Edmund Barton

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Sir Edmund Barton

Edmund Barton - Swiss Studios (b&w).jpg
1st Prime Minister of Australia
In office
1 January 1901 24 September 1903
Monarch Victoria
Edward VII
Governor-General Lord Hopetoun
Lord Tennyson
Preceded byPosition Established
Succeeded by Alfred Deakin
Justice of the High Court of Australia
In office
5 October 1903 7 January 1920
Nominated byAlfred Deakin
Appointed by Lord Tennyson
Preceded byPosition Established
Succeeded by Hayden Starke
Other political offices
Minister for External Affairs
In office
1 January 1901 24 September 1903
Prime MinisterHimself
Succeeded by Alfred Deakin
Leader of the Opposition in New South Wales
In office
5 October 1898 23 August 1899
Premier George Reid
Preceded by William Lyne
Succeeded by William Lyne
Attorney-General of New South Wales
In office
23 October 1891 14 December 1893
Premier George Dibbs
Preceded by George Bowen Simpson
Succeeded by Charles Heydon
In office
17 January 1889 7 March 1889
Premier George Dibbs
Preceded by George Bowen Simpson
Succeeded by George Bowen Simpson
Speaker of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly
In office
3 January 1883 31 January 1887
Preceded by Sir George Wigram Allen
Succeeded by James Young
Member of the Australian Parliament for Hunter
In office
30 March 1901 30 September 1903
Preceded bySeat created
Succeeded by Frank Liddell
Member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly
In office
23 November 1898 1 March 1900
Preceded by Francis Clarke
Succeeded byFrancis Clarke
Constituency Hastings and Macleay
In office
11 July 1891 3 August 1894
Preceded by Walter Bradley
Succeeded byDistrict Abolished
Constituency East Sydney
In office
28 December 1882 2 March 1887
Preceded by Arthur Renwick
Succeeded by William McMillan
Constituency East Sydney
In office
14 December 1880 28 December 1882
Preceded by John Shepherd
Succeeded by David Ferguson
Constituency Wellington
In office
26 August 1879 14 December 1880
Preceded by William Windeyer
Succeeded byDistrict Abolished
Constituency University of Sydney
Member of the New South Wales Legislative Council
In office
12 May 1897 18 July 1898
In office
8 March 1887 12 June 1891
Personal details
Born(1849-01-18)18 January 1849
Glebe, Colony of New South Wales
Died7 January 1920(1920-01-07) (aged 70)
Hydro Majestic Hotel,
Medlow Bath, New South Wales, Australia
Resting place Waverley Cemetery
Political party Protectionist (after 1887)
Jane Ross (m. 1877)
Alma mater University of Sydney
Profession Barrister

Sir Edmund "Toby" Barton, GCMG , PC , 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.

Prime Minister of Australia executive head of the Government of Australia

The Prime Minister of Australia is the head of government of Australia. The individual who holds the office is the most senior Minister of State, the leader of the Federal Cabinet. The Prime Minister also has the responsibility of administering the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and is the chair of the National Security Committee and the Council of Australian Governments. The office of Prime Minister is not mentioned in the Constitution of Australia but exists through Westminster political convention. The individual who holds the office is commissioned by the Governor-General of Australia and at the Governor-General's pleasure subject to the Constitution of Australia and constitutional conventions.

High Court of Australia supreme court

The High Court of Australia is the highest court in the Australian court hierarchy and the final court of appeal in Australia. It has both original and appellate jurisdiction, the power of judicial review over laws passed by the Parliament of Australia and the parliaments of the states, and the ability to interpret the Constitution of Australia and thereby shape the development of federalism in Australia.


Barton was an early supporter of the federation of the Australian colonies, and after the retirement of Henry Parkes came to be seen as the leader of the federation movement in New South Wales. He was a delegate to the constitutional conventions, playing a key role in the drafting of a national constitution, and was one of the lead campaigners for federation in the subsequent referendums. In late 1900, despite the initial "Hopetoun Blunder", Barton was commissioned to form a caretaker government as Australia's first prime minister. His term began on 1 January 1901, the date on which federation occurred.

