Sir Neil Elliott Lewis KCMG (27 October 1858 – 22 September 1935),[1] Australian politician, was Premier of Tasmania on three occasions. He was also a member of the first Australian federal ministry, led by Edmund Barton.


Neil Elliott Lewis

Neil Elliott Lewis.jpg
19th Premier of Tasmania
In office
12 October 1899 – 9 April 1903
Preceded byEdward Braddon
Succeeded byWilliam Propsting
In office
19 June 1909 – 9 October 1909
Preceded byJohn Evans
Succeeded byJohn Earle
In office
27 October 1909 – 14 June 1912
Preceded byJohn Earle
Succeeded byAlbert Solomon
Personal details
Born(1858-10-27)27 October 1858
Hobart Town, Tasmania
Died22 September 1935(1935-09-22) (aged 76)
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Spouse(s)Lina Henrietta Youl
Alma materBalliol College, Oxford

Early lifeEdit

Lewis was born in Hobart, son of Neil Lewis, a merchant, and his wife Anne Maria, née Cox. N. E. Lewis was the grandson of Richard Lewis (government auctioneer) and nephew of David Lewis, colonial treasurer 1878-79.[1]

Educated at the Hobart High School, Lewis took the diploma of associate of arts with gold medal, and was awarded a Tasmanian scholarship. Lewis then attended Balliol College, Oxford University graduating B.A., 1882 and M.A. & B.C.L. in 1885. He was admitted as a barrister in London in 1883 and returned to Tasmania where he was admitted as a barrister in December 1885 and commenced a private practice.

Political careerEdit

Lewis was elected to the Tasmanian House of Assembly at the 1886 election and remained a member of parliament until 1903. During this time he represented conservative interests and policies in opposition to liberals such as Philip Fysh, Sir Edward Braddon and Andrew Inglis Clark. He served in Henry Dobson's ministry from 1892 until 1894 as Attorney-General, and was Leader of the Opposition 1894–1899. He was also an ardent federalist, having accompanied his predecessor as Premier, Sir Edward Braddon, as part of the Tasmanian delegation to the 1897–1898 convention.

In early October 1899, following a number of scandals affecting members of his Ministry, Braddon lost a vote of confidence on the floor of Parliament and was obliged to resign, and Lewis became Premier of Tasmania on 12 October 1899. He served in this role until 1903, encouraging producing interests and endeavouring to find fresh markets. Lewis was appointed as Minister without Portfolio in the first federal ministry under Edmund Barton in January 1901. However, he decided not to stand for election to the Federal Parliament in March. Lewis and Sir James Dickson are the only people to have held ministerial office in an Australian federal government without ever being a member of the Commonwealth Parliament. Lewis was the last surviving member of the inaugural Barton Cabinet.

At the 1903 election, Lewis' seat of Richmond was abolished, and he failed to win the new seat of Central Hobart; the only time a Tasmanian premier has been defeated in a general election.[1] Lewis failed in a second attempt in 1906, but won one of the Denison seats under the statewide Hare-Clark system at the 1909 election—ironic in light of his ardent opposition to the system. Lewis was to serve in Parliament for another 13 years.

Lewis was again Premier of Tasmania in 1909, and again from 1909 to 1912. During these times he also held the post of Attorney-General. After leaving politics in 1922, he became Lieutenant-Governor of Tasmania 1933-1935 and was the first president of the Tasmanian Amateur Athletic Association. Lewis was vice-chancellor of the University of Tasmania in 1903-09 and chancellor in 1924-33.[1] By the time of his death in 1935 he was the last Dominion or self-governing colonial head of government of the Victorian era alive.


Lewis was appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) 15 May 1901,[2] in preparation of the forthcoming royal visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York (later King George V and Queen Mary). The following year he was knighted as a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG).


He married, in 1896, Lina Henrietta Youl, daughter of Charles Youl, JP, and granddaughter of Sir James Arndell Youl, KCMG. They had two sons.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d Scott Bennett, Lewis, Sir Neil Elliott (1858 - 1935)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, MUP, 1986, pp 94-95. Retrieved 2009-09-13
  2. ^ "No. 27314". The London Gazette. 17 May 1901. p. 3379.

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Edward Braddon
Premier of Tasmania
Succeeded by
William Propsting
Preceded by
John Evans
Premier of Tasmania
Succeeded by
John Earle
Preceded by
John Earle
Premier of Tasmania
Succeeded by
Albert Solomon