Petition for support, from an abandoned wife

GR-1372 Box 108 Folder 1346

In November 1862, this petition was sent to Governor James Douglas from Ireland concerning William G. Cox, a government employee of the Colony of British Columbia. From Cox’s abandoned wife, Sophia Elizabeth, it sets out her situation and her plea “that some portion of my Husbands Income should be applied towards my support.” She notes that they were married in Ireland in November 1857, and soon thereafter moved to New York, where they stayed until her health failed. In 1858 Cox sent her back to Ireland and left for BC, using her money to finance his emigration.

Cox had done well for himself in BC. Soon after arriving, he became a constable at Fort Yale and then a deputy collector of customs. By 1860, he was an assistant gold commissioner and justice of the peace in the Cariboo. His wife claimed he had frequently promised to send half his salary for her support, but no money had ever been forthcoming. Now, four years later, she was in dire straits.

Cox did not deny her account and claims, but only offered to send her £10 and to see what else he might be able to send in the future, as living in “Indian country” was very expensive. Whether the £10 or any further money was ever sent is not clear. In any event, he left BC for California in 1869, where he died in 1878. Sophia died in 1892 in her native Ireland.

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