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Significant Scots
Lord Cooper

Selected Papers of The Right Honourable LORD COOPER OF CULROSS

Lord Justice-General and Lord President of The Court of Session, 1947-54


ON 8th June 1891 John Aitken Cooper, C.E., of Culross, Fife, married Margaret Mackay, of Dunnet, Caithness. Sixty-four years later, their elder son, Thomas Mackay Cooper, took his seat in the House of Lords with the title of Baron Cooper of Culross of Dunnet in the County of Caithness.

John Aitken Cooper was educated at Dollar Academy and, after a long technical training, followed by practical experience in Dollar, Edinburgh and Glasgow, was appointed Burgh Engineer of Edinburgh in 1881. During his tenure of office he was responsible for many important developments. The power stations at Dewar Place and Macdonald Road were built under his supervision—both remarkable for their time, as his son was to recall more than forty years later when, as Lord Advocate, he opened the final extension to the much larger and more modern power-house at Portobello.

When, in 1900, John Aitken Cooper was invited to become President of the British Association of Municipal and County Engineers and Surveyors, reference was made in the Scottish Local Government Gazette of 18th August 1900, to “his fairness, and unflinching integrity, his unerring precision derived from his long and unique experience, and his extraordinary capacity for hard work” —qualities which his son inherited in the fullest measure.

Margaret Mackay had come to Edinburgh in 1880 with her parents, her sister and her youngest brother. Her oldest brother John, who died at an early age, was already in the office of Messrs John C. Brodie & Sons, W.S., whilst her second brother Tom, who was to become the senior partner of Messrs Macpherson & Mackay, W.S., was with Messrs Tods, Murray & Jamieson, W.S. There was thus a strong legal connection on that side of the family.

Mr and Mrs John Cooper’s eldest son, Thomas Mackay Cooper, was born at 15 Cumin Place, Edinburgh, on 24th September 1892, and their second son, James Murray Cooper, who was also to become senior partner of Messrs Macpherson & Mackay, W.S., was born on 2nd April 1895.

Tom was deeply attached to his father whom he would constantly question on this, that, and everything. Family friends often recalled watching with delight as father and son walked across Bruntsfield Links on a Sunday morning to “sit under” their favourite Dr Hood Wilson of the Barclay Church, both of them deep in argument and totally oblivious of their surroundings. Even Dr Hood Wilson experienced some anxious moments seeking for suitable replies to some of Tom’s probing questions on the scriptural quotations which happened to be troubling him at the time.

Two outstanding events in Tom’s early life in the closing years of last century were to be recalled by himself at a function half a century later. One was when he was taken to Princes Street to watch the first motor bus making its journey from the Waverley Steps to Haymarket and back; the other when he travelled on the first cable car to make the journey up Lothian Road, and was then deeply troubled in his conscience because it was a Sunday morning when the test was being made.

But to his abiding sorrow Tom was to lose his father all too soon: for, after a protracted illness, John Aitken Cooper died from pernicious anaemia on 9th July 1901, at the early age of forty-nine. On his death bed he committed to Tom, then only eight years old, the care of his mother and brother. How faithfully and amply Tom fulfilled that trust the years that followed were to show.

After her husband’s death, Mrs Cooper and her two sons removed to 42 St Alban’s Road, and in 1902 Tom Cooper entered the Junior School of George Watson’s Boys’ College, his brother simultaneously entering the Elementary School. For the next eight years they walked daily to and from school —a quarter-of-an-hour’s walk each way, whatever the weather, without any help from the various forms of transport provided for the present day school child. Money was scarce, for John Aitken Cooper had not died a rich man, and, whilst his widow had relatives only too willing to help, she was an intensely proud and independent woman. Thus, when he entered Watson’s Tom realised that he must play his part in easing the family budget by striving his best to win bursaries and foundations, and he succeeded in doing so every year until he left school. Throughout his whole life he never forgot those early years and the care and devotion of his mother. As he strove to help her then, so, later, she was always first in his thoughts.

Tom’s last year at Watson’s and his entrance to Edinburgh University the same year were indicative of his future. Apart from medals and other special prizes, ten in number, he was, as The Watsonian recorded at the time, the first pupil of the School, so far as the records showed, to become Dux of the School in his first year in the “Sixth.” Simultaneously he won the leading Watson’s Bursary of £100 to Edinburgh University, and a month or two later, in the University competitions he headed both the Open Bursary List and the John Welsh Classical List. During his University career this early promise was maintained. Medallist in all his classes, he took a brilliant First-Class Honours in Classics at the age of nineteen, n.b. “with distinction” at twenty-one, a Vans Dunlop Scholarship and the Lord Rector’s Prize.

