James Cox was the son of Joseph Cox of Allington, Dorset.
James was admitted to Wadham College, Oxford on 25th June 1789 and in September 1789 was taken into partnership by Mr Hodges of Wells Academy. He achieved a B.A. on 9th November 1793 and an M.A. on 31st May 1796. He became a Bachelor of Divinity and then a Doctor of Divinity on 8th July 1809.
On the 24th December 1794 James married Elizabeth Hodges in Bristol. She was presumably the daughter of Mr Hodges of Wells Academy.
He became Clerk of Bridport, Dorset on 1st November 1792 but resigned on 14th October 1793. He was 2nd master at Hyde Abbey School, Winchester until 1796 when he was appointed master of the Queen Elizabeth Grammer School at Gainsborough, Lincolnshire. He left in 1824 after 28 years when his son Joseph took over the position. He became Rector of Litton Cheney in Dorset on 16th March 1824 and resigned in 1833. His son James Septimus became rector after him.
His wife Elizabeth died age 39 in July 1812. In 1813 he published 'The Wanderings of Woe, or Conjugal affection' a poem in tribute to the memory of his beloved wife.
He had 8 children who survived him, Joseph (born 1797), James Septimus (born 1806), Alfred (born 1807), Eliza Jane (eldest daughter), Mary (born 1799), Julia (born c1807), Anna Theodosia (youngest daughter)(born 1809) and Frances (3rd Daughter) (-1856)
The Bury and Norwich Post of 31st October 1832 reported that:
"The Rev. James Cox D.D., the former master of Gainsborough school has been presented to the livings of Hoxne and Denham in Suffok, on the presentation of Major-General Sir Edward Kerrison, Bart. The circumstances of this preferment are highly honourable to both parties. Dr. Cox was personally known to the patron only as the alternate preacher at Belgrave chapel, London, of the congregation of which the family of Sir Edward Kerrison formed a part"
However a very different account was given in the neighbourhood of Hoxne. Sir Edward Kerrison is said never to have attended Belgrave Chapel, nor had any of his family. When Rev. Cox went to Hoxne for his institution, no notice whatever was taken of him by the family at Oakley Hall and the inference seems to have been drawn that money had been the means of his obtaining the living. He was said to be nearly 70 years of age and obtained Hoxne under an expectation that he should be allowed to hold with it another living of which he was the incumbent, and which as of more value than Hoxne. He found he could not do that so he wanted his son to take it. As he had no other means of providing for his daughters he proposed that his son made an allowance out of it for that purpose. His son's conscience would not allow him to accept preferement on these terms. Rev. Cox therefore sufferred financially by his move to Hoxne.
These detail were taken from Notes made by David Elisha Davy (1769–1851) antiquary.
James remarried Miss Ann Fisher Green, of Chelsea and Tintinhull, Somerset, on January 3rd 1833 at St. Luke's Chelsea.
The Oxford Journal of 2nd September 1843 reported that:
"Sir Edward Kerrison, Bart., has presented the Rev. James Cox, D.D., to the rectory of Palgrave, Suffolk, and the Rev. John Hodgson, M.A. to the vicarage of Hoxne cum Denham in the same county."
James died on the 16th December 1848 at Palgrave, age 83, and was buried at Litton Cheney where the is a marble memorial to him;
"James Cox, D.D. of Wadham College, sometime Rector of this Parish and previously for 28 years the able master of Gainsborough Grammar school in the County of Lincoln; departed this life at the Rectory of Palgrave in the County of Suffolk, Dec 16, 1848, in the 84th year of his age. His eight surviving children in sorrowing Gratitude erect this frail memorial over the remains of their revered and deeply lamented parent."