John Brown

Person: John Brown

John Brown, emigration agent, 1849. Courtesy of SLSA: B333.

John Brown (c.1801 – 1879) was born in England. He attended Mill Hill School from 1812 to 1815 and at the age of 30 was a registered voter in the city of London. In 1833 he was an importer of wines and spirits at St Mary at Hill. After the decline of his business in 1834, Brown joined the South Australian colonization movement and fraternised with men including George Fife Angas, Robert Gouger and Edward Gibbon Wakefield. He contributed £250 to the South Australian Association and was an avid republican and chartist. During his time with the association Brown sought appointment as official emigration agent to the new colony. He found strong supporters in George Fife Angas and Sir Moses Montefiore and was eventually appointed to the position by Colonel Torrens, chairman of the South Australian Colonization Commission. Gouger and Brown chartered the Africaine to transport colonization commission emigrants to the new colony in 1836. Brown sailed on the Africaine in June of that year with his wife and sister Maria Josepha.

In 1837 Brown become embroiled in the disputes over separation of powers in the South Australia Act, arguing that as his position was appointed by the colonization commissioners he was not subject to the authority of the Governor. This led to the Governor suspending Brown from office, however this decision  was rejected by James Fisher. After Governor Hindmarsh appointed Y. B. Hutchinson to the position, the matter was then referred back to London, with Brown reappointed to the position of immigration agent after the arrival of Governor George Gawler. Brown went on to become the editor of South Australia’s second newspaper the Southern Australian, as well as being elected to Adelaide’s first Municipal Council.  A number of other positions followed including director of the South Australian Mining Association, secretary of the the League for the Preservation of Religious Freedom. he ended his working life at the Adelaide Life Association and Guarantee Co. He died on the 17 August 1879.

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