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The following information is from the P&O Heritage website:-
Born in Belgium in 1785, to an English father and Scottish mother, Willcox grew up in the North of England where he described his roots as working class. Early in the 1800s Willcox moved South following in the footsteps of his Scottish uncle, Brodie Augustus McGhie, a shipowner and shipbuilder in London.
Willcox went into partnership with Nathaniel Carreno as Willcox & Carreno. An employee, Arthur Anderson, replaced Carreno as partner in 1823.
Willcox described himself as the 'father of the Peninsular Company which became the foundation stone of the Peninsular and Oriental Company'.
He died in 1862 as the result of an accident on his estate in Roydon, Essex.