History | Swanwick Murray Roche
Swanwick Murray Roche | Rockhampton & Central Queensland & Queensland Lawyers & Solicitors
In 2022, SMR celebrates 130 since its founding. The firm and the world have changed considerably since that time but its dedication to and care for clients has not.
SMR have always been a firm fiercly dedicated to people – caring for them and their legal challenges. Throughout the decades, many colourful and interesting practitioners have passed through the doors. There are too many to name all of them here and our records do lack in some areas – if you know of any interesting stories or people through our firm, we would welcome a sharing of stories. You may contact us here.
Frederick Howard Swanwick | 1867 – 1924
Frederick Howard Swanwick was the first partner of the Rockhampton law firm Swanwick Murray Roche (SMR Lawyers) whose name is perpetuated in the firm’s title.
Frederick Howard Swanwick was the eldest son of Frederick Foulkes Swanwick who practiced as a barrister in Brisbane. Frederick Howard Swanwick was born in Brisbane in 1867, and educated at the Brisbane and Ipswich Grammar Schools.
Frederick Foulkes Swanwick, emigrated from Manchester, England on the “Golden Empire” in 1863 and married Elizabeth Fox in 1864. He was an undergraduate of Oxford, and soon after arriving in Queensland, joined the teaching profession. His last appointment was at Kangaroo Point Primary School in 1878.
Later that year he was admitted to the bar, and was elected as the member for Bulimba the following year. Although Frederick Foulkes Swanwick was later struck off the Roll of the Queensland Bar in 1882 when he became insolvent, he opened a legal coaching school at his residence ‘Terangara’ in Norman Park. Frederick Foulkes Swanwick and Elizabeth nee Fox had six children and he died in 1913 at Norman Park.
After completing his education, Frederick Howard Swanwick served his articles with Messrs Chambers, Bruce, and McNab of Brisbane, and was admitted as solicitor of the Supreme Court of Queensland in December 1888. He practiced first for two years in Brisbane, forming a partnership with Arthur Leopold Cotham which was dissolved in 1892.
Frederick Howard Swanwick then travelled to Rockhampton in 1892 at about the same time as his father’s disbarment, where he took over the legal files of Robert Lyons who had died in April 1892. Swanwick remained in practice in the district for 24 years, and entered a partnership with James Darling Murray in 1924. He died in 1924.
James Darling Murray | 1875 – 1948
James Darling Murray was the second partner of the local law firm Swanwick Murray Roche (SMR Lawyers) whose name is perpetuated in the firm’s title.
James Darling Murray was the son of Alexander Murray and his wife, Maggie Bella Darling, and was born in Edinburgh Scotland on 15 June 1875. He came to Australia with his family in 1878 but returned to Scotland to receive part of his education at Watson’s College in Edinburgh. When he was fourteen years of age, he returned to Australia where he continued his studies at Brisbane Boys’ Grammar School.
Murray served his articles in Brisbane with Mr Alfred Downs and was admitted as a solicitor in 1898. Following his admission as a solicitor in 1898, Murray lived in Mount Morgan where he set up his own law practice. Through a period of growth and consolidation of the original Mount Morgan mine, Murray had acted for mining companies and local government. He also represented individuals in family law and personal estate matters. At this time there was immense wealth passing through Mount Morgan and Rockhampton.
He first resided as a single man at the Hotel Metropole which was situated on the corner of Dee Street and Royal Lane. In 1903, after his marriage to Diana Harriet Hirst, the couple resided in D’Arcy Street. Later the family moved to Dee Street, their family now totalling eight with the birth of their six children between 1904 and 1920.
Murray took a great deal of interest in the community in which he lived and served as both Mayor and Alderman of the Mount Morgan Town Council from 1917 to about 1921. He was Mayor of the town from February 1919 for a short time.
Mr Murray was a keen bowler and was a member of Athelstane Bowling Club for many years. The Bowls Club was formed in 1915 and is located in the grounds of the Rockhampton Botanic Gardens. Murray was also a member of the Masonic Lodge in Mount Morgan and Mount Chalmers and held a Grand Lodge rank of DGSW.