The question of Tom Cooper’s future career in life arose when he was completing his M.A. degree. There can be little doubt that, had his father lived, Tom might well have become a scientist or engineer: for, as later events were to show, he had a keen bent for mechanical and electrical engineering, and indeed for any form of scientific work. But his uncle, the late Mr T. M. Mackay, a well-known figure in Parliament House and then the senior partner of Messrs Macpherson & Mackay, W.S., was anxious that Tom should read for the Bar, knowing how much vital help he could give his nephew at the very beginning of his career.

Accordingly, at the conclusion of his University career, Tom Cooper spent a year in his uncle’s office which enjoyed an extensive Court practice. Thereafter, along with his intimate friend, the late Lord Macgregor Mitchell, he began to “devil” to the late Mr C. E. Lippe, K.C., then the leading Junior Counsel at the Scottish Bar. He was called to the Bar in 1915. Rejected for military service on medical grounds, he temporarily gave up his practice, closed his house in Edinburgh, and went with his mother to London where he worked in the Blockade Department of the Ministry of Trade, receiving the O.B.E. at the end of the war. During the war, his life was not easy. His working hours were long, his salary small, life in a London hotel was expensive and food was scarce. It was a “treat” for him and his mother when his brother, on occasional leave from the Army, brought meat coupons which enabled them to supplement their monotonous civilian diet.

Returning to the Bar in 1919, Tom Cooper rapidly acquired a large practice. His first official appointment came in 1922 when he was made Junior Legal Assessor to the City of Edinburgh and in due course Standing Counsel to many other Local Authorities. With expanding practice, he took Silk in 1927 and became no less popular as a leader. His unusual knowledge of technical subjects (for he had not neglected his early interest in science and engineering) gave him great advantages in cross-examining expert witnesses; and his amazing capacity for mastering any subject often confounded the experts in their own fields.

Apart from an odd debate in the University Union, Tom Cooper, who had always been a staunch Unionist, had had no time to take a really active part in politics but, with the reputation he had by now acquired in London as well as north of the Border, he was approached in 1930 to state if he would be prepared to stand for Parliament and, after consenting, he was adopted later that year as prospective Unionist Candidate for Banffshire, then a Liberal seat. As was to be expected, he threw himself strenuously into this new field of operations. He was a fluent and untroubled speaker at all times, possessed of a pawky humour and a sureness of touch which enabled him immediately and effortlessly to select the j'est or argument most apt to his audience, and at his adoption meeting he delighted a somewhat hostile audience by some of his remarks. In the Banffshire Journal of 9th December 1930 he is reported as saying, inter alia :—

Mr T. M. Cooper, Advocate, 1919

One thing that appeals to me in Applied Unionism is that it has the common honesty and the common sense to accept and act upon the wisdom of the old Scottish saying about “Keeping our ain sea guts for our ain sea maws.” . . . If a man has farmed land and raised stock in Banffshire all his life and his father and grandfather before him, I do not believe he has anything to learn from all the Government clerks in Whitehall, and, if you do not believe me, do as I did last night and go to the Fat Stock Show in Edinburgh.

Asked by a heckler if we would not be much better with a Parliament in Scotland and Home Rule of our own, he replied: “If you guarantee to make me Prime Minister of Scotland, I will be very pleased to support your views.” But all his careful nursing of the constituency was to go for nothing, for, at the subsequent General Election, in accordance with the Baldwin pact with the Liberals in October 1931, he withdrew in favour of the Liberal candidate.

Resuming his legal activities, Tom Cooper began to appear regularly at the Parliamentary Bar in London and, as the result of his handling of the promotion of a number of Provisional Orders, he received many English retainers and was pressed to practise exclusively there. One of his proudest moments occurred when, during the promotion of one Order, he quoted with effect the evidence given by his father in an Order promoted some forty years previously. But his heart was in Scotland and he decided to return to Parliament House where his services were to prove in still greater demand. It is impossible to mention here all the important cases in which he appeared. One reference must suffice. The late Lord Alness in an Appreciation published in The Scotsman of 17th July 1955, recalling the famous “Silks” trial conducted before him by the late Lord Aitchison (then Lord Advocate) wrote: “Lord Cooper’s client was named first in the indictment and therefore he had the right to cross-examine first. There were eight or nine other Counsel in the case. Yet, when Cooper
sat down, there was not one of them left with a question to ask, they all adopted simply his cross-examination.”

