Henry Davis founded the firm during the depths of the 1893 depression. At 26 he began as a sole practitioner immediately after being admitted to practice in June 1893.

In 1893, unemployment in NSW was extremely high, the prevailing economic conditions caused ten banks to be suspended (only two of them were ever to regain their licences) and a great number of companies closed their doors.

Henry, who had migrated with his parents from Cardiff in Wales when he was eight years old, established his office in Beresford Chambers at 30 Castlereagh Street. Although the depression ended the following year, the keen young practitioner was lucky to survive because he did not have the advantages of a well-established or well-connected family.

He obtained work from the Bank of New South Wales (now Westpac Banking Corporation), to create a link with the bank that has continued to this day.

Henry Davis was a cultured and civic minded man. He was the winner of a Sydney University gold medal for mental and political philosophy in 1891 and 1892. Just before the turn of the century, he successfully ran for election as an alderman of Petersham Municipal Council, serving his ward for more than a decade and being elected as mayor on two occasions. During this period he also became a vice president of the NSW Literary and Debating Societies' Union.

Henry was about 40 years old when he married Lillian Hobson. They produced four sons, three of whom became lawyers - Arthur (born 1907), John (1910) and Owen (1912). Arthur began practising in 1931 and joined his father. About four years later, John followed his brother into the firm, however when Owen finished his articles with his father in 1936, it was clear that the partnership, struggling in the difficult economic conditions of that era, could not support a third son. Owen eventually made his way to the Bar, then after World War II, he entered the diplomatic service where he had a long and distinguished career.

Our Key Milestones

1893 Henry Davis sole practitioner
1907 Partnership with Harry Wolstenholme
1910 Henry Davis resumes sole practice
1919 Laurence Laurence & Davis in partnership
1920 Henry Davis again a sole practitioner
1925 Firm's name becomes Henry Davis & Co
1931 Arthur Davis (Henry's eldest son) joins the firm, now renamed Henry Davis & Son
1935 John Davis (Henry's middle son) joins the firm which becomes Henry Davis & Sons
1940 Henry Davis retires
1959 Merger with WR York & Co
1971 Merger with Iceton Faithfull & Baldock. Henry Davis York has seven partners
1977 Merger with Sowden & Sowden
1980 Merger with Asher Old & Jones, a firm originating in 1878. Henry Davis York has ten partners
1985 Merger with John R Britton & Company
1993 The firm with 21 partners celebrates 100 years
2011 Henry Davis York opens a Brisbane office to provide services in insolvency, restructuring, banking disputes and recoveries
Current The firm has 50 partners and more than 330 staff and practises nationally from its offices in Sydney and Brisbane

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