2008 marked the 250th anniversary of the foundation of Cox & Kings, the longest established travel company in the world. The company's history stretches back to the summer of 1758 when Richard Cox was appointed as regimental agent to the Foot Guards by his mentor, Lord Ligonier, the Commanding Officer of His Majesty's Armed Forces.
The role of agent included the arrangement of payment of officers and men, the provision of clothing, serving as a go-between for the buying and selling of officers’ commissions, and acting upon any special requests from the regimental adjutant.
Regimental agents did not have a very good reputation before Cox, but such was his honesty, reliability and organisational ability that he made it a respectable business and Cox & Co soon became the agent for the majority of British regiments. By the end of the 18th century the company served 14 cavalry, 64 infantry and 17 militia regiments. The company’s business grew hand in hand with the British Empire, becoming involved in banking and shipping in addition to its other agency activities.
In the late 19th century, Henry S. King & Co was a rival bank and shipping agency, started by Henry Samuel King and subsequently run for over 45 years by his son, Henry Seymour King, an MP and renowned mountaineer. The company had particularly strong links with India. After the First World War the two companies merged as Cox’s & King’s and moved into grand premises on Pall Mall (now the site of the Sofitel St James Hotel). In 1923 the business was sold to Lloyds Bank and whilst the banking arm stayed with Lloyds (becoming the Cox & Kings branch, as it is still known), the shipping agency became a separate company, running tours and organising the passage of people and their belongings around the world, notably to Egypt, India and South Asia.
In 1970, Cox & Kings Agency was bought by Grindlays Bank as part of a deal with the Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, to develop tourism into the country, and so the modern history of the company began.
Cox & Kings has built on the tradition of high quality service and attention to detail established by Richard Cox over 250 years ago and it now provides travel arrangements of the highest calibre in many of the most culturally and naturally fascinating parts of the world. The company is now privately owned and has extended its expertise to cover the Indian Subcontinent, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, the Far East, Europe and Australasia.