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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Cox, Francis Augustus

21 Aug. 1885–12 July 1978

See also: Albert Lyman Cox, brother.

A photograph of Francis Augustus Cox from the 1905 University of North Carolina yearbook. Image from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.Francis Augustus Cox, clergyman, missionary, university administrator, was born in Raleigh, the son of Frances Lyman and William Ruffin Cox. He was the grandson of Bishop Theodore B. Lyman. Cox attended Horner Military School and was graduated from The University of North Carolina in 1905. After receiving a degree in law from the University of Virginia in 1907 he practiced in Raleigh until 1917. During World War I he served as a captain of field artillery with the Eighty-second Division, American Expeditionary Force, in France. After the war he prepared for the ministry at the Virginia Theological Seminary and upon graduation in 1921 was married to Mary Pemberton Moncure of Alexandria, Va., and left for China to serve as a missionary. He was ordained to the Episcopal priesthood the following year. Living first at Soochow, where he became archdeacon of the diocese, and afterward at Shanghai, where he was chancellor of St. John's University, Cox served for twenty-one years until he was imprisoned by the Japanese at the beginning of hostilities between their nation and the United States. Mrs. Cox returned to the United States in March 1941, but Cox was not permitted to leave until the summer of 1942. While he was in prison the Virginia Theological Seminary conferred upon him in absentia the degree of doctor of divinity. In China he served as chairman of the Diocesan Standing Committee, of the Board of Examining Chaplains, and the Board of Directors of St. John's University. After returning to the United States he served as rector of the church in Pittsburgh, Pa., and afterward of Fox Chapel Community Church which he helped to organize in a Pittsburgh suburb. In 1960 he published The Cross and the Dragon, a volume dealing with his work between 1921 and 1942. After retirement he lived in Alexandria, Va., where he was buried at Ivy Hill Cemetery. Mrs. Cox died two years earlier and he was survived by two nephews and three nieces.


Daniel L. Grant, Alumni History of the University of North Carolina (1924).

William S. Powell, ed., North Carolina Lives (1962).

Raleigh News and Observer, 14 Sept. 1942, 2 Dec. 1945, 18 July 1978.

Who's Who in the South and Southwest, 1961.

Additional Resources:

Levere, William C., editor. Who's who in S.A.E.: A Biographical Dictionary of Notable Living Members of the Fraternity. Evanston, Ill. 1912. 60. (accessed December 4, 2013).

"Francis A. Cox." Raleigh illustrated: Raleigh, North Carolina, containing a comprehensive review of the natural advantages and resources of Raleigh... together with historical reviews of those representative concerns and biographical sketches of prominent men who have materially assisted in placing this community in high position. Raleigh, N.C: Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and The Merchants Association. 1910. 23.

Image Credits:

"Cox, Francis Augustus ... Penelo, N.C." Photograph. The Yackety Yack vol. 5. [Chapel Hill, N.C.]: Fraternities and Literary Societies of the University of North Carolina. 1905. 22. (accessed December 4, 2013).

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