Meier/Fox Family

Meier/Fox Family

East Perth Cemeteries Records

Mary Myers (Anglicised from the German spelt Meier). Born 1871 at Kings Road Chelsea, England. Died 3 September 1890 in her 20th year at Perth Western Australia.

Mary was the third daughter of Herman Heinrich Meier (b 1840 in Germany) and Eliza Ann Pantland (b 1837 in England).

Mary was employed as a domestic servant and cause of death is listed on the Register of Death 399/90 as a Cerebral Embolism and was buried by Donald Chipper Undertaker in the East Perth Cemetery on 4 September 1890.

Margaret Fox (nee Clarke) b 1862 – Perth d 31 May 1891 aged 29 years. Wife of William Thomas Fox a Gardener – Married 1884 in Perth Western Australia.

Margaret and William Thomas Fox had five children: John Thomas Fox b 1885, Martha Matilda Fox b 1886, Joseph Henry Fox b 1888, William David Fox b 1890 and Margaret Mary Rose Fox b 1891.

No cause of death is recorded on Register of Death 318/91 but is theorised that it was possibly during the birth of their daughter, Margaret Mary Rose (born 1891) or soon after due to complications.

William Thomas Fox b 1862 in Perth Western Australia to James Fox (born 3 March 1829) and Mary Barry b 1826 England. James Fox at 23 years of age was transported to Western Australia as prisoner 233 aboard the Mermaid. James Fox and Mary Barry married on 23 August 1854 in the Wesleyan Chapel in Perth Western Australia. Following Margaret’s death in 1891 William Thomas married Hannah Sculthorpe in 1892 and they had one child – Hannah Sculthorpe Fox b 1893 – d  1895 at aged 23 months. William Thomas Fox, a gardener, at the age of 32 years on 14 February 1894 was accidently killed when lifting down a shotgun from the pegs it was resting on in a shed on his property the hammer caught upon one of the pegs which caused the hammer to be pulled back and then released which in turn caused the cartridge to discharge directly into William Thomas’s throat thereby causing almost instantaneous death. Coroner’s report Register of Death 138/94.

Rosalinda Fox (nee Meier) was brutally murdered by an axe blow to the face on 4 February 1899 on Gallops Gardens, Dalkeith Western Australia. Coroner’s Inquest Register of Death 189/9. Rosalinda’s husband, John Alexander Fox was charged with her murder and was incarcerated in the Waterside Lock-up and endured a harrowing Coronial Inquest, removed from the Waterside Lockup and relocated to Fremantle Prison from which he then attended a Supreme Court trial where he was acquitted. The murderer was never brought to account and remains unsolved till this day. Rosalinda was buried in the East Perth Cemetery.

The funeral of Mrs Rosalinda Fox took place on the afternoon of Tuesday 7 February 1899. The body of the young woman (minus her head for her head was severed from her body by the police, boiled to remove all hair etc, to be used in evidence at both the inquest and the Supreme Court Trial) was interred in the Wesleyan Section of the East Perth Cemetery. Not surprisingly, the funeral was a quiet one. The only persons occupying the mourning coach were Rosalinda’s daughters Violet and Esther Fox, her brother-in-law Alexander Fox, and Mrs. Fanny Matthews, Fox’s neighbour who was looking after the little girls. The coffin was a plain black one, with black mountings. The Rev. A.W. Bray officiated, and Bowra and O’Dea carried out the mortuary arrangements.

Rosalinda Meier was the daughter of Herman Heinrich Meier (bl 840 in Germany) and Eliza Ann Pantland (b 1837 in England). In the early sixties (1860’s) Herman Heinrich Meier, a native of Germany, emigrated from his fatherland to London to evade military service, being then 20 years of age. Whilst in England Herman Heinrich was engaged as a sugar baker. Sugar Baker was a trade used in the refining of sugar cane. When the Sugar Cane came off the ships it was cut into smaller lengths and put into cooking pots. It was mixed with some water and made into blocks, the blocks were then cut up and sold. Work in the sugar house was heavy, hot and subject to a degree of hazard. Illness was common, and life expectancy short. It was not attractive to the English worker and was even shunned by the Irish labourers (although they eventually made up the largest proportion of unskilled workers). It was because of this, refiners recruited German workers in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. In fact, some of the refiners themselves were of German origin. This firstly applied to the large sugar industry in London and then progressed to Liverpool in the middle of the 19th century with the opening of Jager’s refinery. It was usual for batches of about 2 dozen men to be brought over mainly from the Hamburg area. The pay was high, particularly if you were a skilled sugar boiler. The hours were long but there were perks – gallons of beer to replace the body moisture lost in the terrific heat!

