Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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GRIFFITH , Sir SAMUEL WALKER ( 1845 - 1920 ), judge , etc., in Australia ;

b. at Merthyr Tydfil 21 June 1845 , the son of Edward Griffith , minister of the English Independent church there ( 1842-5 ), and Mary , daughter of Peter Walker of Swansea .

Sailing to Australia ( 1845 ) with his family, Edward Griffith later became pastor of the Congregational church in Ipswich , near Brisbane . After a brilliant career at the university of Sydney , Samuel Griffith was admitted, in 1867 , as a barrister-at-law of the supreme court of Queensland . In 1872 he entered Parliament , became premier in 1883 , and was in the Legislative Assembly for twenty-one years. In 1893 he was appointed chief justice of Queensland . His polemical life centered around two issues, the overthrow of pastoralist oligarchy and the preservation of white Australia , the latter issue being occasioned by the malpractices in the recruiting of ‘ Kanaka ’ or Melanesian labour. His strong advocacy secured the annexation of New Guinea and led to the Queensland Defence Act of 1884 .

In 1887 , at the Empire conference in London , he voiced his views on empire unity. In 1891 , as chairman of the Sydney convention for the federation of the Australian colonies , he drafted the constitution and until it was made law by the British Parliament , in 1900 , he took a most active part in its completion.

In 1913 he received the degree of LL.D. ‘ honoris causa ’ from the university of Wales . He d. 9 Aug. 1920 , at ‘ Merthyr ,’ his home in Brisbane . The Welsh library of the Brisbane Cymmrodorion is a memorial to him as its first patron .

Sources:

  • An Australian National Biography , 1934 (Melbourne, 1934 );
  • The Australian Encyclopaedia , Sydney, Australia 1926-27 , 1926 ;
  • Douglas Graham , Macrossan Lecture , Brisbane, 1939 (Brisbane, 1939 );
  • A. E. Piddington , Worshipful Masters , Sydney, 1929 (Sydney, 1929 );
  • J. J. Knight , In the Early Days history and incident of pioneer Queensland , Brisbane, 1895 (Brisbane, 1895 ), contains an account, with portrait, of his father.

Author:

Rev. Professor John Oliver Stephens, M.A., B.D., (1880-1957), Carmarthen

Published date: 1959