter of William Upcott of Exeter, was born at Taunton in 1809, and educated at the college school in that town. He was called to the bar at the Middle Temple on 5 May 1843 and joined the western circuit, but never obtained much practice as a barrister. As early as 1830 he wrote a poem for the ‘Amulet’ called ‘The Tenth Plague,’ and produced a volume of poems entitled ‘The Opening of the Sixth Seal.’ He was recorder of Helston and Falmouth from February 1857 to June 1868, and recorder of Portsmouth from the latter date to his death. He contested Tewkesbury as a conservative in 1852 and 1857, and Taunton in 1865. On 18 Nov. 1868 he was elected one of the members for his native town, but was unseated in favour of Henry James, Q.C., on 5 March 1869 (O'Malley and Hardcastle's Reports of Election Petitions, i. 181–7, 1870). He became serjeant-at-law 1868. He was appointed chairman of the second court of Middlesex sessions in March 1870, and continued throughout his life to discharge the duties of that post. He established the ‘Law Times’ on 8 April 1843, and thenceforth devoted to it the larger portion of his time and attention. This journal's series of reports at once attracted the support of the leading members of the legal profession, who in 1859 presented the proprietor with a very handsome testimonial for his services in establishing and conducting the ‘Law Times.’ In 1846 he brought out the ‘County Courts Chronicle and Gazette of Bankruptcy,’ the only publication which gave exclusive attention to the inferior courts. Some years afterwards he purchased from Benjamin Webster the actor, for a mere trifle, ‘The Field, a Gentleman's Newspaper devoted to Sport’ (originally established in 1853), which in a short time he so improved that it returned a profit of about 20,000l. a year. Subsequently he became proprietor of ‘The Queen, a Lady's Newspaper,’ which had been started in 1861. He next established the ‘Exchange and Mart,’ the plan of which was suggested by the correspondence columns of ‘The Queen,’ and this being a success, he in 1873 brought out ‘The Country, a Journal of Rural Pursuits,’ and then two other papers called respectively ‘The Critic’ and ‘The Royal Exchange.’ He was the author of several well-known legal works, the most important of which, ‘The Law and Practice of Joint-Stock Companies,’ ran to six editions. He founded, and was the president of, the Psychological Society of Great Britain (22 Feb. 1875), a society which collapsed on his death, and was dissolved on 31 Dec. 1879. In the interest of this association he published several treatises of great originality and vigour, such as ‘What am I?’ ‘The Mechanism of Man,’ and other works. He was a most consistent believer in spiritualism, and a great admirer of Mr. Daniel Home. He died at his residence, Moat Mount, Mill Hill, Middlesex, on 24 Nov. 1879, and was buried in Colney Hatch cemetery on 29 Nov. He married first, in 1836, Sophia, daughter of William Harris, surgeon in the royal artillery; and secondly, 14 Aug. 1844, Rosalinda Alicia, only daughter of J. S. M. Fonblanque, commissioner of bankruptcy. His will was proved on 11 Dec., when the personalty was sworn under 200,000l.

The following is a list of the principal works written or edited by Cox: 1. ‘1829, a Poem,’ 1829. 2. ‘Reports of Cases in Criminal Law determined in all the Courts in England and Wales,’ 1846–78, 13 vols. 3. ‘Railway Liabilities,’ 1847. 4. ‘Chancery Forms at Chambers,’ 1847. 5. ‘The Law and Practice of Registration and Elections,’ 1847. 6. ‘The new Statutes relating to the Administration of the Criminal Law,’ 1848. 7. ‘The Powers and Duties of Special Constables,’ 1848. 8. ‘The Magistrate,’ 1848. 9. ‘The Practice of Poor Removals,’ 1849. 10. ‘The Advocate, his Training, Practice, Rights, and Duties,’ 1852. 11. ‘Conservative Principles and Conservative Policy, a Letter to the Electors of Tewkesbury,’ 1852. 12. ‘Conservative Practice, a second letter,’ 1852. 13. ‘The Practical Statutes,’ 1853. 14. ‘The Law and Practice of Joint-Stock Companies,’ 1855. 15. ‘The Law and Practice of Bills of Sale,’ 1855. 16. ‘The Practice of Summary Convictions in Larceny,’ 1856. 17. ‘A Letter to the Tewkesbury Electors,’ 1857. 18. ‘The Arts of Writing, Reading, and Speaking, in Letters to Law Students,’ 1863. 19. ‘How to prevent Bribery at Elections,’ 1866. 20. ‘The Law relating to the Cattle Plague,’ 1866. 21. ‘Representative Reform, proposals for a Constitutional Reform Bill,’ 1866. 22. ‘Reports of all the Cases decided by the Superior Courts of Law and Equity, relating to the Law of Joint-Stock Companies,’ 1867–71, 4 vols. 23. ‘A Digest of all the Cases decided by the Courts relating to Magistrates' Parochial and Criminal Law,’ 1870. 24. ‘Spiritualism answered by Science,’ 1871. 25. ‘What am I?’ 1873. 26. ‘The Mechanism of Man,’ 1876. 27. ‘The Conservatism of the Future,’ 1877. 28. ‘The Principles of Punishment as applied to the Criminal Law by Judges and Magistrates,’ 1877. 29. ‘A Monograph of Sleep and Dreams, their Physiology and Psychology,’ 1878. Cox prepared law books and reports with other persons, and contributed to the Transactions of the Psychological Society and the London Dialectical Society.

[Times, 26 Nov. 1879, p. 8; Law Times, 29 Nov. 1879, pp. 73, 88; Illustrated London News, 5 March 1859, p. 221, and 6 Dec. 1879, pp. 529, 530 (with portrait); S. C. Hall's Retrospect of a Long Life (1883), ii. 121–6; Hatton's Journalistic London (1882), pp. 208–11; Proceedings of the Psychological Society of Great Britain (1875–9).]

G. C. B.