The collection comprises the personal papers of William Sands Cox; papers related to members of his extended family (the Sands, Cox and Kendrick families); and papers related to other associated families including those related to his wife, Isabella Lichfield. The collection also includes legal items and associated material belonging to William Matthews and Francis Matthews, executors of William Sands Cox's estate [William Matthews' mother, Frances (Fanny), being a sister of Isabella Lichfield]. The vast bulk of the papers of William Sands Cox comprise letters, largely sent to him, concerning the Birmingham School of Medicine, subsequently Queen's College. The correspondence includes letters relating to subscriptions and gifts to, appeals for, and patronage of, the institution. Numerous letters are written from members of the landed gentry, the nobility as well as other institutions such as King's College in London.
The correspondence also includes a number of letters of testimony for Sands Cox, mostly written in 1839, which appear to relate to his application to become a surgeon at the Birmingham Infirmary. These testimonials include recommendations from Astley Cooper, James Quain (from Paris) and Joseph Henry Green. The collection also includes Sands Cox's indenture which apprenticed him to his father. Later correspondence from the early 1870s includes letters of thanks for girts of annals of the College which Sands Cox appears to have distributed before his death. Printed items relating to the College include an item titled 'exhibits by the faculty of medicine', a printed descriptive 'general design of the college' and an open appeal letter of 1870 for the preservation of its buildings. There are also a number of newscuttings concerning the College including items relating to the centenary of its foundation.
Personal items relating to William Sands Cox and his wife, Isabella (nee Lichfield), include a single love letter from him dated 1830; a copy of their marriage certificate of 1866; photographs of Sands Cox; a diary of 1866 which largely records business and other appointments; a letter from the Earl of Warwick regarding his appointment as a Justice of the Peace in 1853; and a printed sale catalogue of the estate of Isabella Sands Cox at Kenilworth following her death in 1885. There is also an engraved trowel presented to Isabella Sands Cox on the laying of the corner stone of the church of St Thomas in the Moor in Birmingham, which was erected in memory of Sands Cox's parents; and an engraved presentation silver case to Sands Cox from the Committee of Queen's Hospital upon the completion of the building of supplementary wings to the hospital. Ephemeral items include engravings of King Charles I and cuttings relating to a chair belonging to King Charles I which Sands Cox appears to have inherited. He subsequently bequeathed the chair to Moreton in the Marsh Cottage Hospital.
Extended family items include plans of a freehold estate in Highgate in the parish of Kings Norton and which belonged to Sands Cox's father, Edward Townsend Cox; letters of administration of Edward Payne Cox and Robert Cox; a copy will of Edward Cox, Sands Cox's paternal grandfather; the will of his father and some Payne family members who he was related to through his mother; and letters and papers relating to the Sands Cox cup. Seemingly unrelated miscellaneous items include a proclamation issued upon the death of Queen Victoria and consequent accession of King Edward VII in 1901; pew certificates for the Slater family which were issued from St Martin's church in Birmingham during the 1780s; and a copy of a coded letter relating to the escape of Charles Stuart (the future King Charles II) to France during the English Civil War in the seventeenth century.