On 7 August 1864, Meier was married to Eliza Ann Pantland by the Reverend A.S. Courtenay, incumbent of St. James Chapel, Pentonville, in the parish of Clerkenwell. Of this marriage were bom three boys and four girls. The three boys died in infancy. The four girls were Eliza Ann Meier b 1867 Kings Road Chelsea, England d 23 July 1943 and is buried in 0720 Anglican Section ZO Karrakatta Cemetery. Rosalinda bl2 August 1868 Kings Road Chelsea Middlesex England. Mary Meier b 1871 Kings Road Chelsea England d 3 September 1890 and is buried in the East Perth Cemetery. Minnie Amelia Meier b 1873 Kings Road Chelsea, England d 14 January 1955 and is buried in Karrakatta Cemetery. The four girls came to W.A. aboard the Hastings arriving on 26 May 1877. In the year 1877 the Meier family left England, where they had lived in comparative comfort, for Western Australia, arriving here on the ship “Hastings”, the vessel in which Bishop Parry came to the colony. Arrived here, Meier took up a piece of land, but it was of such poor quality that the family, though they worked early and late and bore many privations, all regretted the more comfortable circumstances that they had left in England.

Failing at making a success at farming, Meier took to working as a general hand. Fie eventually met his death by drowning at Roebourne, a sad feature of the case being that his body was never recovered. Meantime he had married again and his second marriage was followed by that of his daughter Rosalinda to John Alexander Fox, the youngest surviving daughter, Minna, being wedded shortly afterwards to Frederick Elijah Powell of Wungong (situated between Armadale and Byford). The Meier family made but few friends, for they were all of a very reserved disposition. Keeping very much to themselves. It was not till they arrived in the colony that they Anglicised their name by exchanging the German “Meier” for “Myers”.

James Thomas Cottrill son of John James Cottrill a Surveyor and Jane Henderson, was a Saw Miller: (b 1841 Belfast Ireland d 24 April 1899) at Smiths Mill, Sawyers Valley was employed at Smiths Mill, Sawyers Valley, Western Australia. Cause of Death a Carcinoma of the Stomach Certificate 2266. James Thomas Cottrill was buried on 26 April 1899 in the Church of England Section of the East Perth Cemetery. Bowra and O’Dea carried out the mortuary arrangements. James Thomas Cottrill married Harriet Fox (b 1864 d5 January 1923) in the Wesley Church, Perth Western Australia) on 11 November 1884. The marriage produced 5 children, 4 girls and 1 boy: Jane Henderson (b 1885 d 1930), Bertha Hilda May Cottrill (b 1888 d 1953), Walter Cottrill (b 1890 d 1943), Isabella (Bella) Cottrill (b 1893 d 1944), Eillian May Cottrill (b 1894 d 1972). Harriet was the 4th bom of James Fox and Mary Barry.

Mary Fox (nee Barry) a widow (b 1826 in England d 29 April 1904) at her residence in Wellington Street, Perth. Cause of Death was Pneumonia and Syncope Certificate 1974. Mary was buried in the Wesleyan section of the East Perth Cemetery on 30 April 1904. Bowra and O’Dea carried out the mortuary arrangements. Mary Barry arrived in the Colony aboard the Travencore in 1853 and gained employment in domestic service. Mary at age 18 years married James Fox aged 25 years on 23 August 1854 in the Wesleyan Chapel, Perth Western Australia and the marriage produced 8 children: 6 boys and 2 girls. Joseph Fox 1855 – 1938, Enoch James Fox 1858 – 1953, William Thomas Fox 1862 – 1894, Harriet Fox 1864 – 1923, John Alexander Fox 1867 – 1944, Henry Fox (1871 – Unknown, Esther Fox 1874 – 1903, Alexander Fox 1877 – Unknown.

