Victor Drury - The Courts and Legal Luminaries

Our firm did not have much business in the police or small debts courts. There Mr. Phillip Pinnock and Mr. W. H. Day presided. Mr. Pinnock had a large palm leaf fan and bottle of eau de cologne. No doubt the atmosphere of the Police Court, then in Elizabeth Street, was very “thick” at times, and the butcher’s yard at the back did not improve matters, especially in summer.

The Brisbane Licensing Bench was a very important body. It consisted of the Police Magistrate, four Government nominees, the Mayor of Brisbane, and a representative of each of the suburban local authorities. I remember Mr. Pinnock, P.M., and Messrs. Thomas Finney, (Bio) E. Churchill, and John Petrie (Bio) on the bench.

There were great fights for provisional licences, and I have known as many as five applications made for a provisional licence before the applicant was successful. Solicitors generally appeared in the Licensing Court and received very liberal fees. Mr. W. H. Day, second P.M., resided at Enoggera, and was a brother of Mr. Justice Day, a member of the Parnell Commission.

When I was an articled clerk, all affidavits had to be sworn before a Commissioner for Affidavits, and as the registrars and judge’s associates were all Commissioners, their salaries were supplemented by the fees- 2s 6d for the oath and 1s a sheet, if more than one sheet of paper was required for annexure and exhibits.

We always took care to see that the Registrar got the probate and letters of administration affidavits and the associates the affidavits in matters assigned to their respective judges. This was good policy. When Justices of the Peace were authorised to take affidavits without a fee, it made a great difference to the income of the officers who were also Commissioners.

The Stamp Office (building on right) was situated in George Street in front of the old Colonial Treasury, a stone building where the Treasury Buildings now stand. Mr. George Day was Stamp Officer, and his assistant was Mr. Tom Aird. There were no requisitions in those days and any succession accounts, probate and letters of administration officers. We took our George up to Mr. Day with a cheque and after he perused the transfer, mortgage or whatever the George was, he penciled the amount of duty on it, and handed it on to Mr. Aird, who duly impressed the necessary stamp.

Stamp duty on a conveyance was 15s a £100, and 5s a £100 mortgage duty, plus 15s if further advances were secured under the mortgage, and “progressive duty” of 5s for every 15 folios over50 folios if the document exceeded 50 folios. Duty was not assessed as now on the amount of further advances.

The Real Property Office was situated at the corner of Queen and George Streets in a round roofed building next to the Treasury. Mr. Henry Jordan (Bio) was Registrar-General and Mr. Blakeney his deputy. Mr. Thomas Mylne was the Deputy-Registrar in the Real Property Office. Now we have two distinct departments- Registrar-General and Registrar of Titles. The staff in the R.P.O. in those days included Messrs J. G. Brown, J. O. Bourne, George Jones, F. G. Coe, C. B. Gorton, and H. W. Bambury, and later, Frank Baynes, who for years presided at the counter.

The Lands Office adjoined the Supreme Court House and our office had a great deal of work there. Mr. Edward Deshon was Under Secretary, Charles Claudius Carter, officer in charge of the Pastoral Occupation Branch; John S. Thomas in charge of the Selection Branch; R. X. Heaney, W. J. Scott. R. S. Hurd, and J. S. Bennett were all officers in the Lands Office and all rose to high positions. Mr. W. A. Tully (Bio) was Surveyor General.

Mr. Bennett was later Registrar of the Land Court. He was a lad on coming out to Queensland with his parents in the sailing ship, Saldahna, the same ship that my father came out in. Also on board were Messrs. A. M. Francis, A. L. Boyd, J. G. Anderson- all later in the Queensland Civil Service. I always look back with pleasure to my work with the Government officials. Without exception, they were always courteous and anxious to assist the young clerk in carrying out his duties.

I have mentioned the old Museum at the top of Queen Street- Mr. Charles de Vis (Bio) was Curator, and lately, I played bowls with his grandson. Bowls are not only for old men. The first bowling club was in Roma Street at the railway gates. When playing on the turf at the old Brisbane Grammar School, we often watched the bowlers and wondered what they got excited about. Now I know.

Roma Street Railway Station was then the terminus and trains to Sandgate used to proceed through Normanby, Victoria Park, across the Bowen Bridge Road, to Mayne. The railway to the Bulimba wharves was built later, as well as to the Central Station, through Brunswick Station, Bowen Hills, and Mayne Junction.

Early Legal Luminaries

I left the Brisbane Grammar School at the end of 1882 and the following year, I was articled to Mr. Graham Lloyd Hart, senior partner of the firm of Messrs. Hart, Mein, and Flower, solicitors and notaries.

