Thomas Playford II

Thomas Playford (26 November 1837 – 19 April 1915) was an Australian politician who served two terms as Premier of South Australia (1887–1889; 1890–1892). He subsequently entered federal politics, serving as a Senator for South Australia from 1901 to 1906 and as Minister for Defence from 1905 to 1907.

Thomas Playford
Thomas Playford - Hammer & Co (cropped)
17th Premier of South Australia
Elections: 1890
In office
11 June 1887 – 27 June 1889
GovernorSir William Robinson
Earl of Kintore
Preceded byJohn Downer
Succeeded byJohn Cockburn
In office
19 August 1890 – 21 June 1892
GovernorEarl of Kintore
Preceded byJohn Cockburn
Succeeded byFrederick Holder
Federal Minister for Defence
In office
5 July 1905 – 24 January 1907
Prime MinisterAlfred Deakin
Preceded byJames Whiteside McCay
Succeeded byThomas Ewing
Senator for South Australia
In office
30 March 1901 – 31 December 1906
5th Leader of the Opposition (SA)
In office
Preceded byJohn Cockburn
Succeeded byFrederick Holder
In office
Preceded byJenkin Coles
Succeeded byJohn Downer
Personal details
Born26 November 1837
Bethnal Green, London, England
Died19 April 1915 (aged 77)
Kent Town, South Australia

Early life

Born in Bethnal Green, London in 1837, Playford moved to Adelaide in 1844 with his parents the Rev. Thomas Playford (c. 1795 – 18 September 1873) and his wife Mary Anne Playford, née Perry (c. 1804 – 27 April 1872), two brothers and a sister. He worked as a farmer prior to entering politics.[1]

South Australian politics

Elected to the Parliament of South Australia at the 1868 election as the Member for Onkaparinga,[1] he gained the sobriquet "Honest Tom" for his forthright and straightforward manner, although these same qualities would earn him the occasional disapproval of fellow politicians and the electorate, and caused his defeat at the 1871 election. Playford returned to Parliament at the 1875 election as member for East Torrens and held the position of Reforming Commissioner for Crown Lands and Immigration before losing his seat yet again at the 1887 election. A month later however, he won the seat of Newcastle.[1] By mid-1887 he became Premier and Treasurer, positions he would hold for two years until a vote of no confidence passed. During his premiership, his most important achievement was considered to be the implementation of the first systematic tariff system for South Australia.[2][3][4]

He regained East Torrens at the 1890 election and a few months later he formed his second government, again becoming Premier and Treasurer, and would again last for two years. He received kudos for significantly reducing the colony's debt, although he spent much of this second term in India. Charles Kingston brought together the various 'liberal' groups and was able to defeat the conservative John Downer government at the 1893 election with Labor support. The Kingston government would last for a then-record six years. Kingston had appointed Playford as Treasurer in his government, however in 1894 Playford moved to London to act as Agent-General for South Australia before returning to South Australia in 1898 to serve in Kingston's government from the 1899 election as member for Gumeracha,[1] until he crossed the floor in later that year over a potential erosion of the power of the Legislative Council, bringing down the Kingston government in the process. He also found the time to involve himself in the planning of the Federation of the Australian Commonwealth and drafting the Australian Constitution. As part of this, he proposed the title "Commonwealth of Australia".[2][3]

Federal politics

Thomas Playford - Swiss Studios 02
Playford, c. 1901

As a moderate Protectionist, but with the endorsement of the conservative Australasian National League (formerly National Defence League), Playford became a Senator at the inaugural 1901 federal election. Two years later in Alfred Deakin's government, Playford served for seven months as Leader of the Government in the Senate and Vice-President of the Executive Council. He became Minister for Defence in 1905 which he held for 18 months. He was defeated in the 1906 federal election, the first serving Minister to suffer this fate. His term as a Senator ended on 31 December 1906, and his ministerial commission was terminated on 24 January 1907. Playford made one further unsuccessful attempt to re-enter the Senate at the 1910 federal election.[2]


Playford died in Kent Town, Adelaide on 19 April 1915.[2][3]


Playford married Mary Jane Kinsman (born 20 May 1835, the daughter of Rev. William Kinsman) on 16 December 1860. The couple had ten children, five sons and five daughters.[2]

His eldest daughter Annie (died 1956) married the Rev. John Henry Sexton on 30 June 1886.

