John Gorton

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Sir John Grey Gorton, GCMG, AC, CH (9 September 1911 – 19 May 2002), Australian politician, was the 19th Prime Minister of Australia.[1]


Early life

Sir John Grey Gorton was born in Melbourne, the illegitimate son of Alice Sinn,[2] the daughter of a railway worker, and English orange orchardist John Rose Gorton. The older Gorton and his wife Kathleen had emigrated to Australia by way of South Africa, where they had prospered during the Boer War. They separated in Australia and John senior established a de facto relationship with Sinn, who died of tuberculosis in 1920. John junior then went to live with his father's estranged wife and his half-sister Ruth, in Sydney.[3]

He was educated at Sydney Church of England Grammar School (where he was a class mate of Errol Flynn[4]) and Geelong Grammar School, and then travelled to England to attend Brasenose College, Oxford. While in England, Gorton also undertook flying lessons and was awarded a British pilots' licence in 1932.[5] He studied history, politics and economics at Oxford and graduated with an upper second undergraduate degree.[2]

During a holiday in Spain while he was at Oxford, Gorton met Bettina Brown of Bangor, Maine, US. She was a language student at the Sorbonne. This meeting came about through Gorton's friend from Oxford, Arthur Brown, who was Bettina's brother. Arthur Brown was later revealed to be a card-carrying member of the Communist Party. In 1935, Gorton and Bettina Brown were married in Oxford and after his studies were finished, they settled in Australia, taking over his father's orchard, "Mystic Park", at Lake Kangaroo near Kerang. They had three children:[6] Joanna, Michael and Robin.

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