BRAY, Sir John Cox (1842-1894)


BRAY, Sir John Cox (1842-1894)
premier of South Australia
son of Thomas Cox Bray, a pioneer colonist, was born at Adelaide on 31 May 1842 (Aust. Ency.). He was educated at St Peter's College, Adelaide, and in England, and on returning to South Australia studied law. He was admitted to the South Australian bar in November 1870, but practised mostly as a solicitor. In December 1871 he was elected to the South Australian house of assembly for East Adelaide and continued to represent it for 20 years. In March 1875 he became minister of justice and education in the third Blyth (q.v.) ministry, which went out of office three months later. He was attorney-general in the first Colton (q.v.) ministry from June 1876, to October 1877. On 24 June 1881 Bray formed a ministry as premier and chief secretary, and remained in office until 16 June 1884, a record term for a South Australian ministry up to that date. Bray then paid a visit to England and the United States, and on his return joined the first Downer (q.v.) ministry as chief secretary in October 1885. He exchanged that position for the treasurership in June 1886. The ministry was defeated in June 1887 and in the following May Bray was elected speaker. He held this position with ability for about two years but declined renomination in 1890. On 19 August he joined the second Playford ministry as chief secretary, but resigned on 6 January 1892 to become agent-general for South Australia in London. Not long after his taking up his new duties he began to show signs of failing memory, his health slowly deteriorated, and in April 1894 he found it necessary to resign. He decided to return to Australia, but died at sea between Suez and Colombo on 13 June 1894. He married Alice Hornabrook, who survived him with two sons and a daughter. He was created K.C.M.G. in January 1890. Bray had a charming personality, always to be relied upon for a kind word or a helping hand. He was an excellent leader of the opposition, ready and good-tempered. He had only one term as premier though he was acting-premier during Downer's absence in 1887, and he cannot be credited with any outstanding legislation. He was, however, an excellent debater and an able and industrious administrator, and during the federation campaign was an active worker for it in South Australia.
The Advertiser, Adelaide, 18 June 1894; The South Australian Register, 18 June 1894; E. Hodder, The History of South Australia; Debrett's Peerage, etc., 1894.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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