On 1 January 1889 his second daughter Eliza (born 1866) married Harry J. Tuck (born 1863), younger brother of painter Marie Tuck and later headmaster at Unley High School.[5]

Playford's grandson, Sir Thomas Playford, also served as Premier of South Australia.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "Thomas Playford Snr". Former Member of Parliament Details. Parliament of South Australia.
  2. ^ a b c d e Playford, John (1988). "Playford, Thomas (1837 - 1915)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 20 November 2013.
  3. ^ a b c Serle, Percival. "Playford, Thomas (1837 - 1915)". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Project Gutenberg Australia. Retrieved 20 October 2007.
  4. ^ "Thomas Playford - 1887". Members. Parliament of South Australia. Archived from the original on 9 October 2007. Retrieved 20 October 2007.
  5. ^ "Aunt Of Premier Wed 50 Years". The News. Adelaide. 31 December 1938. p. 5. Retrieved 5 December 2015 – via National Library of Australia.


  • Jupp, J. (2004) The English in Australia, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

External links

Parliament of South Australia
Preceded by
William Milne
Member for Onkaparinga
Served alongside: William Townsend, Friedrich Krichauff
Succeeded by
William Bundey
Preceded by
George Stevenson
Member for East Torrens
Served alongside: Edwin Smith, David Murray
Succeeded by
Saul Solomon
Preceded by
Patrick Coglin
Member for Newcastle
Served alongside: Thomas Burgoyne
Succeeded by
Joseph Hancock
Preceded by
Saul Solomon
Member for East Torrens
Served alongside: Edwin Smith, Frederick Coneybeer
Succeeded by
David Packham
Preceded by
William Randell
Member for Gumeracha
Served alongside: Robert Homburg
Succeeded by
William Jamieson
Political offices
Preceded by
David Bower
Commissioner of Public Works
Succeeded by
Jenkin Coles
Preceded by
Jenkin Coles
Leader of the Opposition of South Australia
Succeeded by
John Downer
Preceded by
John Downer
Premier of South Australia
Succeeded by
John Cockburn
Preceded by
John Cockburn
Leader of the Opposition of South Australia
Succeeded by
Frederick Holder
Premier of South Australia
Parliament of Australia
New division Senator for South Australia
Succeeded by
William Russell
Joseph Vardon
James O'Loghlin
Political offices
Preceded by
Richard O'Connor
Vice-President of the Executive Council
1903 – 1904
Succeeded by
Gregor McGregor
Preceded by
James Whiteside McCay
Minister for Defence
1905 – 1907
Succeeded by
Thomas Ewing
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
John Cox Bray
Agent-General for South Australia
Succeeded by
John Cockburn
1890 South Australian colonial election

Colonial elections were held in South Australia from 9 April to 23 April 1890. All 54 seats in the South Australian House of Assembly were up for election. The incumbent government led by Premier of South Australia John Cockburn defeated the opposition led by Leader of the Opposition Thomas Playford II. Each district elected multiple members, with voters casting multiple votes.

Since the inaugural 1857 election, no parties or solid groupings had been formed, which resulted in frequent changes of the Premier. If for any reason the incumbent Premier lost sufficient support through a successful motion of no confidence at any time on the floor of the house, he would tender his resignation to the Governor of South Australia, which would result in interested members declaring their intent to run for the vacant position. A parliamentary ballot would then take place, resulting in the member with the most votes being sworn in by the Governor as the next Premier.

However, from the 1887 election there began a growing informal division between groups of members who were loosely described as ‘conservative’ and ‘radical’ by the press. The ‘conservatives’ found their leaders in John Cox Bray and John William Downer, while the ‘radicals’ were led by John Colton, Thomas Playford and John Cockburn. The leaders often contested government against their reported allies in loose alliances, producing an element of political ‘structure’ which began to see a trend emerge toward increased government stability. The United Labor Party would be formed in 1891, while the National Defence League would be formed later in the same year.