The time had now come when Tom Cooper was to re-enter politics. At a by-election in 1935, he was adopted as National Government candidate for West Edinburgh, and, after a vigorous campaign, was duly elected by a large majority. On taking his seat he immediately became a Front Bencher as Solicitor-General for Scotland. At the General Election which followed only a few months later, he increased his majority and became Lord Advocate for Scotland and a Privy Councillor.

Throughout these two political campaigns which followed so closely on one another, Mrs Cooper, his mother, faithfully accompanied him wherever he went, and, at the conclusion of every meeting, the pair of them made a point of leaving the platform in order to have a chat with their principal Socialist hecklers who pursued them nightly from hall to hall, with resultant expressions of esteem and friendship on both sides, politics temporarily forgotten. Therein lay one of Tom Cooper’s principal assets. At all times modest, friendly and approachable, he became equally “Tommy” to the Socialists as to the Tories, and his mother was just as warmly received. He often recalled with pleasure one occasion when, having arranged to meet his mother at the House of Commons, he sought her for some time in vain and eventually found her happily presiding over a tea-table on the Terrace where her Labour hosts were Jimmy Maxton, David Kirkwood, Willie Gallacher and George Buchanan. One of his proud possessions was a copy of Mr Gallacher’s Revolt on the Clyde, inscribed “With the warm regards of the author to T. M. Cooper, an honest and generous political opponent.”

Tom Cooper’s life was now a full one. In addition to his duties in his constituency, at the Crown Office, and as Lord Advocate in the House, he found himself taking a prominent part in several important United Kingdom Bills in which he was associated with and warmly thanked by Sir Samuel Hoare and Mr Hore Belisha. About this time he was consulted by the Cabinet and attended the Privy Council meeting when the question of the Abdication of King Edward VIII arose.

The Rt. Hon. T. M. Cooper, K.C., M.P., Lord Advocate, 1935

On the eve of the outbreak of the Second World War, Tom Cooper, then in Edinburgh, received his “ Absolute Government Priority telegram. Having, as on all occasions, mastered in advance his extensive instructions, he was able immediately to hold the necessary consultations with Scottish Command, to set in train the last minute preparations and, some twelve hours before the country was actually at war, to telephone to London from the Headquarters of the Regional Commissioner, “Preparations completed.”

The coming of war made life more strenuous still. For a time Joint Regional Commissioner for Scotland, in addition to his work at the Crown Office and in his constituency, he had now to handle a mass of Emergency War Legislation in the House, and to travel continually between Edinburgh and London. Family illness added to his anxieties, both his mother and his brother being in nursing homes. At the same time he was removing to his final residence in Hermitage Drive, Edinburgh. He would leave London on a Thursday night, superintend the removal, visit the two invalids, attend to his duties at the Crown Office, go twice to Church on the Sunday, and catch the Sunday night train back to his work in London. During the bombing of London, his room at the House of Commons was destroyed, as was also his room at the Scottish Office in Dover House. His walk from Dover House to his club was often far from pleasant. Nor were his night train journeys always restful. He used to recall one night when he lay awake in his sleeper, the train having haltcd on the bridge over the Tyne at Newcasde while enemy aircraft tried to bomb the bridge.

The long strain of his heavy responsibilities, frequent slepless nights, and constant travelling were bound to tell upon a man who had never possessed a robust constitution; it must have been a relief to him when, on the death of Mr Aitchison in 1941, he was offered and accepted the office of Lord Justice-Clerk, takmg his seat wrth the forensm title of Lord Cooper.

With the end of his Parliamentary career, the Press of the day referred to his time in the House of Commons in the following terms:—

He was only six years or so in the Commons and it is seldom that a new member has made his mark so quickly or in so short a time left so high a reputation. There were two things which helped Lord Cooper to do this. One was his capacity and indeed enthusiasm for hard work, the other was his friendly and generous nature. Law Officers are frequently called on to give assistance or advice to Back Benchers seeking solutions to some of their constituents’ difficulties. They found the Lord Advocate, as he then was, both ready and willing to do all he could for them, and his courtesy and helpfulness were extended equally to the political journalists whom he met in the Parliamentary lobbies.

