Fellows of Senate

The Rt Hon Sir Edmund Barton, GCMG

An early graduate of the University (BA 1868, MA 1870), Edmund Barton (later the Rt Hon Sir Edmund Barton, GCMG) was a Fellow of Senate from 1880 to 1889, and from 1892 to 1920.


Profile

(1849–1920)
MA Sydney HonLLD Edin HonDCL Oxf
Fellow of Senate: 1880-1889, 1892-1920

His early days

Edmond (Toby) Barton was born on 18 January 1849 at Glebe, Sydney, and was educated at Fort Street Model School for two years and from 1859 to 1864 at Sydney Grammar School.

His student days at the University of Sydney

In 1865 Barton matriculated at the University of Sydney.

Next year he won a prize for classics and the £50 (William) Lithgow scholarship.

In 1867 he studied under Professor Charles Badham, who gave him a lasting love of Greek and Latin, and won the (Sir Daniel) Cooper scholarship.

He graduated Bachelor of Arts in 1868 with first class honours and the University Medal in classics, and Master of Arts (by examination) in 1870.

He played cricket for the University in 1870 and 1871.

Edmund Barton aged 17 c1866

Edmund Barton aged 17 c1866, photo courtesy of the National Library of Australia, nla.ms-ms51-12-1253.

Edmund Barton at Christmas in 1870

Edmund Barton at Christmas in 1870, photo courtesy of the National Library of Australia, nla.ms-ms51-12-1256.

Edmund Barton in academic gown in 1870

Edmund Barton in academic gown in 1870, photo by B C Boake from Freeman Bros, courtesy of the National Library of Australia, nla.ms-ms51-12-1261.

Edmund Barton in 1872

Edmund Barton in 1872, photo courtesy of the National Library of Australia, nla.ms-ms51-12-1260.

Edmund Barton as a young graduate

Edmund Barton as a young graduate, photo courtesy of the National Library of Australia, nla.ms-ms51-12-1257.

His career

From May 1868 Barton had worked for a solicitor Henry Bradley and from June 1870 with a barrister G C Davies. On 21 December 1871 he was admitted to the Bar.

In 1871, he had a successful legal practice and, like many lawyers, soon became interested in politics. Elected to the NSW Legislative Assembly in 1879, he became the youngest-ever Speaker of the House at the age of 34, a position which he held until 1887.

Barton was convinced that federation was the key to Australia's future and allied himself to the Federalists led by Sir Henry Parkes. From 1891 he was the leader of the federation movement, and a member of the committee drafting the Constitution.

He became a Queen's Counsel in 1889.

In 1900 he led Australian delegation to London to present the Constitution to British Parliament and was Australia's first Prime Minister from 1 January 1901 to 24 September 1903.

He was knighted in 1902.

Sir Edmund Barton resigned from Parliament in 1903 to become a judge in the new High Court of Australia and continued to be a respected public figure until his death in 1920.

Information from australianhistory.org and the Australian Dictionary of Biography

Edmund Barton as Speaker of the NSW Legislative Assembly c1885

Edmund Barton as Speaker of the NSW Legislative Assembly c1885, photo courtesy of the National Library of Australia, nla.ms-ms51-12-1279.

The Right Hon Edward Barton

The first Prime Minister of Australia, the Right Hon Edward Barton, photo from the 'Australian Town and Country Journal', 6 April 1901.

The Right Hon Edward Barton

The Right Hon Edward Barton, photo from the 'Australian Town and Country Journal', 5 July 1902.

His membership of Senate

Barton was a Fellow of Senate from 1880 to 1889, and from 1892 to 1920.

– Read "On and off Senate", by Bruce Williams

The 1920 Senate Report said that the University mourned the loss of one of its most distinguished graduates, the Right Honourable Sir Edmund Barton, GCMG, MA LLD, DCL, who died on 7 January. He gained very high academic distinctions during his University career, had a genuine enthusiasm for the advancement of knowledge and learning, and with large experience and ripe judgment, gave during his long term as a Fellow of the Senate earnest thought to the work and problems of the University, and laid it under a deep obligation by his ungrudging and invaluable counsel. In the wider spheres of his activities outside the University, as Statesman and Judge, he rendered to the public of Australia eminent and unique service, the memory of which will be preserved throughout Australian history.

Sir Edmund Barton had been re-elected in December 1919, by the Fellows to be a Fellow of the Senate for a further term of five years, and he completed thirty-seven years of service as Fellow."