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Cohen, Alroy Maitland (1881–1966)

Mr Alroy Maitland Cohen Q.C., a very fine and gracious gentleman, the oldest and in point of call the most senior man at the New South Wales Bar died in Sydney on 15th October, 1966. He was one of the Bar’s best loved men.

His life was marked by service, participation and devotion of a most generous, unobtrusive and useful kind-to his country in two World Wars, to his community and to his profession.

He was born in 1881, educated at Sydney Grammar School and Sydney University, and graduated in Arts and Law. He was admitted to the bar in 1905 where her practised mainly on the Equity side and was appointed one of Her Majesty’s Counsel in 1961. He remained active in Chambers until his death. He served the Bar as a member of the Bar Council as its Treasurer over a long period of years. He was active in Court reporting throughout his life at the Bar and personally reported the Local Government reports since their inception, and had been Editor since 1913. He had also served on the Prisoners Aid Association. During his lifetime, he made generous gifts to the Bar Association Library including the complete Public and Private Statutes of New South Wales and a set of the Law Times Reports. The New South Wales Bar Association and the Barristers Benevolent Fund and the Prisoners Aid Association were the subject of bequests under his will. He gave freely of his time and experience to the many who sought assistance from him over the years.

He served with distinction in World War I as a Captain of an Infantry Battalion in France and in World World War II as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Legal Corps. His military service led him into further service into that field and became a devoted and active officer and worker in Legacy and in the New South Wales Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women. He also played his part in connection with the New South Wales Jewish War Memorial.

At the time of his death he was not only the oldest member of the Board of management of The Great Synagogue of Sydney, he was also its most senior, having given its continuous service since 1929. In the field of education he served on the New South Wales Board of Jewish Education both as an honorary Teacher as well as a Member. More latterly he gave unstinting service to the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and his efforts on its behalf were recognised by his appointment as a Governor of that University in 1949, the only Australian to be so honoured.

All this was done with initiative, great energy and unfailing courtesy, quietly and unobtrusively, for such was his nature. No picture of him would be complete that did not recall his enchanting idiosyncrasies, his liveliness and his brightness; but his sympathy and kindness, his patience and sincerity, his very goodness are te qualities which need no recall for they are unforgettable. He emanated those finer aspects of the Bar; honour, fearlessness and breadth of interest.

A measure of the deep affection and goodwill with which he was held by the Bar was the vast number who attended the dinner given by his colleagues to mark the completion by him of fifty years membership of the Bar.

In his long lifetime at the Bar undoubtedly the profession saw many changes, not the least of which may be the loss of a more leisured and cultured way of life. His life and contribution, however, serve as an example to the Bar today of the reach of its highest standards, and a reminder that it has role to play outside its own confines and that there is no better task than service and usefulness to one’s fellow men.

Original publication

  • Australian Bar Gazette, vol 2, no 2, August, 1967, p 16

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Cohen, Alroy Maitland (1881–1966)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/cohen-alroy-maitland-21622/text31836, accessed 27 April 2018.

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