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R: Richard Cox Heathcote Victoria #AtoZChallenge

April 20, 2021

RICHARD COX was my great great great Grandfather. He was born in 1817 in Ashton, Wiltshire, England. In 1838 Richard married MARY DAVIS in Bath, Somersetshire, England. They had 4 children born in Bath.

In 1845, when the youngest child was two years old, Mary passed away at Bath, and was buried in the Bath cemetery.

In 1847, Richard married MARY JANE EDGECOMBE SULLY at Bath. Their first two children, were born in Bath.

On 12 March 1852, Richard and his family sailed from Plymouth, England on the ship Chowringhee, to start a new life in Australia. After 114 days at sea, they arrived at Hobson’s Bay, on 5 July 1852. They settled into life on the land, just outside Heathcote, Victoria. Richard became a successful farmer, who was very well respected in the area. Five more children were born after their arrival in Australia.

Richard Cox appeared in court in Heathcote as the plaintiff alleging hisneighbours dogs were killing his sheep.

From: The McIvor Times and Rodney Advertiser (Heathcote, Vic. : 1863 – 1918) 31 July 1885: page 2

Friday 17th July 1885
Before W. Vonder-Luft and J. Tehan Esqs, J.P.’s
Richard Cox v. Thomas Craven
Damages £19 19s 6d, for dogs worrying 32 sheep. Mr. Hornbuckle for plaintiff; Mr. Deakin for defendant. All witnesses were ordered out of court. Mr Hornbuckle stated that an important clause had been inserted in the act, facilitating the proof of ownership of dogs worrying sheep.
Richard Cox – sworn: Am a farmer at She Oak, and owner of sheep. Have been ill for some time and did not see what took place on 3rd July. Have seen dogs of same description of these mentioned in the summons, and a cattle dog, with defendant. Wrote to Mr. Craven, claiming damages, but received no answer. Have been told the same dogs worried the sheep. Have heard about another collie dog belonging to some one else worrying sheep. Can’t say how many sheep have been worried.
Alexander McLennan, sworn; I am in Mr Cox’s employ. On 3rd July found defendants two dogs worrying sheep. They had a sheep down killing it. There were no sheep worried of Mr Cox’s for some time. I should think the dogs had been among the sheep for some time. One was a black and tan collie dog, and the other a light colored greyhound. Another dog mentioned is not the same. Had seen the dogs among the sheep on two occasions. The collie dog ran over the Mount and the greyhound came straight in. I followed it on horseback and it got into Mr. Williams paddock at the MountainCreek and before I could get round it was out of sight. Have seen the dogs with Mr. Craven. Came in and spoke to defendant about the dogs. He said he missed the collie about 10 o’clock in the morning, and that the other was on the premises, but when he went to look for it, he could not find it. Asked him to come out and see what damage the dogs had done, but he would not come. Took the dogs home before. Spoke to Mr. Craven’s son about the dogs on one occasion. Mr. Craven said one dog belonged to him at one time, but his son gave it away to a drover, but it came back again. He said he would destroy it. Found 2 sheep killed. Value them at 10s each. 7 went worried. If they lived they might be a little use, but not much. 6 lambs killed, which if left run to the proper time would be worth 7s. Found several sheep that lambs, without lambs. Found only 8 lambs with 40 ewes. Think £10 about the damage done to other sheep, by separating them from the lambs and running them. The dogs had been among the 40 sheep that were brought in. It is rough and scrubby country where the dogs were worrying the sheep. Never saw any other dogs about this time among the sheep.
To Mr Deakin – Saw the dogs among the sheep about 1 or 2 o’clock in the day. Had no time-piece on me, and cannot say positively what the time was. Think I came in a little while after 2 to Mr. Cravens. Had not seen Mr. Craven before the dogs were among the sheep that morning. Did not see any of Mr. Cravens sheep in his adjoining paddock that morning. Believe the collie dog has a little white on the neck. The dog produced is not the one (belonging to another party). The one produced has more white about it. Came back again in the afternoon to Mr. Cravens. Saw the collie dog and 2 greyhounds there. The collie dog was the one, but the greyhound was not among the other two. Have seen as many as five dogs at Mr. Cravens. Have no greyhounds of my own, nor has plaintiff. Was withing the door of the dogs, Mr. Craven said the dog that was away was at the hotel in the hay stack. Did not see Mr. Craven’s son on the road on that occasion. It was about three months before.
To the Bench – The dogs had no collars on them.
To Mr. Deakin – Complained about the dog produced, belonging to another party worrying sheep about three months ago.
To the Bench – 92 sheep were injured or worried.
James Tranter, sworn: Saw defendant on 3rd July. He was whistling for his collie dog. He said he had missed him since about 7 o’clock that morning. He said he wanted him to take to Cherrington. About 5 weeks ago defendant’s dogs drove my sheep out of my paddock, and it took me a day to find them. There were none worried. Complained to defendant.
To Mr. Hornbuckle – Have seen the collie dog and 5 or 6 others following defendant.
John Stafford sworn – On 3rd July I saw Mr. McLellan chasing Mr. Cravens greyhound dog in the lane in Happy Valley. Believe it was between 2 and 3 o’clock. Have seen the same dog in defendant’s premises before and since the 3rd. Mr. Deakin submitted that there was no proof that the dog belonged to Mr. Craven. He remembered the day in question. He was standing in front of Mr. Cravens when Mr. McLellan came up. It was not quite 11 o’clock when McLellan was there the second time. He was passing and defendant called out to him and pointed out the dogs to him. The dog did not appear to have been travelling at all. It was wet, but the dog appeared quite clean and dry.
Thos Craven sworn – On 3rd July saw McLellan about a quarter to eleven at my store.

