John Hamilton Gray
Premier from 1863 to 1865c
Click to enlarge
COLONEL JOHN HAMILTON GRAY WAS one of the few Islanders who became famous in the British
Army as well as in the political areas of his birthplace.
Gray was born in 1811, the son of Robert Gray, a United Empire Loyalist from Virginia. The elder Gray held a number of important administrative appointments in the early colonial government.
John Hamilton Gray was educated in Charlottetown and choosing a military career, trained in England. He was commissioned as a cavalry officer in 1831 and saw service with the British Army for 21 years. He served in India and South Africa and was decorated for his South African experience. In 1852 he retired with the rank of Captain. He served with the British militia until 1856 when he returned to his birthplace.
It was not long before he was asked to participate in the political life of the colony and in 1858 he was elected to represent the district of 4th Queens in the House of Assembly. He was re-elected in 1863.
Gray was Premier of Prince Edward Island from 1863 to 1865 and during that time he attempted to alleviate the problems of the tenants by passing the fifteen year purchase act, but the final solution of this question had to await Confederation. Gray was chairman of the 1864 Confederation Conference which laid the groundwork for the British North America Act of 1867. He supported the entry of the Island into Confederation and when the Island rejected the scheme he left politics, turning the government over to J.C. Pope.
He returned to his first interest - the military, and in 1867 was appointed adjutant-general of the PEI militia with the rank of Colonel. He continued to be an administrator of military affairs until after Confederation.
In 1887 John Hamilton Gray died at Inkerman House, his family’s Charlottetown estate. He is buried in the Sherwood Cemetery in Charlottetown.