This too far longer than I thought. I had a couple of news stories, but I thought I’d have a quick look to see if there were any more. Just a few 🙂 I left out those that complaining about the state of the road or fares, or short references to accidents and some repetitive material, but still there was a lot to correct, fix the formatting on and arrange in the right order with the correct attributions. About 37 pages/14,00 words. So I’m breaking it into three parts. I think the results presents an interesting view of a society before motor cars, not to mention the enterprising proprietress of a well-known company, so they’re worth reading.
I’ll let the news stories speak for themselves, but first a bit of context from Australian Dictionary of Biography, wherein we find that John Edward Cox established the first coaching service between Hobart and Launceston in 1832. He died soon after, in 1837, but it wasn’t the end of his business.
“With great courage and enterprise [his wife] Mary Ann Cox carried on the Cornwall Hotel [in Launceston], and the coaching service with its annual turnover of £4000. By 1840 she had repaid her husband’s creditors in full.”
PART I: ACCIDENTS, EMBEZZLEMENT & BUSHRANGERS
COACH CAPSIZED. — On Wednesday afternoon, about two o’clock, Cox’s Coach, when travelling through Epping Forest, capsized, without serious injury to the passengers, although several of them were slightly contused. We understand, the accident took place in consequence of a carriage in which four gentlemen were riding, being driven against the leaders, making them shy and fly off the road, and that having witnessed the catastrophe, and heard the cries of several lady-passengers and children for help, the carriage drove away full speed — the gentlemen indulging in a roar of laughter!!! The names of these gentlemen should be made public. Their MANLY behaviour merits public record.
Cornwall Chronicle, 30 December 1837
[These next two are extracted from longer articles]
Having driven from the premises every person belonging to them, and for ever quieted the unfortunate Morley, the bushrangers proceeded to plunder the house, which they did, and stripped it of every article likely to be serviceable to them. They took with them a large quantity of spirits, which it is to be hoped may be the means of their carer in crime being speedily cut short, it being more than probable that they will make an intemperate use of it, and be thrown off their guard. This gang is now well mounted — in addition to the horses already in their possession — they stole three of the stage horses belonging to Mrs. Cox’s coach, baiting at the stables of the Stag Inn.
Cornwall Chronicle, 14 April 1838
The wretches then ordered the groom to saddle three of the horses belonging to Cox’s coach, which stood at bait there, and took their departure with their booty. A report has been prevalent that they were afterwards traced by Captain Forth and a party of police under his orders, as far Mr. Massey’s, at Ben Lomond ; but this is incorrect. After crossing the South Esk, they turned off in a different direction to that mentioned, and soon afterward turned adrift the horses taken from Thornhill’s; two of which have been found on the estate of Mr. James Aitken. The men themselves have not yet been traced.
Launceston Advertiser, 19 April 1838
Cox’s Coach — A report having gained belief that that this coach was overturned last week, we feel it to be our duty to contradict it ; the cause of the coach arriving out of time was the absence of the punt at the Bridgewater ferry. On the arrival of the coach at the ferry, the punt was found to be sunk, and the coach returned to Hobart Town, till accommodation could be provided to cross it over the river.
Cornwall Chronicle 11 January 1840
ACCIDENT.-.On Monday last, the driver of the Launceston coach, named John Ibbotson, who has for many years safely and carefully driven this vehicle, when about one mile on this side of Oatlands, fell from the coachbox, and instantly expired. It appears, that the unfortunate man had been drinking during the day, and as is supposed, was suddenly seized with a fit of apoplexy, which was the immediate cause of death. The horses finding themselves at liberty, galloped for about 150 yards down the hill, and overturned the coach; fortunately none of the passengers sustained any serious in-jury. The deceased was a valuable and faithful servant to Mrs. Cox for many years, and by his general attention, carefulness, and civility, had rendered himself much respected.
Launceston Advertiser 9 July 1840
Launceston Advertiser 10 September 1840
COACH ACCIDENT.–On Friday afternoon, Mrs. Cox’s coach from Hobart Town had reached St. John-street, when one of the wheelers became restive and bolted, the remaining horses becoming alarmed started off at the top of their speed ; the coachman with considerable skill, turned the corner into Williams-street, but at the corner where that street joins George-street, the coach came in contact with a post and overturned with a tremendous crash; the coachman and guard were thrown into the road without injury. The passengers had previously dropped from the vehicle, observing the approach of danger, a dangerous experiment by the bye, which often terminates fatally. The horse through which the accident happened, completely kicked off a hoof from one of his hind feet, and was obliged to be shot in consequence ; it was the property of Mr. Gilles and valued at seventy five guineas. Great credit is due to the coachman, for without the skill and presence of mind exhibited by him the horses, coach and passengers, would have found one common grave in the Tamar.