When he left the Commons to become a Judge, a leading Civil Servant in England remarked—“There goes the finest brain at the disposal of the Government.” The comment confirmed what was an open secret at the time, that he was frequently consulted by the Cabinet on problems which had no relation to Scotland and that his opinion was highly valued.

Lord Cooper held office as Lord Justice-Clerk for five years. During that period, besides presiding in the Second Division, he took many criminal trials of public interest, including the notorious Aberdeen “Coffins” case, when his seat on the Bench was hemmed in by coffin lids, shrouds and other funeral appurtenances.

It was his opinion that “Scots Criminal Law can challenge that of any other country.” Called upon more than once to pronounce the death sentence, Lord Cooper, in giving evidence before the Royal Commission in 1950, deponed:—

I attach the utmost importance to the maintenance of capital punishment. . . . Sane people in Scotland do not commit murder as readily as sane people in England. . . . Psychiatrists are getting too many charges of murder reduced by making exaggerated and unproved claims.

In 1946, on the promotion of Lord Normand to be a Lord of Appeal, Lord Cooper was appointed Lord Justice-General of Scotland and Lord President of the Court of Session. During his tenure of office, as Lord Justice-Clerk and as Lord President, Lord Cooper was regularly in Parliament House about nine in the morning in session and even in recess, following the lesson taught him by the late Lord Scott Dickson to whom he had so often acted as Junior.

Although a busy man all his life, Lord Cooper was not a man without recreations or hobbies. Thanks to the enthusiasm of his uncle, he started to play golf, when only eight, with a discarded iron and any ball he could lay his hands on. For many years thereafter, the family summer holidays were always spent at golfing resorts and Lord Cooper’s golf steadily improved until he had worked down to a reliable handicap of nine. He gave up the game on medical advice about 1935. But as he told the Merchant Company Golf Club at a dinner a year or two before his death, whenever he felt depressed he visited the clubhouse of the Royal Burgess Golfing Society and gazed with pride at a handsome Cup bearing his name.

At an almost equally early age he became interested in astronomy. When he was ten, his mother’s birthday present to him was Sir John Ball’s Story of the Heavens. Having thoroughly assimilated the contents, he then saved up every penny until he was able to purchase a second-hand telescope which he put into action every starry night. From then onwards he slowly collected a small library of astronomical works and the knowledge he thus acquired was to be skilfully applied to his later research work. When he became a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, he often visited the Observatories at Calton Hill and Blackford. Only a few years ago, through the generosity of the Society, he was lent a large and powerful telescope which was duly erected in his garden. He spent many happy hours with it and often dragged out his long-suffering mother or his brother on a cold night to have a peep at some stellar phenomenon which had thrilled him.

Another of Lord Cooper’s recreations was angling. Sponsored by great friend the late Lord Macgregor Mitchell, he purchased aH the necessary equipment in 1926 and went off with that experienced angler for a fishmg holiday. He continued to fish for a number of years but, becoming impatient with a sport which seldom yielded the quick results which his nature always demanded, he gradually gave it up.

When the better wireless sets started to come on the market, Lord Cooper purchased one and, being dissatisfied with its performance, promptly stripped it. Having closely examined it, he considered that the circuit could be improved upon, and, after drawing many diagrams, produced a final drawing which he sent to the manufacturers. To his amazement he received an enthusiastic invitation to meet them as they considered his improvement could be followed out to their mutual benefit. He replied that he was not further interested, but that they were welcome to make any use they liked of his idea and in due course he received an intimation that they were embodying it in the new sets they were constructing.

Lord Cooper was keenly interested in hydro-electricity and shortly after he became Lord Justice-Clerk he was appointed to preside over the Government Committee to enquire into the possibility of hydro-electric development in Scotland. The “Cooper Committee” Report which followed upon the Committee’s extensive enquiries, and which is a model of clarity, provided the basis for the subsequent legislation which brought the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board into being. In later years, when touring in Scotland, he never missed a chance of visiting the various power stations constructed or in course of construction, and of drawing the resident engineers into talk.

