A Brief History of SYJ


Stafford Young Jones chose to celebrate its Bicentennial Year in 2005 because the earliest record of the origins of the firm is the Articles of Partnership dated 1st June 1805. These documents show that John Adolphus Young (1781-1862) and Thomas Hughes formed a partnership as attorneys and solicitors at 37, Essex Street, Strand for a term of 21 years, under the firm name of Young & Hughes.

The new firm grew out of Parker Cuppage Young & Hughes, and later became known as Young & Vallings.

In 1855 John Adolphus Young took into partnership his future son-in-law Charles Edward Jones (1825-1910) and from then on the firm was known as Young Jones & Co., with occasional  variations (e.g. in 1886 the name was Young, Jones, Roberts & Hale). Charles Edward Jones was the senior partner from his father-in-law’s death in 1862 until his own death,  thus for a period of 105 years there was only one change in the head of the firm.

Other partners between the second half of the late 1800s to the early 1900s included Thomas Vaughan Roberts and his son Hugh Alexander Roberts and Sydney Edward Jones, the son of Charles Edward Jones. Humphrey Charles Vaughan Jones, a relation of previous partners Sydney Edward Jones, Hugh Alexander Roberts and John Adolphus Young, was partner between 1928 and 1965, retiring as senior partner.

In 1935 the firm acquired the practice of Trinder, Kekewich & Kaye and during the 1950′s the practices of Wynne-Baxter & Keeble and Michael Abrahams, Sons & Co. were also acquired.
In more recent years the firm was involved in amalgamations with Clark Patterson & Herring (in 1970), Golding Hargrove & Palmer (in 1971) and Hair & Co. (in 1975).

The firm took its current name of Stafford Young Jones in 1989 at the time of the amalgamation with Stafford Clark & Co., a close neighbour at 28, Bush Lane whose origins can be traced back to 1909. Until this merger, the firm had been located at 2 Suffolk Lane for 72 years. On 01 December 2009 the firm merged with another old established City firm, Nutt & Oliver.

Among the documents in SYJ’s archives is a bound notebook in the handwriting of one R.O. Davies, presumably an articled clerk, dated October 1893 and entitled “Statutes in Song, Being Paraphrased Epitomes of Certain Modern Acts of Parliament”. In epic verse that is at times somewhat laboured, the author summarises, among others, all 64 sections of the Settled Land Act of 1882 and 23 sections of the Married Women’s Property Act of the same year.

A more pastoral note is struck by his ode to the Barbed Wire Act 1893, which begins:

Have you seen along the highway
Fixed in hedges, stopping nigh way,
Fences made of barbed wire
Causing public mischief dire
Tearing garments man’s or woman’s?
Know ye then that Lords and Commons
Have devised a mode whereby stop
To this mode of guarding rye crop
Can be put.

The book also contains didactic verses devoted to the Employment of Young Persons Act 1892, including the following:

Hail ye the Charter of your liberties O People Young!
No more to spend need be your doom
Those hours in shop or stifling room
To which oppression clung.
Your freedom, fought for long, has been achieved.
Three score and ten
Are now your hours per week for leisure.
Heed how ye spend your new found treasure
Young Maidens and Young Men! 

The author’s apprenticeship to the law seems to have been a protracted one, as he proudly notes in a later addition that his lines on the Pistols Act 1903 were published in the Law Students’ Journal on 2nd January 1904:

Should you serve him who terror of women is,
Though not perhaps particeps criminis,
Your fine is five pounds, but quintupled
If to sell to one drunk you’ve not scrupled.

His swansong dated 8th February 1906, a poetic celebration of the Wild Birds Amendment Act of 1904, will be quoted in full for the benefit of those readers with any remaining stamina for its appreciation.  It runs as follows:

Chirp, O ye songsters of the feathered tribe;
No longer need ye circles wide describe
‘Round tree or cairn or pole with eye alert
To see if snare be laid to do you hurt.
Led captive he’ll be now who’d capture you
And turn you into, if report be true,
Canaries, but with note less mellow, by
Staining your plumage with a yellow dye.

The firm’s records contain nothing which provides any information regarding the subsequent career of R.O. Davies, nor do they provide any clue why his early poetic works are preserved in our keeping. Perhaps one may be forgiven for hoping that he did not abandon the humdrum (but at least modestly remunerated) daily grind of the law for the uncertain fortunes of life as a professional poet.