At the time of her marriage to James Fox, Mary had no idea as to the real character of her husband for the man later developed a doubtful state of mind.

James Fox arrived in Western Australia not of his own volition. For on 8 March 1848 the following headline appeared in the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser: Shameful Outrage. On Monday, at the Town Hall, two young men named John Bradbury and James (aka Joseph) Fox were committed for trial at the Chester Azzizes for having been guilty of an outrage upon a girl named Mary Leonard, who was selling oranges in Dukinfield. Then reported in the Chester Chronicle of 7 April 1848 before Mr. Justice Erie: James (aka Joseph) Fox – aged 19 and John Bradbury – aged 21, for committing rape upon Mary Leonard, at Dukinfield were found guilty and sentenced to 20 years transportation. Fox was assigned prisoner number 233 and placed aboard the Mermaid for transportation to the Colony on the Swan arriving at Fremantle on 13 May 1851.Likewise John Bradbury was placed aboard the Scindian and arrived at Fremantle 1 June 1850.

Some of James Fox’s contacts with the law in Western Australia are as follows and as can be seen his treatment of his wife Mary and their children was shocking:

Perth Gazette & Independent Journal of Politics 21 September 1855

James Fox: Brutally assaulting his wife Mary Fox several times in one day. Sentenced to 6 months hard labour in Convict Settlement.

Perth Gazette and W.A. Times 6 January 1865

James Fox, charged with assaulting and wounding Mary Fox, at Perth.

Mary Fox, wife of prisoner. On being sworn the witness, bursting into tears, said that she did not wish to press the case against’ her husband, but being overruled, she stated that her husband was in the grant and as she was out of the house with her child in her arms and her husband went up to her and kicked three times on the side, shin, and chin, she fell down, and was much hurt; her husband said she was with her four children too much and a burden upon him, and wished her to go away ; she felt in danger of her life ; he also mistreated the children.

Cross examined by Prisoner – You have often used the axe in a passionate manner.

Elizabeth Capel, I live close to the prisoner’s house; I recollect one morning very early hearing dreadful screams from prisoner’s wife: her on one occasion asking him not to take the tomahawk to her.

Thomas Evans, lives near prisoner;

I saw Fox, on 30th November, kick his wife and she fell down with her child in her arms, and on her rising to get up I saw him kick her twice afterwards, from the distance I was at he appeared to kick her with all his force, and left her lying there; in 10 minutes afterwards he passed through my gate and I then saw he had heavy boots on.

In defence the prisoner called James Fallon who deposed to having heard screams of murder proceeding from your house when you were in it.

The Prisoner finding his witness did not exactly answer his expectations declined asking him any further questions. He made a long and eloquent oration to the Jury, attributing all his woes to his wife’s objection to his having been a convict.

Guilty – the prisoner was directed to be discharged upon his own recognizances to appear for a sentence when called upon, and to keep the peace towards his wife and children.

His Honour gave directions that the police should keep a sharp look out upon him.

(Perth Gazette & W.A. Times 8 December 1865)

Caution: The public are hereby cautioned against buying Two Cows from James Fox, as they are my property. William Green Perth, December 7 1865.

(The Inquirer & Commercial News 12 August 1874)

James Fox, Night-man, is now prepared to attend to premises in the city at any time. All soil entirely taken away; and in order to keep all water closets placed under his charge in proper order the advertiser will undertake to make regular visits for applying lime to the cesspits.

(Dalton’s Terrace Perth, July 1874)

James Fox, free, charged with assaulting and kicking his wife Mary Fox. This is an ill-conditioned who man, was tried at the Criminal Sessions about two years ago for a similar offence, and found guilty.

The neighbours are continually disturbed by the screams of the unfortunate woman, who has five small children to take care of. The wife did not press the charge, as she would have no means of supporting the children in case of her husband being sent to prison.

