(35)  Maurice Charles Copinger






(35) Maurice Charles Copinger.

Maurice was born on 9thJanuary 1846 was a barrister at the Australian bar. He had moved to Port Pirie in South Australia where he practised and where, in 1904, he was made Mayor.

He married Frances Elizabeth Helen Braham, the eldest daughter and co-heiress of Major Frederick Braham and niece of Frances, late Countess Waldgrave.

His wife and he wished his nephew James Trefusis Copinger to come and live with them with a view to their adopting him. James. who was then 15 years of age, set sail from Liverpool in November 1901. All his sisters travelled with him to Liverpool to see him off. Sadly, on 5thFebruary 1902, within 6 weeks of landing he died of sun stroke.

From the following obituary it is apparent that Maurice continued a distinguished career until his sudden death on 21stSeptember 1912 at the age of 66 years.

Death of Mr. M.C. Copinger.

An esteemed citizen.

The death of Mr. M. C. Copinger, one of best known and most esteemed townsmen occurred with startling suddenness on Friday night. During the day the deceased gentleman attended to his business in Port Pirie as usual and returned to Crystal Brook, where he has had his home for some time, in his accustomed health and spirits. When he retired to bed he was apparently in the best of health but in the morning his daughter found him dead in his bed he having crossed the bar quietly in his sleep.

His peaceful passing was, in a way, typical of his life for he was ever a lover of peace and hated turbulence and strife in any form. In his professional as in his private life Mr Copinger was a dignified, kindly gentleman, one of the old school, of courtly yet genial bearing and singularly unobtrusive disposition. It will surprise many, even of his more intimate friends, to learn that comparatively few living Englishmen are able to trace a lineage so ancient and indisputable as that of our late townsman, for though he bore the hallmark of a man of birth and breeding, neither by his manner nor conversation did he betray a suspicion of that arrogance which is sometimes an unfortunate accompaniment of family pride, though it is oftener conspicuous in the mushroom than the real aristocrat.

A bulky history of the Parish of Buxhall in the County of Suffolk, shows that as far back as 1436 the demesne known as "Barons" was left to his ancestor John by his brother William Copinger, and that, though it was transferred to Robert Rydnel at a later date by Edward IV it was repurchased by Thomasyne Copinger in 1650 and for many succeeding generations the Copingers always occupied a prominent position amongst the County gentry.

Mr. Copinger was born in Chelsea North-West in the County of Middlesex, on January 9th 1846, and was the son of Charles Copinger who later became Professor of Languages in the Baltimore (Canada) University. Educated at Brighton (England) our late townsman was afterwards articled to a firm of solicitors in London. After being called to the Bar, and while still a young man, he came to Australia in the same ship as Mr. E.B. Grundy, K.C., of Adelaide. He became attached to the Lands Office in Victoria and from there he entered the Attorney General's department in Adelaide. Later he accepted the position of Clerk of the Court at Laura but after 12 months service he resigned and joined the late Mr. Bonnar, and the firm commenced the practice of their profession as solicitors at Gladstone and Laura. From Laura Mr. Copinger went to Petersburg and he also spent a few months on the Barrier during the boom. Before coming to Port Pirie he practiced at Quorn in which town he also served as a councillor. He arrived in Port Pirie about 20 years ago and soon commenced to take an active interest in the affairs of the port. From 1901 to 1905 he represented South ward in the Town Council to which he was elected Mayor which position he filled for two years. He was Secretary of the now defunct Port Pirie Agricultural Society, a Justice of the Peace, a member of the Hospital Board and a past master of the Masonic Lodge. One of his brothers, Dr. W.A. Copinger, F.S.A., F.R.S.A. of Middle Temple, London, and a professor of law in the Owens College and Victoria University, recently wrote an interesting book dealing with the history of the Copingers.

Some Mr. E. C. Padmore joined Mr. Copinger in partnership here, the firm now being well known as "Copinger and Padmore".

The deceased's departure will be regretted by all who knew him for he was a kind hearted man and a good citizen, and though a member of what is sometimes termed "the Devil's Brigade" he was the soul of honour and would never knowingly interest himself in a shady case or to try to make black appear white. He did, indeed, in the very highest and best sense adorn the profession to which he belonged.

Mr. Copinger was married before he came to Port Pirie and leaves a widow and daughter to mourn his decease. The deceased was buried in the Port Pirie Cemetery on Sunday but as his death did not occur until after the Recorder was published on that morning a large number of his friends were under the impression that he would be buried at Crystal Brook, and so missed the opportunity of their tribute of respect to his memory by attending. The cortege was, therefore, neither so large nor so representative as it would have been had the usual channel of notification been available.

Brethren of the Masonic Order were the pallbearers, viz., Major A. Miell, Messrs A. E. Brett, A. A. Pearce, L. Mitchell, A. Shepley and A. E. Williams. The service at the grave was performed by the Rev. F. Wilkinson Reference in Court.

Before the business in the Police Court was commenced on Monday, His Honour, Mr. Justice Mitchell, S.M., made a sympathetic reference to the death of Mr. Copinger. He said he wished to express his deep regret for loss the Bench and Bar had sustained through the death of Mr. Copinger. He was one of those true gentleman, distinguished by a genial and courteous manner, and who without doubt endeared himself to all those whom he came in contact with. For many years he was the Senior Member of the Bar in Port Pirie, and his demise was the cause of wide spread regret.

Mr. H. Newman Harwell, on behalf of the Bar, endorsed the remarks of His Honour. Mr. Copinger was one of Nature's gentlemen, he was a man who possessed a cultured mind, and was very able and a fair opponent. The relationship between his (the speaker's) own firm and that to which Mr. Copinger was a member were always of the happiest nature and his death would not only cause regret to the Bar but to the whole of the citizens of the town.



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