Birth Date
16 Nov 1811 (Greenbank, Rochdale, Lancashire, England)

Death Date
27 Mar 1889 (One Ash, Rochdale, Lancashire, England)

Jacob and Mary (nee Wood)

Married - (1) Elizabeth Preistman in November 1839, 1 daughter(s). (2) Margaret Elizabeth Leatham on 10 June 1847, 4 son(s), 3 daughter(s).

English radical politican



1. Elected to the British House of Commons for the seat of Durham in 1843.
2. Elected to the British House of Commons for the seat of Manchester in 1847 until defeated in 1857.
3. Elected to the British House of Commons for the seat of Birmingham in 1857 until retiring in 1870.
4. Elected to represent Kennedy in the Legislative Assembly of Queensland, 10 July 1869 to 8 July 1870.
5. Became Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in 1881 until retiring in 1882.

Party and Political Activities
None (NONE)

Parliamentary Representation
HousePartyElectorateFromToDeparture Reason
AssemblyNONEKENNEDY10 Jul 186908 Jul 1870Did not take his seat


1. John Bright was the son of a Quaker cotton spinner. He was educated at a number of Quaker schools in North England. It was this religion which shaped his ideals that fuelled a life-long commitment to end the social, political and religious ineqalities of the period.
2. He was a prominent leader of many campaigns - the abolition of payment of compulsory taxes to the Anglican Church; the repeal of the Corn Laws which artificially maintained high prices for the benefit of landowners; a less authoritarian British rule in India; support for the Union forces against the slave-owning Confederacy; and major reforms of the British parliamentary system.
3. John Bright was elected to the British House of Commons for the seat of Durham in 1843 and for Manchester in 1847. He was regarded as an eloquent speaker. However, he was defeated in 1857 because, as a pacifist, he was opposed to Britain's involvement in the Crimean War. A few months later, he was elected to the seat of Birmingham which he held until his retirement in 1870 due to ill health.
4. He returned briefly in Gladstone's government in 1881 but retired the next year because of his opposition to the government's Irish home rule policy.
5. John Bright's connection to Queensland is through a most bizarre indicent in July 1869, when the constituents of Kennedy elected him as their representive. Bright never visited Australia in his lifetime and probably was unaware of his connection with the Queensland parliament.
6. In the mid 1860s a strong separation movement had begun to dominate the politics of north and central Queensland. In the 1867 general election, because of dissatisfaction with local candidates and their commitment to pursue separation policies, a John Bright Committee was formed in Rockhampton. 
7. Although the committee realised that John Bright, if elected, could not personally attend sittings of the Queensland parliament, it was felt that as a radical member of the House of Commons, he was better placed to present North Queensland separatist policies to the British government. At the 1867 election, John Bright only polled 17 votes.
8. However, at an 1869 by-election for the Kennedy electorate, John Bright was overwhelmingly nominated as a candidate by the electors of Bowen who had formed a separation league. This was done as a protest vote because none of the other local candidates had bothered to visit them. John Bright was duly elected with a one-vote win over the local candidate, Michael Cunningham.
9. John Bright, as the member for Kennedy, never presented himself to be sworn between July 1869 and July 1870. So after one year, as required by the colony's constitution, the seat was declared vacant and another by-election was called at which Rockhampton lawyer Edward MacDevitt was elected.


1. Bernays, CA, `The Right Honourable John Bright, P.C.', Queensland Politics During Sixty (1859-1919) Years, (Brisbane: AJ Cumming, Government Printer)
2. Waterson, DB, Biographical Register of the Queensland Parliament: 1860-1929, 2nd revised edition (Sydney: Casket Publications, 2001)

[Last Modified: 06 Jan 2011 14:30]

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