His Worship, therefore, after assuring him that on the next occasion he would be dealt with as severely as the law would allow, ordered him to enter into his own recognizance in £10, to keep the peace for 6 months, and dismissed him.

(The Enquirer and Commercial News Wednesday 7 August 1878 – Perth Police Courts)

A miserable, yet vicious, old creature, named Joseph Fox, who is partially paralysed, and believed to be of unsound mind, committed a shocking outrage upon two of his sons, aged eighteen and fourteen years, respectively, last Saturday morning.

It appears that Fox rose somewhat earlier than usual on the morning of the occurrence, lighted the fire, and having filled a coffee pot with water placed it on the fire to boil. He afterwards carried the pot containing the boiling water into an adjoining room, where his two sons were asleep, and upon them he poured the contents, scalding the unfortunate lads on the face, breast, and arms, in a most severe manner.

Fox then left the house and jumped down the well: the boys in the meantime rushed to a neighbour’s close by, and had their sores dressed. The elder lad, who was the more injured of the two, was subsequently removed to the Hospital, where he now lies in a precarious condition. The father is in custody, and was charged before the Police Magistrate yesterday and remanded for the purpose of medical examination.

(The Enquirer and Commercial News – Wednesday 29 March 1882)

Tenders will be received up to the 12th November, 1886, from persons willing to lease for a term of 12 years that splendid MARKET GARDEN, known as Fox’s, Anderson’s Lake. Four-roomed House, fruit trees, four milch cows (3 of which cannot be sold) horse and cart, and all the necessary requisites for carrying on a garden. Tenders to state terms and rent. Two responsible securities required. Tenders to be left at Mr. Cooper’s, Hay Street, Perth. All information can be obtained from. James Fox, Fitzgerald Street, Anderson’s Lake, Perth.

(The West Australian 6 November 1886)

James Fox, at one stage, in partnership with another, held a sanitary removal contract in Perth. Fox had a progressive if unsettled manner about himself and he withdrew from the sanitary contract. In not too many later years these contracts would be fiercely contested as they proved to be extremely lucrative. When Fox withdrew from the sanitary contract he took up a block of land in 1879 comprising lots 229 and 230 in Fitzgerald Street in Perth under a memorial of loan to the to the Perth Building Investment and Loan Society and commenced a market garden there. His garden was where Robinson Park is today. Later, James Fox was to sell the property to John Charles Chipper a licensed victualler (publican) of Perth in 1888. Fox was to suffer a mild stroke which left him with partial paralysis and poor health. There appears to have been a violent streak and a loss of reasoning within the man for on 4 January 1865 he was convicted of assaulting his wife, but although convicted was discharged on his own recognisance to be brought up for sentence if called upon. He was one of the first to which this type of sentence was applied. On 3 July 1882 Fox was convicted on two counts of unlawful wounding causing grievous bodily harm. For this he was sentenced to two years with hard labour. Due to his partial paralysis the hard labour provision could not be imposed. This was in 1882 and as William Thomas was not killed until 1894 his death could not have played a part in Fox’s condition. Fox had complained to neighbours that his sons were conspiring against him and were guilty of selling his cows and horse and dray. His neighbours told him that this was not so and he was extremely lucky to have sons who worked so hard and long on his behalf. Fox would have none of it and said he was going to scald his sons as punishment. His neighbours told him not to be silly and in any case his two eldest sons (Joseph and Enoch James) were in Launceston, Tasmania at the time. Undaunted and unconvinced Fox rose at about four am on the morning of the assault and went to the well where he drew enough water to fill a two gallon container. Taking the container back to the house he then filled a large kettle (about 1 and 14 Gallons) and built a large fire under it and left it stand until the water was boiling. When the water was boiling he then took the kettle to the bed where William Thomas lay sleeping and simply poured the boiling water over him causing him to endure very serious scalding and a long treatment and recovery in the Colonial Hospital. The neighbours notified the police and Fox was subsequently arrested. He was remanded for eight days as a possible imbecile on the orders of George Leake. On 30 March 1882 the Colonial Surgeon, Alfred R Waylen, the first person born in Western Australia to become a doctor. History has recorded that he was an exceptionally good physician, and that he reported the following in writing to the Police Register:

