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Cooper, Robert Cowley (1841–1914)

from Queanbeyan Age (NSW)

Robert Cooper, n.d.

Robert Cooper, n.d.

from Pastoral Review, 15 April 1914

Mr. Robert Cowley Cooper died at five o' clock on Monday afternoon at his late residence, "Kilmorey," Yass Road, in his 73rd year. He had been ill about five months, and the primary cause of death was cerebral hemorrhage. An operation was performed in January last, but only had an alleviating effect.

The late Mr. Cooper was a member of a pioneer pastoralist family, and had been engaged in pastoral pursuits all his life. He was born at Willeroo, Lake George, and was the oldest surviving son of the late Mr. Francis Cooper. He had lived in this district all his life. On the death of his father Mr. Cooper and a brother, the late Mr. J. V. Cooper, managed Willeroo in conjunction for some time. Then Mr. Cowley Cooper took up the management of the property himself. When his father's estate was closed Willeroo was bought by Mr. Pat Osborne. Mr. Cooper had acquired Pylara, the adjoining property, and had also at one time and another interests in other parts of this State, in Queensland, and in the Northern Territory. Amongst the properties he acquired may be mentioned Molonga, Mulga No. I (near Bourke), and Clyde Station, Queensland, this last being secured in 1903. He established a station in the Northern Territory, and gave to it the name of Willeroo. In 1893 his manager was killed by the blacks, and the station was then sold. At one time the late Mr. Cooper was amongst the biggest pastoralists in the State, owning large numbers of both sheep and cattle.

The history of the Cooper family would furnish interesting reading. Willeroo was granted by the Government to the late Mr. James Cooper, uncle of Mr. Cowley Cooper, and the Coopers were the first white men on Lake George. Amongst the estates held by the family were Gunningrah, Mount Cooper, and Jerrabomberra (the old name of Queanbeyan). Mr. James Cooper owned the property in Sydney known as Ormand House and was the first auctioneer in Sydney. Mr. Cowley Cooper's grandfather, Mr. Robert Cooper, was a candidate for the first Parliament in New South Wales. At the time of the famine he started a bakery for the sole purpose of supplying the people with bread at cost price.

The story of how the Coopers obtained their first big "rise" has, so far as we know, never been told. In the year of the big drought, when Lake George went dry for the first time, the Coopers went to the Murrumbidgee and bought sheep and cattle in large numbers, obtaining them at very low prices. As the waters of the Lake receded good herbage made its appearance, and the stock fattened well. When they had reached the proper stage the animals were killed and the carcases were boiled down, tallow being then of great value. No casks were available, so the hides of the bullocks were sewn together, the tallow having previously been placed therein, while in the case of the sheep the paunches were used as containers. The tallow was then taken by waggon to Circular Quay and sold.

When the Clarke gang of bush rangers stuck up the Boro public house the late Mr. Cooper was in the hostelry. He had been out shooting, but before the arrival of the gang some-one took the precaution of removing his gun from the bedroom.

Mr. Cooper was a member of the Pastures Protection Board from its inception until a few years ago. He took great interest in sport and in his prime was one of the best pigeon shots in the State. On Willeroo Mr. Cooper bred some of the best horses ever seen in the Southern district, including the Melbourne Cup winner, Warrior, the Sydney Cup winner, Willeroo, Thakambau, and many other prominent performers.

The deceased is survived by a widow, five sons, and three daughters. The sons are Messrs. Frank, of New Zealand; Horace Cowley, Dulwich Hill, Sydney; R. J. Cooper, auctioneer, Pope, and Foster, of Goulburn. Mrs. H. A. Beegling and Miss Cooper, of Goulburn, are daughters, and another married daughter resides in New Zealand. Three of deceased's brothers—Messrs. Frank, J. Volney, and Horace— predeceased him. The surviving brothers are Sir Pope Cooper, Chief Justice, of Queensland, and Mr. A. H. Cooper, "Harvest Home," Ravenswood, Queensland. His sisters are the Hon. Mrs. Peter McPherson, whose late husband was Attorney-General of Queensland; Mrs. V. C. Giles, Cowra, N.S.W.; and Mrs. Pauline Newton, Narrabeen.

The Late Mr. Cooper's most striking characteristic was his unconventionality. He declined to accept ready-made opinions, but thought out things for himself. He was of a genial, hearty temperament and held the warm regard of his friends. In accordance with his expressed wishes, his body will be cremated, and it will be conveyed to Melbourne for that purpose.

Original publication

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Citation details

'Cooper, Robert Cowley (1841–1914)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/cooper-robert-cowley-1170/text1666, accessed 18 August 2019.

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