I acknowledge the Traditional Owners on whose land I walk, I work and I live. I pay my respects to Elders past, present and future.

Monday, 10 July 2017

A genuine advocacy

The fact that stood out most starkly in the recent feature in the ‘Herbert River Express’ marking the 50 year anniversary of the service of John M. Scott as a solicitor in the Herbert River district was the value placed by his clients on his integrity and genuine concern and  advocacy for their interests.
The other thing that could be taken from a reading of that article is the history lived, known and conserved by one individual who has lived in the district for a lifetime.  John Scott has a powerful memory of past events and significant primary documents of historical value still in his care. So much of what he recounted to the reporter about his legal predecessors, and his family’s connections to the district, their work, the location of the businesses etc. is first hand knowledge probably only known by him now.

John Scott talks of his predecessors whose practice he joined and then assumed. In the first days of European settlement the Police Magistrate provided the necessary judicial services and the services of solicitors had to be secured over distances in Townsville or Bowen. Residents could write to columns such as Legal Answers in the ‘Queensland Figaro and Punch’ for legal advice and referral to their closest solicitor. 

On page 21 of the article in the ‘Herbert River Express’ on July 1 2017 marking John M. Scott’s 50th anniversary there was reprint of an advertisement dated February 24, 1897 that Leland E. Challands published to advise the public that he was applying to be admitted as a solicitor. Today, with the aid of TROVE we are able to answer some of the questions that Scott himself voiced about the location of his predecessors’ businesses and the timing of moves to different locations and are able to plump out that account a little.   A faint paper trail testifies that Leland E. Challand was admitted to the bar in March 1897 and locates him in Ingham In late May 1898. He left Maryborough and arrived in Ingham to take over the legal practice of Mr. A.J. P. Macdonnell (MacDonnell) who left for Cairns to enter into partnership with Milford and Hobbs, Solicitors. 

Macdonnell had arrived in Ingham sometime after being admitted to the Queensland Bar in September 1895. Macdonnell entered whole heartedly into Ingham life, enjoying racing (as a member of the Herbert River Jockey Club) and shooting (competing in shoot-offs) and making lasting friendships. He was farewelled at the Planters’ Retreat Hotel on a Monday, he left on a Tuesday and Challands arrived on the Wednesday. Like his predecessor he threw himself into holding positions on the committees of community organizations including the Herbert River Jockey Club, the Herbert River Golf Club, and sugar industry associations: the Herbert River Farmers’ League and the Australian Sugar Producers Association.

Meanwhile he became the Divisional Board’s solicitor and a significant land holder acquiring the Orient with Thomas Kirkwood and blocks of land along Lannercost Street. When the Shire Hall burnt down in 1916 Challands was quick off the mark offering to sell a block to the Council to use for a new Shire Hall. The former Shire Hall land went to auction in 1921 as two blocks. The block closest to the Royal Hotel was sold to E.J. Hardy and the other to Messrs. Ryan and Challands. Edwin Hardy and Gerald Venables began operating as commission agents in 1922, and so did  J.P. Ryan in partnership with J.W. Cartwright. A new Shire Hall was built in 1921 and he conducted his business in the Hall, firstly as a sole practitioner and then in partnership with Vincent Edward Hay Swayne as Challands and Swayne. When he and Swayne parted ways in 1928, Swayne took on G.H. Hopkins as articled clerk. Hopkins was admitted to practise law in 1932 and joined Swayne as a partner in 1933.

The Shire Hall became increasingly inadequate. Plans were drawn up in 1937 for a new shire hall but finances were unavailable so the Ingham Picture Company, in return for being granted a virtual monopoly on picture theatre activity in the town of Ingham, undertook to carry out improvements to the building. Swayne and Hopkins moved out in that year and relocated to the Hardy and Venables buildings adjacent to the Royal Hotel. When Mr Swayne ceased to be a partner the practice was conducted by Hopkins together with J.S. Dwyer as Hopkins and Dwyer until 1967. Following that Dwyer conducted the practice with John M. Scott as partner until Dwyer’s untimely death at the age of 53 in 1975. Since that year Scott has conducted the practice under the name of John M. Scott since 1976 and in the same address that the practice had been conducted in since 1937.
“John M. Scott – 50 Years,” Herbert River Express, July 1, 2017.
TROVE – DIGITIZED NEWSPAPERS http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/search?adv=y
“Council of the Australian Sugar Producers' Association,” Brisbane Courier, February 15 1908, 5. 

Herbert River Jockey Club Committee, Ingham, Queensland, 1933, State Library of Queensland, Accession number: 82-11-3. Date: 1933. Top: T. Bonning, E. Mullins, J. Allingham, F. T. O'Malley. Bottom: W. S. C. Warren, R. J. Walsh, T. C. Christie, C. V. Ranson, R. E. Cartwright, F. A. Cassady, W. Stuart, J. A. Murray, A. J. West, J. Keogh, O. T. Langley, J. M. Thomson, L. E. Challands.

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