Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Road Builder

Anne-Maree signs a copy of her book for me 
Yesterday I attended a talk by Anne-Maree Harriet Cox Whitaker at the monthly meeting of the  Hawkesbury Family History Group

I was rather excited as she was talking on her latest book "William Cox and Cox's Road" and two of my convict ancestors had worked for Cox on the construction of the road. Can you imagine my disappointment when Anne-Maree showed a slide of the thirty convicts that worked on the road and my men weren't on the list?

While the talk continued I grabbed my phone, brought up my family tree and checked my sources. Yes, my men earned their conditional pardons for working on the road. James Westbrook and William Magick were "On list of prisoners recommended for mitigation of sentence by Wm. Cox" as a result of their work making bricks for the road  (State Records NSW Reel 6065; 4/1798 p.107) As Anne-Maree didn't want the flow of her talk interrupted I had to wait until the end of her talk to ask if the thirty were the only convicts who worked on the road. She assured me that there were indeed more.  I wish she would have mentioned this during her talk!

The talk which Anne-Maree read was supported by interesting and relevant historical and contemporary images. The presentation firstly focused on the genealogy and history of the Cox family before moving on to the story of Cox's road. I found it most interesting to discover that Cox's first career was as a watch and clock maker. Because of my ancestor's connection I would have liked to hear more about the road but, as I have purchased the book which includes a transcription of 36 pages of Cox's Journal I am sure that I will be able to discover more of the story of the road's construction right from the horse's mouth.

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