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The Biologist Charles Coxen

(20th April 1806 to 17th May 1876)

Charles Coxen was born in Ramsgate, Kent and he was the son of Nicholas Coxen and Elizabeth Tompkins. As well as Charles's famous sister Elizabeth (1804 to 1841) who would later marry the ornithologist John Gould, there was also an elder brother called Stephen Coxen (c.1798 to 1844). All three would later travel to Australia which is were Charles gained his fame as a biologist. The Australian species of parrot, the Coxen-Fig Parrot was named after him.

Charles married Elizabeth Frances Issac (c.1826 to 1906) of Gowrie Station, Darling Downs at Ryde, New South Wales in 1851. They lived out their lives at Bulimba, Brisbane.

Charles was also one of the founders of the Queensland Philosophical Society and a principal founder of the Queensland Museum for which he was the Honorary Curator between 1871 and 1876. He also became a politician in the Australian Government in later life.

Charles's brother Stephen is also known to have emigrated to Australia in 1827. With his wife Sarah he had two sons, but they didn't go on to leave issue of their own. Stephen himself committed suicide in 1844.

Elizabeth Gould (nee Coxen)

(1804 to 1841)

Nicholas Coxen and Elizabeth Tompkins daughter Elizabeth was born two years before her brother Charles again in Ramsgate, Kent. She would later marry the famous ornithologist John Gould and assist him greatly in his work.

John Gould was a skilled animal preserver (taxidermist) and in 1827 he became the curator and preserver to the then new Zoological Society's Museum in London. John travelled extensively and would sketch wildlife where ever he went, but it was Elizabeth who was the more skilled artist of the two. They produced between 1832 and 1837, five volumes of books called 'Birds of Europe'. Elizabeth used John's sketches to produce coloured lithographic illustrations for inclusion in their works, which at the time was the very latest technique in reproduction.

The work was so successful that the couple secured enough funds for a two year expedition to Australia between 1838 and 1840. Here they completed a detailed study of Australia's wildlife which resulted in John Gould's most famous work, the seven volumes of 'Birds of Australia' published between 1840 and 1848. Sadly Elizabeth was not around to enjoy most of this success, as she was to die young in 1841. John Gould went on to produce several further works including 'Birds of Asia' and 'Birds of Great Britain'.

I owe must of my knowledge of these particular Coxen's to my fellow Coxen Family researcher, Tamsin Coxen. It was also Tamsin that first informed me that there was a link between the members of this family and Major-General Walter Adams Coxen's family, which you can read of on his own page.

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