This article about my great grandparents, Benjamin and Martha COX, was published in The Daily News, Perth, Western Australia, Monday 17 April 1939. [Link to Trove]


Walked 70 Miles To See Sweetheart

When Benjamin George Henry Cox was courting Martha Jackson he used to walk from Jarrahdale to Perth and back — more than 70 miles — to see her.

They married and now, after nearly 60 years, the couple are living together in a cottage in Bertie-street, Guildford. They reared nine children, all of whom have married.

Now Mr. Cox is 87 and his wife 77.

Mrs. Cox told me: 'We enjoy life, old as we are. When you care for each other as we do it is always the same.

"The other day Mr. Cox said to me: 'My sight has failed and I can not even sweep up the yard, what use am I to you?' "I said to him: 'I would be terribly miserable without you. I do not know what I would do.'"

Of the young people of today Mrs. Cox, who was born in Western Australia and has seen the advent of the train, the motor car and the aeroplane, says, 'I would like them to be a little more old-fashioned.'

Since he came to Western Australia in the barque Daylight, which dropped anchor at Fremantle on August 8, 1875, Mr. Cox has been a sailor, farmer, cook, butcher, laborer, railway guard, gardener, brickmaker. undertaker, wine maker and printer.


His wife can remember the days when she was going to school and gangs of prisoners were grubbing out huge gum trees which stood on the present site of St. George's terrace. Then the Terrace was a shell buggy track. There was a sandal wood yard in central Hay-street.

Bullock teams were driven down Hay-street and if the bullocky was short of money he would sell a bullock in the street.

The couple saw the first sod turned at the site of the present central railway station for the first railway from Fremanle [sic] to Perth.

For years after that Mrs. Cox was too frightened to travel in a train. In those days Mr. Cox was a guard on the wood line from Jarrahdale to Rockingham. and it was his job to stand on the brakes of the trucks as they descended to the coast.

At that time he was courting, and would walk the 37 miles to Perth to see his sweetheart and then walk back again rather than pay £ 1 to make the trip by mail coach.

They were married, went to Guildford in 1881, and have lived there ever since. Their wooden home, Vine Cottage, was built for them there nearly 50 years ago.


'It was a good life in the old days,' said Mrs. Cox, 'but it was hard when you think of things as they are to day. The young people of today do not realise what the pioneers went through. They cannot. We would work hard all day rearing pigs to kill them to feed the family. That was our life.

"It was all we could do to pay our debts, but we always did. Now they say, 'Oh, well, it is the baker's money, but we will go to the pictures.' "

Mr. Cox: I never did agree with pictures.

Mrs. Cox: I think these shooting pictures do a lot of harm to young children. They prey on the minds of children. But pictures do enlighten people on lots of things.

Mr. Cox has equally strong views on the giving and receiving of credit He refuses to buy unless he pays straight away, even at stores from which they regularly deal.

'Once you get a little in debt,' he said, 'you are liable to get in debt a little more, and if they do not worry you about it you get to owe more. We never had anything we could not pay for.'

Of wireless says Mrs. Cox: 'I think it is very good. Sometimes. it does not please us, but we have to put up with that.

'This modern dance music? Sometimes it is good and some times it is a bit rowdy.'


And this old woman who contentedly lives in Vine Cottage, looking after her husband, whose sight has failed, doing the housework, resting and visited by her children, grand children and friends, says of the young people of today:

'I would like them to be a littie more old fashioned. They go out and flirt a bit too much. I think the older people are of a stronger generation. The young women cannot stand up to any thing now — not enough rest, too much night walking.'

From that you must not think Mrs Cox condemns the young people of today — far from it. I asked [her] what she thought, and she told me, quietly and in the detached way than is an interested and shrewd spectator's.


Quick bios

Benjamin COX was born in North Moreton, Berkshire, England in 1855. He migrated at age 19 to Western Australia.

Martha SHARMAN/JACKSON, born in Perth in 1864, was the daughter of a convict (George SHARMAN) and free settler (Elizabeth AYERS), and later step-daughter of another convict (Thomas JACKSON) who supplied some of the bricks for the Perth Town Hall.

Benjamin and Martha married in St Georges Cathedral, Perth in 1880. They had 10 children, one of which died as an infant.

Martha died in 1940, almost one year after the article was published, while Benjamin died in 1942, aged 86.


My research about Benjamin's voyage to Western Australia on the Daylight

My family tree research


Photographs of Benjamin & Martha by their youngest son (my grandfather), Bertie Cox.

My HomePage