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Bray died while returning from a post in London as agent general for South Australia.

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Sir John Cox Bray

National Library of Australia

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John Bray (1842–1894)

Businessman and premier of Victoria

Bray was a lawyer who became, in 1881, the first premier of South Australia to be born in the colony. His government lasted for nearly three years, but this was a very long time when, before political parties, governments could last for only a few months. He was a cheerful man who got on well with other people.

He was proud to be native born and was a leading member of the Australian Natives' Association (the ANA). This association, made up of young men who were born in Australia, was a great supporter of Federation. Before the Federal Conference in Melbourne in 1890, the ANA held its own conference in the same city, to discuss what an Australian constitution might look like. Bray was the chairman of this conference.

Bray was a member of the Federal Convention of 1891. He played an important part as one of the delegates from the smaller colonies who was prepared to limit the powers of the Senate over the Budget. Victoria and New South Wales would not have federated without this. Before the next Convention, he had fallen ill and died.