John Jefferson Bray, AC QC (16 September 1912 – 26 June 1995) was an Australian lawyer, academic and published poet, who from 1967-1978 served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia.
Bray was born in Adelaide, South Australia, the elder son of Harry Midwinter Bray (1879–1965), an Adelaide stockbroker, and his wife, Gertrude Eleanore Stow (members of whose family were Congregationalist missionaries in South Australia). His father's family had a history of involvement in South Australian politics and current affairs: Bray's grandfather was the Honourable Sir John Cox Bray, a former Premier of South Australia. On his mother's side, Bray claimed a collateral relationship to the third U.S. president, Thomas Jefferson.
Bray was educated at Sevenhill, a state school in the Clare Valley; St Peter's College, Adelaide; and at the University of Adelaide, where he earned a BA in 1932, an LL.B.(Hons.) in 1933 and an LL.D. in 1937. He was granted an Honorary Doctorate in 1983.
Bray trained as a lawyer and was admitted to the South Australian Bar in 1933. He was acting lecturer in jurisprudence at the University of Adelaide for the years 1941, 1943, 1945 and 1951. He was created a Q.C. in 1957. He served as a lecturer in Legal History at the University of Adelaide from 1957-1958, and then as a lecturer in Roman Law from 1959 until 1966. He was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia on 28 February 1967 and served until his retirement from the judiciary on 28 November 1978. Bray was appointed Chancellor of the University of Adelaide in 1968. He also served as Deputy to the Lieutenant-Governor of South Australia from 1968 until retirement.
Bray was made a Companion of the Order of Australia in 1979, and is said, by his brother, to have refused a knighthood. He described his views as "æsthetic - traditional; social - emancipated; political - fluctuating" and his philosophies as "sceptical, some tendencies to Platonism".
"Address to the pigeons in Hurtle Square," a poem by Bray, features on a plinth in Hurtle Square, Adelaide
, where he once lived
Bray's publications reflected his interests which he listed as "poetry, history, classics":
- "Poems" (Melbourne, Cheshire Press, 1962)
- "Poems 1961-1971" (Brisbane, Jacaranda Press, 1972)
- "Poems 1972-1979" (1979)
He was also joint-editor for "No. 7 Friendly Street Poetry Reader" (Adelaide University Press, 1977, and 1978).
He also made contributions to:
- "Well and Truly Tried" (festschrift for Sir Richard Eggleston, 1982)
- "Adelaide Law School Centenary Essays" (Adelaide University Press, 1983)
- "Australian Law Journal"
- Australian Who's Who (see also similar Australia, British, and international biographical publications),
- Richard Carruthers-Żurowski,The Bray Family of England, Canada, and Australia(1986), deposited in the libraries of the Hampshire Family History Society and the South Australian Society for Genealogy and Heraldry.