Alfred Cox (politician)

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Alfred Cox
Alfred Cox NZETC.jpg
Portrait of Alfred Cox
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Heathcote
In office
28 October 1863 – 27 January 1866
Preceded byWilliam Sefton Moorhouse
Succeeded byJohn Hall
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Timaru
In office
20 February 1866 – 14 October 1868
Preceded byFrancis Jollie
Succeeded byEdward Stafford
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Waipa
In office
11 January 1876 – 13 June 1878
Preceded bynew constituency
Succeeded byEdward Graham McMinn
Personal details
Born23 June 1825
Clarendon, New South Wales, Australia
Died23 May 1911(1911-05-23) (aged 85)
St Albans, Christchurch, New Zealand
Mary Macpherson
(m. 1849; died 1899)
RelationsWilliam Cox (father)
Ernest Gray (brother-in-law)
Frederick Alexander Whitaker (son-in-law)
ResidenceRaukapuka (1857–1870)
Lake House (1873–1879)
Occupationrunholder, politician

Alfred Cox (3 June 1825 – 23 May 1911) was a 19th-century runholder and Member of the New Zealand House of Representatives. Born in New South Wales into an upper middle class military family, he was sent home to England to learn about farming. Upon returning to New South Wales, he heard about the large profits that were possible in South Canterbury and bought licenses for land that he had not seen. He stocked the land, put a manager in charge and made another trip to England with his wife and their, at that time, small family. He moved to New Zealand permanently in 1857 and lived on his large farm, Raukapuka, which stretched from the sea to the foothills, and of which the homestead was located in present-day Geraldine. He sold his South Canterbury interests and moved to the Waikato, where he bought large land holdings in Hamilton and Thames. He tried to drain his swamp land and lost a lot of money with those ventures. He sold up in 1882 and moved to Christchurch, where he retired.

He became politically active in South Canterbury and represented the area first in the Canterbury Provincial Council and then in the House of Representatives. He was the driving force behind the establishment of some of the South Canterbury local bodies. During his time in the Waikato, he represented a local electorate in the House of Representatives. He resigned due to ill health and later tried to re-establish his parliamentary career in a South Canterbury electorate, but was beaten by William Rolleston.

Early life[edit]

Cox was born in 1825 in Clarendon, New South Wales.[1] His father was William Cox, an English soldier, known as an explorer, road builder and pioneer in the early period of British settlement in Australia. His mother was Anna Blachford, his father's second wife.[2] Cox received his education at The King's School in Parramatta.[3] As a teenager, he attended the funeral of Samuel Marsden in Parramatta.[4]

Cox had Samuel Wallace, the father of William Vincent Wallace, as his music teacher, and he developed into an accomplished musician. From 1844 to 1847, he spend time in England to learn about farming. He visited Ireland and saw the dire consequences of the Irish Potato Famine.[4]

After his return, he married Mary Macpherson, a daughter of Lieutenant-colonel Ewan Macpherson, on 26 November 1849. Her father was stationed with the 99th Regiment of Foot in Tasmania at the time.[4] Her sister married Ernest Gray.[5] Like Cox, his wife was a good flute player. She also played the piano, and they often entertained guests with musical performances.[6]


Cox had a farm in Windsor, New South Wales. In 1854, he learned that made profits were made by selling stock, especially sheep, to New Zealand. In Sydney, he purchased two licences for unstocked grazing runs in South Canterbury from Muter and Francis.[4][7] He met John Cracroft Wilson, who was in search of a healthier climate, and encouraged him to also settle in Canterbury. Wilson purchased sheep and cattle in Sydney, and took them to Lyttelton in the Akbar.[8] With the help of his brother-in-law and others, Cox brought his stock to New Zealand on the Admiral Grenfell, which landed in Lyttelton on 12 March 1854.[9] The group returned the following month to Sydney on the Tory[10] to get another shipment of stock. On their return, they drove the stock from Christchurch to the land that he had named Raukapuka. Cox left William du Moulin in charge and returned to Australia.[4]