Federation of Australia process by which six separate British self-governing colonies became the country of Australia

The Federation of Australia was the process by which the six separate British self-governing colonies of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, and Western Australia agreed to unite and form the Commonwealth of Australia, establishing a system of federalism in Australia. Fiji and New Zealand were originally part of this process, but they decided not to join the federation. Following federation, the six colonies that united to form the Commonwealth of Australia as states kept the systems of government that they had developed as separate colonies, but they also agreed to have a federal government that was responsible for matters concerning the whole nation. When the Constitution of Australia came into force, on 1 January 1901, the colonies collectively became states of the Commonwealth of Australia.

Henry Parkes Australian Statesman and Politician

Sir Henry Parkes, was a colonial Australian politician and longest non-consecutive Premier of the Colony of New South Wales, the present-day state of New South Wales in the Commonwealth of Australia. He has been referred to as the "Father of Federation" due to his early promotion for the federation of the six colonies of Australia, as an early critic of British convict transportation and as a proponent for the expansion of the Australian continental rail network.

In Australian history, the term Constitutional Convention refers to four distinct gatherings.

At the first federal elections in March 1901, Barton and the Protectionists won the most seats, but were well short of a majority. He was able to continue on as a prime minister by forming an alliance with the fledgling Labor Party, which held the balance of power. The Barton Government established a number of new national institutions, including the Australian Defence Force and the Commonwealth Public Service. It introduced nation-wide women's suffrage, and laid the foundations of the White Australia policy with the Immigration Restriction Act 1901 .

1901 Australian federal election

The 1901 Australian federal election for the inaugural Parliament of Australia was held in Australia on Friday 29 March and Saturday 30 March 1901. The elections followed Federation and the establishment of the Commonwealth of Australia on 1 January 1901. All 75 seats in the Australian House of Representatives, six of which were uncontested, as well as all 36 seats in the Australian Senate, were up for election.

Australian Labor Party Political party in Australia

The Australian Labor Party is a major centre-left political party in Australia. The party has been in opposition at the federal level since the 2013 election. The party is a federal party with branches in each state and territory. Labor is in government in the states of Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, and in both the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory. The party competes against the Liberal/National Coalition for political office at the federal and state levels. It is the oldest political party in Australia.

Barton Government

The Barton Government was the first federal Executive Government of the Commonwealth of Australia. It was led by Prime Minister Sir Edmund Barton, from 1 January 1901 until 24 September 1903, when Barton resigned to become one of the three founding judges of the High Court of Australia.

Barton left politics in 1903 to become one of the three founding members of the High Court, which his government had created. He was succeeded as prime minister by Alfred Deakin. On the court, Barton was able to shape the judicial interpretation of the constitution he had helped write. Although he served 16 years on the High Court and less than three as prime minister, he is chiefly remembered for his political career.

Alfred Deakin Australian politician, second Prime Minister of Australia

Alfred Deakin was an Australian politician who served as the second Prime Minister of Australia, in office for three separate terms – 1903 to 1904, 1905 to 1908, and 1909 to 1910. Before entering office, he was a leader of the movement for Australian federation.

Early life

Barton was born on 18 January 1849 in Glebe, Sydney, New South Wales. [1] He was the eleventh of twelve children born to Mary Louisa (née Whydah) and William Barton. He had seven sisters and four brothers, including the writer George Burnett Barton. [2] Three of his siblings died during his childhood. [lower-alpha 1] His given name had not previously been used in the family, and may have been in honour of the recently deceased explorer Edmund Kennedy. [1] Barton's parents were both born in London, England, although his father's family was originally from Devon. They arrived in the Colony of New South Wales in 1827, and all but two of their children were born in Australia. William Barton worked variously as an accountant, bazaar proprietor, stockbroker, and real estate agent. His business ventures were not always successful, and he went bankrupt on one occasion. [6]

Glebe, New South Wales Suburb of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Glebe is an inner-western suburb of Sydney. Glebe is located 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) southwest of the Sydney central business district and is part of the local government area of the City of Sydney, in the Inner West region.

