John Smith (Victoria politician)

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John Thomas Smith
John Thomas Smith - Illustrated Australian News (1869).jpg
1869 engraving
9th Mayor of Melbourne
In office
Preceded byEdward Cohen
Succeeded byGeorge Wragg
In office
Preceded byRichard Eades
Succeeded byRobert Bennett
In office
Preceded byPeter Davis
Succeeded byHenry Swallows Walsh
In office
Preceded byJohn Hodgson
Succeeded byPeter Davis
In office
Preceded byWilliam Nicholson
Succeeded byJohn Hodgson
Personal details
Born(1816-05-28)28 May 1816
Sydney, Australia
Died30 January 1879(1879-01-30) (aged 62)
Melbourne, Australia

John Thomas Smith (28 May 1816 – 30 January 1879) was an Australian politician and seven times Mayor of Melbourne.

Early life[edit]

Smith was born at Sydney, the son of John Smith, a Scottish shoemaker, and his wife Elizabeth, née Biggs.[1] He was educated under William Timothy Cape. Smith was apprenticed at 14 years of age to Beaver & Co., builders and joiners, but this was cancelled in 1833.[1] Smith served as a clerk of the recently established Bank of Australasia, but in September 1837 obtained the appointment of schoolmaster at an aboriginal mission station in the colony of Victoria at a salary of £40 a year.[1] Shortly afterwards he went into business as a grocer, and was in the timber trade in 1840. Smith took over the Adelphi Hotel, Flinders Lane, in July 1841 from his brother-in-law Robert Brettagh, and in 1844 became licensee of St John's Tavern, Queen Street, in place of Brettagh.


At the first election for the Melbourne city council, held on 1 December 1842, Smith was elected a Councillor for the Bourke Ward, and except for a short interval, he was on the Council for the remainder of his life. In 1851 he was elected Mayor of Melbourne and was subsequently elected to that position seven times, his last year of office being 1864.

In November 1854, at the time of the Eureka stockade rebellion, Smith took an active part in raising special constables, as there were rumours that attacks on the treasury and banks were contemplated. He was especially thanked by the governor, Sir Charles Hotham, who said there was "no person in the country to whom he was more indebted". Smith had been elected to the Victorian Legislative Council in 1851 for North Bourke and in 1853 for the City of Melbourne.[2] In 1856, when responsible government came in, he was elected a member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly as one of the representatives of Melbourne.[1] At subsequent elections he was returned for Creswick, and West Bourke,[2] retaining his seat until his death on 30 January 1879, when he was the "Father of the House". His wife and children survived him.

Smith took great interest in various charities, for example, moving the motion (subsequently carried) in 1848 for the establishment of a Benevolent Asylum. Smith advocated reductions in the hours of labour and generally was an active and useful member of Council and Parliament, though he only once attained cabinet rank; he was Minister of Mines in the John Alexander MacPherson Government from September 1869 to April 1870.


  1. ^ a b c d Jill Eastwood, 'Smith, John Thomas (1816 - 1879)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 6, MUP, 1976, pp 150-151. Retrieved 29 January 2010
  2. ^ a b "Smith, John Thomas". Parliament of Victoria. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
Victorian Legislative Council
New creation Member for North Bourke
Served alongside: Charles Dight 1851–1852,
William Nicholson 1852–1853
Succeeded by
William Burnley