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Samuel Bailey Coxon

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Samuel Bailey Coxon (1834-1887)

1888 Obituary [1]

SAMUEL BAILEY COXON was born at Seaham Harbour in 1834, a few years after which his father was appointed bank manager at Castle Eden Colliery, under the well-known Mr. John Taylor, of Earsdon.

The subject of this memoir may be said to have commenced his career at this colliery as a trapper-boy. Mr. Coxon, senior, subsequently filled the position of agent at Usworth, where he put his son into the joiners' shops, and afterwards sent him on to the heap to assist the banksmen. Being eager for self-advancement, he sought the assistance of Mr. Aitchison, the schoolmaster at the colliery, with whose willing co-operation he managed to acquire a tolerable education.

When about sixteen years of age he was put into the office, and then it was that he came under the notice of Mr. Elliot (now Sir George), the managing-owner, who, recognizing something of the qualities which afterwards placed him in such good stead, sent him down the pit to serve his time as a viewer. A very short probation sufficed to show the stuff he was made of, and in 1853 he became manager of Oxclose Colliery; and very shortly afterwards all the collieries owned by Messrs. Johnassohn and Elliot, which comprised those of Usworth, Nettlesworth, Felling, Tyne Main, Penshaw, North Biddick, and Lintz, were placed under his entire control.

He was associated in various other enterprises with Sir George Elliot in the North, extending over thirty years. As an engineer he specially distinguished himself in the application of steam-power to underground haulage, and mechanical appliances for mine-ventilation, and in 1871 started what was for some time the largest ventilating-machine in the Kingdom.

Amongst the interesting events of his professional career were his visits to Mexico, Canada, and America, in all of which countries he was interested in mining-operations, notably Canada, where he was Consulting Engineer for the coal mines in Nova Scotia, owned by Sir George Elliot and other gentlemen. He had frequently crossed the Atlantic, and on one occasion explored a large tract of country between Lake Superior and San Francisco in his examinations of the various copper and silver mines in that region.

He was engaged in mining operations in Australia, Spain, and Germany, the latter two countries he had visited professionally only recently. Mr. Coxon’s scientific knowledge and attainments received recognition in his being appointed one of the Board of Examiners for Mining Certificates for Northumberland.

He was a Fellow of the Geological Society, and of the Geographical Society, and was made a Freeman of London in 1875. Mr. Coxon’s energies were conspicuously displayed in the political contests of the times. He took a very prominent part in the North Durham election of 1868, when Sir George Elliot was returned in the Conservative interest (heading the poll), and for many years represented that division of the county; in fact, Mr. Coxon had so identified himself with the party, that a short time before he left the North of England he was asked by the Conservatives of Gateshead-on Tyne to come forward as a candidate for parliamentary honours. His presence was familiar on many a platform, where as chairman or spokesman he exhibited the calm dignity and eloquence that impress and control the various elements of political meetings.

From 1863 until 1882 Mr. Coxon held the office as churchwarden, and at the latter date, on his leaving Usworth, a resolution and vote of thanks were passed at a vestry meeting, and an address was presented fully showing the appreciation of the parishioners of Mr. Coxon’s long and faithful services. It may be mentioned that such was his popularity, and the esteem in which he was held by his friends, that he was twice presented with an illuminated address, besides other testimonials of his worth as a neighbour and as a man. Mr. Coxon died on the 26th of December, 1887, at his residence in West Kensington, and was buried at Usworth on the last day of the year. His persevering life and genial character hare left incentives to progress and honestly in all classes of his profession, and many tender memories among a wide circle of friends.

He was elected a Member of the Institution on the 30th May, 1876.

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