[Sir] Richard Cox (1650-1733)


Life
[of Dunmanway, Co. Cork;] b. Bandonbridge, Co. Cork, son of Captain Richard Cox and his wife Katherine, the daughter of Walter Bird of Clonakilty, the Coxes having come from Wiltshire in around 1600 and dispossessed in Rebellion of 1641; Cox was orphaned at the age of 3 and raised by a maternal grandmother in Co. Cork, he qualified in law at Grays Inn, London, 1673 and was apprenticed in the manorial courts of the Boyle family, Co. Cork; appt. Recorder of Kinsale with an estate at Clonakilty, 1687; he lost his post during the Tyrconnell administration following the accession of James II;
 
he moved to Bristol and practised there as a lawyer; became acquainted with Sir Robert Southwell who introduced him to Duke of Ormond, thereafter his patron; he returned to with William III and fought at the Battle of the Boyne, 1690; thereafter he served on the Irish bench; he was knighted 5 Nov. 1692; served as Justice of the Common Pleas, 1690, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, 1699; appt. Lord Chancellor of Ireland, 1703, and Chief Justice on the Queen’s Bench, 1711-14 [var. 1712];
 

he escaped impeachment when Ormond defected to Jacobite cause, 1715; pub. pamphlet on the restriction of the woollen trade (1698); issued An Essay for the Conversion of the Irish, showing that 'tis their duty to become Protestants, in a Letter to Themselves [1698]; instrumental in passage of “An Act to prevent the further growth of Popery” (1703), within days of taking office as Lord Chancellor; he was nevertheless on friendly terms which Hugh Magauran, [q.v.], whose Pléaráca na Ruarcach was translated by Swift; he was the object of a praise-poem by one Cormac Ó Luinín - otherwise unknown - which was preserved in a manuscript by Charles O’Conor of Belanagare [q.v.] and is held at Clonalis House;

 
Cox published a history of Ireland as Hibernia Anglicana, or, The History of Ireland [2 pts.] (1689-90), written from New English standpoint - and called ‘trite’ by the ODNB; it purports to be first chronological history of Ireland, and incidentally attacks the ridiculous stories which they have publish of the Firbolgs and Tuah-de-danans’; his historical work was pointedly ignored by William Molyneux (in Case of Ireland’s Protestants being bound ... [ &c.]) as emphasising the complete dependence of the Irish state on the English government; answered by Hugh MacCurtin [Aodh Buidhe Mac Cuirtin] in A brief discourse in vindication of the antiquity of Ireland (1717), for which Cox imprisoned him;
 
he was an early advocate of parliamentary union with Great Britain; lived in retirement at Dunmanway, Co. Cork, for 20 years before his death; according to himself he made ‘paradise cheese’ there and kept ‘the best Welsh ale in Europe’, as well as ‘the best claret in the world’; he died of apoplexy at home and is buried in Dunmanway; his letters are in Trinity College; there is an oil port. in Great Hall of Royal Hospital, Kilmainham. RR ODNB FDA

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Works
  • Hibernia Anglicana, or, The History of Ireland from the Conquest Thereof by the English to this Present Time. With An Introductory Discourse touching the Ancient State of that Kingdom; and a new and Exact Map of the same, 2 vols. (London: H. Clark and Joseph Watts (1689-90) [2 pts. in 1; folding map in pt. 1; identical fp. in both]; also unrev. rep. 1692 [see details];
  • Proceedings of the House of Commons of Ireland in rejecting the altered Money-Bill on Dec. 17, 1753, vindicated by the authorities taken from the Law and Usage of Parliament [3rd edn.] (Dublin: Wilson 1745) [see Cathach Books Cat. 1996-97].

Bibliographical details

HIBERNIA ANGLICANA, / or, the / HISTORY / OF / IRELAND / From the Conqueft thereof by the / ENGLISH, /To this Prefent Time. / WITH / An Introductory Difcourfe touching the Ancient / State of that Kingdom; and a New and Exact Map of the fame. / PART I. / By RICHARD COX, Efq; / Recorder of Kingfale. / Ardua res eft vesustis novitatem dare, obfoletis nitorem, obfcuris lucem, dubiis fidem. Plin. / Attamen audemdum eft, & veritas inveftiganda, quam fi non omnino Affesqueremur, tamen prpius ad eam quam nunc fumus, tandem peveniemus. Printed by H. Clark, for Joseph Watts at the Angel in St. Paul’s Churchyard, MCDLXXXIX. [Copy in Linen Hall Lib., Belfast.]