1892 in Australia

The following lists events that happened during 1892 in Australia.

Alfred Catt

Alfred Catt (19 December 1833 – 28 October 1919) was a South Australian politician. He was a member of the South Australian House of Assembly from 1881 to 1902, representing the electorates of Stanley (1881-1884) and Gladstone (1884-1902). He was Commissioner for Public Works under John Cox Bray from 1881 to 1884 and again under Thomas Playford II from 1887 to 1889.Catt was born in Newington, Kent, England, third child of Charles Catt, a carpenter, and his wife Sarah, née Knott.

Catt arrived in South Australia in 1847, and for ten years engaged in agricultural pursuits at Balhannah and Strathalbyn. After a short trial of the Victorian diggings he returned to Strathalbyn, and entered into business. Subsequently he opened a store at the then youthful town of Gladstone, South Australia.Catt was elected to the Assembly for the district of Stanley, 27 April 1881. Three years later, when the constituency was reconstructed, he was returned for Gladstone. Catt accepted the post of Commissioner of Crown Lands in John Bray's first administration, on 24 June 1881, and held it till 23 April 1884, under circumstances of special difficulty. Disasters had fallen thickly upon the farmers of the colony, especially in the northern districts lying beyond Goyder's Line of rainfall, where thirsty and often heavily timbered country had been taken up at extravagant prices by the competing agriculturists, who in some cases had offered as much as £6 6s. per acre. The attempt to grow wheat in these parts proved that the selectors could not pay the stipulated price, and the Government of the day came to the rescue with a proposal that the farmers should be allowed to surrender their land and compete for it again. The result was that they got their land back at about £1 0s. 6d., thus entailing upon the State a nominal loss of about half a million. The surrender clauses were admittedly difficult to administer, and Mr. Catt was much blamed at the time for allowing farmers holding excellent land in the lower north and south-east to come under these clauses. Catt, however, claimed that these were exceptional cases. On the fall of the John Downer Ministry in 1887, Catt accepted the portfolio of Commissioner of Public Works under Thomas Playford II, and held it from 11 June 1887, to 27 June 1889. At the commencement of the session of 1890 Catt was unanimously elected to the Chairmanship of Committees of the Legislative Assembly. In 1887 he received the royal permission to bear the title of "Honourable" within the colony.Catt died in St Peters, Adelaide, South Australia, on 28 October 1919.

Austin Chapman

Sir Austin Chapman KCMG (10 July 1864 – 12 January 1926), Australian politician, was a member of several early federal ministries. He was born in Bong Bong near Bowral, New South Wales and educated at Marulan Public School and was apprenticed as a saddler at an early age. In about 1884 he went into business as a publican, storekeeper and auctioneer in Queanbeyan, and later became an investor and company director.

Ben Rounsevell

William Benjamin Rounsevell (23 September 1843 – 18 July 1923), known as "Ben" or "Big Ben", was a South Australian politician. He was a member of the South Australian House of Assembly from 1875 to 1893 and from 1899 to 1906, representing the Burra and Burra Burra seats for all but one term, when he held Port Adelaide. He was Treasurer of South Australia four times: from May to June 1881 under William Morgan, from 1884 to 1885 under John Colton, from January to June 1892 under Thomas Playford II and from 1892 to 1893 under John Downer. He also served as Commissioner of Public Works from 1890 to 1892 under Playford, and again in the seven-day Solomon Ministry of 1899. His brother, John Rounsevell, was also a South Australian politician.

Electoral district of Gumeracha

Gumeracha was an electoral district of the House of Assembly in the Australian state of South Australia from 1857 to 1902 and again from 1938 to 1970.Gumeracha's most historic MPs were Thomas Playford II and Thomas Playford IV. IV served continuously as Premier of South Australia from 5 November 1938 to 10 March 1965, the longest term of any elected government leader in the history of Australia, albeit with the assistance of the Playmander.

