Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Cox, Samuel Emanuel (1773–1891)

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (MUP), 1966

Samuel Emanuel Cox (1773-1891), by Stephen Spurling

Samuel Emanuel Cox (1773-1891), by Stephen Spurling

La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria, H4297

Samuel Emanuel Cox (1773-1891), known as 'Sammy Cox', wild white man, claimed to have been born on 15 November 1773, Samuel Emanuel Jervis, the son of Roman Catholic Squire Jervis of Shenstone Park, Lichfield, England. When his father was killed in a hunting accident, he became ward of his uncle, Captain Jervis, who placed him at Oscott College; a relation, claimed by the lad to be his uncle, became an admiral and received the title Earl St Vincent.

On leaving the college he accompanied Captain Jervis in the Regent Fox on a voyage in the South Seas. Frightened by the boatswain into believing that his uncle intended to maroon him on an uninhabited island to get possession of his inheritance, Sammy decided to escape. When in 1789 the ship drew in for water near the River Tamar in Van Diemen's Land, then unoccupied by white men, he accompanied the party ashore, hid in the bush, and the party, unable to locate him, went back without him. He was found by the Aboriginals and lived with them until 1812 when he met some white settlers in the Quamby district. The Cox family befriended him and he took their family name, and as 'Sammy Cox' worked for many years in the districts of Pateena, Carrick and Longford, as a jobbing gardener. Thomas Monds, flour-miller of Carrick, took an interest in him, accepted and recorded his story, and finally urged him to enter the Launceston Benevolent Asylum. He died there on 5 June 1891, aged 117 years if he is to be believed. Sammy's claims provoked some discussion in the Launceston Examiner in June 1890, and as a result of inquiries in England a relation of the family wrote confirming the truth of Samuel's assertions and stating that he was heir to the properties of his father and of his uncle Earl St Vincent who had died without heirs.

Select Bibliography

  • H. Button, Flotsam and Jetsam (Launceston, 1909)
  • L S. Bethell, The Story of Port Dalrymple (Hob, 1957)
  • C. L. Barrett, White Blackfellows (Melb, 1948)
  • Examiner (Launceston), 2, 9 June 1890, 6 June 1891.

Citation details

'Cox, Samuel Emanuel (1773–1891)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/cox-samuel-emanuel-1933/text2307, published in hardcopy 1966, accessed online 20 August 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (MUP), 1966

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2014

Samuel Emanuel Cox (1773-1891), by Stephen Spurling

Samuel Emanuel Cox (1773-1891), by Stephen Spurling

La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria, H4297

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Jervis, Samuel Emanuel
Birth

15 November 1773

Death

5 June 1891
Launceston, Tasmania, Australia

Cultural Heritage
Religious Influence
Occupation