First New Zealand Trained Lawyer Establishes Christchurch Law Firm

Thomas Ingham Joynt (pictured) was born December 1830 at Dunmore, County Galway, Ireland.  After finishing his schooling, he became a law clerk in Dublin and made friends with lawyer, Henry Barnes Gresson.  It was through this friendship that Joynt learned of Canterbury, New Zealand; together these two families packed up and emigrated.  The Joynt’s arrived at Lyttelton on 1st December 1856 – in a boat fittingly called ‘Canterbury’ – after a hellish few months on the sea.

Joynt spent his days working alongside Gresson (who was to become a high-ranking New Zealand Judge), forging his way from being a clerk to a lawyer.  He then worked for Scottish lawyer Thomas Smith Duncan who is remembered as the founder of ‘Duncan & Cotterill’ – a law firm which still very much a part of Christchurch life today. In 1863, Joynt, under the mentoring of the aforementioned men, became the first trained and qualified New Zealand lawyer.  

Soon after that, Joynt opened his own law firm setting himself up on the South-west corner of Manchester and Lichfield Streets.  Today, this firm continues as Joynt Andrew Ltd at 141 Cambridge Street.  Like those who trained him – he proved to be a great mentor, watching over the new young lawyers making their way up through the law courts. One of these young men was James Arthur Flesher who not only went on to marry one of Joynt’s sisters but was Christchurch’s 33rd Mayor.

Joynt was soon making a name for himself and proved to be very popular with everyone he met.  He was excessively fond of acting and singing and was known for his use of quotes either from the Bible or Shakespeare – delivered handsomely with his quick wit.  But most of all, he loved Christchurch and Canterbury and was very proud of the region’s progress that he’d witnessed over his lifetime.
It was this love that drove him to become a Member of the Canterbury Provincial Council. A few years later in 1874, he became the honorary solicitor of the Canterbury Executive Council and he was also the lawyer for the Avon Road Board until his death – serving an amazing 40 years.  

As a symbol of his great success, in 1874 Joynt was able to purchase his first home.  Reported to have been near today’s Paparoa Street, the 2 acre property was named ‘Scotston’ when he bought it but Joynt renamed it to ‘Finglas’.  This term has all but disappeared however a Scotston Ave nearby makes tribute to this history. Before this purchase, the family had rented ‘Chippenham Lodge’ on Browns Road, Merivale. Chippenham Lodge was first built in 1862 and survived the recent Canterbury Quakes.  As a full restoration is needed, the current owners are currently talking about moving the lodge further toward Christchurch so to be more accessible to the public (2016).

As a defense lawyer, Joynt gained nationwide fame with several infamous Canterbury court cases such as the ‘Bloody Handprint’ and the ‘Timaru Poisonings’ murders and also New Zealand’s first insurance fraud case known simply as the ‘Severed Hand Mystery’.  I’m sure it came as no surprise to anyone when Joynt received the honour of becoming a member of the King’s Council – meaning he was one of New Zealand’s most senior lawyers.

He worked right until a fortnight before his death – dying after a short illness on 5th September 1907.  He is buried in Barbadoes Street Cemetery.

*image courtesy of Andrew Joynt*

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