Sainsbury Logan & Williams: lawyers since 1875

A book by Stuart Webster
ISBN 978-0-473-19241-9

This book, published in hardback and launched in November 2011 chronicles the story of Sainsbury Logan & Williams from its origins in 1875 through to the present.

English immigrant lawyer George Sainsbury was encouraged by his sister and brother-in-law to leave Somerset to come out to the colonies. They had left England several years earlier and settled on a large runholding at Hatuma in Central Hawke’s Bay.

In 1875, at the age of 26 years, George Sainsbury was admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor in the Supreme Court at Napier and immediately hoisted his shingle in offices located on the southern side of Tennyson Street and took on the newly formed Napier Harbour Board as his first client.

From those first early steps in practice, George Sainsbury created a legacy that was to endure through to the present day.

He was to be joined in partnership in January 1883 by fellow Englishman Francis Logan who hailed from Newcastle-upon-Tyne and the firm then became known as Sainsbury & Logan, Solicitors, Tennyson Street, Napier.

Later still, the initial two partners were joined in 1900 by a second generation New Zealander, Heathcote Williams, who came from a Church Missionary Society background having grown up in Pakaraka, Bay of Islands. The Partnership then took on the name of Sainsbury, Logan & Williams, Solicitors, Napier and has retained that moniker ever since.

These three pioneering lawyers were the Foundation Partners of Sainsbury Logan & Williams.

This book chronicles the life and background of each of those Foundation Partners and goes on to describe the professional environment and social and historical context in which they practised law and of the partners, solicitors and staff who followed.

Those stories tell much more than the dry facts and figures of legal practice through a passage spanning parts of three different centuries. They reveal a rich account of community service, sporting prowess and travel – from George Sainsbury’s love of sailing, prize poultry and chrysanthemums; to Francis Logan’s love of trout fishing and hunting and his achievements in tennis, rugby and golf; through to Heathcote Williams’ near-obsession with cricket and his close involvement with the pioneering days of the pip-fruit industry.

Remarkably, there have only ever been twenty-four partners in the whole of the 136 years since George Sainsbury commenced practice. The stories of those other partners are told also and reveal the dedication and sacrifice of military service, the foresight and resourcefulness displayed at the time of the 1931 Hawke’s Bay Earthquake, the unpaid contribution to Law Society affairs, the encouragement of professional development and general philanthropy.

This book is unashamedly a compendium of information about the evolution of a provincial law firm with its roots embedded in colonial New Zealand. It is not intended to be read as a novel from the beginning chapter through to the end. It is hoped that those who pick up the book and browse its pages will find an image or two that will resonate with them and in turn draw them to the text in and around those images.

The Firm’s strong room is a central feature of this book and one from which it draws its backbone. It was one of the only things to survive the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake intact and with it many valuable documents and records including partnership deeds, personal correspondence, family papers, old ledger entries, folios, journals, client files, agreements, deeds, metal boxes containing estate records, claimed and unclaimed jewellery, suitcases, watches, white patu parāoa (whale bone club) and pounamu (greenstone).

Without that, there would not be much to tell; and this is a history that had to be told.

Copies of the book in hardback are available on request by emailing book@slw.co.nz or phone +64 6 8356746.

In addition, copies may be downloaded free of charge from this website in PDF form chapter by chapter.



A postscript about the author:

Stuart Webster was a Partner of Sainsbury Logan & Williams from 1990 until the end of 2014.

He was born in Paparoa, grew up in Maungaturoto, Northland, studied Law at Victoria University and was admitted to the Bar in Whangarei. He has spent most of his practicing life in Hawke’s Bay which he instantly adopted as his home province when he arrived there in 1987.

His passion for New Zealand history was sparked early in life when at the age of 8 years his family packed up the Morris Oxford and went to the Bay of Islands on holiday. Whilst there he was mesmerised by the flagpole at Kororareka and visions of Hone Heke chopping it down, the Anglican Church at Russell that was riddled with holes from various armed exchanges and musket shot from the battle that raged at Ruapekapeka Pā in the mid-1840s which had been exhumed from the Pā site and mounted on slabs of kauri.

This is Stuart’s first book. The Opening tells of its genesis. The research and writing phase took just under three years to complete. His personal contact and time spent together with the many contributors has been enormously enriching.

Simultaneously with the launch of this work, the book will be made available for free on the Firm’s website, chapter by chapter in searchable PDF form. In this way, it is hoped that this work might provide a platform for and encourage others to record their own histories.

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