George Burnett Barton was an Australian lawyer, journalist and historian.

Edmund Kennedy Australian explorer

Edmund Besley Court Kennedy J. P. was an explorer in Australia in the mid nineteenth century. He was the Assistant-Surveyor of New South Wales, working with Sir Thomas Mitchell. Kennedy explored the interior of Queensland and northern New South Wales, including the Thomson River, the Barcoo River, Cooper Creek, and Cape York Peninsula. He died in December 1848 after being speared by Aboriginal Australians in far north Queensland near Cape York.

Childhood and education

Barton spent his early years in Glebe, but in 1851 the family moved into the inner city, living on Cumberland Street in The Rocks. [1] He had a relatively comfortable upbringing, although his father faced financial difficulties on a number of occasions. To support the family during those periods, his mother ran a boarding school for girls. [7] His parents were both highly literate, and his mother in particular "provided much of the direction and encouragement for Edmund's impressive academic achievement". [8] Barton began his formal education at what is now the Fort Street Public School. He later attended Sydney Grammar School, possibly as one of the first students after the school's opening in 1857. [3] One of his close friends in his youth was Richard O'Connor, who would eventually join him on the High Court. Barton was the dux and school captain at Sydney Grammar in 1863 and 1864. He matriculated to the University of Sydney in 1865, aged 16, and was awarded a special prize by the university senate. [9]

Fort Street Public School Primary public school in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Established 1842. (1849 as per schools website)

Fort Street Public School is a government co-educational primary school located in Millers Point, a suburb of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Established in 1849, it is one of the oldest government schools in Australia, and is operated by the New South Wales Department of Education and Communities (DEC).

Sydney Grammar School Grammar school in Sydney, Australia

Sydney Grammar School is an independent, fee-paying, non-denominational, day school for boys, located in Darlinghurst, Edgecliff and St Ives, which are all suburbs of Sydney, Australia.

Richard OConnor (politician) Australian politician and judge

Richard Edward O'Connor was an Australian politician and judge.

Edmund Barton aged 17 EBarton1866.jpg
Edmund Barton aged 17

At university, Barton specialised in classics but also studied English literature, mathematics, physics, and French. [9] He became fluent in Ancient Greek and Latin, and retained a command of both later in life. [lower-alpha 2] A new professor, Charles Badham, arrived in 1867 and was a "profound influence". Barton won scholarships in his second and third years. He graduated Bachelor of Arts in 1868 with first-class honours, and was awarded the equivalent of the University Medal as well as a prize of £20. He proceeded to Master of Arts by examination in 1870. [12]

Sporting activities

Barton was a member of the Sydney University Cricket Club and a founding member of the Sydney Rowing Club. [13] On a cricketing trip to Newcastle in 1870 he met Jane Mason Ross, whom he married in 1877. [14] [15]

In 1879, Barton umpired a cricket match 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. [16]

New South Wales politics

Barton aged 34 EBarton1-1.jpg
Barton aged 34

In 1876 Barton stood for the Legislative Assembly in the poll of the graduates of the University of Sydney (who were required to wear gowns for the occasion), but was beaten by William Charles Windeyer 49 votes to 43. [17] He was defeated again for the same seat in 1877, but won in August 1879. When it was abolished in 1880, he became the member for Wellington, from November 1880 to 1882, and East Sydney, from November 1882 to January 1887. At this stage he considered it "almost unnecessary" to point out his support for free trade. [15]

In 1882, he became Speaker of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly. He was aged only 33, and was the youngest person to have been chosen presiding officer of any Australian legislative chamber. In 1884 he was elected President of the University of Sydney Union. In 1887, he was appointed to the Legislative Council at the instigation of Sir Henry Parkes. [18] In January 1889, he agreed to being appointed Attorney General of New South Wales in George Dibbs's Protectionist government, despite his previous support for free trade. This government lasted only until March, when Parkes formed a government again. [19]

