Gascoigne Wicks traces its origins to 1879 when 23-year-old barrister and solicitor William Sinclair opened for business. Three years later in 1882 Sinclair’s was one of five founding firms of the Marlborough District Law Society, alongside E.T. Conolly, H. McIntire, S.P. McNabb and A. Rogers.
Gascoigne Wicks is the story of Marlborough’s sons, the offspring of Pakeha settlers, born and educated in the district and opting to forge legal careers at home. Sinclair was the son of Blenheim’s founder James Sinclair while young Richard McCallum, son of local farmer Archibald McCallum, began his career as William Sinclair’s clerk and soon after in 1885 entered into partnership with him. And so it went on. Marriage to local women reinforced Gascoigne Wicks heritage in the Marlborough community.
New partnerships often coincided with the principal partner assuming high public office and were probably expedient measures intended to keep the office going pending the principal’s eventual return to full-time practice. Several partners joined Richard McCallum during his eleven year term as Member of Parliament for Wairau from 1911 to 1922. He resumed full-time practice, but his appointment in 1930 to the Legislative Chamber again resulted in a flurry of partners at the High Street office. One was locally-born solicitor Arthur Wicks.
Further down High Street, Tim Smith ran a busy practice from 1921 alongside an active civic career culminating in election as Blenheim’s mayor in 1938. Allan Gascoigne became a partner in 1937 and supported Smith during the 2nd World War years. Sadly, Smith did not return to full-time practice dying suddenly in 1945 aged only 48 years. Gwen Verry (neé Rogerson), who began office work at Smith Ward and Gascoigne in 1939, remembers that Smith’s was Blenheim’s largest funeral.
With the loss of their respective principal partners, Allan Gascoigne and Arthur Wicks found themselves with busy practices and their amalgamation as Gascoigne & Wicks in 1945 eased the burden on both.
The post-war period saw considerable growth in out-of-town partners and staff, prompting the move in 1966 along High Street to the present site. By 1970 when the number of partners threatened to become too much of a mouthful, it was agreed to revert to the simpler Gascoigne Wicks & Co. and from 1994 simply to Gascoigne Wicks.