Sir Daniel Cooper, 1st Baronet

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Sir Daniel Cooper

Sir Daniel Cooper, 1st Baronet GCMG (1 July 1821 – 5 June 1902) was the first speaker of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales and a noted philatelist.

Early life[edit]

He was born at Bolton, Lancashire, England, the son of Thomas Cooper, merchant, and his wife Jane. He was the nephew of the emancipated convict and extraordinarily successful businessman, Daniel Cooper, who took an interest in the education of his nephew. He was taken to Sydney by his parents when a child, but was sent back to Britain again in 1835 and spent four years at University College London.

Cooper began business at Le 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 its suburbs. This afterwards appreciated in value and Cooper became a wealthy man. He married Elizabeth, daughter of William Hill in 1846. In 1853 he inherited the bulk of the enormous fortune of his uncle, Daniel, who had no children. He was an early member of the senate of the University of Sydney, to which he gave £500 for a stained glass window, and £1,000 to found a scholarship.[1]

Political career[edit]

In 1849 at the age of 28, Cooper was made a member of the legislative council, and in 1856 he was elected as a member for Legislative Assembly seat of Sydney Hamlets of the first Parliament of New South Wales. He represented Paddington from 1859 to 1860.[2] At its first meeting, Cooper was elected Speaker by a majority of one vote over Henry Watson Parker. His election was not popular, but Cooper held office with dignity and impartiality and set a standard for future speakers. He successfully established rules of procedure and parliamentary conventions, which influenced the Parliament in the following years.[2]

In politics, he was close to Charles Cowper and Henry Parkes and supported Parkes' Empire, financially. In return it described his political principles as being 'of so liberal a cast that, were he less identified with the great interests of property, he would be set down as a dangerous democrat'.[3]

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 Britain. During the Crimean War he had exerted himself in raising a fund for the relief of widows and children of soldiers, and in the UK 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.[1]

Cooper died on 5 June 1902 in Kensington, London and was survived by his wife and by two sons and three daughters.[3] Cooper is buried in Brompton Cemetery, London.[4]

Funerary monument, Brompton Cemetery, London

Philately[edit]

Cooper was a founder and the first president (1869–78) of the Philatelic Society of London, the predecessor of today's Royal Philatelic Society London.[5] His Australian postage stamps, sold to Judge Frederick Philbrick in 1878 for £3,000 (the first four-figure price for a collection), became part of Ferrary's celebrated collection.[6] The Sir Daniel Cooper Lectures, sponsored by the Royal Philatelic Society, are in his honour.

Honours[edit]

Cooper was knighted in 1857, created a baronet in 1863, KCMG in 1880 and GCMG in 1888.[2]

Notes[edit]

External links[edit]

Parliament of New South Wales
New title Speaker of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly
1856–1860
Succeeded by
Terence Aubrey Murray
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
New title Baronet
(of Woollahra)
1863–1902
Succeeded by
Daniel Cooper