Campaign for federation

1891 National Australasian Convention

Barton was an early supporter of federation, which became a serious political agenda after Henry Parkes' Tenterfield Oration, and was a delegate to the March 1891 National Australasian Convention. At the convention he made clear his support for the principle that "trade and intercourse ... shall be absolutely free" in a federal Australia. He also advocated that not just the lower house but also the upper house should be representative and that appeals to the Privy Council should be abolished. He also took part in producing a draft constitution, which was substantially similar to the Australian Constitution enacted in 1900. [15]

Nevertheless, the protectionists were lukewarm supporters of federation and in June 1891, Barton resigned from the Council and stood for election to East Sydney and announced that "so long as Protection meant a Ministry of enemies to Federation, they would get no vote from him". He topped the poll and subsequently voted with Parkes, but refused to take a position in his minority government. After the Labor Party withdrew support and the government fell in October 1891, Parkes persuaded him to take over the leadership of the Federal movement in New South Wales. [15]

Attorney-General for the second time

Dibbs formed a Protectionist government and Barton agreed to be Attorney-General with the right of carry out private practice as a lawyer. His agreement was based on Dibbs agreeing to support federal resolutions in the coming parliamentary session. His attempt to draft the federal resolutions was delayed by a period as acting Premier, when he had to deal with the 1892 Broken Hill miners' strike, and his carriage of a complex electoral reform bill. He introduced the federal resolutions into the House on 22 November 1892 but was unable to get them considered in committee. [15]

Meanwhile, he began a campaign to spread support for federation to the people with meetings in Corowa and Albury in December 1892. Although he finally managed to get the federal resolutions considered in committee in October 1893, he then could not get them listed for debate by the House. In December, he and Richard O'Connor, the Minister for Justice, were questioned about their agreement to act as private lawyers against the government in Proudfoot v. the Railway Commissioners. While Barton resigned the brief, he lost a motion on the right of ministers to act in their professional capacity as lawyers in actions against the government, and immediately resigned as Attorney-General. [15]

In July 1894, Barton stood for re-election for Randwick (the multi-member electorate of East Sydney had been abolished) and lost. He did not stand for election in the 1895 elections because he needed to support his large family during a period when parliamentarians were not paid. However, he continued to campaign for federation and during the period between January 1893 to February 1897, Barton addressed nearly 300 meetings in New South Wales, [20] including in the Sydney suburb of Ashfield where he declared that "For the first time in history, we have a nation for a continent and a continent for a nation". By March 1897, he was considered "the acknowledged leader of the federal movement in all Australia". [15]

Australian Federal Convention and Referendum

Photo in 1898 of the future 1st Prime Minister of Australia Edmund Barton aged 49 and 2nd Prime Minister of Australia Alfred Deakin EBarton2.jpg
Photo in 1898 of the future 1st Prime Minister of Australia Edmund Barton aged 49 and 2nd Prime Minister of Australia Alfred Deakin

In 1897, Barton topped the poll of the delegates elected from New South Wales to the Constitutional Convention, which developed a constitution for the proposed federation. Although Sir Samuel Griffith wrote most of the text of the Constitution, Barton was the political leader who carried it through the Convention. [15] [18]

In May 1897, Barton was appointed for the second time to the Legislative Council on Reid's recommendations to take charge of the federation bill in the Upper House. This gave Reid's Attorney-General, John Henry Want, a free hand to oppose the bill. In September 1897, the convention met in Sydney to consider 286 proposed amendments from the colonies. It finalised its draft constitution in March 1898 and Barton went back to New South Wales to lead the campaign for a yes vote in the June referendum. Although it gained majority support, it achieved only 71,595; 80,000 was the minimum number for it to pass. [15]

In July 1898 Barton resigned from the Upper House to stand against Reid for election to the Legislative Assembly, but narrowly lost. In September, he won a by-election for Hastings and Macleay and was immediately elected leader of the opposition, which consisted of a mixture of pro-federation and anti-federation protectionists. In January 1899 Reid gained significant concessions from the other states and he joined Barton in campaigning for the second referendum in June 1899, with Barton campaigning all over the state. It passed 107,420 votes to 82,741. [15] [19]