He said dogs had been worrying their sheep. Said it was impossible that they were at home. One dog in particular, the collie, had been with me all the morning, and had only been out of my sight a few minutes. He said 5 or 6 or 7 sheep had been destroyed. Said the fawn or light coloured dog also had been with me. When I missed the collie dog for a few minutes I asked Mrs. Craven where it was. She said she did not know then, but soon after she was told it had followed Mr. Murdoch’s children up the street. It was only away about 20 minutes. The dog was in my own room all night. It would not worry sheep. Went to the hotel and asked my daughter if she had seen the fawn coloured dog. She said it was generally at the hay stack. Went to the stack and found it there. About 15 or 20 minutes after Mr. McLelland was passing and I called to him and pointed out the dogs to him. He said none of the fawn dogs were at the sheep but the collie dog was. He said I had other dogs. Had only 3 registered. Started off soon after for Staffordshire Flat. Have two greyhounds, a collie dog and a pup. Had another collie dog without a tail. He came and complained about 3 months ago about the last dog, and I showed him it had pups, and he acknowledged he was wrong. Have sheep on ground adjoining where the sheep were said to have been worried. The collie dog works the sheep well and McLellan has seen it do so. He came to complain on the previous occasion, and said 2 sheep were worried. I went out and could find none. He said 5 or 6 sheep had been worried on the present occasion. Passed McLellan on the bridge on my way out to Staffordshire Flat, taking the dogs with me.
To Mr. Hornbuckle – Said on the day in question, I had missed the dogs. Have had about 4 dogs following me at a time. Would not go out, because I knew they were not my dogs.

To the Bench – Keep my dogs tied up sometimes.
To Mr. Hornbuckle – Not on this occasion, because I was going to take them away with me.
To Mr Deakin – Went away about 12 or half past 12.
Wm Itzerott, sworn – On 3rd July saw defendant’s collie dog between the Main Store and the Post Office with Mr. Murdoch’s children. It might have been before twelve or a little after. Cannot say for certain. Believe it was before 1.
Mr. Craven appeared to be going away, was looking for his dog, and I told them where it was, and someone jumped
in the bakers cart and went after it. Have seen two greyhounds, a pup, and the collie dog at Cravens.

To Mr. Deakin – Went away about 12 or half past 12.
Wm. Itzerott, sworn – On 3rd July saw defendants collie dog between the Main.Store and the Post Office with Mr Murdochs children. It might have been before 12 or a little after. Cannot say for certain. Believe it was before 1. Mr Craven appeared to be going away, and was looking for his dog, and I told them where it was, and someone jumped into the baker’s cart and went after it. Have seen 2 greyhounds, a pup and the collie dog at Mr. Cravens.
John Craven sworn – on 3rd July saw McLellan at my father’s store about 11 o’clock. McLellan said the dogs had been out worrying sheep. My father said he must be mistaken; that the dogs were all at home. He said 5 or 6 sheep were worried.Mclellan passing after my father called to him and pointed out the dogs. He said the fawn dogs were not the dogs; that it was another fawn dog.

My father has not another fawn dog. The dogs were there when I left and when I came back from my rounds. The dogs did not look as if they had been travelling or worrying sheep.
To Mr. Hornbuckle – On the second occasion the collie dog was there, and McLellan identified it. McLellan explained before about the dogs worrying sheep. W.B. Murdoch, sworn – On 3rd July saw Mr. Craven between 10 and 11 o’clock. He has two fawn coloured greyhounds, 11 collie dog, one black greyhound pup and a female collie. McLellan recalled: the collie dog was wet. The Graytown coach was out front Mr. Craven’s place preparing to go.

The Bench stated that they had no other alternative but to inflict a fine, and give damages for the sheep destroyed and injured. Mr. Hornbuckle said he was instructed not to ask for a heavy fine, because the damages were heavy. Fined 20s, with damages £15 11s, and £3 6s costs. Mr. Deakin gave notice of appeal.

*Please note: paragraphs and punctuation have been added for ease of reading.

#AtoZChallenge 2021 badge

“HEATHCOTE POLICE COURT.” The McIvor Times and Rodney Advertiser (Heathcote, Vic. : 1863 – 1918) 31 July 1885: 2 (MORNING). Web. 20 Apr 2021 <;

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  1. Wow, feels like things haven’t changed! Neighbours are still disputing like they did before 🙂

  2. The damages were indeed substantial. From the Measuring Worth calculator : If you want to compare the value of a £15 11s 0d Commodity in 1885 there are four choices. In 2019 the relative:
    real price of that commodity is $1,940.40
    labour value of that commodity is $13,740.00 (using average weekly earnings)
    income value of that commodity is $14,466.00
    economic share of that commodity is $137,220.00

    I am never very good at choosing between the options but I think the value probably equates to closer to $14,000 than $2,000.

  3. I visit the areas around Wiltshire each time we are in the UK and wonder what made people leave what now appear to be idyllic areas.

  4. mollyscanopy permalink

    What a fascinating article. Dogs worrying sheep had to be a very big deal — with a potential impact on income — so it’s no wonder your ggg grandfather took action. Also, it seems from what you have written that your ancestor had 11 children with both wives combined. That must be quite a challenge when keeping track of your family tree!

  5. A very hefty fine but also a significant impact for Richard with loss of sheep.

  6. It would be so frustrating to see all your hard work go down the drain because of a couple of dogs. But yet the other farmer would be really cranky if it wasn’t their dogs that did the damage and that would have been a lot of money back then. So hard to work out who should pay. I wonder if they have insurance for that sort of thing nowadays.

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