There is a praise-poem to Sir Richard Cox composed by the otherwise unknown poet Cormac Ó Luinín and transcribed in the hand of Charles O'Conor (1710-1790) in a manuscript held in the library of of Clonalis House, seat of the O’Conors, in Castlereagh, Co. Roscommon. A digital copy is held on the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies website at ISO [Irish Script on Screen Project] - online ; see also copy attached.

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Criticism
  • Walter Harris, Life of Cox, added to edn. of James Ware’s ‘History of the Writers of Ireland’, in Harris, ed., The Whole Works of Sir James Ware concerning Ireland, revised and improved (2nd edn.] Dublin 1764), Vol. 1 pp.207-52;
  • Richard Caulfield, ed., The Autobiography of Sir Richard Cox (London 1860);
  • Ian Montgomery, ‘An Entire Coherent History of Ireland, Richard Cox’s Hibernia Anglicana’, in Linenhall Review, 12, 1 (Spring 1995), pp.9-11;
  • Ian Montgomery, The Career of Sir Richard Cox (MA Univ. of Ulster, 1993) [on which the former is based].
See also Commentary, infra.

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Commentary
[Darrell Figgis?], Ireland’s Brehon Laws [CTS n.d.], 32pp. pamphlet gathered in Irish History and Archaeology [bound collection]: ‘Sir Richard Cox, the author of Hibernia Anglicana, would not admit the Irish possessed written laws at all. A Co. Leitrim man, Thaddeus Roddy, has put it on record that ‘his honoured friend Sir Richard Cox, would not believe in the existence of written laws until, in the summer of 1699, he showed him some of his thirty books of Ancient Irish Laws’. Notwithstanding the enlightenment he got from Roddy, Sir Richard Cox afterwards illegally imprisoned Hugh MacCurtin, in Newgate, for refuting his own inaccurate and misleading statements about the laws of Ireland in a pamphlet published in 1717.’ (Copy in Library of Herbert Bell, Belfast.)

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Russell K. Alspach, Irish Poetry from the English Invasion to 1798 (Philadelphia: Pennsylvania UP 1959), remarking that Hibernia Anglicana (1689), incidentally attacks ‘the ridiculous stories which they have publish of the Firbolgs and Tuah-de-danans’, with particular reference to Peter Walsh’s Prospect (1982); see Cox, Introduction, pp.1-2, and and Apparatus, p.4; cited in Alspach, p.74.)

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W. B. Stanford, Ireland and the Classical Tradition (IAP 1976; 1984), Sir Richard Cox, ‘very few of the Irish aim at any more than a little Latin, which every cowboy pretends to’ (Researches in the South of Ireland, c. 1689, cited in DH Madden, trans. Stanihurst Description of Ireland, 1906; cf. Brookiana, i. 33. [Stanford, 27]

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Joseph Th. Leerssen, Mere Irish and Fior-Ghael (Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 1986), Sir Richard Cox, Some thoughts on the bill for prohibiting the exportation of woollen manufactures (Dublin 1698); Some thoughts on the bill depending (Dublin 1698) [do.]; Hibernia Anglicana, 2 vols. (London 1698-90). Leerssen distinguishes the younger and the elder Cox [see index]. The elder Sir Richard Cox fled Ireland in the Civil War; later, as Lord Chancellor, he was one of the prime movers behind the penal laws; An essay for the conversion of the Irish, showing that ‘tis their duty to become Protestants (1698); also Hibernia Anglicana, or, the history of Ireland from the conquest thereof by the English to this present time (1698-90), is wholly anti-Catholic and castigates Keating, Walsh, O’Flaherty, O’Sull[i]van Beare. Unlike him, Borlase is even unaware of the existence of those writers. Cox is praised in Walter Harris, Works of Sir James Ware, vol. 3., 207-252. ALSO, This was the first Gaelic history to be published in Ireland, and for it Sir Richard Cox, as Chief Justice, had MacCurtain clapped in jail, where he produced an Irish grammar, dedicated to John Devenish, major-general of the Austrian army in the Netherlands. [Joseph Leerssen, Mere Irish & Fíor Ghael (1986). p. 367]. SEE also Richard Ryan, Biographia Hibernica: Irish Worthies (1821), Vol. II, p.32, Sir Richard Cox, Bart.

