Edmund Barton

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Sir Edmund Barton, GCMG, KC (18 January 1849 – 7 January 1920), Australian politician and judge, was the first Prime Minister of Australia and a founding justice of the High Court of Australia.

Barton's greatest contribution to Australian history was his management of the federation movement through the 1890s. Elected at the inaugural 1901 federal election, Barton resigned from the position of Prime Minister of Australia in 1903 and became a judge of Australia's High Court.


Early life

He was born in the suburb of Glebe, the ninth child of William Barton, a stockbroker, and Mary Louise Barton. He was educated at Fort Street High School and Sydney Grammar School, where he was twice dux and School Captain and met his life-long friend and later fellow Justice of the High Court of Australia, Richard O'Connor. He graduated with first class honours and the University Medal in classics from the University of Sydney, where he also demonstrated considerable skill at batting (but not in fielding) in cricket. Barton became a barrister in 1871. On a cricket trip to Newcastle in 1870, he met Jane Mason Ross, whom he married in 1877.[1]

In 1879, Barton umpired a cricket game at Sydney Cricket Ground between New South Wales and an English touring side captained by Lord Harris. After a controversial decision by Barton's colleague George Coulthard against the home side, the crowd spilled onto the pitch and assaulted some of the English players, leading to international cricket's first riot. The publicity that attended the young Barton's presence of mind in defusing that situation reputedly helped him take his first step towards becoming Australia's first prime minister, winning a state lower house seat later that year.[2]

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