Sir John Cox Bray

15th Premier of South Australia

Lawyer John Bray was the first South Australian-born premier of the colony. Becoming premier on 24 June 1881 he also served the longest consecutive term of any premier to that time, holding office for a week short of three years. Bray was first elected to the Lower House as a member for East Adelaide, an electorate he represented for 21 years. Important legislation passed under Bray’s leadership included the Married Women’s Property Act (1883) which for the first time gave South Australian married women control over their own property and earnings after marriage. Bray’s government also passed the Constitution Further Amendment Act (1881) which allowed councilors to be elected in four electoral districts rather than across the colony, increased the number of councilors and reduced the term of office. He was also a leading member of the Australian Natives’ Association. Earlier in his career when he served as Attorney-General in the Colton government, Bray was responsible for introducing the Trade Union Act (1876) which made South Australia the first territory of the empire outside Britain to legalise trade unions.