Vancouver Island Masonic History Project

Henry George Fox (died 30 January 1890, aged 46) was a member of Vancouver & Quadra Lodge No. 2 in Victoria.

He was chief engineer aboard the steamer Sardonyx and died in a fall through the main hatch into the hold of the ship.

Here are the local newspaper reports of Brother Henry George Fox’s death, funeral and the maritime inquiry into his death:

“FUNERAL NOTICE – Members of Vancouver & Quadra Lodge No. 2, A.F.&A.M., are requested to meet at Masonic Temple, Douglas street, on Sunday Feb. 2nd, at 2.30 p.m. sharp, for the purpose of attending the funeral of our late brother, Henry Geo. Fox. Members of Victoria Columbia Lodge No. 1, and sojourning brethren in good standing are cordially invited to attend.
By order of the W. M.
R.A. BROWN, Secretary.”

(Source: Victoria Daily Colonist, 2 February 1890, page 1)

Engineer Fox, of the Sardonyx, Dashed to His Death

On Thursday evening [29 January 1890] as the steamer Sardonyx was lying on the beach at Nanaimo, H.G. Fox, the chief engineer, while walking in the cabin fell through the main hatch to the floor of the hold, seriously injuring his skull, although not breaking any bones.

The injured man lay in the hold for some time unconscious, when he was missed by his shipmates, who found him in a very dangerous condition.

The marine surgeon, Dr. T.L. Davis, was immediately summoned and gave orders that the injured man should be taken to the hospital, but on account of the position of the steamer he could not be moved until next morning. In spite of everything that could be done, however, he succumbed to his injuries before he reached the hospital.

It was about 7 o’clock in the evening when he met with his awful fall, and at 9 o’clock the next morning he died, not having regained consciousness during the whole period.

The deceased was a native of England and aged 46 years. He came to Victoria about three years ago, and had been in the employ of the C.P.N Co. [note: Canadian Pacific Navigation Co.] ever since.

The remains were brought down from Nanaimo yesterday and will be buried to-day from the Masonic Temple, he having been a member of the Masonic order. The deceased leaves a widow but no family. At the request of Mrs. Fox no inquest was held.”

(Source: Victoria Daily Colonist, 2 February 1890, page 1)

“MARINE INQUIRY – This afternoon, in the Marine office in the Customs building, an inquiry will be opened into the circumstances surrounding the death, some time back, of Mr. Fox, engineer of the steamer Sardonyx. The proceedings will begin a 2 o’clock. It will be remembered that Mr. Fox fell into the hold of the vessel and received such injuries as caused his death.”

(Source: Victoria Daily Colonist, 3 June 1890, page 5)

Capt. H.G. Lewis receives Evidence in Connection with the Death of the late Engineer of the Sardonyx

Capt. H.G. Lewis, Dominion Agent of Marine and Fisheries, yesterday morning opened an investigation into the cause of the death of the late Chief Engineer Fox, of the S.S. Sardonyx, under section 62, 49 Victoria, Chapter 78 of “The Steamboat Act”, which provides that the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council may order an investigation into any steamboat accident involving the loss of life, and report the particulars of such inquiry to the Governor-General.

The circumstances in connection with the death of Mr. Fox are still fresh in the minds of Victorians. The sad event occurred at Nanaimo, one evening, when the hatches were open, an unusual circumstance, and one which led to the investigation being ordered.

Capt. Meyers was examined under oath during the morning, in the same manner as a court of justice, but the examination was a private one. In the afternoon, the mate and several of the crew gave evidence, and the whole of the depositions will be today forwarded to Ottawa for the consideration of the Governor-General and his advisors.”

(source: Victoria Daily Colonist, 4 June 1890, page 5)

Here are additional links to information:

Henry George Fox is buried in Ross Bay Cemetery, Victoria.

Henry George Fox grave, Ross Bay Cemetery, Victoria, B.C.. (photo by Temple Lodge No. 33 Historian)
Henry George Fox grave, Ross Bay Cemetery, Victoria, B.C.. (photo by Temple Lodge No. 33 Historian)


In April 2019 we received the following from Patricia Fox, a descendant of Henry George Fox:

“Did he marry again in Canada ? He had a wife and children , one of whom was my paternal great grandfather John Ettwell Francis Fox . He was born of farming stock in Wiltshire. They lived in England , my great grandfather was born in Southampton . Henry George married Hannah Susanah Chandler but they did not travel to Canada with him and he left his estate to her. She remarried , a widower with his own children.  John joined the Marines then lived worked and married in London . Both my father and grandfather had the same name as John . The Ettwell comes from Henry George’s maternal side , surname Eatwell also from Wiltshire.”

Out Temple Lodge No. 33 Historian replied saying all we knew about the Fox family was the information that was contained in the newspaper reports above. We will do some more research on Henry George Fox to forward to the family in the UK.

Patricia Fox has said she will see what information the family has about Henry George Fox and will share it with us for use on this page.


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