Pope Alexander Cooper

Sir Pope Alexander Cooper KCMG (12 May 184830 August 1923) was an attorney-general and a chief judge of the Supreme Court of Queensland, which is the highest ranking court in the Australian State of Queensland.

Early life

Pope Alexander Cooper was born at Willeroo station, Lake George, New South Wales, the son of Francis Cooper, a squatter, and his wife Sarah, née Jenkins. Cooper was educated at the Sydney Grammar School and the University of Sydney, where he won the Cooper and Gilchrist scholarships and graduated with a B.A. and in 1868 a M.A.. He then went to London where he completed the LL.B. course, became a student of the Middle Temple, and was called to the English bar in June 1872.


Cooper returned to Australia and began to practise as a barrister at Brisbane in June 1874. He became a crown prosecutor and in January 1879 and entered the Queensland Legislative Assembly as member for Bowen. On 31 December 1880 he joined the first Thomas McIlwraith ministry as attorney-general. He resigned this position on 6 January 1883 when he was appointed as a supreme court judge for the northern district of Queensland. His travelling expenses caused some quarrels. In 1895 he became senior puisne judge at Brisbane, and on 21 October 1903 chief justice. He resigned this position 31 March 1922, being succeeded by Thomas McCawley, and died on 30 August 1923.


In 1873, Cooper married Alice Frener, daughter of James Cooper who died in 1900 leaving a son and two daughters. He was knighted 1904 and was created a KCMG in 1908. He was chancellor of the University of Queensland from 1915 to 1922.

Cooper had only a short career in parliament but made himself a reputation as a polished speaker. As a judge he was always seeking the essentials of a case and generally adopted a common attitude on legal questions. His summings up were usually brief and to the point. In criminal cases he could be severe though just. In his conduct of the court, though always courteous, he insisted that the dignity of the bench must be upheld, and he was quick to restrain anything in the nature of contempt of court. He was an efficient lieutenant-governor.


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