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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]

Mr. George Elliott Barton

Mr. George Elliott Barton, who occupies the position of Judge of the Validation Court, dealing with the validation of titles to Native Lands, the partition of land and the settlement of disputes between Native litigants and the succession to titles, and informalities in dealing with all matters concerning titles to Native Lands, was appointed to this responsible position on the passing of the Validation. Act in 1892; he being endowed with all the powers of a Supreme Court Judge in these matters. For some years previous to this appointment, Judge Barton was one of the ordinary judges of the Native Land Court. The most remarkable event in his career happened while practising as a barrister in the City of Wellington, On the 30th of January, 1878, while pleading in a case before the Chief Justice, he was on an argument as to costs, found guilty of contempt of court, and fined £50, which he declined to pay. On the Court resuming next morning, it was stated from the bench, on which both the Chief Justice and Judge Richmond were sitting, that by some curious oversight the proceeding of the Court had been illegal. On the same day, while acting as counsel for Mr. E. T. Gillon, he characterised its judgment as being unintelligible, and proceeded to argue with the bench; he was four times ordered to sit down and hold his tongue, but continued to remonstrate, and was then sentenced to one month's imprisonment in Wellington goal. While incarcerated there an election for Parliament was held, and Mr. Barton, Colonel Pearce, and Mr. W. Hutchison were candidates. The election took place on the 19th of February, and Mr. Barton was returned. When the result was known a vast concourse of people went up to the gaol and cheered the new member, who appeared at a window, but was not allowed to speak. Mr. Barton was at that time a pronounced democrat, and is now recognised as a gentleman of culture, with high abilities, well read and with a large knowledge of the world. He is eminently fitted for his present high station, which requires a man of firm resolves to resist the influences brought to bear on matters where native land titles are in question.