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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]

Mr. Charles Percy Cox

Mr. Charles Percy Cox, J.P., is a son of the late Captain L. F. Cox, of the 1st Life Guards, and of Sandford Park, Oxfordshire, England. He was educated at Cheltenham College, with a view to his entering the army as a profession. He, however, gave up that intention on hearing most promising reports about the then little-known country of New Zealand, in which he arrived in 1853 by the ship “North Fleet.” Sheepfarming then seemed the surest way of accumulating a fortune, and Mr. Cox went to Mr. Hunter Brown's station at Double Corner, where he was initiated into the methods of working a sheep station. After being there two years he visited Auckland, but, not finding a suitable opening there, he returned to Christchurch in 1856, and made up his mind to remain permanently in Canterbury, me then entered into large land and station operations, in which he had for his partner Mr. J. E. Fitzgerald, afterwards Auditor-General. They had Spring station and Long Beach station, and worked these properties in conjunction. In 1861 Mr. Cox went to England, but returned in the following year to New Zealand. During his absence portions of the Spring station were taken up by small farmers, and he and his partner sold their interest in both stations to Messrs Russell, Grigg, and Roberts. Mr. Roberts resided on Spring station, and Mr. Grigg on Long Beach. Messrs Cox and Fitzgerald then bought the Mount Somers station, and, Mr. Fitzgerald having been bought out, Mr. Cox carried it on with considerable success for fifteen years, when he sold it to the present proprietor, Mr. Peach. Mr. Cox purchased at various times land in the Hinds district, and at Ashburton. In 1878, in conjunction with the late Mr. John Matson, he started the business in Ashburton known as that of Messrs Matson, Cox and Co., auctioneers and land agents. This firm continued a successful career until 1888, when tae business was disposed of to Mr. David Thomas. Mr. Cox then devoted his attention to several mining ventures in Dunedin, on the West Coast, and in Auckland, and put up the first dredge in Waipori; but the returns proved unsatisfactory. About 1890 he went Home with the intention of putting the most promising of his claims on the London market, but the time was inopportune. English investors were shy of New Zealand mining claims, and his efforts to secure English capital for the development of the mines were unsuccessful, though four years later millions of English money were poured into the Auckland goldfields to develop their mineral wealth, and with successful results. In 1895 Mr. Cox went to England by the “Tekoa” with a tria, shipment of fat sheep, and was successful in landing them in splendid condition, on behalf of his cousin, Mr. E. Owen Cox. During recent years Mr. Cox has not been actively engaged in business, and he now lives in retirement at his home in St. Asaph Street. Mr. Cox has always taken a prominent part in the various local affairs of his district. On the formation of the Ashburton Road Board (now merged into the Ashburton County Council), which had jurisdiction from the Rakaia to the Rangitata, Mr. Cox was one of the first members, and became its third chairman. The first chairman was the late Mr. E. Chapman, of the Rakaia station, and he was succeeded by the late Colonel Lean. In these early days the road board experienced great difficulty with the Provincial Government. through the moneys accruing from the and sales; the boards were entitled to one-third which the Government delayed in handing over. The Timaru district, then very prosperous, wished to separate from Canterbury, but refrained from carrying out its wish for separation on being promised the third of the profits resulting from land sales. During the chairmanship of Mr. Cox, a sum of £300,000, which represented the third due to the Ashburton Board from land sales was held back by the Provincial Government, but after great difficulty a sum of £150,000 was obtained by
Mr. C. P. Cox.

Mr. C. P. Cox.

page 359 the board, and its expenditure helped to found the prosperity of the district. Mr. Cox is a Justice of the Peace of very old standing; he was one of the original members of the Christchurch Club, and has been a day reader in the Church of England for over forty years. He has experienced some of the reverses incidental to colonial life, but has done his duty to the country of his adoption. Mr. Cox married a daughter of the late Bishop Harper, and has a family of seven sons and four daughters. Mis sons now occupy responsible positions.