Established in 1865

Proudly serving New Zealanders for over 150 years

It all began in 1865

When we 'hung out our shingle'

Thomas Bannatyne Gillies was already a well known lawyer and national politician before leaving Otago for Auckland in 1865. He travelled the whole journey on horseback and on arrival formed a legal practice with John Richmond. Gillies was a real character with a forceful personality and one of Auckland’s oldest streets, Gillies Avenue, is named after him. Gillies left the partnership in 1869 after being elected superintendent for the Auckland province. After leaving politics in 1873, he was appointed the Supreme Court judge for the Auckland district.

On the departure of Gillies, Edwin Hesketh joined in 1870 and the firm became known as Hesketh Richmond. The population of Auckland at the time was about 12,000.

1875 we made a big move

Wyndham and Queen

IIn 1875 Hesketh Richmond moved to the corner of Wyndham and Queen Street, where they remained for 90 years. Over this time, the firm’s name changed a number of times with the natural ebb and flow of partners, but it always retained the original names. The firm eventually returned to being called solely Hesketh Richmond.

Edwin Hesketh and the Anglican Church

Edwin Hesketh

The Hesketh family were heavily involved in the Anglican Church. Edwin was the St Mark’s Church Parish organist and helped fundraise for a new pipe organ at a cost of £90. Unfortunately, the organ was destroyed in a fire in 1935. Miraculously however, two stained glass windows ‘Faith’ and ‘Hope’, which the Hesketh family had donated in 1879, survived the fire and are still in place today. Hesketh Henry and the Anglican Church retain a very close relationship.

It is reported that Edwin Hesketh came into legal prominence in the early days for his sensational defence in a rape case involving the wife of one of Auckland’s leading citizens and socialites. His defence was that his client, a young man, had been invited to her home and that the whole affair had been contrived by her and the husband. The Judge described the defence as despicable, but the jury found his client not guilty. The Judge’s remark brought down the wrath of the New Zealand and Australian Law Societies, and the clamour led to an apology by the Judge.

A new firm in town

Birth of Wilson Henry

George Paton (‘GP’) Finlay moved from Te Kuiti in 1924 and commenced practice under his own name from the Gifford Building on Vulcan Lane. He soon employed Alec Wilson as his clerk.

Meanwhile, the newly qualified Trevor Henry moved from Rotorua to Auckland in 1924. He formed a practice with Fred McCarthy in the early 1930s. After nearly 20 years, ‘GP’ left the firm he founded when he was appointed a Supreme (High) Court Judge in 1943 (he was knighted in 1955). Alec Wilson then joined in partnership with Henry and McCarthy and Wilson Henry & McCarthy was born.

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The Smith & Caughey Connection

Smith & Caughey

Hardly surprisingly, given our presence in Auckland for so many years, there have been connections across many clients. Smith and Caughey is an example – ‘GP’ Finlay’s daughter, Mary, married Sir Thomas Harcourt Clarke Caughey who was an All Black and Managing Director of Smith and Caughey for many years. Then in 1970 Richard Caughey joined Hesketh & Richmond as a partner. Hesketh Henry has acted for Smith and Caughey on many occasions over the years and continues to do so.

The Henry Impact

The Henry name has became synonymous with high achievement in the legal field. Trevor Henry stayed with the firm until 1955 when he was appointed a Judge of the Supreme (High) Court of New Zealand, the same year that his son, John Henry, was made a partner of the firm. Trevor Henry’s career was described as “meteoric” and his inauguration ceremony saw one of the largest ever turnouts of Auckland’s society. In 1970 he was knighted for services to the justice system and remained active in the law well into his 90s. He died in 2007 at the age of 105.

John went on to become a very successful litigator, building a substantial commercial litigation team at the firm. His achievements included being made a Queen’s Counsel in 1980, appointment to the High Court of New Zealand in 1984, and appointment to the Privy council in 1996. He was made a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2001 (converted to the equivalent knighthood in 2009).

1965 Hesketh Henry Moved

...But not without the umbrella stand

After 90 years in the same space, Hesketh Richmond moved premises from Wyndam Street to brand new offices in the Norwich Union building. Treasured items moved with the firm, including a Bronze Umbrella Stand, the framed telephone exchange list and a large number of books with copies of letters and opinions sent out by the firm from 1870 onwards. An article published in the New Zealand Herald said, “That Old Bronze Umbrella Stand Goes Along Too. When a firm moves to new offices after 90 years in the same premises it has to toss up between being sentimental and being practical”

1986 the big merger

Joining forces

The partners of Wilson Henry and Hesketh Richmond joined forces and became Hesketh Henry on 2nd October 1986. The merger brought together the strong litigation and commercial practices of the respective firms, the chemistry worked and the firm grew quickly.

After maintaining two locations for a short time, the firm moved to newly constructed premises on Kitchener Street where it stayed for 12 years. The firm then had a 13 year stint in the AIG Building on Shortland Street before moving to the HSBC tower on Quay Street in March 2013.

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