Charles Coppel on Elias Godfrey Coppel CMG QC LLD on the Supreme Court of Victoria

On the occasion of his bar mitzvah in 1909, the rabbi predicted that Elias Godfrey ‘Bill’ Coppel (later CMG QC LLD) would become a judge. He had a distinguished legal career, but his judicial appointments were only temporary. Despite serving as an Acting Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria for three successive years he was not appointed to a permanent position. This presentation explores his case.

Charles Coppel (Honorary Principal Fellow in History, SHAPS) presented his research on this topic to the SHAPS Fellows & Associates seminar on 24 February 2021. A video recording of the seminar can be accessed below.

Charles Coppel, after graduating in law from the University of Melbourne, practised as a barrister at the Victorian Bar for five years before reinventing himself as an Indonesianist, specialising in the history of the ethnic Chinese there. He was a full-time academic staff member at the University of Melbourne (1973–2002) before retiring to become an honorary Principal Fellow in history in what is now SHAPS. He then began to research his own family. An earlier talk for the Fellows led to an article on his grandfather (‘The Rise and Fall of Albert Coppel’) in the Journal of the Australian Jewish Historical Society (2014). The bewigged gentleman in the image above is the speaker’s father.