People Australia

  • searches all National Centre of Biography websites
  • searches all National Centre of Biography websites
  • searches all National Centre of Biography websites

Browse Lists:

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Older articles are being reviewed with a view to bringing them into line with contemporary values but the original text will remain available for historical context.

James Cox (c. 1759–1791)

James Cox (c.1759-1791), a seaman, was found guilty on 11 September 1782 at the Old Bailey, London, of the theft of 12 yards of thread lace and two pairs of cotton stockings from the broken window of a haberdasher's shop. His death sentence was commuted to 7 years transportation to America. Cox was one of the prisoners who mutinied on the convict transport Mercury in April 1784. Recaptured, he was again sentenced to death, which was commuted to life transportation in August 1874. He was sent to the Dunkirk hulk, where he remained until he embarked for New South Wales on the Charlotte in March 1787, arriving in Sydney in January 1788 as part of the First Fleet.

On 28 March 1791, Cox joined the venture headed by William and Mary Bryant, and included Bryant's children and six other convicts, to slip away in a small boat — headed for Batavia (Jakarta). The group was shipwrecked at Timor and arrested on 17 September and taken to Batavia. Cox was then taken on board a Dutch vessel for the Cape of Good Hope for return to England on the Gorgon but died before reaching the Cape.

* information from Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (1989), p 84

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

'Cox, James (c. 1759–1791)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 13 April 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Rolt, James

c. 1759


1791 (aged ~ 32)
at sea

Cause of Death


Passenger Ship
Key Events
Key Places
Convict Record

Crime: theft
Sentence: life