An enthusiastic traveller when time permitted, Lord Cooper made several journeys abroad. After a tour through France with Mr J. S. C. Reid, now Baron Reid of Drem, and a visit to the United States and Canada with the late Lord Birnam, he later made several trips through the Mediterranean and toured various areas in North and West Africa. On board ship his technique never varied. He made a practice of asking for a seat at the Chief Engineer’s table. In due course an invitation to the engine room would follow where his intimate knowledge of ships’ engines never failed to impress. Generally, there followed an invitation to the bridge from the Captain, and here again he was far from being out of his depth, having in his time digested many books on Navigation and, sea during his practice, conducted numerous “collision at litigations.

Notwithstanding the wide scope of his activities, Lord Cooper was an omnivorous reader of poetry and prose alike. He was a well-known figure in all the bookshops in Edinburgh and his friends were constantly surprised by the extent of his reading and his critical literary judgment. Most of his reading was done on Saturdays and in bed nightly, but he was a quick reader with the happy faculty of being able to remember what he had read.

Lord Cooper found another outlet in music. Without any formal lessons he taught himself at an early age how to play the piano, and he continued to play right up to his last illness. Whilst he enjoyed all good music, his favourite was “The Messiah,” and if he could not attend the concert where it was being rendered, he would listen raptly to a broadcast, with the score open in front of him. He also owned a two-manual American organ, and, as a half-hour’s relaxation from his work, he went almost nightly to his organ or his piano. Nothing pleased him more than to be given a chance to play on a church organ provided the church was empty.

From his school days, Lord Cooper liked to sketch. Ships and engines were for long his favourite subjects and many such drawings were found on odd scraps of paper after he had left his seat at the Bar or on the Bench. Later in life he took his sketch book and paint box with him on holiday and he made some hundred water colours of scenes that took his fancy — paintings for which he certainly never claimed any special merit but which gave him soothing pleasure in their execution. Lord Cooper also took up colour photography, purchasing a projector and screen, and, as another half-hour’s light relief, he would sometimes entertain the family by running through his collection. Keenly interested in his garde^ he was out every morning before he left for Court consulting and planning with his gardener, and in the evening when opportunity offered he himself worked there.

He was a life-long cat lover. If he met a cat in the street or in a house, he never failed to speak to it and the cats seemed to sense that they had found a friend. He regularly attended cat shows, but his own two cats were strays found starving in the Hermitage of Braid. His last stray “Tinker,” who is still alive, was very dear to him and for some time after Lord Cooper’s death “Tinker” was inconsolable.

Countless stories have been told about Lord Cooper’s great love of children and of their love for him. Never talking down to them, he had an amazing knack of winning their confidence and of sharing their thoughts and hopes. When he went for his Sunday afternoon walk, he came home a very disappointed man if he had not encountered some children quite unknown to him with whom he had succeeded in spending a happy half hour. If he met strange children playing in a house or a hotel, he would sit down near them, fetch out a piece of paper and start drawing a ship, an engine, or an animal. Sooner or later the children would drift across to him and, the ice once broken, demands for drawings and stories would pour in. It was a regular occurrence, when his car was out of action, to see him walking along Hermitage Drive with a small school-bound child in either hand. However busy, he always found time to answer immediately the letters he received from his small friends, and he devoted much thought to the selection of their Christmas presents.

One incident in particular which caused Lord Cooper much amusement and delight is worth recording. A dog engaged with a bone had had it snatched from him by a child and, although of hitherto irreproachable character, the dog had promptly bitten the child. A lower court had ordered the dog to be destroyed, but its owner took an appeal by way of Stated Case to the High Court of Justiciary. In a short opinion, which received much Press publicity at the time, Lord Cooper, supported by his colleagues, championed the dog’s cause, indicating that no self-respecting dog could be expected to stand by without protest whilst his dinner was appropriated. The following evening a small girl, a complete stranger, called at Lord Cooper’s house and asked to see him. Ushered in to him, she explained that the report of how he had spared this dog’s life had been read to her, that she assessed a doggie of her own, and that she had felt that she must call and thank him for being so merciful. Only a small child could have had the courage to call upon the Lord Justice-General in order to discuss one of his opinions with him.

All his life a devout Churchman, Lord Cooper was an elder in St George’s West during the ministry of the late Dr James Black and was always warmly welcomed during his regular visits to the members in his district. When he came to Hermitage Drive, Lord Cooper joined North Morningside Church and worshipped there twice every Sunday until three weeks before his death.

