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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Coles, Hen. Jenkin

< The Dictionary of Australasian Biography

Coles, Hen. Jenkin, M.P., J.P., Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of South Australia, son of Jenkin Coles and Caroline his wife, was born in Sydney on Jan. 19th, 1842. At the age of seven he went with his parents to England, where he was educated at the Blue Coat School (Christ's Hospital). In his sixteenth year he returned to Australia, and eventually settled in South Australia. He was in the mounted police for a short time, and subsequently started an auctioneering firm at Kapunda, where he has since resided. He was M.P. for the district of Light from May 17th, 1875, till the dissolution in March 1878, when he did not again offer himself. He re-entered political life, and was re-elected for Light on April 25th, 1881, and has ever since sat for the constituency. He was Commissioner of Crown Lands and Immigration in Mr. Colton's second Administration from June 16th, 1884, to Feb. 4th, 1885, when he succeeded Mr. Playford as Commissioner of Public Works, a position which he held till June 16th, 1885, when he resigned office with the rest of his colleagues. He remained in opposition for two sessions, being generally recognised as Mr. Colton's successor in the leadership. Mr. Playford, however, took the Premiership on the defeat of Sir John Downer's administration, Mr. Coles accepting office under him in his old post of Commissioner of Crown Lands and Immigration on June 11th, 1887, resigning with his colleagues on June 27th, 1889. He acted as Opposition Whip during the ensuing session, and received Her Majesty's permission to bear the title of "Honourable" within the colony in recognition of his Ministerial services. At the opening of the present Parliament he was unanimously elected Speaker of the House of Assembly in succession to Sir J. C. Bray. Mr. Coles married at Adelaide in 1865 Miss Ellen Henrietta Briggs.