The town of Gumeracha is currently represented by the safe Liberal seat of Morialta, having previously been in Kavel.

Frank Johnson (politician)

Joseph Colin Francis Johnson (12 February 1848 – 18 June 1904), generally called J. C. F. Johnson or Frank Johnson, was a journalist and politician in colonial South Australia, Minister of Education 1887 to 1889.Johnson was born in Adelaide, the son of Henry Johnson, an Adelaide solicitor, by his marriage with Wilhelmina Colquhoun, née Campbell, the third daughter of Colin Campbell, of Stonefield, Pine Forest, South Australia. His father moved to Victoria (Australia) during the gold-digging fever, Joseph was educated at the Geelong National Grammar School. Returning to South Australia in 1868, he was for eleven years on the staff of the South Australian Register, noted for his theatre criticisms as The Gallery Boy. In December 1878 he purchased a half-share in the Adelaide Punch and shortly afterwards became sole proprietor. He conducted it for several years, but the paper suffered an irreparable loss when cartoonist W. J. Kennedy left. Around 1882 he became interested in gold mining and sold his interest to E. H. Derrington.On 8 April 1884 Johnson was elected a member to the Electoral district of Onkaparinga in the South Australian House of Assembly, and was Minister of Education and of the Northern Territory from 11 June 1887 to 27 June 1889 in the Thomas Playford II Ministry. Johnson was the author of "Moses and Me," the record of a visit paid to the Mount Brown diggings in 1880. Johnson held his seat of Onkaparinga until 24 April 1896.Johnson died in North Adelaide, South Australia, Australia on 18 June 1904, survived by an adopted son.

Frederick Holder

Sir Frederick William Holder (12 May 1850 – 23 July 1909) was an Australian politician. He was Premier of South Australia from June to October 1892 and again from 1899 to 1901. He was a prominent member of the inaugural Parliament of Australia following Federation in 1901, and was the first Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives.

James Garden Ramsay

The Honourable John James Garden Ramsay (1827 – 20 January 1890) was an industrialist and politician in colonial South Australia.

Ramsay was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, and served his apprenticeship as an engineer at the St. Rollox Ironworks in Glasgow, and came to South Australia in 1857, establishing four years later at Mount Barker an agricultural implement and machine manufactory, which represented the starting point of what later grew into the largest business of its kind in the colony.Ramsay represented Mount Barker in the South Australian Legislative Assembly from 5 April 1870 (along with John Cheriton), and on 7 July 1880 was elected to the South Australian Legislative Council, for which he sat until of his death. Ramsay was Commissioner of Public Works in the Henry Ayers Ministry from January to March 1872 and in the two John Cox Bray governments from June 1881 to June 1884. Ramsay was Chief Secretary under John Cox Bray from 23 April 1884 to 16 June 1884; and under Thomas Playford II from 11 June 1887 to 27 June 1889.In 1886 Ramsay received the Queen's permission to bear the style of The Honourable within the colony.

On 20 January 1890, Ramsay died from injuries sustained when an oil lamp in a railway carriage in which he was travelling burst, showering him with burning kerosene.

Jenkin Coles

Sir Jenkin Coles (19 January 1843 – 6 December 1911) was a South Australian politician. He was a member of the South Australian House of Assembly from 1875 to 1878 and 1881 to 1911, representing the electorates of Light (1875–78, 1881–1902) and Wooroora (1902–1911). He was Leader of the Opposition from 1886 to 1887 and later served as Speaker of the House of Assembly from 1890 to 1911.

John Cockburn (Australian politician)

Sir John Alexander Cockburn (23 August 1850 – 26 November 1929) was Premier of South Australia from 27 June 1889 until 18 August 1890.

John Jenkins (Australian politician)

John Greeley Jenkins (8 September 1851 – 22 February 1923) was an American-Australian politician. He was Premier of South Australia from 1901 to 1905. He had previously served as Minister for Education and the Northern Territory and Commissioner for Public Works under Thomas Playford II, Commissioner of Public Works under Charles Kingston and Chief Secretary under Frederick Holder. He was subsequently Agent-General for South Australia from 1905 to 1908.

