Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Fox, Henry Watson

FOX, HENRY WATSON (1817–1848), Indian missionary, son of George Townshend Fox of Durham, was born at Westoe in 1817. He was sent to Durham grammar school, and thence to Rugby, where he was in the house of Bonamy Price. A lecture delivered by Price in 1833 and the weekly sermons of Arnold strengthened his early religious impressions. In 1836 he gained one of the university exhibitions, and commenced residence at Wadham College, Oxford, in October of that year. Proceeding B.A. in December 1839, he was ordained deacon in December 1840, and shortly afterwards married Elizabeth, daughter of G. H. James, esq., of Wolverhampton. Early in 1841 the Church Missionary Society appointed him a missionary to the Telugu people, inhabiting the northeastern districts of the Madras presidency. He reached Madras in July 1841 with his colleague, the Rev. R. T. Noble [q. v.] Noble managed a school at Masulipatam for natives of the higher classes, while Fox, as soon as he had mastered the language, preached to the people in Masulipatam and the adjoining district. Ill-health compelled him to reside on the Nilgiri hills from 1843 to October 1844, with the exception of some time spent on a tour among the mission stations of Travancore and Tinnivelly. The illness of his wife, who died a few hours after embarking at Madras, compelled him to visit England in the latter part of 1845. In 1848 he was obliged by his own health finally to return to England. He was able a few months later to accept the appointment of assistant secretary to the Church Missionary Society, but on 14 Oct. 1848, after a severe attack of the malady which had driven him from India, he died in his mother's house at Durham.

Fox's short and interrupted career was made remarkable by his single-minded and intelligent devotion. His last illness was brought on by his exertions in working and preaching for the society when his strength was unequal to the task. His letters and journals show that his work and the spread of missions were with him all-engrossing topics. In 1846 he wrote a little book entitled 'Chapters on Missions in South India,' published a few months before his death, giving a popular account of mission life in India, and of his observations of Hindu religion and manners. Shortly after Fox's death subscriptions were raised by his friends at Rugby and elsewhere, which resulted in the endowment of a Rugby Fox mastership in the Church Mission School, now called the Noble College, at Masulipatam. It was at the same time arranged that an annual sermon should be preached in the school chapel at Rugby in aid of the funds of the endowment. In 1872 the preacher was Fox's son, the Rev. H. E. Fox.

[Memoir of the Rev. Henry Watson Fox, by the Rev. George Townshend Fox of Durham, with a preface by the Rev. H. V. Elliott, 1850; Chapters on Missions in South India, by the Rev. H. W. Fox, 1848; A Sermon preached at Hampstead, 7 Aug., on the death of the Rev. H. W. Fox, by the Rev. J. Tucker, B.D., 1849; Posthumous Fragment by the Rev. H. W. Fox, with a notice of the extent of his influence, 1852.]

A. J. A.