In August 1899 when it became clear that the Labour Party could be manoeuvred into bringing down the Reid Government, Barton resigned as leader of the opposition, as he was unacceptable to Labour, and William Lyne took his place. He refused an offer to become Attorney-General again. He resigned from Parliament in February 1900 so that he could travel to London with Alfred Deakin and Charles Kingston to explain the federation bill to the British Government. Around the same time on 15 January 1900 Barton published a 28-page United Australia magazine to disseminate an informative narrative for the propositions of a future Federal Government that he hoped to lead. [21] The British Government was adamant in its opposition to the abolition of appeals to the Privy Council as incorporated in the draft constitution; eventually, Barton agreed that constitutional ( inter se ) matters would be finalised in the High Court, but other matters could be appealed to the Privy Council. Edmund served as a Justice of the High Court for 16 years. [15]

Prime Minister (1901–1903)


The Federation Pavilion at Centennial Park, Sydney, during the swearing-in ceremony on 1 January 1901.

External video
Footage from Inauguration of the Commonwealth Federation Pavilion, Centennial Park 01 (cropped).jpg
The Federation Pavilion at Centennial Park, Sydney, during the swearing-in ceremony on 1 January 1901.

External video
Nuvola apps kaboodle.svg Footage from Inauguration of the Commonwealth

Barton was appointed prime minister on 1 January 1901, the day on which the new federal constitution came into effect. He and various other dignitaries were driven through the streets of Sydney in a procession watched by thousands of onlookers, beginning in The Domain and ending at Centennial Park. A swearing-in ceremony for the new government was held at the purpose-built Federation Pavilion. [22] The main focus was on Lord Hopetoun, Australia's first governor-general, who swore three separate oaths and read a message from Queen Victoria. Barton and his ministry only took oaths of allegiance, and were not formally sworn in to the Federal Executive Council until later in the afternoon. [23] The events of the day were captured on film and distributed under the title Inauguration of the Commonwealth , although the visibility of the leading participants is poor. [24] The film has been described as Australia's first feature-length documentary. [25]

Barton had only been commissioned to form a government one week before he became prime minister, due to what became known as the "Hopetoun Blunder". The new governor-general Lord Hopetoun arrived in Australia on 15 December 1900. [26] He was tasked by the Colonial Office with selecting someone to form a caretaker government prior to the first federal election; this individual would be Australia's first prime minister. [27] It was widely assumed that Barton would be offered the position, and he had begun making preparations for the role, including a draft platform for the first federal elections. [28] On 19 December, however, Hopetoun commissioned William Lyne to form a government. His reasons for doing so have been debated, but his decision was widely regarded as a mistake. [29] [30] Lyne, the premier of New South Wales, had actively campaigned against federation, and the leading politicians in each of the other colonies refused to serve under him. [31] On 24 December, he informed Hopetoun that he was unable to form a government and advised him to send for Barton. [32] As a result, the composition of Australia's first cabinet was not formally announced until 30 December, two days before it was sworn in. [33]

Caretaker ministry and first election

Members of the first Barton Ministry, 1 January 1901 Barton Ministry (cropped).jpg
Members of the first Barton Ministry, 1 January 1901

Barton's government consisted of himself as Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs, Alfred Deakin as Attorney-General, Sir William Lyne as Minister for Home Affairs, Sir George Turner as Treasurer, Charles Kingston as Minister for Trade and Customs, Sir James Dickson as Minister for Defence, and Sir John Forrest as Postmaster-General. Richard O'Connor was made Vice-President of the Executive Council and Elliott Lewis was appointed Minister without Portfolio. Only ten days into the life of the government, Sir James Dickson died suddenly; he was replaced on 17 January as Minister for Defence by John Forrest, and James Drake was brought into the ministry as Postmaster-General on 5 February.

