John Hannah Gordon

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Sir John Hannah Gordon

Sir John Hannah Gordon (26 July 1850 – 23 December 1923) was a Scottish-Australian judge and politician.

Early Life[edit]

Gordon was born at Kilmacolm, Renfrewshire, Scotland, the eldest son of the Rev. James Gordon, preacher of the Free Church, and his wife Margaret, née Leonard. The family emigrated to South Australia in 1859 where Rev. Gordon took charge of the Presbyterian church at Mount Barker, and was afterwards stationed at Gawler.

Gordon was educated at Mount Barker under James Clezy, M.A., and at Gawler under the Rev. J. Leonard and W. L. S. Burton. On leaving school he studied theology and classics for two years, and was then for some years in the offices of W. Duffield and Company of Gawler, and Dunn and Company, Port Adelaide. He took up the study of law and was admitted to the South Australian bar in 1876, but practised for 11 years at Strathalbyn as a solicitor. Gordon did not become a Q.C. until 1900

On 4 January 1877 at the Presbyterian church, Strathalbyn, Gordon married Ann Wright Rogers. They had two sons and two daughters.[1]

Political Career[edit]

In 1888 Gordon was elected to the Legislative Council for the Southern District, a seat he held for 15 years. He was Minister of Education in the Cockburn ministry from June 1889 to August 1890, and held the same position in the first Holder ministry from June to October 1892.

Gordon became Chief Secretary in the Kingston ministry in June 1893 but resigned on 15 February 1896. He was Attorney-General in Holder's second ministry from December 1899 to May 1901 and from May 1901 to December 1903 in the Jenkins ministry.

A strong federalist, he was a representative of South Australia at the 1891 convention, was elected fifth out of 33 candidates in 1897, and sat on the constitutional committee.

Women's Suffrage[edit]

Gordon introduced the successful Bill for women's suffrage into the Legislative Council in July 1894. Interestingly, of the five members of the South Australian Parliament who introduced bills providing votes for women,four were Scottish born and the fifth, Edward Charles Stirling, although born in South Australia had Scots parents. Their shared philosophy was that the demand to enfranchise women was based on the principle of equity and would not result in social upheaval.[2]

Later Life[edit]

Following his political career Gordon became a Supreme Court Justice for South Australia and he was knighted in 1908.

In February 1913 Gordon declined an invitation from Billy Hughes to move to the High Court.

Gordon was also a lecturer on literary subjects, such as the Elizabethan period, publishing occasional articles in the Adelaide press.

Gordon died at Adelaide, South Australia of cardiac disease on 23 December 1923. He married in 1876 Ann Rogers who survived him with a daughter.


  1. ^ Loughlin, Graham. "Gordon, Sir John Hannah (1850–1923)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. Retrieved 23 December 2014. 
  2. ^ Jones, Helen (1986). In her own name. Kent Town: Wakefield Press.