BARROW, John Henry (1817-1874)


BARROW, John Henry (1817-1874)
journalist and politician
was born in England in 1817. He studied for the Congregational ministry at Hackney College and had his first charge at Market Drayton in Shropshire. He was then transferred to Bradford in Yorkshire where he began writing for the Bradford Observer. He went to Adelaide in 1851 and obtained a position in the office of the South Australian Register. He also did work on the literary side and, when Andrew Garran (q.v.) went to Sydney, succeeded him as principal leader writer. He began preaching at Kensington and the Clayton Chapel was built for him, but though an excellent preacher, Barrow was doubtful whether his real work lay in church life, and he resigned his pastorate in 1858 to enter the house of assembly for East Torrens. In the same year he left the Register to become editor and manager of the newly established South Australian Advertiser whose first issue appeared on 12 July. The first number of the Chronicle came out a few days later, and in 1863 the Express was started as an evening paper. Though these papers were conducted with ability, the controlling company did not prosper, and it was wound up in 1864. The papers passed into the hands of a proprietary of eight persons of whom Barrow was one, and in 1871 Barrow and Thomas King became the sole proprietors. Barrow was editor of the Advertiser until he fell into ill-health a few months before his death.
To most people the editing of a newspaper is a sufficiently exacting piece of work, but Barrow was a man of tireless energy and contrived also to carry out the duties of a member of parliament (during nearly the whole of this period. He did not seek re-election for the assembly in 1860 but in 1861 became a member of the legislative council. In 1870 he was one of the South Australian delegates to the intercolonial conference held at Melbourne, in 1871 he resigned from the council, and in 1872 became member for Sturt in the house of assembly. He joined the seventh Ayers (q.v.) ministry as treasurer in March of that year and held the position until Ayers resigned in July 1873. About this time Barrow's health completely broke down, and though he went to the intercolonial conference at Sydney as one of the South Australian delegates in the hope that change of scene might lead to its improvement, it continued to deteriorate, and he died at Adelaide on 22 August 1874. He was married twice and left a widow, three sons and three daughters.
Barrow had a great reputation in his time as a speaker and journalist. It was said of him that he had exuberant fancy, genial humour, a great gift for getting the essentials of any problem, a faculty for understanding and interpreting public feeling, and a wonderful command of plain and effective language. He was not a party man and was only once in office, but though he originated little in parliament, as editor and politician he exercised a personal influence and had much political power.
The South Australian Advertiser, 24 August 1874; The South Australian Register, 24 August 1874; John H. Barrow, M.P., Notices of his Life, Labours and Death.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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