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Ian Montgomery, ‘An Entire Coherent History of Ireland, Richard Cox’s Hibernia Anglicana (Linenhall Review, 12.1 (Spring 1995), pp.9-11, quoting as epigraph, ‘Since Ireland is reckoned among the principal islands int he world and deserves to be esteemed so ... it is strange that this noble kingdom, and the affairs of it, should find no room in history ...’; Cox contributed a description of Cork to William Molyneux’s projected Natural History of Ireland; offered to send Molyneux a ‘rough collection of the affairs of Ireland from 1170 to 1641’, 1685; reacted to threats by Richard Talbot, Earl of Tyrconnell, seeking to reverse the Cromwellian Act of Settlement in favour of the Old English (i.e., Catholic families of English descent in Ireland); quotes, ‘the Irish have as much reason to thank God and the English for a more civil and regular Government exercised over them’; [noting the mutual assimilation of sectarian and national differences] ‘if the most ancient and natural Irishman be a Protestant, no man takes him for other than an Englishman; and if a cockney be a Papist, he is reckoned, in Ireland, as much an Irishman as if he was born on Slevelogher ...’; also quotes Cox on the regicide of Charles I, as in Murphy, supra (only with ‘Irishmen’ for ‘Irish men’)]; Cox condemns Keating and Walsh as untrustworthy; Archb. Ussher and Sir James Ware better regarded, though all condemned for failure to produce chronologically arranged history; draws on Carew papers in Lambeth palace Lib.; has seen ms. of Southwell’s unpubl. life of Ormon; also relied on fictionalised accounts of reformation suppoed by Ware’s son Richard, taking them to be genuine; work reflects anxiety to catch tide of public interest; Vol. I contain introductory narrative of pre-Norman Ireland and a continuous narrative to the death of Elizabeth I; Vol. 2 contains an essay on the Rebellion of 1641, followed by a chronological account of Irish affairs to the death of the King in 1649; briefly completed by unnamed collaborator, to 1688, with transcriptions of documents, mainly from Carew, to the end of the volume; promised third edition not written; Montgomery notes that MacCurtin answered Cox in 1717, but omits to say that the latter then imprisoned the former; he quotes Bishop William Nicholson, in Irish Historical Library (1724), as writing of Cox’s work that it ‘came into the world in somewhat looser dress than was (most certainly) at first intended by the compiler ...’; ‘I will not pretend this collection is free from mistakes, no wise man will expect that, for he that copies after others (as collectors of histories must do) cannot always be sure that he writes the truth’; also ‘I am far from being solicitious about the reception this book will have in the world; for either the censurer could not do it better and then by censuring me he will but proclaim himself an envious coxcomb ... in a word the censure of fools or conceited fops can do me no prejudice ...’; Linenhall sets of the book bequesthed by Robert Helshaw, Dublin Book collector (d.1909); one of them bears signature of Alan Broderick, Viscount Midleton, Cork landowner, and political rival of Cox in Co. Cork. [End.]

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Jim Smyth, ‘Anglo-Irish Unionists Discourse, c.1656-1707: From Harrinton to Fletcher’, in Bullán: An Irish Studies Journal, Vol. 2, No. 1 (Summer 1995), pp.17-34, esp. p.30: ‘Cox saw himself - to borrow Jonathan Swift’s description of William Molyneux - as an “English gentleman born in Ireland’ and, like many of his contemporaries, “never grew tired of proclaiming the fact”. His sense of identity and his unionist opinions seem a long way indeed from the proto-nationalist aspirations so often detected in this period. … Yet only by reimagining the range of possibilities open to contemporaries do figures like Cox or Maxwell, or the pro-union Irish parliaments of 1703, 1707, and 1709, make sense. Lecky understood that. [… &c.]

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References
Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 1: selects Hibernia Anglicana (1698-90), vocally urging William to conquer Ireland [‘the Natives have managed almost a continual War with the English, ever since the first Conquest thereof; so that it has cost Your Royal Predecessors an unspeakable Mass of Blood and Treasure to preserve it in due Obedience ... for the Progagation of the Protestant Religion and for the Good of Mankind’], 867-68; b. Bandon, 1650, Inns of Law, London, bar, 1673; lived at Clonakilty, then Cork, made Recorder of Kinsale; violent anti-catholicism; wrote Ib. Angl. in England during Jacobite War; his Sheet of aphorisms supported William on his arrival in London; sec. to Robert Southwell, attended Battle of the Boyne; military governor of Cork, imposing curfews; knighthood, 1692; supported articles of Limerick Treaty; criticised for anti-Irish slant of Hib. Anglicana by Aodh Buidhe MacCruitin (Hugh MacCurtin) in his satire Sgiathlúithreach an Choxaigh (1714), for which he was imprisoned [955]; and notice, his Hib. Anglicana assailed in MacCurtin’s Preface to A Brief Discourse (1717), [880-81]