Colonial Times 10 Nov 1840
A person named Wilkinson, employed by Mrs. J. E. Cox as a book-keeper at the coach office at Hobart Town, disappeared last week, having been guilty of embezzlement to a considerable amount. Mrs. Cox has employed various means to ascertain the retreat of the delinquent, at present without success we trust, however, the police will ultimately discover him, and that he may be dealt with as he deserves for his conduct. Editorial continuesANOTHER BOLTER. — The person who was book-keeper at the Ship Inn, and had charge of Mrs. Cox’s coaching establishment, has lately disappeared ; and we regret to hear that Mrs. Cox has sustained a loss of several hundred pounds. No traces can be discovered of the delinquent. – H. T. Advertiser.
Cornwall Chronicle, 1 May 1841
William Wilkinson was acquitted on a charge of embezzling, on the 16th January, 1841, the sum of £14, from his employer, Mrs. Cox, of Launceston. It appeared that Wilkinson was allowed 15s. a week, and the fees for booking parcels, for managing the business in Hobart Town, of the Launceston coach; it was his duty to make out and transmit to Launceston a weekly account, and after paying all charges, to pay the balance into the Union Bank; the payment of the £14 to Wilkinson was proved, but there was nothing to show that the balance had not been paid into the bank. He was accordingly discharged.
Examiner 30 April 1842
THE BUSHRANGERS.–These men, since our last detail of their movements, seemed to hesitate at an endeavour to pass into the western country by the Lakes, considering the quantity of wet which had fallen, and retraced their steps to the Lake River, where they committed two petty robberies, and subsequently fell in with a party of ten police from Campbell Town, after dusk on the evening of Friday last. After challenging and firing eight shots upon them, the bushrangers retreated into a scrub, followed by the constabulary, who reserved their fire for closer quarters. But again the fortune of war was in favour of the robbers, who escaped their pursuers (again, however, leaving their plunder behind them,) and were next heard of on the main road near Epping Forest, where they stopped Mrs. Cox’s coach, and robbed the passengers, on Monday forenoon. In spite of Mr. Samuel Smith’s high opinion of the nerve of the thieves, they exhibited great haste and trepidation on this occasion, joined to a squalid and miserable appearance. Mrs. Cox, who occupied a seat in the coach, rebuked them in severe terms for the wickedness and folly of their career. She showed them, also, that they were more alarmed on the occasion than she was, and with perfect truth, for in their fear and confusion they failed to take her gold watch, and another lady’s, with various other portable property within their reach. The coach was detained not more than ten minutes, and on its proceeding took active steps to promote the pursuit of the freebooters, who are evidently closely hunted. We doubt if they will outlast the month at large ; and we really hope, for their own sakes, they will be speedily taken, for whatever the Review’s philanthropy may suggest as to the worse-than-death-system of Port Arthur, their present sufferings, as abundantly shown by their appearance, must wholly eclipse the endurance of a penal settlement.
Hobart Town Courier, 7 July 1843
[From a longer article]
It appears however, they outran the constables, as yesterday morning, about eleven o’clock, they stopped the Launceston coach in Epping Forest, appeared in excellent spirits, behaved remarkably civil, robbed Mrs. Cox of £2, Hewitt, the coachman of £7 and a silver watch, Johnson the guard of a gold watch, and a gentleman passenger of four sovereigns, and a hat, and a gold watch valued at £60.
Launceston Advertiser 6 July 1843
[A little detour, from Martin Cash: his personal narrative as a bushranger in Van Diemen’s Land.]
“Mrs Cox, on being introduced, presented me with a purse, which I instantly returned as I was quite aware of her identity; she being a widow, I would not deprive her of anything.”
DILIGENCE STAGE COACH.- This coach establishment has been worked for many years by Mrs. Cox with an unwearied assiduity, and a perseverance against the numerous difficulties peculiar to a new colony, that few persons would have been found so capable of subduing as the lady who bas so long and so arduously held the reins of management, “Dux femina facti.”
