William Cox (governor)

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The Honourable
William Cox
26th Governor of Tasmania
In office
15 December 2004 – 2 April 2008
Preceded by Richard Butler
Succeeded by Peter Underwood
Personal details
Born (1936-04-01) 1 April 1936 (age 81)
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Spouse(s) Jocelyn Cox

William John Ellis Cox, AC, RFD, ED, QC (born 1 April 1936) was Governor of Tasmania from 15 December 2004 to 2 April 2008, prior to which he was the state's Chief Justice and Lieutenant Governor.[1]

Born in Hobart to the Hon William Ellis Cox, CBE, MC (d. 1970) and Alice Mary Mulcahy Cox (d. 1983), William John Ellis Cox was educated at St. Virgil's College, Hobart,[1] Xavier College, Melbourne and the University of Tasmania.[2]

He graduated from the University of Tasmania (BA, LLB) in 1960 and was admitted to the Bar, in the Supreme Court of Tasmania in March 1960. He was appointed a magistrate in 1976, and became a Queen's Counsel in 1978, during his term as the State's Crown Advocate (equivalent to Director of Public Prosecutions).[2]

He was appointed to the Supreme Court of Tasmania in 1982,[2] and was the state's Chief Justice from 1995 until 2004. He was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Tasmania in 1996.[3] In 1999, Cox was made a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC). He already held the Reserve Force Decoration (RFD) and the Army's Efficiency Decoration (ED) for service in the Royal Tasmania Regiment, including service in Vietnam.[4]

Cox's most high profile court case was that of Martin Bryant, who shot dead 35 people at Port Arthur on 28 April 1996 and was brought before Cox for his trial six months later. Bryant admitted all 35 murders on 8 November 1996 and Cox sentenced him to life imprisonment fourteen days later, recommending that Bryant should stay in prison until he dies.[5]

In August 2004, he became acting Governor upon the resignation of Richard Butler, and in November the Premier, Paul Lennon, announced that he had advised the Queen to appoint Cox as Governor of Tasmania. Cox is only the second Tasmanian-born Governor in the state's history.[2] The first was Sir Guy Green.

During his term, Cox was the Honorary Colonel of the Royal Tasmania Regiment and Honorary Air Commodore of the RAAF No. 29 (City of Hobart) Squadron.

William Cox was succeeded as Governor on 2 April 2008 by Peter Underwood, Chief Justice of Tasmania.[6]


William Cox and his wife Jocelyn have three children.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Office of the Governor Annual Report 2004–2005, Governor of Tasmania, 2005.
  2. ^ a b c d "New governor is a break with the past". The Age. AAP. 18 November 2004. Retrieved 3 December 2011. 
  3. ^ Ansley, Greg (11 August 2004). "$720,000 payout as Butler quits". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 3 December 2011. 
  4. ^ COX, William John Ellis, It's an Honour.
  5. ^ "A man rejecting his mother and the world". The Sydney Morning Herald. 26 April 2009. Retrieved 3 December 2011. 
  6. ^ "Underwood to be Tasmania's new governor". The Sydney Morning Herald. AAP. 3 March 2008. Retrieved 3 December 2011. 
Government offices
Preceded by
Richard Butler
Governor of Tasmania
Succeeded by
Peter Underwood