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Libraries & booksellers
Belfast Public Library holds Hibernia Anglicana, or The History of Ireland, 2 vols. (1689). CATL, de Burca Cat 18 lists same, including portrait of William and Mary, folding map of Ireland by Sir William Petty (London 1689-90) 400 [Bradshaw 5611]; port. of William and Mary rep. in Ian Montgomery, op. cit., supra.

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Linen Hall Library holds Hibernia Anglicana or, the HISTORY OF IRELAND From the Conqueft thereof by the ENGLISH, To this Prefent Time. WITH An Introductory Difcourfe touching the Ancient State of that Kingdom; and a New and Exact Map of the fame. PART I. By RICHARD COX, Efq; Recorder of Kingfale. Ardua res eft vesustis novitatem dare, obfoletis nitorem, obfcuris lucem, dubiis fidem. Plin. Attamen audemdum eft, & veritas inveftiganda, quam fi non omnino Affesqueremur, tamen prpius ad eam quam nunc fumus, tandem peveniemus. Printed by H. Clark, for Joseph Watts at the Angel in St. Paul’s Churchyard, MCDLXXXIX.

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Cathach Books (1996-97) lists Proceedings of the House of Commons of Ireland in rejecting the altered Money-Bill on Dec. 17, 1753, vindicated by the authorities taken from the Law and Usage of Parliament [3rd edn.] (Dublin: Wilson 1745).

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Quotations
Ireland’s advantage: ‘It is of great advantage to it that it is a subordinate kingdom to the crown of England; for it is from that royal fountain that the streams of justice, peace, civility, riches and all other improvements have been derived to it; so that the Irish are (as Campion says) beholding to God for being conquered. And yet Ireland has been so blind to this great point of its true intere3st that the natives have managed almost a continual war with the English ever since the first conquest thereof […]’ (Preface, Hibernia Anglicana, 1689-90); later employs the terms ‘ridiculous’, ‘silly’, and ‘barbarous’. (Quoted in Andrew Carpenter, ‘Changing Views of Irish Musical and Literary Culture in Eighteenth-centry Anglo-Irish Literature’, in Michael Kenneally, ed., Irish Literature and Culture [Irish Literary Studies No. 35], Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1992. p.6.)

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Credo: ‘[...] that the Irish did continue in their Barbarity, Poverty and Ignorance until the English Conquest; and that all the Improvement themselves or their Country received [...] is to be ascribed to the English government [...]’ (Quoted in Muriel McCarthy, ed., Hibernia Resurgens: Catalogue of Marsh’s Library Exhibition, 1994. p.23).

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Regicides (on the ‘martyrdom’ of Charles I in 1647, quoted in J. C. O’Callaghan, in illustration of Cox’s prejudices): ‘Oh that I could say that they were Irish men that did that abominable fact, or that I could justly lay it at the door of the Papists.’ (Preface and notes to O’Kelly’s Macariae Excidium, 1846.) Further, ‘And now how gladly would I draw a curtain over that dismal and unhappy 30th of January wherein the Royal father of our country suffered martyrdom. Oh! that I could say that they were Irish men that did that abominable fact, or that I could justly lay it at the door of the Papists! But, however much they might obliquely and designedly contribute to it, ’tis certain it was done by others.’ [Idem.]

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Notes
Ed Cox (Pocahontas, Arkansas), email communication notes that Sir Richard Cox was my sixth great grandfather, thanks to research done by some distant cousins. It was also fascinating to learn that Richard Cox, Bishop of Ely (1500-1581) was my tenth great grandfather. [... &c.] (15.5.1996).

Made in Ireland: A copy of The Holy Bible (Cambridge: John Baskerville 1763), bound prob. William Hallhead, Dublin 1770 and bearing coat of arms of Sir Richard Cox of Dunmanway, Co. Cork is depicted in Maurice Craig, Irish Bookbindings (Dublin: Eason & Co. 1976), back cover, pl. Note also Sir R. Cox, Letter to Thomas Prior ... linen-manufacture (1749) [presum. by an offspring].

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