John Kent, merchant, politician, premier of Newfoundland (b at Waterford, Ire 1805; d at St John's 1 Sept 1872). First elected to the Assembly in 1832, Kent championed Catholic rights and aroused sectarian disorders that led to a modified constitution, 1842-48. Thereafter the Reform movement stalled, especially when Kent accepted an executive appointment as collector of customs 1849-52. However, when Philip LITTLE, a more Reform-minded and less intemperate leader, led the province to self-government in 1855, Kent became colonial secretary and in 1858 succeeded Little as premier.
Easily re-elected in 1859 Kent was forced to the polls in 1861 when his government was dismissed by the governor. Kent's campaign, fought along sectarian lines, led to murderous riots and a narrow victory for Protestant Conservatives. He soon retreated from the Liberal leadership and joined a coalition government favouring denominational amalgamation and confederation. His tenure as receiver general, 1865-69, concluded his illustrious political career.