William Coxe (historian)

William Coxe

Engraving of William Coxe

William Coxe engraving by W. T. Fry, 1904
Born (1748-03-17)17 March 1748
London, England
Died 8 June 1828(1828-06-08) (aged 80)
Bemerton, England
Resting place Fugglestone St Peter, Wilton, England
51°04′53″N 1°51′20″W / 51.081524°N 1.855444°W / 51.081524; -1.855444
Nationality English
Alma mater King's College, Cambridge
Occupation Historian, archdeacon
Years active 1779–1828
Religion Christian (Anglican)
Spouse(s) Eleanora (née Shairp)
Parent(s) William Coxe (c.1710–60)

William Coxe MA FRS (17 March [O.S. 6 March] 1748 – 8 June 1828) was an English historian and priest who served as a travelling companion and tutor to nobility from 1771 to 1786. He wrote numerous historical works and travel chronicles. Ordained a deacon in 1771, he served as a rector and then archdeacon of Bemerton near Salisbury from 1786 until his death.[1]


William Coxe was born on 17 March [O.S. 6 March] 1748[2] in Dover Street, Piccadilly, London, the eldest son of William Coxe (c. 1710 – 1760), a physician to the king's household, and his wife, Martha, daughter of Paul D'Aranda.[1] He was the older brother of the writer and poet Peter Coxe (c. 1753–1844),[1] who wrote the poem "Social Day". Following his father's death in 1760, his mother married John Christopher Smith, who was Handel's amanuensis.

Educated at Marylebone Grammar School (1753–54) and then at Eton College (1754–64), Coxe matriculated to King's College, Cambridge at Easter 1765.[1] He received his BA in 1769, and his MA in 1772.[1] From 1768 to 1771, he was a fellow of King's College. William was ordained a deacon in London on 21 December 1771 and a priest on 15 March 1772.[1]

Coxe travelled throughout Europe as a tutor and travelling companion to various noblemen and gentlemen, including Lord Herbert, son of the Earl of Pembroke and Samuel Whitbread of the brewing family. He wrote prodigious and detailed accounts of his travels with Lord Herbert around the Swiss and French Alps, which were subsequently published.[3]:640

In 1786 he was appointed vicar of Kingston upon Thames, and in 1788 rector of Fugglestone St Peter-with-Bemerton, Wiltshire. He also held the rectory of Stourton, Wiltshire from 1801 to 1811 and that of Fovant from 1811 until his death. In 1791 he was made prebendary of Salisbury, and in 1804 Archdeacon of Wilts until his death twenty-four years later at age 81. He died on 8 June 1828 in Bemerton, and was buried in the chancel of St Peter Church at Fugglestone St Peter, Wilton, England.

In 1803, Coxe married Eleanora, daughter of William Shairp, consul-general for Russia, and widow of Thomas Yeldham of St Petersburg.




  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Knight, Jeremy (2004). "William Coxe (1748–1828)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19861-351-0.
  2. "William Coxe (CKS765W)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  3. Coxe, William (1777). Pinkerton, John, ed. Travels in Switzerland and in the Country of the Grisons 1777. A General Collection of the Best and Most Interesting Voyages, Vol. 5 1809. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme. Retrieved 14 February 2016.


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