Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Henry Daniel Blandford (Harry) Cox (1875–1979)

by Gregory Haines

This article was published:

Henry Daniel Blandford (Harry) Cox (1875-1979), pharmacist, was born on 10 June 1875 in Sydney, eldest of seven children of Nadir Cox, a painter from England who became a tramway guard, and his Irish-born wife Jane, née Sullivan. Educated at Redfern Public and Fort Street Model schools, at 13 Harry was employed in the dispensary at (Royal) Prince Alfred Hospital. In 1891 he was apprenticed to W. V. Bond, a chemist and tooth-drawer. After passing the Board of Pharmacy's preliminary examination, Cox voluntarily attended evening classes run by the Pharmaceutical Society of New South Wales; he passed examinations in botany, inorganic chemistry and materia medica in 1896; he was to be registered on 14 October next year under the Pharmacy Act (1897).

Having worked in pharmacies at Queanbeyan and in Sydney, in 1896 Cox returned to the Prince Alfred as assistant-dispenser on £150 a year. By 1903 he had chemist shops in Oxford and Waverley streets, but in 1907 moved to North Sydney and a partnership with A. R. Joscelyne. In 1908 Cox set up the North Sydney Pharmacists' Association to act against price-cutting on patent medicines and to promote early closing—he was 'fed up' with not being able to get to the football.

A councillor (c.1903-05) of the Pharmaceutical Society, Cox was a founder in 1903 and a director of the Proprietary Articles Trade Association of New South Wales which attempted to save chemists from price competition in patent medicines at the cost of shoring up small, unprofitable pharmacies. The P.A.T.A. was suspended in New South Wales under the Profiteering Prevention Act of 1920, but was re-established in 1923; Cox gave up his retail interests to become its full-time secretary. Retiring in 1950, he served as honorary general secretary until the organization was outlawed by the Trade Practices Act in 1971. He was also vice-president of the Master Pharmacists' Association, a director of Pharmaceutical Defence Ltd for fifty years and chairman of the Sydney Fire Office Ltd until 1965.

In partnership with his brothers in a Queensland dairy-farm, Cox had bought Jersey cattle because of their top-quality milk. He joined the Australasian Jersey Herd Society in 1919 and was co-opted to its executive. As president of the Australian Cattle Research Association, he was prominent in campaigns to eradicate such cattle diseases as piroplasmosis, brucellosis and mastitis. Later, he was president of the Australian Dairy Produce Board.

A bachelor, Cox spent his last active years with his niece at Artarmon. He was a Freemason and president of the local branch of the Liberal Party. With discernment, quick judgement and a remarkable memory, he was clear and careful in speech. Even in old age he showed no signs of the effects of a terrible motorcar accident in which he had been involved in 1917. Pushed by his mother to attend St John's Anglican Church, Glebe, as a youth he had been more interested in debating than in religion, and gained confidence in his ability to frame motions, draft regulations and write constitutions. Harry Cox outlived those who remembered his energies and his service: 104 years old, he died on 27 August 1979 at Wahroonga and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • G. Haines, The Grains and Threepennorths of Pharmacy: Pharmacy in New South Wales, 1788-1976 (Kilmore, Vic, 1976)
  • G. Haines, Pharmacy in Australia (Syd, 1988)
  • Chemist and Druggist of Australasia, 1 June 1904
  • Australian Journal of Pharmacy, June 1975, Oct 1979
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 4 Dec 1918, 22 Mar 1939, 3 Apr 1940, 9 Aug 1971, 7 Sept 1979
  • Primary Producer (Sydney), 23 Oct 1970
  • taped interview and correspondence with H. D. B. Cox, 1974 (held by autho).

Citation details

Gregory Haines, 'Cox, Henry Daniel Blandford (Harry) (1875–1979)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 18 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (Melbourne University Press), 1993

View the front pages for Volume 13

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


10 June, 1875
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


27 August, 1979 (aged 104)
Wahroonga, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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