Norton Summit, South Australia

Norton Summit (formerly Norton's Summit) is a town in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia, located approximately 12 km east of the city of Adelaide. The town is named after Robert Norton, who arrived in South Australia shortly after its proclamation, and made the first recorded climb in the area in 1836.It is well known for the popular Scenic Hotel, founded in the 1870s, often considered one of the best pubs in Adelaide. Another landmark is St. John's Church, founded with the assistance of the Baker family at around the same time.The Morialta Protestant Children's Home was established in 1924 on nearby land, part of John Baker's estate, closed in 1972.

The Playford family have long been residents of the area. The Reverend Thomas Playford, a Waterloo veteran turned preacher, settled in the area in 1840s. His son (Thomas Playford II) and great-grandson (Thomas Playford IV) both became Premier of South Australia. Thomas Playford IV is the longest serving Premier in South Australia's history, from 1938-1965. His statue stands in the centre of the township.

Playford family

The Playford family has played a significant role in the South Australian and Australian political and social sphere since the early days of European settlement.

Thomas Playford Senior, an ex-soldier who fought at the Battle of Waterloo, a fiery Baptist preacher who arrived in Adelaide c. 1844 and helped found a church called, simply, "The Christian Church".

Thomas Playford II served as Premier of South Australia from 1887 to 1889 and 1890 to 1892, as well as a Senator in the newly formed Commonwealth of Australia (a name he coined), including a stint as the Federal Minister for Defence.

Thomas Playford III was a well-known local farmer and Adelaide identity.

Thomas Playford IV was Premier of South Australia from 1938 to 1965; the longest serving elected national or regional leader in the British Empire/ Commonwealth of Nations.

Thomas Playford V is a Baptist minister who ran at the 2002 South Australian state election for the seat of Kavel under the banner of "Independent for Integrity in Parliament", polling 19%. He ran as a Family First candidate for the same seat at the 2006 election, polling 15% of the vote.

Thomas Ewing (Australian politician)

Sir Thomas Thomson Ewing KCMG (9 October 1856 – 15 September 1920) was an Australian politician.

Thomas Playford

Thomas Playford may refer to:

Rev. Thomas Playford , aka Thomas Playford I (1795–1873), non-conformist preacher in the early days of South Australia

Thomas Playford II (1837–1915), Premier of South Australia, 1887–1889 and 1890–1892

Thomas Playford IV (1896–1981), Premier of South Australia, 1938–1965

Thomas Playford I

Rev. Thomas Playford (11 August 1795 – 18 September 1873) was a non-conformist minister, teacher and farmer in the early days of the British colony, later State, of South Australia. Though never referred to as "Thomas Playford I", he may conveniently be so called in relation to his eminent son Thomas Playford II and great-grandson Thomas Playford IV, Premiers of the State. His time in South Australia was closely linked with that of his brother Rev. John Playford (born 1810), sister Hannah Welbourn, née Playford (12 May 1813 – 15 February 1865), and her husband Thomas Welbourn (12 October 1812 – 1879).

The brothers were ordained ministers, followers of Robert Aitken, with heretical views on the nature of eternal punishment that attracted charges of Socinianism.

Treasurer of South Australia

The Treasurer of South Australia is the Cabinet minister in the Government of South Australia who is responsible for the financial management of that state's budget sector.

The current Treasurer since 2018 is The Hon. Rob Lucas MLC, a member of the Liberal Party of Australia (SA).

William Copley (South Australian politician)

William Copley (25 April 1845 – 16 September 1925) was a South Australian politician. He was a member of the South Australian House of Assembly from 1884 to 1887, representing Frome, switched to the South Australian Legislative Council from 1887 to 1894 representing Northern District, before returning to the House of Assembly from 1896 to 1904, representing Yorke Peninsula. He was Leader of the Opposition for a period in 1896, and served as Commissioner for Crown Lands and Immigration (1890-1892) and Minister for Agriculture and Education (1892) under Thomas Playford II and Chief Secretary (1893) and Minister for Agriculture and Education (1892-1893) under John Downer.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.