The main task of Barton's caretaker ministry was to organise the conduct of the first federal elections, which were held in March 1901. Barton was elected unopposed to the seat of Hunter in the new Parliament (although he never lived in that electorate) and his Protectionist Party won enough seats to form a government with the support of the Labour Party. All his ministers were elected, except for Elliott Lewis, who did not stand for election and was replaced by Sir Philip Fysh. [15]

Domestic policy

In April 1901, Barton announced that the government would sponsor a competition to design a new national flag for Australia. The winning design was the basis for the current Australian national flag, although Barton personally favoured the existing Australian Federation Flag that had been popular in New South Wales for many years. As it was primarily intended to be used in shipping, the design had to be submitted to the British Admiralty for approval and was not officially adopted until 1903. [34]

An early piece of legislation of the Barton government was the Immigration Restriction Act 1901, which put the White Australia policy into law. The Labour Party required legislation to limit immigration from Asia as part of its agreement to support the government, but Barton had promised the introduction of the White Australia Policy in his election campaign. Barton stated, "The doctrine of the equality of man was never intended to apply to the equality of the Englishman and the Chinaman". One notable reform was the introduction of women's suffrage for federal elections in 1902. [35]

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 . [36]

External affairs

For much of 1902, Barton was in England for the coronation of King Edward VII, which was postponed from June to August, delaying Barton's return. Accompanying him on this trip was Sir John Forrest, Minister of Defence, and the trip was also used to negotiate the replacement of the naval agreements between the Australian colonies and the United Kingdom (under which Australia funded Royal Navy protection from foreign naval threats) by an agreement between the Commonwealth and the United Kingdom at the 1902 Colonial Conference. [15] Deakin disliked this arrangement and discontinued it, moving for a substantial expansion of Australia's own navy in 1908. [37] On their way home from the United Kingdom, Barton and Forrest visited Canada, including Toronto, Ottawa (where they were guests of the Governor-General), and the Pacific Coast. [38] [39]


On 24 September 1903, Barton resigned as prime minister to become one of the founding justices of the High Court of Australia. Speculation about his political future had been rife for several months, particularly after the Judiciary Act 1903 was passed in August. There were several factors at play in his decision to retire from politics. Some within his own party thought that he lacked the energy and commitment to continue as the leader of the government. [40] Barton had also suffered from bouts of ill health, including a fainting spell in his office earlier in the year. He was advised by his doctor to quit active politics. Finally, he had a history of financial difficulties and appreciated the security that a lifetime appointment would bring. [41] The appointment of the new judges was made by the governor-general on the advice of cabinet, many of whom had ambitions of their own and encouraged Barton to accept the post. [40] His appointment was largely uncontroversial, given his role in drafting the constitution, experience as a barrister, and acceptance of a puisne judgeship rather than the position of chief justice. [42]

High Court (1903–1920)

Sir Edmund in 1903, at age 54, as the second Justice of the High Court of Australia. Edmund Barton - 1903.jpg
Sir Edmund in 1903, at age 54, as the second Justice of the High Court of Australia.
Sir Edmund in 1914, at age 65. BartonFrame.jpg
Sir Edmund in 1914, at age 65.

Barton was one of only eight justices of the High Court to have served in the Parliament of Australia prior to his appointment to the Court; the others were Richard O'Connor, Isaac Isaacs, H. B. Higgins, Edward McTiernan, John Latham, Garfield Barwick, and Lionel Murphy. Barton was also one of six justices to have served in the Parliament of New South Wales along with O'Connor, Albert Piddington, Adrian Knox, McTiernan, and H. V. Evatt.