I have this day examined James Fox. He is subject to partial paralysis which renders him unfit to earn a living. He has softening of the brain and is a possible imbecile but at the present is pretty well accountable for his actions. He wants taking care of, but I could not certify to his being a fit subject for the lunatic asylum

In his deposition William Thomas stated that had it not been for the want of his mother, brothers and sisters he would have left his father long ago. Fox by now was clearly demented and a danger to himself and others. At the time of his death on 4 May 1894, James Fox was in Northam and had travelled there to visit his youngest daughter Esther who had married John Phillip Litton on 13 August 1892 and who were resident there.

Sadly Mary Fox lived a terribly hard life and would no doubt have welcomed the demise of the beast that her husband had turned into although the seeds of his temperament had been sown well before when he committed the crime of rape on the hapless victim in England. He and Bradbury were extremely fortunate not have a secured a ride on the three legged mare and executed there for rape was then, and for a long period afterwards deemed a capital offence.

Elizabeth Minnie Fox (nee Irvine) born 1896 in Tasmania (previous Tasmanian marriage/death details unknown). Moved to Western Australia as a widow and was employed as a Boarding House Keeper at North Fremantle. Married William John Shaw at aged 36 on 14 March 1896 at St. Albans Church of England 423 Beaufort Street Perth. Certificate 576 50/96. After Shaw’s death then married widower John Alexander Fox on 23 September 1899 in the Wesley Church, Charles Street, Perth. Certificate Number 1288 350/99. Fox’s first wife, Rosalinda, had been brutally murdered on 4 February 1899 leaving their two children, Rosalinda Violet and Esther Mary motherless. Elizabeth Minnie Fox (aka Minnie Elizabeth) aged 38 years died on 13 January 1908 in the Perth Public Hospital due to Bryonia of the Uterus, a Hysterectomy and Exhaustion. Certificate 47. She was laid to rest on 14 January 1908 in the Wesleyan Section of the East Perth Cemetery. Bowra and O’Dea carried out the mortuary arrangements. Her death certificate lists a son, Charles aged 6 years. However this is incorrect. John Alexander Fox and Elizabeth Minnie, to all outside appearances had a son! However their son, Charles was in fact the actual son of Fox’s sister Harriet, who had been married to James Thomas Cotterill (Cottrill) who had died in the April of 1899 at Smiths Mill. Harriett had subsequently given birth to Charles John three years later on the 22nd May 1902. Being a widow with six other children to care for and raise, was an onerous task for Harriet, especially with the added burden of mischievous wagging tongues within the community. Her brother and his wife being childless proved to be a means of the child being cared for until such times as Harriet was in a position to resume her motherly responsibilities. So it was that up until Minnie’s death Charles was raised by John Alexander and Minnie as if he were their own and after Minnie’s death was taken in charge once again by his mother Harriet.

Elizabeth Minnie Fox (aka Minnie Elizabeth) was laid to rest in the East Perth Cemetery along with others of the Fox Family including the murdered Rosalinda, Fox’s brother William and his wife Margaret, Harriett’s husband, James Cotterill (Cottrill) and Fox’s mother Mary, who had passed away in the April of 1904. By now Fox was resident at 147 Wellington Street, East Perth and employed as a respected, experienced gardener by the Perth Council. Fox was once again alone and the loneliness somewhat more acute as his daughters had long since departed the family home harbouring considerable hurt and an overriding consideration that their fathers early remarriage seemed to them to be disrespectful to their beloved mothers memory. Plus, it was reported that Minnie suffered from an undiagnosed malady that caused her to explode in tantrums of rage whereby she would sweep everything off the table and other repositories onto the floor incurring damage and destruction. These goings on did not endear Rosalinda Violet and Esther Mary to their stepmother and thus hastened the girl’s departure from the house, because to them it may have been a house but certainly was not a home. The emptiness that John Alexander Fox now felt was accentuated by his isolation from his daughters.

Written by Bob Couzens

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