COOPER, Sir Daniel (1821-1902)


COOPER, Sir Daniel (1821-1902)
first speaker of the legislative assembly of New South Wales
son of Thomas Cooper, merchant, and his wife Jane, daughter of Samuel Ramsden, was born at Bolton, Lancaster, England, on 1 July 1821. He was taken to Sydney by his parents when a child, but was sent to England again in 1835 and spent four years at University College, London. He began business at Havre, France, but his health failing he returned to Sydney in 1843. There he acquired an interest in a mercantile firm afterwards known as D. Cooper and Company, and bought much property in Sydney and suburbs. This afterwards appreciated in value and Cooper became a wealthy man. In 1849 at the age of 28 he was made a member of the legislative council, and in 1856 with the coming in of responsible government was elected a member of the legislative assembly. At its first meeting Cooper was elected speaker by a majority of one vote over Henry Watson Parker (q.v.). His election was not popular, but Cooper held office with dignity and impartiality and set a standard for future speakers. In January 1860 his health was again troubling him and he found it necessary to resign. He was asked to form a ministry in March, but declined and in 1861 returned to England. During the Crimean war he had exerted himself in raising a fund for the relief of widows and children of soldiers, and in England in 1863 he did much work to relieve the distress in Lancashire caused by the cotton famine. He continued his interest in New South Wales and occasionally acted as agent-general, did useful work in connexion with the exhibition held at Sydney in 1880, and in 1886 was a member of the royal commission for the Colonial and Indian exhibition at London. He died at London on 5 June 1902. He married in 1846 Elizabeth, daughter of William Hill, and was survived by two sons and three daughters. He was knighted in 1857, created a baronet in 1863, K.C.M.G. in 1880 and G.C.M.G. in 1888. He was an early member of the senate of the university of Sydney, to which he gave £500 for a stained glass window, and £1000 to found a scholarship. This sum was invested in property which increased considerably in value, and it now provides for several scholarships.
The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 June 1902; The Times, 6 June 1902; Burke's Colonial Gentry, 1891; The Official History of N.S.W.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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