James Cox would likely not be remembered for anything.
He wasn’t famous and lived a normal - if impoverished - life for his time.
Except for one thing. He kept a diary.
He recorded his life in early New Zealand in great detail, at a time when those living at the bottom of society usually did not.
The surviving portions - about 8000 pages and 800,000 words - covering from about 1888 to early 1925 - are at the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington.
James was born October 11, 1846, at Snodshill in Chisledon, Wiltshire, England to prosperous farmers William Cox and Fanny Jefferies.
His childhood ended suddenly in 1863 with the death of his father.
Then 17, he ran away from home with a cousin, Richard Jefferies (later a well known naturalist and writer), and they planned to walk to Moscow, but returned home after making it to France and not being able to speak the language.
James was a clerical assistant at the Great Western Railway Company and never married.
Then at the age of 34 he abruptly emigrated to New Zealand, landing in Christchurch in 1880 and lived there until 1888.
After a long period of unemployment he moved to the North Island and ended up in Foxton.
He landed a job fibre washing at a flaxmill which meant standing in cold water for hours on end, but, as happened to many, ended up with respiratory problems and prone to infections.
The mill closed and he spent his money on a last six-month holiday before taking a job at a new mill, but after an acute infection became vagrant.
He wandered for many years, begging for food and picking up small jobs.
He worked a job with an agriculture contractor few years but became unemployed again when the business collapsed.
Living mostly in Carterton he was too proud to ask for charity and did not apply for a pension.
In 1918 he had surgery for cancer and went to Carter Home, a charitable institution for elderly indigent men.
No matter where he was, he wrote his diary, often in pencil since he had no pen or ink, and often on strips of paper.
Now he is remembered by his diary - and a ghostly Twitter account titled James Cox’s dairy.
He died on July 19, 1925 and is buried in a pauper’s grave in Greytown Cemetery. His headstone was installed by Wairarapa historian Adele Pentony-Graham in 2013.
For a man of many words, his headstone only had three words along with his dates. James Cox. Itinerant.