LEWIS, Sir Neil Elliott (1858-1935)


LEWIS, Sir Neil Elliott (1858-1935)
premier of Tasmania
son of Neil Lewis, was born at Hobart on 27 October 1858. He was educated at the high school, Hobart, took the diploma of associate of arts with gold medal, and was awarded a Tasmanian scholarship. He was at Balliol College, Oxford from 1878 to 1882, graduated B.A. in 1882 and M.A. and B.C.L. in 1885. He was called to the bar of the inner temple in 1883 and remained in London until 1885. On his return to Hobart he practised as a solicitor and in 1886 was elected a member of the house of assembly for Richmond. In August 1892 he joined the Henry Dobson (q.v.) ministry as attorney-general and held office until April 1894. He became leader of the opposition in this year, and in 1897 was elected one of the Tasmanian representatives at the 1897 federal convention. On 12 October 1899 he became premier and attorney-general. It was supposed that he would enter federal politics and Barton (q.v.) made him a minister without portfolio in the first federal ministry. Lewis, however, did not stand for election and the appointment lapsed. His ministry endeavoured to encourage the producing interests and to find fresh markets. Lewis was defeated in April 1903, but he was again premier in June 1909 taking the treasurer's portfolio in addition. He resigned on 20 October 1909 but J. Earle who succeeded him was defeated a week later and Lewis became premier again until June 1912. He was in office in the Sir W. H. Lee ministry as treasurer from April 1916 to March 1922, and as chief secretary until 28 June. He then retired from politics. In 1933 he was appointed lieutenant-governor of Tasmania. He died suddenly at Hobart on 22 September 1935. He married in 1896 a daughter of Charles Youl. Lady Lewis survived him with two sons. He was created C.M.G. in 1901 and K.C.M.G. in 1902. He was the first president of the Tasmanian Amateur Athletic Association, and was much interested in education. He worked for the founding of the university of Tasmania, and for different periods was vice-chancellor and chancellor of it. A good administrator and politician of high personal character, Lewis was prominent in the life of his state for nearly 50 years.
The Mercury, Hobart, 23 September 1935; The Examiner, Launceston, 23 September 1935.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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