Clement-Jones family - Person Sheet
Clement-Jones family - Person Sheet
NameJoseph FOX , 5184
FatherGeorge FOX , 5141 (1693-1756)
MotherAnna DEBELL , 5142
FatherDr Richard HINGSTON , 5707
ChildrenJoseph , 5186 (1758-1832)
 Edward Long , 5187
Notes for Joseph FOX
Joseph was the first Falmouth Fox, and founder of the medical dynasty. He was also a man of character, as is plain from the affair of the Prize Money. His father, George Fox of Par, had two small vessels trading with Bilbao in Northern Spain. And his brother, George Croker Fox, was later to found the firm of G.C. Fox and Co, the Falmouth shipping agents,. But Joseph preferred Medicine, and, after serving an apprenticeship in Fowey, set himself up in Falmouth as a surgeon. The girl he married, in 1754, was a daughter of Richard Hingston (1695–1748), who had been a surgeon–apothecary in Penryn. Joseph was, we are told, skilful in his profession. But "the profit in country places in those days was small; and, having a large family he was glad to take small shares in mines, and held one or two with his brother in Merchant vessels, and also in a Lisbon packet." In or before 1775 he took a quarter share in two cutters of the type used by the Revenue; and when war with France broke out in 1778 the other proprietors decided to equip them as privateers for capturing French merchantmen With all his might, Fox opposed this plan, as contrary to Christ's teaching as he saw it. As a Friend he held that "no human laws can authorise men to kill each other, or to take their property by force. Because he would never profit by this unlawful trade, his income from the vessels would in fact cease; and he therefore proposed that his partners should buy him out - at much leas than the value of his share. But they refused.

This passage, and all that follows, is derived from a pamphlet, "The Prize Money Restored", written by one. of his children and published much later.

When the venture succeeded - the vessels taken being unarmed and knowing nothing of the war - the other partners changed their tune: in exchange for Fox's share they offered him "a very handsome Annuity for life." But by now he had decided to insist on having the prize money, so that when the war ended he could make restitution to the French owners. Not knowing what the profits were, he had to accept whatever his partners chose to give him. But, invested in the Funds, this amounted in 1784 to some £1200 or 1300 So painful to Fox was the whole episode that he never mentioned it to his sons or even to his wife, though she "had his entire confidence in other matters." The first intimation was in a letter to Edward Long Fox, who was just finishing his studies at Edinburgh, asking him not to settle immediately as a physician but go instead to Paris "to transact some business for me." Edward and his wife reached Paris in October 1784; but to find the people who had actually lost money by the privateering proved anything but easy. For a time he got explicit instructions from his father: "Be very circumspect and cautious in thy answers to the Claimants . . . I will do with the money what appears to me right, not as it appears to others. Keep vouchers and memorandums of every transaction to vindicate my reputation if censured, but be cautious; many will be on the watch to misrepresent things. - Be steadfast to thy principles regard not being thought particular. I know that all persons, let them say what they please, do in heart esteem those who act right, and most in character.'"In February 1785, an advertisement appeared in the Gazette de France, with a warmly appreciative note by the editor. But about the same time Joseph died from "a severe attack of pleurisy." For various reasons, including the renewal of war, Edward could not discharge his obligations completely till 1817. By that time, thanks to compound interest, a substantial sum remained; and this was eventually used to establish a fund for the relief of aged and distressed merchant seamen in some of the French ports.

The amount was placed in "the treasury of the invalid seamen of France" for the relief of "non-combatants" of the merchant service, the family of Lefebre, at Rouen, being invested with a limited power to recommend suitable objects. Thus, as far as circumstances would permit, was the original design of the principal agent completely fulfilled.

Connected with these transactions, two or three particulars deserve a moments attention. To the honour of the French character it must be stated that no claim was made by any individual, which was not subsequently proved, by the documents, to be correct.

An example of the evils of war is afforded by the fact, that one of the sufferers by these comparatively trifling captures, was so overwhelmed by the calamity, that he died of a broken heart. The public advertisement issued by Dr. Fox, drew forth an address to him from a body of Protestants in the South of France, viz. at Nismes, Congenies &c., whose religious principles closely resembled those of the Society of Friends, in England, and a frequent correspondence and intercourse between the two has since been maintained.
The circumstances here detailed having been matter of notoriety and frequent allusion, both in Great Britain and France, a short notice of them seemed due in this place to the memory of Mr. Joseph Fox.
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