Charles Cooper (judge)

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Sir Charles Cooper (1795 – 24 May 1887) was a politician and the first Chief Justice of South Australia.

Cooper was born in Henley-on-Thames, the third son of Thomas Cooper, under-sheriff of Oxfordshire. Charles entered the Inner Temple in 1822 and was called to the bar in February 1827. He practised on the Oxford circuit until 1838, and was then appointed judge at Adelaide. He and his sister Sarah Ann Cooper landed there in March 1839 in the Katherine Stewart Forbes, and was for many years the sole judge, then senior judge, and in June 1856 was appointed the first South Australian chief justice. In September 1860 he was sworn in as a member of the Executive Council.

Cooper retired from the bench in November 1861 and from the Executive Council in August 1862 owing to ill-health and was given a pension of £1000 a year. He returned to England in 1862, resided at Bath, Somerset, and improving much in his health lived to be 92 years of age. He died at London on 24 May 1887. He married in 1853 Emily Grace Newenham, daughter of Charles Burton Newenham (Sheriff of South Australia 1839-1856). He was knighted in 1857. Cooper's Creek, (now Cooper Creek), in central Australia was named after him by his friend, Captain Sturt. Cooper was a thoroughly capable judge who earned the esteem of the colonists. He held courts at first in his own house, which had the advantage that he was constantly on the premises. He was a sound lawyer and framed the first insolvency legislation of the colony. Though not robust looking, he was hospitable and interested in the social and intellectual life of the colony.

While in South Australia he had a seaside residence adjacent "The Grange", Charles Sturt's property for which Grange Beach was named. It is likely that Henley Beach was named for Cooper's hometown after Cooper rejected Sturt's proposed name "Cooper's Beach".[1]


On 7 July 1853, Charles Cooper married Emily Grace Newenham, eldest daughter of Charles Burton Newenham, Sheriff of the Province. They had no children, and she outlived him.

His sister Sarah Ann Cooper (c. 1804 – 31 May 1895) married William Bartley (1801–1885), Senior Solicitor to the Lands Titles Office on 23 September 1852.



  1. ^ "Out Among the People". The Advertiser (Adelaide). 95, (29,536). South Australia. 12 June 1953. p. 4. Retrieved 1 December 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
Legal offices
Preceded by
(position created)
Chief Justice of the
Supreme Court of South Australia

1 July 1856 – 20 November 1861
Succeeded by
Richard Hanson