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Samuel Fitzhugh Cox

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Samuel Fitzhugh Cox (1847-1887)

1888 Obituary [1]

SAMUEL FITZHUGH COX was born on the 15th of September, 1847, in Barbadoes, where his father, Mr. James F. Cox, of Tatton, in Somersetshire, was then residing for the benefit of his health. Soon after the return of his parents to England, he lost his father, and his education was carried out in the neighbourhood of Bristol. After a year in Germany, he was articled at the age of sixteen to Messrs. Stothert and Pitt, of the Newark Ironworks, Bath, with whom he remained four Fears.

In November, 1867, at the age of twenty, Mr. Cox passed his examination for the Indian public works as a "Stanley” engineer. He chose the Punjab, and on reaching Calcutta, in March, 1868,was appointed to Amritsar, as Assistant Engineer, 3rd grade, under Mr. W. B. Harington. To Amritsar, Mr. Cox was reappointed at different intervals. The public works upon which he was employed were the New Central Jail, New Court House, Imperial Barracks and Magazine, tramway to fill up the city ditch round the old wall of Amritsar, the formation of a tank, the maintenance of the city roads, and the first 24 miles of the road to Batala.

In 1869, Mr. Cox was transferred to Rawal Pindi, where he had to superintend brick fields for the making of large quantities of bricks for the building of a new fort. There were also barracks in course of construction.

In May, 1872, returning to Amritsar, and becoming Assistant Engineer, 1st grade, Mr. Cox had many miles of road under his care: the Grand Trunk road from the Beas to Lahore, 61 miles, and the Pathankote road, besides the station, the jail, and bridges. Here he remained until January, 1875, when he was moved to Sealkote, to superintend the metalling of the Wazirabad road, and was for a short time in charge at Gurdaspur.

In November, 1876, Mr. Cos was in camp on the racecourse at Delhi, in charge of preparations for the reception of the native princes during the Proclamation of Her Majesty as Empress of India, which took place on the 1st of January, 1877.

In 1877, he acted as Executive Engineer pro tem. of the Gurdaspur division, which extended from Amritsar to Kulu.

At the end of this year, Mr. Cox was appointed to Simla, receiving his promotion as Executive Engineer, 4th grade, in April, 1878. Whilst in charge of the Simla Provincial Division he designed and put in hand a boys’ school, and several other buildings in connection with the Lawrence Military Asylum at Sanawar. He had also under his charge the important hill road from Simla to Kalka, and its continuation to Umballa ; a long section of the Grand Trunk road from Peepli via Umballa to Loodiana, the hill road from Simla into the interior towards Thibet, and several other less important roads. In addition to these works, Mr. Cox held charge of all civil buildings in the important plain stations of Umballa and Loodiana, and of the hill sanitariums of Subathu, Kasanli and Dagshai, whilst at Simla itself, the residences of the Viceroy and his staff, and of the Lieutenant-Governor of the Punjab, together with the Church, Jail, Treasury, Schools, &C., were in themselves a heavy addition to the work imposed upon him.

At the end of 1880, this large division was broken up, and Mr. Cox went to Amballa until March, 1881, when he took a year’s furlough home. While in England Mr. Cox wrote “Notes on Brick and Tile Manufacture,” and “Notes on the present use of Portland Cement and Concrete,” published in the professional papers on Indian Engineering, to which he later contributed some interesting notes on the use of old rails in construction.

Mr. Cox was again appointed to Amritsar provincial division on his return to India, when he completed a system of rainfall drainage, designed to prevent the periodical recurrence of the season of sickness and fever. He also prepared plans and drawings for sewage works for the city of Amritsar; but this work was stopped on account of preparations for war, which then appeared imminent on the frontier, in readiness for which large supplies were being collected. The road from Amritsar to Dalhousie, together with that picturesque little hill-resort, were likewise in his care.

Amritsar is an important station of the Church Missionary Society, and Mr. Cox being on their consulting staff, was asked to get out plans for the orphan school ; he took much interest in the building of the Batala mission church, and presented designs for a mission hospital and a mission house at Taran-Taran. Mr. Cox was appointed to Jallunder in September, 1886, with survey-work and road-inspection ; but in January, 1887, he received orders to proceed immediately to the Bannu Bridge division to construct a bridge over the Kurram, of fourteen spans, of 100 feet each, on the frontier road. Bannu, also, now called Edwardesabad, in honour of Sir Herbert Edwardes, whose brilliant services on the Punjab frontier are associated with that port, is close to the River Kurram. The Waziris, a mild set of men living over the border, and owing no allegiance either to the British Government or to Kabul, are employed on the frontier road. They come down to work in the cold weather, and return to their hills in April to escape the great heat below, and to tend their flocks. In their absence, the work has to be continued by the less hardy inhabitants of the plains. Having got in the foundations of the seventh pier, Mr. Cox took a few days’ leave for rest, and joined his wife, at the rather dreary hill-station of Sheikh Budin. Arriving in the early morning after a night’s journey up from Bannu, he became ill with cholera at night, and died the next day, August 8th, 1887. At the time of his death Mr. Cos was Executive Engineer, 1st grade.

The following telegram shows the estimation in which Mr. Cox was held by his official superiors :- “The Lieutenant-Governor has heard with great regret of the sudden death of Mr. Cox, whereby the services of a zealous and capable officer have been lost to the province, and he desires that, as soon as circumstances permit, you will convey to Mrs. Cox an expression of his sympathy with her sad and irreparable loss.”

Mr. Fitzhugh Cox was elected an Associate Member on the 7th of December, 1680, and was transferred to Member on the 6th of November, 1883. A man of robust constitution, a keen and energetic engineer, ever striving to add to his technical knowledge, and one of the most accomplished architects in the Indian Public Works Department, Mr. Cox has left a gap in the Punjab which will be hard to fill.

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