John Baker (Australian politician)

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John Baker
John Baker SA.jpg
John Baker, c. 1869
2nd Premier of South Australia
In office
21 August 1857 – 1 September 1857
Monarch Victoria
Governor Sir Richard MacDonnell
Preceded by Boyle Travers Finniss
Succeeded by Robert Torrens
Personal details
Born (1813-12-28)28 December 1813
Ilminster, Somerset, England, UK
Died 19 May 1872(1872-05-19) (aged 58)
Magill, Adelaide, South Australia
Nationality British
Spouse(s) Isabella Allan (1838–1872)

John Baker (28 December 1813 – 19 May 1872) was an early South Australian pastoralist and politician. He was the second Premier of South Australia, succeeding Boyle Travers Finniss; however, he only held office for 12 days from 21 August to 1 September 1857 before being succeeded by the third Premier of the colony, Robert Torrens.

Early life[edit]

John Baker was born at Ilminster in Somerset, England, on 28 December 1813 to Richard Chaffey Baker and his wife Mary, née Anstice. He emigrated to Van Diemen's Land in 1838, and married Isabella Allan on 7 June 1838.

A South Australian pastoralist[edit]

Also in 1838 Baker visited the new settlement at Adelaide and in the following year returned and took up land in South Australia. In partnership with the South Australian Co. he imported large numbers of sheep from Tasmania. By late 1840 he owned horses, cattle and four thousand sheep, and was a director of the Adelaide Auction Co. In 1850 he became a justice of the peace, a special magistrate and a director of the Savings Bank, and helped found and became first chairman of the South Australian Chamber of Commerce. Over the next decade he further developed his pastoral interests. In 1863 he bought Terlinga, having previously sold many of his leases, and made it his head station. The severe drought of 1864-65 drastically reduced his stock, but a revaluation of his runs resulted in lower rents and he continued as a leading pastoralist.

Political and public life[edit]

Baker was a member of the first, part-elective, South Australian Legislative Council from 1851 to 1856, representing Mount Barker. When responsible government was established in 1857 he became a member of the new Legislative Council, winning the second largest vote. He served in the Council until 1861, and from 1863 until his death in 1872. He was Premier and chief secretary in the second South Australian ministry. While this lasted only 12 days, from 21 August to 1 September 1857, it ushered in an important agreement between the Council and the House of Assembly on the amendment of money bills.

Baker took part in the selection of the site of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens and was later a trustee. He was three times president of the Agricultural and Horticultural Society and a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society of London. In 1854 he helped form a volunteer company of mounted rifles, later becoming a lieutenant-colonel in the force, in which he served until it was disbanded in 1868. He also ran a racing stud.


Baker died on 19 May 1872 at his home Morialta, in Norton Summit, Adelaide. He was survived by his wife and seven of their twelve children. His eldest son, Richard Baker, became the first President of the Australian Senate. A daughter, Elizabeth Anstice Baker, was an intellectual and social activist.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Boyle Travers Finniss
Premier of South Australia
Succeeded by
Robert Torrens