Mrs. Cox has now, with a zeal to deserve patronage evidently undiminished, resolved to run her coaches, from Hobart Town and Launceston three days in each week, at a reduced rate–charging £4 inside, and £3 outside, and running through from city to city in one day. This latter feature would in itself be a saving to the passenger, stopping a night on the road being thus avoided. The double saving is therefore most important to travellers, and we hope Mrs. Cox will find it equally advantageous to her own interests.
Courier 27 Oct 1843
MRS. COX’S COACH.– Since running on the new arrangement, Mrs. Cox’s coach has arrived in Launceston shortly after eight o’clock in the evening, performing in good style, and with certainty, the journey from Hobart Town during the day. Notwithstanding the depression of the times, we have little doubt but that public patronage will flow most liberally towards maintaining this spirited and expensive specimen of coach running, which we really believe no individual save Mrs. Cox could be found in the whole colony to have undertaken. The considerable reduction in the fares on the old prices–and the non-necessity for much expenditure on the road–makes the conveyance by the coach the cheapest as well as the most expeditious mode of travelling across the country.
Cornwall Chronicle 4 Nov 1843
COACH ROBBERY–Jones, the bushranger, and his two new allies robbed the coach between Thornhills
and Perth, on the evening of Wednesday. Full particulars have not yet transpired, but we hear that a lady passenger lost £ 12 10s., a Mr. Taylor some silver and a silver watch, the guard a silver watch, and some silver from the coachman. Mrs. Cox, who was also in the coach, had fortunately omitted to “put money in her purse.”
12 Jan 1844 Courier
ANOTHER COACH ROBBERY.— On Wednesday evening last, Mrs. Cox’s coach was plundered by three men, each of whom was remarkably well armed. It is singular enough that the robbery took place at a very short distance from the spot formerly selected by Cash and his companions, as the scene of their achievement. The coachman was peremptorily ordered to stop, and was immediately afterwards plundered of a silver watch and guard. A gentleman named Taylor, lost property of a similar description, and from the person of a young lady, also a passenger, the robbers took upwards of twelve pounds in money. They seemed greatly agitated during the whole of their stay, which did not exceed five minutes, and were at length compelled to decamp, in consequence of the sudden appearance of a party of constables. Priest is reported, upon good authority, to have been the leader of the party.
Cornwall Chronicle 13 Jan 1844
A REPORTER of our contemporary ‘Tiser, whose style smacks of the elderly female, has treated the public with a choice outbreak of bathos in a report of the stopping of the coach at Epping Forest a week or two ago, which event he is pleased, by some incomprehensible form of deduction, to lay at the door of the Probation system, and invokes all sorts of mischief upon the Colonial Secretary of State, not extending to Lady Stanley and the Honorable Misses Stanley. “When or where [says the horror-stricken”narrator, in an apparent fit of distraction] is”all this to end?”as though he had quitted Great Britain for a convict colony to turn his back upon crime and disorder for ever; “£60,000 a year paid for convict control–no security, no safety, no confidence [poor old lady!] life, liberty, [though neither have been molested’} and property insecure ; in every direction daily accounts of runaways. Every head of a family suspicious for the life and honour of his wife and daughters, [on account of the number of females of all ages, recently killed]–taxes and insecurity, the price of Probation expenditure and Probation folly. Would to God the reckless characters who have devised it were exposed to its horrors for a time. But no : we must recall the wish–[generous creature] –to experience it in its full horrors, their wives and daughters should share their terrors. We would not punish the guiltless for the guilty.”
The writer of the foregoing description, were he or she fortunately possessed of coherence, might make a pretty picking in the penny-a-line vocation from the ready application of the phraseology sacred to the fraternity in the composition of diabolical outrages. At the same time one would naturally look for some historical features to correspond with these high-wrought terms of commentary. Will it be believed that the incidents, as narrated by the same authority, consist in the coachman telling the thieves to hold the horses’ heads, and their desiring him to do it himself; in their obtaining a bag with £12 (perhaps twelve shillings,) and a Mr. Morgan’s watch ; their asking a lady for her watch, and conceding to her wish to keep her locket; in Mrs. Cox laughing at them [wives and daughters, how horrible !] in one of the thieves being minus a finger ; and the whole of them having ran off without their plunder, upon the supposed approach of two constables.
And thus ends this strange eventful history, not without stamping ‘Tiser’s old woman as the strangest dreadful occurrence-monger in the territory. If Mrs. Cox could not help laughing at the bushrangers, how heartily she will enjoy this description of them.
Courier 19 Jan 1844