On the bench, Barton was considered a good and "scrupulously impartial" judge and adopted the same position of moderate conservatism that he had taken in politics. Along with colleagues Griffith and O'Connor, he attempted to preserve the autonomy of the States and developed a doctrine of "implied immunity of instrumentalities", which prevented the States from taxing Commonwealth officers and prevented the Commonwealth from arbitrating industrial disputes in the States' railways. They also narrowly interpreted the Federal government's powers in commercial and industrial matters. [15]

After 1906, Barton increasingly clashed with Isaac Isaacs and H. B. Higgins, the two radicals appointed to the court by Deakin. Like Sir Samuel Griffith, Barton was several times consulted by Governors-General of Australia on the exercise of the reserve powers. [43] In 1919, although ill, he was extremely disappointed to be passed over for the position of Chief Justice on the retirement of Griffith. [44]

Death and family

Barton died on 7 January 1920 from heart failure at the Hydro Majestic Hotel, Medlow Bath, New South Wales. He was interred in South Head General Cemetery in the Sydney suburb of Vaucluse (see Waverley Cemetery). He was survived by his wife and six children: [15]


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, [46] [47] [19] and was invested by King Edward VII at Buckingham Palace on 8 August 1902. [48] (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, [15] 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. [49] He also received the Freedom of the City of Edinburgh during a visit to that city on 26 July 1902. [50]

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. [15]

In 1951 and again in 1969, Barton was honoured on postage stamps bearing his portrait issued by Australia Post. [51] [52]

The Barton Highway near Canberra, Australia 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.

See also


  1. Edmund's younger brother Sydney was born in 1852 but lived only nine months. [3] His older sister Ellen was killed in a fire in 1860, [4] and his oldest brother William Jr. died in 1863. [5]
  2. In a speech to the Parliament of New South Wales in 1879, Barton quoted Homer in the original Greek. [10] As prime minister in 1902, he met with Pope Leo XIII in Rome and conversed in Latin. [11]

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The Deakin Government (1905-1908) refers to the period of federal executive government of Australia led by Prime Minister Alfred Deakin. It lasted from 5 July 1905 to 13 November 1908. Deakin was the second Prime Minister of Australia having previously led the Deakin Government (1903-1904), and held the office again in 1909–1910.

Federation Pavilion

The Federation Pavilion was a temporary structure erected in Centennial Park, Sydney, for use in the celebrations marking the Federation of Australia on 1 January 1901. It was used to swear in the members of the first Federal Executive Council, including Australia's first governor-general and prime minister. The pavilion was originally covered in ornate plasterwork, but the exterior was not preserved and soon fell into disrepair. In 1903, the wooden framework was purchased by the Municipality of Concord and moved to Cabarita Park in the suburb of the Cabarita. The property is now owned by the City of Canada Bay, and was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 22 December 2000. The pavilion has appeared in the clear panel of the Australian five-dollar note since 2016, when the new Next Generation Banknote series went into circulation.


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Further reading

New South Wales Legislative Assembly
Preceded by
William Windeyer
Member for University of Sydney
District abolished
Preceded by
John Shepherd
Member for Wellington
Succeeded by
David Ferguson
Preceded by
Arthur Renwick
Member for East Sydney
Served alongside: Reid, Burdekin, McElhone, Copeland, Griffiths
Succeeded by
William McMillan
Preceded by
Sydney Burdekin
Member for East Sydney
Served alongside: McMillan, Parkes, Reid
District abolished
Preceded by
Francis Clarke
Member for Hastings and Macleay
Succeeded by
Francis Clarke
Preceded by
Sir George Wigram Allen
Speaker of the Legislative Assembly
Succeeded by
James Young
Political offices
Preceded by
Julian Salomons
Representative of the Government in the Legislative Council
Succeeded by
William Suttor, Jr.
Preceded by
Sir George Bowen Simpson
Attorney General of New South Wales
Succeeded by
Sir George Bowen Simpson
Attorney General of New South Wales
Succeeded by
Charles Gilbert Heydon
Party political offices
New political party Leader of the Protectionist Party
Succeeded by
Alfred Deakin
Parliament of Australia
New division Member for Hunter
Succeeded by
Frank Liddell
Political offices
New title Prime Minister of Australia
Succeeded by
Alfred Deakin
Minister for External Affairs
Legal offices
New title Justice of the High Court of Australia
Succeeded by
Sir Hayden Starke