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Australia's top judge hails Merthyr Tydfil

Photo: Benjamin Wright/PA Wire

Australia should do more to celebrate its founding fathers, the country's top judge says during an historic visit to Merthyr Tydfil.

Credit: Benjamin Wright/PA Wire

Merthyr Tydfil was the birthplace of Sir Samuel Griffith, who became the country's first-ever Chief Justice and also helped draft its constitution.

Australia's present Chief Justice Robert Shenton French AC has visited the town's law courts praising the key role that Merthyr played in Australia's history.

A special ceremony was also attended by England and Wales' most senior judge Lord Thomas.

I have known about Merthyr Tydfil for a very long time. This is a great opportunity to pay homage to the birthplace of the founding fathers of Australia. In Australia we do not do enough to celebrate them - and I think we need to change that.

– Mr Justice French

Sir Samuel, who was thought to have been born on the spot where Merthyr Law Courts now stands, left Wales at the age of eight when his family emigrated to Australia.

And the preacher's son soon showed signs of future greatness after a getting a first class honours degree in classics, mathematics and natural science from the University of Sydney at just 18.

After setting up his own law firm, Sir Samuel went on to become an MP - although he still continued to appear at the Bar insisting he was a lawyer first and a politician second.

In 1903 he became Australia's first-ever Chief Justice and held the post until 1919 before dying a year later.