In the course of his academic career, Lord Cooper received many distinctions. An LL.D. of Edinburgh (1951), Glasgow (1951), and St Andrews (1953), Universities, he was the first Scottish Judge since the sixteenth century to be honoured with the Doctorate (honoris causa) of the University of Paris (1951). An Honorary Bencher of the Middle Temple, he was at various times Vice-President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and Vice-President of the British Association. He was also a Trustee of the National Library of Scotland, and of the National Galleries of Scotland, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Scottish Committee on the History of Parliament, Chairman of the Ancient Monuments Board of Scotland, 1946-49, and President of the Scottish History Society, 1946-50. He was also an Honorary Member of the Society of Public Teachers of Law, of the Merchant Company of Edinburgh and of the Institute of Municipal Engineers.

His ability to grasp the essential points in any problem, his wisdom in suggesting how difficulties might be overcome and his ease and clarity of exposition led to a demand for his services in many ways, notably as Chairman of the HydroElectric Committee already referred to, of the Committee on grants to the Scottish Universities, and of the Clyde Estuary Committee. In 1949 the Secretary of State appointed him to report on the difficult problem of St Andrews University and University CoHege, Dundee. Although unwell he gave of his best and whilst his report and recommendations were not accepted, they paved the way for the later Royal Commission presided over by Lord Tedder.

As far back as 1934, Lord Cooper contributed an article to the Scots Law Times on the proposed foundation of a Stair Society to encourage the study and to advance the knowledge of the history of Scots Law—a project in the subsequent development of which he was to take so prominent a part, especially by his various contributions to its publications and as Chairman of its Council. Naturally, perhaps, his classical and legal scholarship led to a further hobby in the study of early Scots Law and the history of its development. He was always happy in reading and analysing the early legal cases reported in the ecclesiastical cartularies and his Select Scottish Cases of the Thirteenth Century was a by-product of this reading. His four addresses to the Scottish History Society (reprinted as Supra Crepidam and hereinafter) were models of their kind as well as gentle reproaches to the historians: for in them he showed how other disciplines—e.g. astronomy, cartography, and the Latin cursus—could be used as an aid to historical research. These and other publications are listed in the appended Bibliography, and a selection of his many contributions to legal and historical subjects are reprinted in this volume. His reputation extended far beyond Scotland, and not a few of his papers have been translated and reproduced in foreign countries at the request of eminent jurists. His judicial decisions are, of course, fully reported in Session Cases from 1941 to 1954. Perhaps the best known, the “E. II. R.” opinion, is reprinted in this volume, along with one or two other opinions in criminal cases.

In addition to his work on the Bench and in the many other spheres to which reference has been made, Lord Cooper was constantly in demand to give lectures, unveil memorials, make presentations and deliver public speeches all over Scotland and in England as well.

Not many men, even if endowed with a like intellect and industry, could have got through so much work. Lord Cooper was peculiarly favoured in three respects. In the first place, he possessed an amazing quickness of apprehension. A member of the Bar once remarked, “ Before you have spoken a dozen words the Lord President has grasped the point you are going to make.” His critics, especially if they had lost an argument before him, complained that he was too quick for a judge. In the second place, once he had grasped the points involved in a judicial or administrative problem, he could swiftly and unhesitatingly discard the irrelevant and marshal the relevant in clear, logical order. And finally, when the momoit came to speak or write, he could clothe his thoughts immediately in fitting words. His extempore judgments needed no subsequent “touching up” to improve their grammar or style. So too, when he took up his pen or, in later years, sat down before his typewriter—characteristically taken to pieces, re-assembled and always serviced entirely by himself—in order to compose a judgment, a report, or a scholarly article, there was no fumbling for words, no erasing and no re-writing. The composition came straight out in its final form, orderly, lucid, precise and elegant. He himself attributed this to his classical reading, especially in Latin. He said that when he had anything important to write, having arranged his thoughts, he would attune himself to composition by reading a few pages of Latin prose, after which well-balanced English sentences seemed to form themselves in his mind without conscious effort. Incidentally, he would express the opinion that the universal use of Latin as a learned language would not only facilitate communication between scholars of different nations but would in many subjects make for greater precision of thought.

Lord Cooper, at the Sorbonne, Paris, 1951, being congratulated by M. Vincent Auriol, President of the French Republic.

On more than one occasion he might have been promoted to the House of Lords as one of the Lords of Appeal, but he was reluctant to transfer himself to London and thought his services should be to Scotland, being a “Nationalist” in the true sense of the word. Life in his native city, where he was in contact with so many administrative and public activities, offered more satisfaction to his energetic and versatile nature.

