The Hon. Dr John Jefferson Bray, AC QC (16 September 1912 – 26 June 1995) was an Australian lawyer, judge, academic, university administrator, , and published poet, who, from 1967 to 1978, served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia.


Dr Bray was born in Adelaide, South Australia, the elder son of Harry Midwinter Bray (1879–1965), an Adelaide stockbroker, and his wife, Gertrude Eleanore Stow (members of whose family were Congregationalist missionaries in South Australia). His father's family had a history of involvement in South Australian politics and current affairs: Bray's grandfather was the Honourable Sir John Cox Bray, a former Premier of South Australia. On his mother's side, Bray claimed a collateral relationship to the third U.S. president, Thomas Jefferson.


Bray was educated at the state school at Sevenhill in the Clare Valley; at St Peter's College, Adelaide; and at the University of Adelaide, where he earned a B.A. in 1932, an LL.B.(Hons.) in 1933 and an LL.D. in 1937. He was granted an Honorary Doctorate in 1983.

Legal career

Bray trained as a lawyer and was admitted to the South Australian Bar in 1933. He was acting lecturer in jurisprudence at the University of Adelaide for the years 1941, 1943, 1945, and 1951. He was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1957. He served as a lecturer in Legal History at the University of Adelaide from 1957–1958, and then as a lecturer in Roman Law from 1959 until 1966. He was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia on 28 February 1967 and served until his retirement from the judiciary on 28 November 1978. Bray was appointed Chancellor of the University of Adelaide in 1968. He also served as Deputy to the Lieutenant-Governor of South Australia from 1968 until retirement.[1]

Other activities

Bray was an active member of the Libraries Board of South Australia between 1944 and 1989. He was closely involved with the organisation of the early Adelaide Festival of Arts Writers' Weeks. (His first volume of poetry was launched at the second Writers' Week in 1962.)[1]


Bray was made a Companion of the Order of Australia in 1979, and is said, by his younger brother, Dr Robert Stow Bray, to have refused a knighthood. He described his views as "æsthetic - traditional; social - emancipated; political - fluctuating" and his philosophies as "sceptical, some tendencies to Platonism".

"Address to the pigeons in Hurtle Square", a poem by Bray, features on the western face of the John Jefferson Bray Memorial Fountain in Hurtle Square, Adelaide, where he once lived.

The John Jefferson Bray Memorial Fountain in Hurtle Square, Adelaide, was commissioned by the Adelaide City Council in 1994.[1]

The John Bray Poetry Award, awarded biennially as part of the Adelaide Festival, was so named to honour his distinguished services to Australian poetry.[2]


Bray's publications reflected his interests which he listed as "poetry, history, classics":

  • "Poems" (Melbourne, Cheshire Press, 1962)
  • "Poems 1961-1971" (Brisbane, Jacaranda Press, 1972)
  • "Poems 1972-1979" (1979)
  • "Bay of Salamis and other Poems" (1986)
  • "Satura: Selected Poetry and Prose" (1988)
  • "Seventy Seven" (Adelaide, Wakefield Press, 1990)

He was also joint-editor for "No. 7 Friendly Street Poetry Reader" (Adelaide University Press, 1977, and 1978).

He also made contributions to:

  • "Well and Truly Tried" (festschrift for Sir Richard Eggleston, 1982)
  • "Adelaide Law School Centenary Essays" (Adelaide University Press, 1983)
  • "Australian Law Journal"


  1. ^ a b c Jude Elton, History Trust of South Australia. "John Jefferson Bray Memorial Fountain". Adelaidia.
  2. ^ Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature: John Bray poetry award (archived page)
  • Australian Who's Who (see also similar Australia, British, and international biographical publications),
  • Richard Carruthers-Żurowski,The Bray Family of England, Canada, and Australia(1986), deposited in the libraries of the Hampshire Family History Society and the South Australian Society for Genealogy and Heraldry.
  • Emerson, John (2015). John Jefferson Bray: A Vigilant Life. Clayton, Vic: Monash University Press. ISBN 9781922235619.

See also

Legal offices
Preceded by
Sir Mellis Napier
Chief Justice of South Australia
Succeeded by
Len King
Academic offices
Preceded by
Chancellor of the University of Adelaide
Succeeded by
Dame Roma Mitchell