In 1855, the Cox family visited England. He was not to see his land again until 1857, when he permanently settled in New Zealand.[4] He spent some time improving the living conditions before he brought his wife and family out to Raukapuka.[11]

The original licences bought from Muter and Francis, which were originally known as runs 18 and 31, covered 40,000 acres (160 km2).[7] Run 43 covering 26,000 acres (110 km2) was added to this; the land was purchased from George Duppa.[12] Raukapuka was located between the Orari and Hae Hae Te Moana Rivers, the coast, and the foothills.[7] The settlements of Geraldine, Winchester, Pleasant Valley, and Woodbury are located on land originally owned by Cox.[13] Raukapuka Recreational Reserve in Geraldine, partly under the management by the Department of Conservation, commemorates the early ownership.[14] Cox sold Raukapuka in 1870, either to Sir Thomas Tancred (the eldest brother of Henry Tancred) or his son, Selby Tancred.[7] The original homestead was located near Geraldine, and the area was incorporated into the town in 1953.[15]

Cox first visited the interior of the North Island in 1867 and became interested in farming there. Together with James Williamson, he visited land owned by Williamson in the Waikato region.[4] Cox engaged architect Isaac R. Vialou to design a house on the shore of Lake Rotoroa in Hamilton. It was the homestead of the Rukuhia Estate, which originally measured 6,000 hectares (60 km2)[16] and which he owned with Williamson. Cox lived in Lake House at 102 Lake Crescent from 1873 until 1879. The house is registered with Heritage New Zealand as a Category II heritage structure.[17]

Cox bought swamp land in the Thames District. The capital expenditure for draining the land was large, and Cox lost a lot of money through this venture. He sold his holdings in 1882 and moved to St Albans in Christchurch, where he spent his remaining life.[4]

Political career[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1863–1866 3rd Heathcote Independent
1866–1868 4th Timaru Independent
1876–1878 6th Waipa Independent

Cox was first elected to the Canterbury Provincial Council in May 1862 for the Geraldine electorate and served until October 1864,[18] when he resigned due to increasing parliamentary duties.[4] He was then elected for the Papanui electorate and served from May 1870 to August 1871.[18] From October 1870 to August 1871, he served on the Canterbury Executive Council.[18] In February 1864, he was elected the first chairman of the Geraldine Road Board.[4] In late 1867, he became a member of the first Timaru and Gladstone Board of Works.[4]

Cox represented the Heathcote electorate from 1863 to 1866 (elected 28 October; dissolved 27 January), then the Timaru electorate from 1866 to 1868 (elected 20 February; resigned 14 October). He then represented the Waipa electorate in the Waikato region from 1876 to 1878 (elected 11 January; resigned 13 June).[19]

When he represented Timaru, there was much dissatisfaction in South Canterbury about the area not getting its share from the provincial government that it was due. There were numerous calls for separation of South Canterbury from the Canterbury Province, but Cox was opposed to it. Instead, he had legislation passed in parliament that enabled the establishment of the Timaru and Gladstone Board of Works, which took over some of the functions of the provincial council, and had its assured income.[13]

He resigned in 1878 due to ill health and increasing deafness.[17]

In the 1884 election, he contested the Geraldine electorate, but was beaten by William Rolleston.[20][21]

Later life and family[edit]

His wife's parents lived with them in Raukapuka. Her father died in 1859 in Christchurch and was buried at Riccarton Cemetery. Her mother moved with them to subsequent homes and died in November 1898 when the family lived in St Albans.[22][23]

Alfred and Mary Cox had four sons[24] and nine daughters.[25] Their first two children were born in Windsor, their third child was born in 1855 while they were in Cheltenham, England. Their fourth child was born in 1857 in Parramatta. All subsequent children were born in New Zealand, the first of them were twin girls in 1859.[23][26] The twins had a double wedding at Riverslea farm in South Canterbury on 30 September 1879, three days after their 20th birthday: Kate married Frederick Alexander Whitaker, the eldest son of New Zealand's 5th Premier, Frederick Whitaker (her husband had earlier that month been first elected to Parliament), and Marian married Francis H. Barker, the fourth son of the late Dr Alfred Charles Barker.[27]