Yet he once said, “I am a shy man. Professionally I am not shy, but socially I am.” It was not apparent to those who saw him conversing easily on a social occasion. Nevertheless it is true that he derived little pleasure from the trivialities of social intercourse, and, after dining out, he would sometimes humorously complain of having wasted an evening which might have been spent on work or on his hobbies. It was otherwise if, during the evening, he had met someone with whom he could exchange ideas or from whom he could learn something to add to his store of technical information. When able to get away from Parliament House at midday he would lunch at his club, where he had his circle of friends, yet even there it was often necessary to “have a word with” some fellow-member of a Board or Committee on a matter of pending business, or there was a problem of historical scholarship to discuss with the professional historians or a point of legal theory on which he wanted to hear the opinion of an academic lawyer.

Eventually the years of unremitting labour began to take their toll. A heart affection which had troubled him slightly for some years now grew more serious. Only his great courage kept him on the Bench on the occasions of these attacks and he often came home in the evenings a very exhausted man. The sudden death of his mother in October 1951 came as a terrible shock to him. Loyal to the promise he had given to his father, his main aim in life had been ever to be with her and to give her the best in life, just as she had devoted her whole life to her sons.

After his mother’s death Lord Cooper threw himself back into his work on the Bench and into all his other activities and the climax to his career came when, in the June 1954 Birthday Honours List, he was raised to the Peerage. It was a great regret to him that his mother had passed away before this honour was conferred, for he knew how intensely proud she would have been, but he little thought that his own life was nearing its close. After his Peerage was announced, he had a short holiday and returned to Edinburgh at the end of August 1954. On 2nd September he had a meeting with Lord Carmont and later with Lord Normand in the morning, worked in his garden in the afternoon, and attended a B.B.C. function in the evening, during the course of which he was suddenly struck down by a cerebral thrombosis. Unconscious for several days, his life was despaired of and the doctors held out no hope. The first time he became conscious was when his brother tried to tell him about a telegram from Sir Winston Churchill, who had previously telephoned enquiring as to his condition. His brother read out the telegram two or three times and finally Lord Cooper opened his eyes, stretched out his hand for the telegram and lay looking at it, although quite unable to read. Ultimately he smiled and then went off to sleep and thereafter his condition improved slowly but steadily. By November he was well enough to travel to Harrogate for a change and on his return he faced his doctors demanding their decision as to his prospects. Their intimation that his strength would never again be adequate for the responsibilities of his high office was a crushing blow to one who still had so many plans and ambitions for the future; but unhesitatingly he immediately intimated his resignation.

From that time onwards it became increasingly obvious that he was a very sick man. Though he never complained, it was painfully clear that he felt the contrast between his old life of perpetual activity and the life now forced upon him by ill-health. His one remaining ambition was to take his seat in the House of Lords whilst Sir Winston Churchill, who in 1946 had sent him his own Medal as a member of “The Great Coalition,” was still Prime Minister. Accordingly in March J955 with his old friends Baron Reid of Drem and Lord Keith of Avonholm as his Sponsors, he was able, notwithstanding his great weakness, to go through the long ceremony without faltering, and, amidst many old friends on both sides of the House to whom he still was “Tommy,” he took his seat as Baron Cooper of Culross of Dunnet in the County of Caithness.

Whilst on holiday at Kinlochrannoch two months later, however, he had a severe relapse and had to be conveyed by ambulance to an Edinburgh Nursing Home. Once again he rallied and seemed to be getting better but on the morning of 15th July 1955 he had a sudden coronary thrombosis, became unconscious and passed away within half an hour.

Typically, Lord Cooper had left instructions that he did not wish a public funeral and, accordingly, after a short service in his house conducted by his old College friend the Very Rev. Dr Charles L. Warr, he was laid to rest on 18th July 1955, beside his mother in Grange Cemetery. In addition to his brother with whom he had lived all his life, his pall bearers, by his own request, were Lord Normand, his predecessor, Lord Clyde, his successor, Lord Thomson, the Lord Justice-Clerk, Lord Russell, Lord Hill Watson, Lord Wheatley, and the Rt. Hon. W. R. Milligan, Q.C., the Lord Advocate. A large and representative assembly of mourners gathered to pay their last tribute to a great Scotsman, a great lawyer and a great Judge who had passed away all too soon to his final rest.

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