Joseph Fox the younger

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Joseph Fox

Joseph Fox (1758 – 25 February 1832) 1st Internist London Hospital. Born a Quaker, he became a Roman Catholic on what was supposed to be his deathbed and lived a year afterwards.


William Munk's "Roll of the Royal College of Physicians"[1] tells us that this second Joseph, after practicing in Falmouth for some years as an apothecary, "acquired by marriage and his profession a small independence" and decided to try his fortune in London as a physician. He studied at Edinburgh and in 1783 graduated M.D. at St. Andrews. Settling in London, he was admitted L.R.C.P. in 1788, and in 1789 was elected physician to the London Hospital.[2] In 1792 the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh made him a fellow.

When he settled among them, London Friends were helpful, and it was through the influence of Thomas Smith (Banker, of Lombard street, London – a relative through the Tregelles family (See also Edwin Octavius Tregelles),[3] and other wealthy men, that he became Physician to the London Hospital. "He set up his carriage on 600 pounds a year."

In 1800 he was compelled by his increasing private engagements (???) to resign his office at the London Hospital and, having by that time accumulated a fortune fully adequate to the supply of all his wants, he soon afterwards quit London.

He had conceived, and partly compiled, "A New Medical Dictionary Containing a Concise Explanation of all the Terms Used in Medicine, Surgery, Pharmacy, Botany, Natural History, and Chemistry" and the publishers, who had the manuscript, arranged for its revision and completion by Thomas Bradley, physician to the Westminster Hospital and long editor of the Medical and Physical Journal. This workmanlike little book appeared in 1803, and in 1804[4]

In retirement, he lived first in his cottage at Mylor, across the water from Falmouth. "But there he was soon found out and drawn into practice, working very hard as a country doctor

George Alexander Fox (1876–1965) recalled that this Joseph (his great-uncle) carried in a waistcoat pocket little slips of paper on which were written the symptoms of certain diseases, with which to refresh his memory as he rode to his patients.

His last years were spent in Plymouth.


The young Joseph worked first at the London Hospital, and during that time became friends with another doctor, Edward Jenner who was working at St. George's Hospital. The dread disease of that Century was smallpox, and a number of doctors were trying to discover a cure. Many had realized that dairymaids who had contracted cowpox were immune from the smallpox, and considered that if a method of inoculating cowpox could be found, this might be the answer. Edward Jenner left London and returned to his home at Berkeley in Gloucestershire. In 1796 he wrote a paper on the subject after success when inoculating a young boy in his village. His method became generally accepted in the following century.

Joseph Fox informed his cousin, Thomas Fox, (1747–1821) about these developments. We are told by Hubert Fox of a letter ca 1798 saying that "Joseph Fox, now Physician at the London Hospital was a friend and fellow worker with the great Doctor Jenner; through this connection Thomas had many of the children in his factory treated" by inoculation against smallpox. Thomas owned woolen cloth mills at Wellington in Somerset.

Joseph left London and returned to his home in Falmouth where he practiced medicine. He was Doctor to a merchant ship's Captain, Christopher Buckingham, and to his wife, Thorazine, who lived in Flushing. He brought all their children into the world, and one of them later wrote that at the age of six he was sent to Trevissome Farm "to be' inoculated for the small-pox". If he is correct this would be 1792. He continues the operation was performed by a worthy Quaker, Dr Fox of Falmouth, and I was for the puncture, which was so suddenly and unexpectedly made that I was saved all the pain of apprehension which is generally greater than that of the wound itself."

In 1798 Captain Yescombe of the Packet Service advertised Wood cottage at Greatwood for sale, a property which lay near the ferry crossing at Mylor Creek. Joseph purchased the house, living there for many years possibly until his death.."[5]

Why Joseph became a Catholic[edit]

"From the Devonshire House monthly meeting minutes Joseph's wife Eizabeth Peeters had transferred her Friends' Membership from London to Cornwall but there was no mention of Joseph, although he appeared in these minutes in the early 1790s. In autumn 1798, Joseph asked to be disowned by the Society of Friends when he "acknowledged his being convicted in his own mind of the inconsistency of his conduct with the religious principles" and denounced his moral conduct in being the father of an illegitimate child.[6]


