Jonathan Binns Were (1809-1885) was born in Somerset, England on 25 April 1809. Before he migrated to Australia in 1839, he worked with colonial merchants and bankers Collins & Co. in Plymouth. Initially trading under his own name, he formed Were & Co. with his brother George and his brother-in-law, Robert Stevenson Dunsford, then, after 1861, JB Were & Son. Were’s were importers, exporters and agents for shipping, land, cattle, sheep and wool; gold brokers and buyers (after 1851); and share dealers (after 1853). Were went bankrupt twice in 1843 and 1857, the former connected with his associated with Henry Dendy and the Brighton subdivision. Were lived in Brighton at Moorabbin House and represented Brighton in the Legislative Assembly in 1856-57.
In 1865 Were became the first chairman of the Melbourne Stock Exchange; he was the first president of the Chamber of Commerce, and served on the board of many public and private institutions and companies. He was Port Phillip’s first Justice of the Peace; and organiser of the 1881 Melbourne Exhibition. He was knighted by the Kings of Sweden and Denmark.
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