Sir Samuel Walker Griffith - Encyclopedia




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"SIR SAMUEL WALKER GRIFFITH (1845-1920), Australian lawyer and statesman, was born at Merthyr Tydvil June 21 1845, the son of the Rev. Edward Griffith, afterwards of Brisbane. He was educated at the university of Sydney, graduating in 1863 and winning a travelling fellowship two years later. In 1867 he was called to the Queensland bar, and was also called in New South Wales and Victoria. He became Q.C. in 1876. He entered the Legislative Assembly of Queensland (1872), was Attorney-General 1874-8 and again 1890-3, was Minister for Public Instruction 1876-9 and 1883-4 and for Public Works 1878-9, and was Premier of Queensland from 1883-8 and again from 1890-3. From 1893 to 1903 he was Chief Justice of Queensland and from 1899 to 1903 also Lieutenant-Governor. In 1903 he became the first Chief Justice of the Australian Commonwealth and held that office until 1919. He was the chief bulwark of the Conservative cause in Australia and his cold, clear intellect, never deflected by passion and rarely by sympathy, has left a deep stamp on Australian national life. His early draft of a constitution for the Federation was rejected because it was not " popular " enough, but its one essential check remained in the later " popular " constitution - that of a High Court with supreme power over the Executive and the Legislature. He published The Queensland Criminal Code, as well as a translation of Dante's Divina Commedia (1912). He died at Brisbane Aug. 9 1920.

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