Edmund BartonAustralian statesman and judge.

Edmund Barton was born on January 18, 1849 in Sydney, Australia. In 1868, he began work as an assistant to a solicitor. He was admitted to the bar on December 21, 1871 and acted in his first big case as junior counsel in the 1872 high-profile murder case of Alfred Lester.

Barton was known as Toby as a child and later dabbled as a cricket umpire.

His early attempts to get a government job as a Crow prosecutor failed as did his first attempts at getting elected. Finally, in 1879 he won a seat in the New South Wales Legislature.

In 1891, he joined the federation movement and presided over the constitutional conventions which concluded in 1901 when the British Parliament in London created the Commonwealth of Australia. Barton was asked to be the new nation's first prime minister.

He skirmished with his Governor General in asserting the independence of the new state of Australia and in the aftermath, resignations followed including that of Barton himself.

Retiring heads of state rarely take on judicial duties after political careers, mostly to protect the independence of the judiciary.

But within a matter of days in what must of been a pre-arranged deal for his resignation, Barton was appointed to the newly formed High Court of Australia.

From 1903, to 1906, the High Court had a bench of only three members; Barton being joined by two federalist colleagues: the Chief Justice, Sir Samuel Griffith, former premier and former Chief Justice of Queensland and Richard Edward O'Connor, a former Minister of Justice and Solicitor-General of New South Wales and the first Leader of the Government in the Senate.

Barton sat on the High Court and developed formative principles of Australian law generally, and constitutional law in particular. When his colleague Chief Justice Samuel W. Griffith (1845-1920) retired in 1920, Barton was disappointed to be passed-over as Chief Justice.

He died of a heart attack on January 7, 1920 at the age of 70. His son E. A. Barton once said of hi father:

"His great love was Shakespeare. It would be scarcely an exaggeration to say that he remembered every act and every scene in the plays and innumerable passages were stored in his memory."

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