In 1923 James Darling Murray entered partnership in the law firm of Frederick Howard Swanwick. The business of Swanwick and Murray was then located in the (old) AMP building in East Street. James Darling Murray continued practicing under the firm name of Swanwick and Murray at the same address in East Street until his death in office at 9.20 am on 20 May 1948.
Vivian Charles Roche | 1914 – 1972
Vivian Charles Roche was the third key partner in the Rockhampton law firm of Swanwick, Murray and Roche.
Born on 23 February 1914 to Charles James Roche and Ida Mathilda Pauline (Reithmuller) in Brisbane, Vivian was their only child. Charles was in the telegraphic section of the Post Office, and the family moved around Queensland to various centres including Dalby, Georgetown, Hawkwood and Milmerran. He became a postmaster at Georgetown and retired at Milmerran in 1938.
Vivian Roche completed his primary schooling in Milmerran and attended Nudgee College for his secondary education. Vivian Roche became an articled clerk to well-known solicitor Michael Neil O’Sullivan in Queen Street, Brisbane. (O’Sullivan went on to become a Federal Senator for Queensland from 1947 to 1962.)
At some time prior to 1941, Roche contracted peritonitis as his appendix had burst. In January 1941, Roche married Edna May Parkes. Later that year, at the age of 27 years, he commenced service at the AAPC Water Street Army Depot in Brisbane and served there for his entire service period due to the ongoing effects of his previous illness. He was discharged early in 1946.
Later, in April 1946, his Articles of Clerkship having been delayed because of his war service, Roche applied to be admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of Queensland. He then purchased the practice of Swanwick and Murray in Rockhampton in 1948, adding his name to that of the business. To protect the legacy of the name in Central Queensland, the future practitioners agreed to keep the name of the original three driving partners of the firm – Swanwick Murray Roche.
Edna, Vivian’s wife, joined him in the business and worked alongside him for many years. She was an integral operator in the firm, her work assisted in maintaining the good reputation of the firm. Their only son, Peter, recalls her working late into the evenings preparing for the next day’s work. Vivian was known as a man of humanity and compassion who tirelessly served his church and the community of Central Queensland.
Their son, Peter also went on to become a lawyer, working overseas in London, Bergen and Tehran. He returned to Gladstone to work at VAJ Byrne and co, and later formed his own law firm, Peter Roche and Associates.
Vivian Charles Roche died on 11 November 1972.
William Knox D’Arcy
Ellen Vannin was the unusual name for the house owned by William Knox D’Arcy and his wife. This house still stands at 3 Kingel Street, Wandal. It appears that the name may have originally come from the Manx name for the Isle of Man in the United Kingdom – Ellan Vannin.
William Knox Darcy was a solicitor with Frederick Howard Swanwick’s firm, Swanwick Murray (Vivian Charles Roche purchased the practice in 1948 adding his name to the business) for a time before he moved on to establish the company that eventually became British Petroleum (BP).
Knox D’Arcy, one of the directors of the Mount Morgan Gold Mining Company, was the owner of this house possibly built by his father, William Francis D’Arcy, who died at the house in 1870. Knox D’Arcy who married Elena Birkbeck in 1872, had 5 children, Frank, Elena, Lionel, Violet and Ethel. They lived at Ellen Vannin before moving to England in 1880s.
On moving to London, he purchased Stanmore Hall, a stately home in Middlesex. In Australia his two great loves were shooting and horse racing. In England he purchased a private stand at the Epsom racecourse. During this period there were only two private stands at Epsom, and the other was owned by King Edward VII. William also bought Bylaugh Hall, a country house situated in the village of Bylaugh in Norfolk where he would host shooting parties on his estate.
