William Cooper Persuades a Missionary

William Cooper may have become friends with the missionary, Rev John Gribble, in the 1870s at Maloga. But he also cultivated a warm friendship with that churchman’s son, Rev E. R. B. Gribble, who also became a missionary. By the 1930s, Cooper was an ageing man in the Western Suburbs of Melbourne; Gribble a determined church leader on Palm Island. While Gribble had a formidable authoritarian reputation, Cooper felt he could rely on him to support Aboriginal political progress. In particular, that he would support the distribution – and the aims – of the petition to King George VI.

So Cooper wrote to Rev E. R. B. Gribble, on 17 December 1933:

Dear Sir you will please find enclose, a letter I received from Mr Makin M. P, who I asked to approach the Government for Permission to allow all Aborigines to signe the Petition that is to be forwarded to the King when Completed. I asked for Queensland NSW and Victoria so there is no need for the Natives to be afraid to signe, as you will notice on Mr Makins letter, if any of the authorities should interfere you will Please notify me at once, I forwarded one Copy of the Petition to you about the 1/8/33, trusting you have received it safely. I am anxious to hear from you soon, I May Mention I have received Permission from south and western Australia also from Northern Territory, these states I have received a large number of signatures, I am Pleased to say the Church Missionary Both here and South Australia have taken up this good Cause, my People also in South Aust have formed a very strong Group for the Purpose of trying to get Better Conditions for all, and other Bodies are taking. 1



  1. This letter is transcribed in W. Atkison Introduction to Documents of William Cooper and the Australian Aborigines League (AAL) found at http://waynera.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/cooper.pdf and retrieved 08/03/2013 which cites Jack Horner’s book Vote One William Ferguson as the source.

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