Our offices were over the A.M.P. Society where the Commercial Bank of Australia Ltd., now is. Our managing clerk was Mr. George Down, who many years afterwards was Mayor of Brisbane. I am pleased to know that George Down’s widow is still alive.

The Supreme Court Judges in Brisbane were Sir Charles Lilley (Bio), Chief Justice, Mr. Justice George Rodgers Harding (Bio) and Mr. Judge Ratcliffe Pring (Bio) The Northern Supreme Court judge was Mr. Justice Pope Alexander Cooper (Bio). The District Court judges were Judge Paul, Southern District, Judge Miller, central District, and Judge Noel, Northern.

The Hon. Ratcliffe Pring was at one time a District Court judge. He resigned to accept a brief and a fee of one thousand guineas to defend a prominent business man in an insolvency matter. He was successful and when again practicing at the bar, was elected member for North Brisbane. North Brisbane had only one member.

Wickham, adjoining Brisbane (Spring Hill and thereabouts), returned Mr. A. J. Hockings, a seeds man of Queen and Albert Streets. Later Wickham was merged into the Brisbane electorate. Mr. Pring was defeated for Brisbane in the following general election, but afterwards contested Fortitude Valley and won. When he accepted the position of attorney General, he had to again face the electors, and was defeated by his former opponent, Francis Beattie.

Sir Charles Lilley had been Premier, Attorney-General, and a prominent statesman for years before going to the bench. Mr. Justice Harding only once, I believe, sought Parliamentary honours, but was not successful.

George Down used to tell me amusing stories of Mr. Harding’s meeting. Mr. Justice Cooper was an Attorney-General and represented Bowen in the Legislative Assembly. Bowen had another Attorney-General as its member who afterwards became a Supreme Court Judge, Mr. Justice Charles Edward Chubb (Bio).

The Bar included Mr. S. W. Griffith, Q.C. (Bio), later Sir Samuel Walker Griffith, Mr. J. F. Garrick, Q.C. (Bio), afterwards Sir James Garrick, Agent-General for Queensland, in London, Messrs. Virgil Power, Patrick Real (Bio) C. E. Chubb (Bio), all to be Supreme Court judges, Edward Mansfield, later District Court Judge, E. M. Lilley, Arthur Feez (Bio) , Harvey Murray Prior, who was Master of Titles, R. C. Ringrose, Arthur Rutledge (Bio) , later a District Court Judge, and Frank Sheridon.

The principal solicitors were Messrs. Hart, Mein, and Flower, Peter MacPherson, A. J. Thynne, A. W. Chambers, John Robb Baxter Bruce, Wilson and Wilson, Daley and Hellicar, Thomas Bunton, J. G. Appel (Bio) , T. MacDonald Paterson, Browne and Ruthning, Foxton and Cardew, Roberts, Robert and Bernays, Rees Jones and Brown, George Markwell, I. Mayne.

Messrs. Mein (Bio), Thynne (Bio), MacDonald - Paterson and W. H. Wilson (Bio) were members of the Legislative Council and occupied the position of Postmaster-General at different times.

Mr. MacPherson was also a member of the Upper House. Mr. Mein was made a Supreme Court Judge on the death of Mr. Justice Pring and was the first solicitor to be elevated to the Bench.

The Registrar of the Supreme Court was Mr. William Bell and the Deputy Registrar Mr. Pring Roberts. There was no Taxing Officer, costs being taxed by the Registrar or his Deputy. Mr. Edward Baines was the first taxing officer.

The Supreme Court Librarian was Robert Thorrold. Mr. G. H. Newman was official trustee and receiver in insolvency, William Woodhouse being his clerk, and Mr. F. O. Darvall, Curator of Intestate Estates. Mr. F. O’Neill Brenan was clerk in Mr. Darvall’s office and Mr. William Cahill, afterwards Commissioner of Police, was a clerk in the Supreme Court office.

Mr. A. E. Halloran was Sheriff, H. C. Thompson, Under Sheriff, and John Gallwey, Chief Bailiff. Arthur Davis (Steele Rudd) was later clerk in the Sheriff’s office. Mr. J. Keane was secretary to the Crown Law Office, and his office faced George Street.

Mr. Robert Little (Bio) was Crown Solicitor and his clerks were Alfred Cooling and W. H. Carvosso, who subsequently was sheriff. The Registrar held many posts, Prothonotary, Registrar of Joint Stock Companies, Principal Registrar in Insolvency, Registrar of Friendly Societies. Mr. Henry Branston was Registrar of the District Court in Brisbane.