Sir Edmund Barton

Sir Edmund "Toby" Barton, GCMG, KC (18 January 1849 – 7 January 1920) was an Australian politician and judge who served as the first Prime Minister of Australia, in office from 1901 to 1903. He resigned to become a founding member of the High Court of Australia, where he served until his death.


Barton was born in Glebe, New South Wales, the ninth child of English parents William Barton, a stockbroker, and Mary Louise Barton (née Whydah). He was educated at Fort Street High School and Sydney Grammar School, where he was twice dux and School Captain and met his lifelong 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 as a cricketer in batting, but not in fielding. He was also an active founding member of the Sydney Rowing Club. Barton became a barrister in 1871. On a cricketing trip to Newcastle in 1870 he met Jane (Jeanie) Mason Ross, whom he married in 1877. (Wikipedia)


Barton was a moderate conservative, and advanced liberals in his party disliked his relaxed attitude to political life. A large, handsome, jovial man, he was fond of long dinners and good wine and was given the nickname "Toby Tosspot" by The Bulletin.(Wikipedia)  On the bench Sir Edmund was considered a good and "scrupulously impartial" judge and adopted the same position of moderate conservatism he had taken in politics.


Barton refused knighthoods in 1887, 1891 and 1899, but agreed to be appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG) in the 1902 Coronation Honours list published on 26 June 1902,[19][20][9] and was invested by King Edward VII at Buckingham Palace on 8 August 1902.[21] (He was the only prime minister to be knighted during his term of office until Robert Menzies in 1963; various others were knighted after leaving the office; Sir Earle Page was already a knight when he briefly became prime minister in 1939.) He received an honorary LL.D. from the University of Cambridge in 1900,[5] and honorary D.C.L. from the University of Oxford and LL.D. from the University of Edinburgh while visiting the United Kingdom in the summer of 1902.[22] He also received the Freedom of the City of Edinburgh during a visit to that city on 26 July 1902. [23]


In 1905, the Japanese government conferred the Grand Cordon, Order of the Rising Sun, and Barton was granted permission to retain and wear the insignia. The honour was presented in acknowledgement of his personal role in resolving a conflict concerning the Commonwealth's Pacific Island Labourers Act and the Queensland protocol to the Anglo-Japanese Treaty.[5]


In 1951 and again in 1969, Barton was honoured on postage stamps bearing his portrait issued by Australia Post.[24][25]


The Barton Highway in Australia, connecting the Hume Freeway to the Australian capital, Canberra, was named after Barton. The Division of Barton in New South Wales is named after him, as is Barton, Australian Capital Territory, a suburb of Canberra close to Capital Hill which is the location of many government departments and national institutions, and the headquarters of Australia's main political parties. The Edmund Barton Building is a government office building in that suburb. The Barton College of Deakin University is also named after Barton. 

Under the Barristers' Rules, members of Edmund Barton Chambers, as individual lawyers, may only give advice to a particular person on a specific matter or case if instructed to do so by a solicitor.