Born in England in 1640, Daniel Coxe, the ancestor of the Coxe family in America, was a doctor and a land speculator. Dr. Coxe acquired a great deal of land in New Jersey, eventually becoming the governor of West Jersey, but he never visited his vast American holdings. He died in 1730 at the age of 90, bequeathing a legacy of land acquisition and development to succeeding generations of the Coxe family.
His son, Colonel Daniel Coxe, was born in London in 1673. Like his father, he was known as a prominent land developer. He was the first Coxe to make the journey to America, eventually settling in New Jersey in 1703.
By the time the Colonel’s grandson, Tench Coxe, was born in Philadelphia in 1755, the Coxe family name was well-established in America. Coxes owned thousands of acres of land, despite the fact that Tench’s father, William Coxe, did not share the passion for acquiring and developing new lands that his own father and grandfather had. But young Tench picked up the family trait and by the early nineteenth century, had purchased roughly 80,000 acres in what would become the Pennsylvania anthracite coal region. When he died in 1824, he passed on these lands to his family.
Charles Sydney Coxe, Tench's son, took control of the properties after his father’s death. A well-respected lawyer and judge in Philadelphia, Charles retained the coal lands despite a heavy tax burden and constant struggles against timber theives and squatters. Prior to his death Tench had insisted that they would bring handsome profits once developed. Like his father before him, Charles encouraged the next generation of Coxes to take an interest in the coal trade, and eventually his four sons and a nephew began mining operations on the lands of the prescient grandfather.
By the 1880s members of the Coxe family had founded mining companies and built numerous collieries and mining towns. The heirs of Tench Coxe reaped the benefits from these enterprises. Royalties on the coal vastly increased the family’s already considerable wealth and prominence. While Eckley and Alexander lived and worked in the coalfields, many of the other Coxes lived in style and elegance in Philadelphia. They had always married well and they continued intermarrying with other prominent Philadelphia families, including the Brintons, Fishers, Norris’ and Youngs.
After Henry B. Coxe's death in 1904, Alexander was left to run the business himself. By 1905 he was ready to retire and it was during this year that he sold the mining company interests to the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company, surrendering direct family control over mining operations.
During the years 1905-1968, the family continued to collect money from coal that was mined by various operators who leased their lands. The agents of the Estate of Tench Coxe collected royalties and distributed checks to each of the Coxe heirs. Alexander Brown Coxe, Henry B. Coxe, his son Henry B. Coxe, Jr., and Daniel M. Coxe all served as agents. The Coxe family regained direct control of its coal properties in 1950 after breaking its lease with Coxe Brothers & Company, Inc., which was wholly owned by the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company. The Coxe family began liquidating its property in 1962, largely due to the depressed condition of the anthracite coal industry. By 1968, the heirs had sold the last of their coal lands. The liquidation ended nearly 200 years of Coxe family involvement in the coal business.