John Francis Hughes was born in Sydney on 11 May 1857, the eldest son of Irish immigrants John Hughes and his wife Susan, née Sharkey. He married Mary Rose, the daughter of physician James Charles Gilhooley, on 2 July 1884 at St Mary’s Cathedral Sydney. He died on 18 December 1912 at North Sydney, survived by two daughters and six sons. He was a Roman Catholic.
Occupation & interests
Although born in Sydney, John Hughes was educated at Stoneyhurst Jesuit College in England and matriculated from the University of London in 1875. Back in Sydney in 1878, he was articled to HM Makinson and admitted as a solicitor in 1884. From 1887 he was in practice with his brother Thomas Hughes. The Hughes brothers inherited Lyndhurst Chambers and 26 Hunter Street on their father’s death in 1880 and John soon acquired other city property. The family lived at Rockleigh Grange, North Sydney.
Hughes was a Director of the Australia Hotel Co. Ltd, Chairman of Bannockburn Estate Ltd, President of the Prisoners’ Aid Association and a Trustee of the Public Library of New South Wales between 1885 and 1912. He was a shareholder in WH Soul Pattinson & Co. and in the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney. He was Vice-President of the Royal Sydney Liedertafel. A leading Catholic layman, he was treasurer of the St. Vincent’s Hospital, between 1885 and 1912, and Chairman of St. Mary’s Cathedral Building Fund. In 1903, he was created Knight Commander of the Order of St Gregory by Pope Leo XIII.
Hughes was a member of the Legislative Council of NSW in 1895. He was Vice-President of the Executive Council and representative of the New South Wales Government in the Legislative Council, 1898–99 and 1904–10. He served as the Minister for Justice, July–September 1899, and was a member of the Parliament Standing Committee on Public Works, 1901–04. In 1901 he was the Treasurer of the Federal Freetrade and Liberal Committee.
Local government service
John Hughes was Alderman for Fitzroy Ward, 1 December 1891 to 30 November 1894. He was a member of the Disposal of Refuse Committee, 1891-94, the Electric Lighting Committee, 1892-94, and the Height of Buildings Committee in 1894.
Peter Spearritt, ‘Hughes, Sir Thomas (1863–1930)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/hughes-sir-thomas-7078/text11687, accessed 1 February 2013.
Cyclopedia of NSW 1907, McCarron Stewart & Co, Sydney