Biographies of the Early Aldermen

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Richard Wilmont Cozens

Alderman/Councillor in Enmore in 1865-1879

Can one judge a man by his appearance? Cozens is the tallest man in the tallest top hat in the 1865 photograph, his name appears entwined with florid decoration on the tallest building on Enmore Road.

Richard Wilmont Cozens owned the land on top of the ridge between Enmore and Stanmore Roads and between Liberty and Cavendish Streets. He gave his occupation as ‘agent’ and he and wife Mary and the children Honor, Richard, Percy and Eugenie. Their house was called ‘Eugenie’ the large colonial style cottage built in the mid 1850s and still standing on the corner of Liberty and Cavendish Streets.

He signed both the 1859 and 1862 petitions to the Governor to form a Municipality and ran for Council in February 1865 receiving 47 votes. Four months after entering Council, he proposed that ‘his’ streets (Cavendish, Liberty and Cambridge Streets) be formed. He served on the Improvement Committee and often seconded motions forwarded by Kingsbury but rarely suggested anything outside of Enmore.

Even though he had the longest continuous run of service of the aldermen, he seems to have annoyed people. Frederick Holland, William Bailey and 65 other Enmore ratepayers took out an advertisement in the Herald on 3 February 1866 to indict him; ‘we consider it very desirable that a change should be made in dispensing with our present representative in the present unfortunate crisis in the municipality’. He and Alderman Tye walked out of the chamber in August 1878 after haggling over intricacies of the Municipalities Act.

There was ongoing conflict between him and Alderman Ninian Melville. He was queried by Melville and Mayor Smith in May 1879 about the rates owed by one of his Cavendish Street tenants being inexplicably reduced, and in August 1879 he was declared guilty of contempt when he sided with his son in another dispute. He retired from Council at the end of 1879 though the dispute dragged on to April 1880. Council sued Richard Cozens Junior (then working as a warehouseman and married to Elizabeth Cooke) and other residents of London Street for reneging on their agreement to pay a third or quarter portion of the cost of kerbing & guttering.

It was Alderman Cozens in October 1877 who amended Alderman Melville’s proposal that Enmore Road be renamed Chelsea Street, Cozens recommending Queen Street instead.

We may assume he was active in Enmore’s Progress Association. The residents in Enmore lived in newer larger homes on high ground and, as the St Stephen’s rector noted, perceived of themselves as the ‘cream of the congregation’. They were unhappy in July 1887 about the ‘sweepings from tramline being left at side of the road continually being blown into the shops’ and, in the following November, about vehicles being ‘driven at rapid pace at Boland’s Corner especially on race days’. They were also unhappy about having to ‘go over to Marrickville’ in order to use the small post office branch located on the wrong side of Liberty Street. They agitated in Parliament and in the Daily Telegraph for a proper office on the ‘right’ side of Liberty Street. Their wishes were granted in 1894 when a very handsome Enmore Post Office was designed by Walter Liberty Vernon for the Enmore/Stanmore Road corner. This was on Cozens’ land and next door to the grand two-storey emporium with the florid stucco decoration and date 1891 that bears his name.

He died in 1903.

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