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
||Henry Davis sole practitioner
||Partnership with Harry Wolstenholme
||Henry Davis resumes sole practice
||Laurence Laurence & Davis in partnership
||Henry Davis again a sole practitioner
||Firm's name becomes Henry Davis & Co
||Arthur Davis (Henry's eldest son) joins the firm, now renamed Henry Davis & Son
||John Davis (Henry's middle son) joins the firm which becomes Henry Davis & Sons
||Henry Davis retires
||Merger with WR York & Co
||Merger with Iceton Faithfull & Baldock. Henry Davis York has seven partners
||Merger with Sowden & Sowden
||Merger with Asher Old & Jones, a firm originating in 1878. Henry Davis York has ten partners
||Merger with John R Britton & Company
||The firm with 21 partners celebrates 100 years
||Henry Davis York opens a Brisbane office to provide services in insolvency, restructuring, banking disputes and recoveries
||The firm has 48 partners and more than 330 staff and practises nationally from its offices in Sydney and Brisbane