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Daniel Cooper Green (1869–1939)

by Mark Lyons

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Daniel Cooper Green (1869-1939), commission agent and promoter, was born on 18 June 1869 at Surry Hills, Sydney, third son of Thomas Hyndes Green, coal-trader and ship-owner, later a forest ranger at Casino, and his first wife Alexandrina, née Patison. He began work as a clerk in a bank and then in the Customs Department, but soon found the discipline of regular work irksome. His wits found more of a challenge on the street and as a runner for law firms. In 1895 he persuaded at least one Crown witness to holiday in Brisbane, helped Richard Meagher to procure witnesses for the royal commission into the case of George Dean, arranged Meagher's election campaign and appeared in court on two charges of conspiracy arising from the above and for fighting. He was cleared on all charges. All of this provided him with a working knowledge of many aspects of the law. As well, he found time to attend sheep and wool classes at Sydney Technical College.

Retaining his link with Meagher and his partner William Crick, Green played a wonderfully devious role when Arthur Coningham, a noted cricketer, sued his wife for divorce naming Fr. Denis O'Haran as co-respondent. Though not a Catholic, Green enthusiastically procured evidence to discredit the Coninghams. In one role he impersonated a secret informant, known only as 'Zero', who was feeding Coningham information about O'Haran's movements. As the second 'Zero', Green supplied the unsuspecting Coningham with much false information. A year later Green published a detailed account of the case, though somewhat exaggerating his role in it: The Secret History of the Coningham Case (1901), complete with photographs and facsimiles of documents.

In 1904 Green began a betting club and in 1905 moved to larger premises, occupying three floors in Pitt Street. Within a few months the club had over 6000 members. It was backed by John Wren's brother Joseph. But the 1906 Gaming and Betting Act put Green's establishment outside the law. After two police raids he sought refuge in bankruptcy in 1907; his stepmother bought his household furniture, his only possessions.

Although never a member of the Labor Party, Green had developed links with the movement since 1904, and for a time sold advertising for the Australian Worker and performed other electoral and legal tasks for the Australian Workers' Union. Generous and romantic, with an easy manner and a carefully cultivated anonymity, Green became a valued confidant and fixer for many prominent Labor and later non-Labor politicians. About 1910 he moved his main residence to Melbourne, to be near Federal parliament. Although more circumspect, he retained a certain larrikin streak: during the second conscription referendum (1917), which he opposed, he provoked the Melbourne police by hanging from his window what appeared to be a red flag, but which proved on closer inspection to be a small portion of a huge Union Jack. On one occasion, he reputedly entertained at dinner the commissioner for police and the notorious 'Squizzy' Taylor for whom the police had been searching.

Long interested in literature and theatre, in good food and literate company, Green became a well-known man about town after returning to Sydney in the 1920s. Always working with others, often with his friends E. J. and Dan Carroll, he backed or promoted boxing events, circuses, theatrical and concert ventures and films. He was often retained by promoters for advice and to entertain visiting celebrities. In 1925 he helped E. J. Carroll to promote a concert tour by Kreisler; it was reputedly financed by Wren. He had rooms in the Australia Hotel, and flats in Melbourne and Brisbane. He unsuccessfully dabbled in the 1920s oil search boom.

In the 1930s Green reduced his activity, though still occasionally entertaining and advising his wide range of acquaintances from his flat in Kings Cross. He suffered from bad eyesight and frequent pain from a duodenal ulcer. He died in hospital on 11 July 1939 of cerebro-vascular disease and was buried in the Anglican section of South Head cemetery. He had never married. His old friend Hugh McCrae described him as a 'mystery man', who had been for two decades the man 'behind the scenes' in many important political developments. Always generous to the poor, he died owing nearly £5000.

Select Bibliography

  • H. I. Jensen, Dan Green (Brisb, 1948)
  • J. T. Lang, I Remember (Syd, 1956)
  • F. P. Clune, Scandals of Sydney Town (Syd, 1957)
  • C. Pearl, Wild Men of Sydney (Melb, 1965)
  • Votes and Proceedings (Legislative Assembly, New South Wales), 1895, 2, p 1213, 1901, 2, p 841
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 16 Dec 1895, 12, 29 July 1939
  • Truth (Sydney), 16 July 1939
  • Bulletin, 19 July 1939
  • bankruptcy file, 1907, no 17355 (State Records New South Wales).

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Citation details

Mark Lyons, 'Green, Daniel Cooper (1869–1939)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 20 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (Melbourne University Press), 1983

View the front pages for Volume 9

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


18 June, 1869
Surry Hills, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


11 July, 1939 (aged 70)
New South Wales, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.