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As an officer of the East India Company, Captain Cox was appointed Superintendent of Palongkee outpost after Warren Hastings became Governor of Bengal. Captain Cox was specially mobilised to deal with a century-long conflict between Arakan refugees and local Rakhains (see Rakhine State). He embarked upon the mammoth task of rehabilitating refugees in the area and made significant progress. A premature death took Captain Cox in 1799 before he could finish his work. To commemorate his role in rehabilitation work, a market was established and named after him: Cox's Bazar ("Cox's Market").
Cox was a member of the Asiatic Society, contributing scholarly articles on Asian culture to its journal Asiatic Researches. He is most noted for his theory of the origin of chess as a four-player game, known as the Cox-Forbes theory.