Robert Cox (politician)

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grave of Robert Cox MP, Dean Cemetery
Memorial to Robert Cox MP, St Cuthbert's Churchyard, Edinburgh

Robert J. Cox FRSE (6 May 1845 – 2 June 1899) was a Scottish gelatine and glue manufacturer and Liberal Unionist politician.

Family and education[edit]

Cox was the son of George Cox of Gorgie, a district of Edinburgh and his wife Isabella (née Craig), the daughter of Robert Craig, a surgeon from Peebles.[1] He was educated at Loretto School, the University of St Andrews and the University of Edinburgh.[2] In 1875, he married Harriet Sophia Bennett (1850-1905), the daughter of the eminent physician and physiologist Professor John Hughes Bennett of the Institute of Medicine at the University of Edinburgh.[3] They may have had a son, also Robert Cox, who died in 1952.[4]


From 1874, Cox was the sole partner of J & G Cox, Ltd gelatine and glue manufacturers of Edinburgh.[5] He was later Chairman of the Madelvic Motor Carriage Company Ltd of Granton.[6]

In 1885 he was living at 34 Drumsheugh Gardens in Edinburgh's West End.[7]


Cox took an interest in local politics. At one time or another he sat as a member of the Mid Lothian County Council, Edinburgh Parish Council (of which he was Chairman of the Landward Committee), Edinburgh Town Council and the School Board.[8]

Cox first stood for Parliament at a by-election in the Kirkcaldy Burghs constituency on 11 March 1892.[9] Cox was selected as the Unionist candidate for the seat, which had become vacant on the death of the sitting Liberal MP, Sir George Campbell.[10] However Cox was unsuccessful, the seat being held for the Liberals by a majority of 1,036 votes,[11] by J H Dalziel, a journalist and later newspaper proprietor.[12]

Cox did not contest the 1892 general election but in June 1895 the Unionist Association of the East Edinburgh division approached him as a possible candidate.[13] The Liberal MP for the seat, Robert Wallace was reported to have fallen foul of his local Liberal Association on the issue of Irish Home Rule and they had selected a Mr J Martin White to fight the seat instead. It was thought possible that Wallace would stand as an independent and create a three-cornered contest.[14] In the end Wallace and the East Edinburgh Liberals must have mended their fences as Wallace stood again as a Liberal at the 1895 general election[15] and White successfully contested Fofarshire in the Liberal interest.[16]

Cox declined the offer to stand in Edinburgh East (or it was withdrawn) and instead was adopted as Liberal Unionist candidate for the Edinburgh South division. He narrowly defeated the sitting Liberal MP, Herbert Paul, turning a Liberal majority of 431 into a Unionist one of just 97.[17]

Other appointments and interests[edit]

Cox served as a Justice of the Peace for Mid Lothian and was sometime Deputy Lieutenant for the County of Edinburgh.[18] He also served as President of the Scottish Rights of Way Association.[19] Cox had a wide range of intellectual interests. He was particularly concerned with philosophy and astronomy. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, a Fellow of the Royal Scottish Society of Arts and Vice-President of the Edinburgh Philosophical Institution.[20] He employed William Peck to run a private observatory at Murrayfield and later donated his telescopes to the City Observatory on Calton Hill.[21] In 1899, Cox was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.[22] Cox was also a member of the Royal Company of Archers, the ceremonial unit that served as the Sovereign's Bodyguard in Scotland.[23]


Cox was in poor health towards the end of his life. He died at Aix-les-Bains on 2 June 1899, aged 54.[24]

He is buried in Dean Cemetery in Edinburgh, in its north-east section not far from the entrance. He is also memorialised on his parent's grave in St Cuthbert's churchyard in the city centre.


  1. ^ The Times, 19 July 1895 p15
  2. ^ Who was Who; OUP, 2007
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 February 2012. Retrieved 10 December 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^
  5. ^ The Times, 19 July 1895 p15
  6. ^ The Motor Car Journal, Volume 1, Cordingley & Co, 1899 p217
  7. ^ Edinburgh and Leith Post Office Directory 1885-6
  8. ^ The Times, 19 July 1895 p15
  9. ^ F W S Craig, British Parliamentary Election Results 1885–1918;Macmillan, 1974 p514
  10. ^ The Times, 27 February 1892 p12
  11. ^ F W S Craig, British Parliamentary Election Results 1885–1918;Macmillan, 1974 p514
  12. ^ The Times, 27 February 1892 p12
  13. ^ The Times, 26 June 1895 p10
  14. ^ The Times, 26 June 1895 p10
  15. ^ F W S Craig, British Parliamentary Election Results 1885–1918;Macmillan, 1974 p498
  16. ^ F W S Craig, British Parliamentary Election Results 1885–1918;Macmillan, 1974 p541
  17. ^ F W S Craig, British Parliamentary Election Results 1885–1918;Macmillan, 1974 p499
  18. ^ Who was Who; OUP, 2007
  19. ^ The Times, 13 December 1898 p7
  20. ^ The Times, 19 July 1895 p15
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ The Times, 19 July 1895 p15
  24. ^ Annual register;J Dodsley, 1900 p154

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Herbert Paul
Member of Parliament for Edinburgh South
Succeeded by
Arthur Dewar