Michael Hart & John Shaw
After completing his Articles with the firm Wilson Ryan Grose in Townsville, Michael Hart was admitted as a solicitor in 1969, and then spent the following two years in National Service. He was returning to Townsville when he saw an advertisement for the sale of SMR Lawyers in Rockhampton. He went ahead and purchased the business in 1972 from the family of Vivian Charles Roche, who died on 11 November 1972.
A year after purchasing SMR Lawyers, Hart contacted John Shaw, a friend and newly qualified solicitor with the firm Connolly Suthers Walker in Townsville and offered him a position with a view to becoming a partner in six months. Shaw accepted the offer of Michael Hart to join him in Rockhampton and he, along with his wife, Deirdre, departed Townsville.
Shaw began his primary schooling in a Catholic school in Winton and at the age of ten years moved to a boarding school, Mt Carmel College in Charters Towers. After graduation from secondary school, he headed to Townville to commence his Articles with Land and Roebuck.
In January 1973 Shaw joined Hart at SMR and, true to his word, six months later Hart offered him an equal partnership for the sum of $2500. At the time the business was located at 6 Denham Street. The following year Hart and Shaw built a double story building at 6 East Street. They occupied the top floor and rented the ground floor to a pharmacist.
The firm prospered and the building was then extended to the rear which doubled its size. The board room at 6 East Street gained a reputation for its very inclusive Christmas and EOFY parties. This building was sold and the firm moved to its current location.
Initially Shaw practised in general areas of law, including a short career in Family Law, but subsequently his work primarily involved Personal Injury claims. He was appointed panel member for Suncorp Insurance and Work Cover in respect to Personal Injury Claims in the Central Queensland area. He was also retained by Anglo Coal and Lakes Creek Meatworks, as well as the Catholic Diocese of Rockhampton, including all Catholic schools in the region.
Hart specialised in areas of commercial law, estate planning and taxation. However his interest in Taxation Law led to the development of effective tax strategies designed to minimize the effects of taxation and stamp duty. His work with canegrowers in the Proserpine region led to the opening of a branch office there, which was managed by Owen Perkins, who subsequently acquired the practice.
In February 1981, the firms of SMR Law and Maxwell Geldard, (an accounting firm with whom they worked on taxation law), jointly purchased the Rockhampton Restaurant 98 on the Fitzroy River, and built a 26-room motel at the rear, and thus changed the name to Motel 98. Soon afterwards, Shaw acquired sole ownership of Motel 98 in exchange for his share in Flexihire, an equipment hire business, which had been formed as a tax minimization tool.
Shaw was Chairman of the Capricornian Credit Union (21 years), and CentraCare Advisory Board, as well as president of the CQ Law Association (1988), and Senior Counsellor with the Qld Law Society. He retired from the firm in 2012 after being granted the honour of Life Member of the CQ District Law Association.
In 1978 the Hart & Shaw were joined in partnership by Denise Flanagan, who has the distinction of becoming the first female partner of a law firm in Rockhampton. She specialised in Family Law for SMR Lawyers.
From 1987 to 2018, Scott Beaumont was a solicitor and partner of the firm in the area of commercial property and business law advising on some of the biggest property developments of the day in Central Queensland including Red Hill Homemaker Centre, Edge Apartments, Empire Apartments, Salt Apartments and Echelon Apartments.
Legacy & Future – A snapshot of SMR in 2022
In 2022, we compiled an article summarising the 130 years of SMR. You can download this article and see more of our history by clicking the link below.
130 Years Artwork
As part of our 130 years anniversary, Laura Crane Creative was commissioned to prepare an artwork to commemorate the firm in its 130th year. The partners and staff were delighted with the end product. This artwork was created collaboratively between Laura and SMR with a real focus on memorialising not only the history of our firm but who we are now and aim to be in the future.
The work was created with colour and light to paint our bright outlook on the future and goal to always do our very best.
Every peice of the artwork represents either a client or a focal point in the history of Rockhampton that our firm has been heavily involved in.
Take a look at our video below where we take you through this artwork.
With thanks to Laura Crane Creative for her extraodinary care and love in preparing this piece.