BOWSER, Sir John (1856-1936)

BOWSER, Sir John (1856-1936)
premier of Victoria
the son of John Henry Bowser, was born at London on 26 August 1856. He was brought to Victoria when three years old by his parents who settled at Bacchus Marsh. Educated at the local state school, Bowser joined the Bacchus Marsh Express and then went to Scotland, where he studied at Edinburgh university and worked for a time on the Dumfries and Galloway Standard. He returned to Australia about the year 1880, settled at Wangaratta, and became at first editor and afterwards proprietor of the Wangaratta Standard. At the time of the Kyabram movement he was elected to the Victorian legislative assembly as a reform candidate for Wangaratta and Rutherglen and held the seat for 35 years. He became known as one of the leaders among the country members, and in October 1908 succeeded A. O. Sachse as minister of education in the Bent (q.v.) ministry, which was, however, defeated a few weeks later. In November 1917 he became premier, chief secretary and minister of labour in a ministry which lasted less than four months. In the Lawson ministry which followed he was chief secretary and minister of health from March 1918 to June 1919. In November 1924 he was elected speaker and held the position until May 1927. He retired from politics in 1929 and spent the rest of his life at Wangaratta where he died on to June 1936. He married in 1914 Frances Rogers who predeceased him. He was knighted in 1927.
Bowser was a quiet, unassuming, courteous and scholarly man, whose integrity was unquestioned. He was much liked on all sides of the house, but he had not the force of will to be a good leader. He had the necessary tact for the speaker's position, and as an administrator and private member did much public service of great value to the state.
The Argus, Melbourne, 11 June 1936; The Age, Melbourne, 11 June 1936; Burke's Peerage, etc., 1935.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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