Two of their sons died in 1893 within six weeks,[24][28] and they were both buried at Temuka cemetery near Raukapuka.[23] His wife died on 2 August 1899; at the time, they were living in Office Road in St Albans.[5] She was buried at St Paul's Anglican Church in Papanui.[29]

Cox's last home was in Constance Street in St Albans;[30] the street was renamed to Stirling Street in 1948.[31] The adjacent street, Cox Street, was named in his honour in 1892.[32] He died at his residence on 23 May 1911[30] and was buried at St Paul's Anglican Church next to his wife.[33]


Cox was the author of Recollections (1884), and Men of Mark of New Zealand (1886).[34]


  1. ^ Scholefield 1940, p. 179.
  2. ^ Steele 1916, p. 50.
  3. ^ Scholefield 1940, pp. 179f.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Scholefield 1940, p. 180.
  5. ^ a b "News of the Day". The Press. LVI (10414). 3 August 1899. p. 5. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  6. ^ "Untitled". The Oamaru Mail. XXXIX (10776). 26 May 1911. p. 3. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d Acland 1946, pp. 154–157.
  8. ^ Roberts 1991, p. 9.
  9. ^ "Shipping News". Lyttelton Times. IV (167). 18 March 1854. p. 6. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
  10. ^ "Shipping News". Lyttelton Times. IV (170). 8 April 1854. p. 6. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
  11. ^ "Raukapuka". Ashburton Guardian. XXIX (7795). 14 May 1909. p. 4. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
  12. ^ "Depasturing Licenses". Lyttelton Times. IV (216). 25 November 1854. p. 6. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
  13. ^ a b "Obituary". The Timaru Herald. XCIV (14451). 25 May 1911. p. 2. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  14. ^ "Alphabetical Index of Names for Land Units Managed by the Department" (PDF). Department of Conservation. Archived from the original (pdf) on 27 February 2014. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
  15. ^ McLintock 2009.
  16. ^ Swarbrick, Nancy (13 July 2012). "Waikato places - Hamilton". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  17. ^ a b "Lake House". Register of Historic Places. Heritage New Zealand. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  18. ^ a b c Scholefield 1950, p. 193.
  19. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 191.
  20. ^ Cyclopedia Company Limited (1903). "Mr. Alfred Cox". The Cyclopedia of New Zealand : Canterbury Provincial District. Christchurch: The Cyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
  21. ^ "The General Election, 1884". National Library. 1884. p. 3. Retrieved 17 March 2012.
  22. ^ Eldred-Grigg 1980, p. 93.
  23. ^ a b c "Men of Mark in New Zealand". South Canterbury NZGenWeb Project. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  24. ^ a b "Death". The Timaru Herald. LV (5743). 8 August 1893. p. 2. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  25. ^ "Marriages". The Star (5733). 28 November 1896. p. 4. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  26. ^ Trevor. "The Cox Family". RootsWeb. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  27. ^ "Marriages". The Timaru Herald. XXXI (1578). 11 October 1879. p. 2.
  28. ^ "Death". Waikato Times. XLI (3315). 26 September 1893. p. 4. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  29. ^ "Local and General". The Star (6556). 5 August 1899. p. 5. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  30. ^ a b "Deaths". The Press. LXVII (14051). 24 May 1911. p. 1. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
  31. ^ Harper, Margaret. "Christchurch Street Names: S" (PDF). Christchurch City Libraries. p. 112. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  32. ^ Harper, Margaret. "Christchurch Street Names: C" (PDF). Christchurch City Libraries. p. 154. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  33. ^ "Funeral Notices". The Press. LXVII (14052). 25 May 1911. p. 7. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  34. ^ Mennell, Philip (1892). "Wikisource link to Cox, Alfred". The Dictionary of Australasian Biography. London: Hutchinson & Co. Wikisource 


New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
William Sefton Moorhouse
Member of Parliament for Heathcote
Succeeded by
John Hall
Preceded by
Francis Jollie
Member of Parliament for Timaru
Succeeded by
Edward Stafford
New constituency Member of Parliament for Waipa
Succeeded by
Edward Graham McMinn