Elisabeth Peeters

Joseph (Falmouth, Cornwall, 13 Jul 1758 – Plymouth, 25 Feb 1832, buried Charles Church Yard, Plymouth) was the son of Joseph Fox (1729–1785) and Elisabeth Hingston (1733–1792) In Plymouth he married 1780 his 2nd cousin Elisabeth Peters (St Dennis, 5 Dec 1751 – Mylor, 1830). They share the same ggparents Philipp Debell (1657-?) and Ann Soady (?-1742)[8]

Joseph Fox had 4 children

Emily Sleeman-Fox

1- Emily (aft Mar 1792 – Newton Abbott, South Devon, 8 Mar 1866, ) married Philipp Sleeman (1791/2-31 Mar 1869), brother of Maj General William Henry Sleeman, Governor of Lucknow, who joined the Indian Army in 1809 and wrote the History of the Thugs (hired gangs of murderers). Dsp.

2- Mary James (Abt 1796 – London, 27 Mar 1866) who married abt 1825 Robert Deeble Mitchel, MD (Redruth, Cornwall, ca 1794 – Boulogne sur Mer, Fr, 2 Nov 1843), issue.

3- Sophia James (1798 – London, 10 Dec 1875) who died unmarried

Dr Charles James Fox

4- Charles James (Londen, 25 Jan 1799 – London, 12 May 1874 married Windsor 12 Aug 1828, Anne Mary Guion (London, 4 Nov 1798 – London, 12 Mar 1876), daughter of Capt. RN Gardiner Henry Guion and Polini from Corsica. (Issue in Canada and the Netherlands)

Anne Mary Guion

Joseph was witness to the marriage of his son Charles James on 12 Aug 1828

The mother of Joseph's children is unknown. Emily could be the daughter of Elisabeth Peeters, the others could be children of a daughter or a sister of Richard James. Emily was brought up as a Quaker became Protestant and afterwards joined the sect of Lady Huntingdon The other three were sent to France and brought up as Catholics by "De Tremouille", a French lady.

In the "Revised genealogical account of the various families descended from Francis Fox of St. German's, Cornwall" privately printed London, 1872 Joseph and Elizabeth are mentioned on the chart and on the pages 12/13 (Fox of Falmouth) and 19 (Debell of Looe). On pages 13 is stated that "there was not any issue of the marriage"

Data on Joseph Fox and his dealings with his lawyers in Plymouth can be found in the Bayly Bartlett papers. Joseph Fox had real estate dealings in London in 1792 with a James family. Thomas Were (a Quaker) is also named in this agreement, regarding a property on the west side of Finsbury Place at the corner of Ropemaker's Street in the Parish of St Luke in the County of Middlesex. Joseph seemed to be taking long leases in this new property development real estate. In 1832 Joseph also took a 99-year lease on a house at Number 1, The Bank (St) in Falmouth, Cornwall. This dwelling was part of the marriage settlement of Emily (Fox) Sleeman. For one of the London properties, he commissioned a builder in October 1794, to build a house for him at the South West corner of South Street near Finsbury Square, to be completed by August 1795 This house may have been intended for his own use or may have been the residence of his natural (illegitimate) children and their mother.

Richard James, of Esher Surrey, died in 1799. He was a wine manufacturer in London. There is an entry in the 1794 directory of London and Westminster and the borough of Southwark – James & Were – British Wine Manufacturers, Finsbury Place.[9] Richard had a daughter Elizabeth who was married to a William Reave by 1799. His sons Joseph and Benjamin inherited his wine business and had real estate dealings (a quitclaim) with Joseph Fox of Plymouth Devon but late of Mark Lane London.


  1. ^ William Munk, "Roll of the Royal College of Physicians, Vol II, 1701–1800 Archived 24 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ London Hospital Archived 12 December 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ A Correct List of all the BANKERS 1794
  4. ^ Royal College of Physicians of London; Comprising biographical sketches of all the eminent physicians, .........
  5. ^ Redwood, U.M. (1989) A family of Quaker doctors photocopied electric typewriter text. Copy at Library, Falmouth
  6. ^ Devonshire House Monthly Meeting minutes, December 1798 (volume 13, pages 241–242)
  7. ^ genealogy of the Fox Family
  8. ^ Revised genealogical account of the various families descended from Francis Fox of St. Germans, Cornwall, to which is appended a pedigree of the Crokers of Lineham, and many other families connected with them. Privately printed London, 1872
  9. ^ 1794 directory of London and Westminster