About Edward Aaron Cohen
Edward Aaron Cohen (c.1822–77), was born at London in 1822. The period 1833–1842 was apparently spent at Port Macquarie and Sydney.
Edward and his nephew Henry Emanuel Cohen are the only two Cohens listed in Heaton’s Dictionary of Dates and Men of The Times, 1542–1879, published by George Robertson in 1879. Edward’s entry reads as follows:
‘COHEN, Hon. Edward, was born in London, in 1822. He came out with his parents in 1833, and was in business with his father as a grocer in Sydney. In 1842 he went to Melbourne and joined Mr B. Francis as an auctioneer. In 1853 he returned to Sydney, but the climate not suiting his family, went back to Melbourne, and became a general merchant and then auctioneer until 1863. He was Mayor of Melbourne 1862–63. He was elected for East Melbourne in 1861, and was Commissioner of Customs in 1869–70, and again from 1972 to 1873. He died April 13, 1874 [sic].’
For more on the Hon. Edward Cohen, MLA (1822–77) see Australian Dictionary of Biography, 1851–1890, vol. 3, p.436; and Rubenstein, Hilary L. The Jews in Victoria, 1986, pp.47–50, for commentary, photograph and newspaper cartoon.
The following paragraphs are the City of Melbourne biographical notes on Edward Cohen:
‘Edward Cohen was born in London, 1822, emigrated to Sydney 1833 and arrived in Melbourne 1842, where he joined the auctioneering firm of [B.] Francis. He subsequently became a partner in the firm of Fraser and Cohen.
‘Elected a councillor in 1860, he became an alderman in 1865, which title he continued to hold until his death. During his mayoralty [1862–63], he gave the first fancy-dress ball in Melbourne.
‘Entering politics in 1864 he held the East Melbourne seat in the Assembly until his death, became Commissioner for Trade and Customs in the Macpherson Government in 1869 and held the same port folio in the Francis administration, 1872–74. Cohen was a founder and director of the Australasian Insurance Company, governor of the Colonial Bank of Victoria and was for twenty years honorary secretary of Melbourne Hospital, besides being associated with many other public institutions.
‘He was generally regarded as a leader of the Jewish Community and his funeral in 1877 was one of the largest of the times, attended by all classes of the community.’
Edward Cohen (born London, 1822 - died 13 April 1877, East Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) was an Australian merchant and a Victoria State politician. He served as Mayor of Melbourne from 1862 to 1863.
Cohen was the son of Henry Cohen and Elizabeth Cohen (née Simmons). Cohen migrated from England to New South Wales in 1833. As a young man, he was employed by father in his firm H Cohen & Son. In 1842, Cohen moved to Melbourne and joined in a partnership with B. Francis in an auctioneering enterprise until 1853 where he went to Sydney and created a partnership with his brother and Alexander Fraser until 1864. In 1847, Cohen married Rebecca Benjamin and they had five sons and three daughters. In 1864, Cohen was a tea importer and merchant. Cohen was also director of various companies and was worked with Benjamin Benjamin (who was his brother in law), Chairman Colonial Bank.
In 1861, Cohen was elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly for the seat of East Melbourne. He had run twice before, once in 1857 for the seat of Melbourne and again in 1859 for the seat of West Melbourne however he failed to win either election. Cohen then lost his seat in 1865 but regained it again in 1868. He held this post until he died in 1877. Cohen was also the Mayor of Melbourne from 1862 until 1863.