William James Byram

(03/12/1861 - 10/03/1922)

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Born: 03/12/1861 at Brisbane, Qld, Australia Certified Father: Abraham Robertson Byram (00/00/1826 - 20/02/1893)
Died: 10/03/1922 Certified Mother: Elizabeth Freeman Elliott (Died 27/06/1898)
Children: Siblings: Maria Freeman Byram (00/00/1849 - 06/11/1938)
Elizabeth Byram (30/03/1854 - 14/10/1920)
George Elliot Byram (17/09/1865 - 29/09/1875)



Birth Ref: 61/BA00842

Occupation: Barrister / Solicitor

William James Byram was born in Brisbane in the 1860s. He entered the Brisbane Grammar School in 1878 and left it in 1880 as the dux of the school. He studied for a year at the University of Sydney, gaining honours in Classics, and also the University prize for English Verse for his poem 'Beethoven.' In 1882, he became a solicitor in Brisbane. He had a distinguished career, becoming Chairman of Directors of the Brisbane Building Society, and a Trustee of the Brisbane Grammar School. In his private life, he maintained a wide range of literary, cultural and scientific interests, giving lectures to members of the Australasian Home Reading Union and serving as President of the Royal Society of Queensland in 1902. He died in 1922 and his translation of Aeschylus' 'Prometheus Bound' was published posthumously to favourable reviews. (Source: http://library.uq.edu.au/record=b2139193)

Burried in Toowong Cemetery on 11/03/1922.

Burried in the same grave as George Elliot Byram, Abram Robertson Byram and Elizabeth Freeman Byram.

Portion 1, Section 19, Grave Number 6

1903 Electoral Roll - William James Byram, Lota Road, Manly, Occupation: Solicitor
1905 Electoral Roll - William James Byram, Lota Road, Manly, Occupation: Solicitor
1913 Electoral Roll - William James Byram, 327 Boundary Street, Brisbane, Occupation: Solicitor
1919 Electoral Roll - William James Byram, 327 Boundary Street, Brisbane, Occupation: Solicitor

Further info here: http://www.archivessearch.qld.gov.au/Search/ItemDetails.aspx?ItemId=1082429

Advertisement in The Brisbane Courier on Friday 24 December 1886 reads:

(Note the same ads kept appearing in 1887 in the same paper)

Announcement in The Brisbane Courier on Tuesday 23 October 1888 reads:

I HAVE Admitted Mr. W. J. BYRAM into PARTNERSHIP in my Business as Soicitor, and the firm will in future be carried on under the name of RUTHNING & BYRAM.

On 1 February 1893 William Byram severed his connection with Ruthning and 'Ruthning & Byram Solicitors' was dissolved. I am unsure of the reason why William dissolved the partnership, however 19 days later, his father, Abraham Byram died at his residence on Boundary Street, Spring Hill.

Point of interest: This announcement was a particularly important find for me (the owner of this website) as Ruthning and Byram Solicitors later became Feez Ruthning Solicitors. My first full time job was at Feez Ruthning (which changed it's name while I was there to Allen Allen & Hemsley and then Allens Arthur Robinson). I no longer work there, but wish I had known back then that a blood relative was a partner of the firm a centuary before me!

Three months later, in May 1983, William Byram resumed practice as a solicitor at the Chambers of the Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society, Limited, Queen Street, Brisbane, next to the Town Hall.

In 1895 William Byram and Albert James Norton entered into a partnership and practised under the name of 'Byram and Norton' at Colonial Mutual Chambers, 43 Queen Street, Brisbane (next to the Town Hall). The partnership was dissolved by mutual consent on 31 May 1897.

On 1 August 1899 William entered into a partnership with Mr A G C Hawthorn under the name of "Hawthorn and Byram" at North Queensland Chambers, Queen Street, Brisbane. The notice in the Brisbane Courier on Friday, 4th of August 1899 reads:

"Referring to the Notice of Dissolution of the late Firm of MacDonald-Paterson & Hawthorn, I have This Day taken into Partnership Mr W J Byram, Solicitor, for some years a partner in the Firm of Ruthning & Byram. We shall carry on the business of Solicitors at Queen Street, Brisbane, directly opposite the "Courier" Office, under the style of Hawthorn & Byram. AGC Hawthorn. Brisbane, 1st August, 1899."

Article in The Courier Mail, Saturday 18 March 1922, page 12:


The late Mr W J Byram, who passed away at Glenrowan private hospital on March 10 (writes R.H.R.), was one of the most gifted of Queensland's native born who always aimed at, and reached, the highest standard in his diverse spheres of work, whether as lawyer, business manager, scientist, poet, or scholar. Coming to the Brisbane Grammar School at the beginning of 1878, William James Byram won the Lilley Gold Medal as head of the school at the close of 1880. His greatest desire then was to pass on to a University, but his parents thought the law afforded a better opening for a brilliant son, and he was accordingly articled to the Hon. Charles Stuart Mein (afterwards Mr Justice Mein), who entertained a high opinion of his precise accuracy, his scholarly gifts, and his earnest rectitude. Thereafter, as articled clerk in the office of Messrs Hart, Flower, and Mein, as partner in the firms of Ruthning and Byram and Hawthorn and Byram, and finally as an unpartnered solicitor, he made proof of his good legal abilities. In business life his election as chairman of directors of the Brisbane Permanent Building Society continuously, through periods of difficulty and prosperity from 1905 till last year, was proof of the confidence felt in him alike by his colleagues and the subscribers. But the petty and often sordid details of legal and business work had no real attraction for him. His real happiness was with his books and literary friends. Sydney University allowed him to take his first year in it's art course without going to Sydney, and in this year he distinguished himself by winning the University prize for English verse (with an unusually fine poem on "Beethoven"), and by gaining a first class in the first year classical honour list. The University then refused him permission to proceed further without residence in Sydney, and his hope of a degree was thus ended. But he continued his classical studies with undiminished eagerness, and at this time read through the whole of Homer's "Odyssey" in the original Greek with his old head master, bringing a book a week carefully prepared amidst the Stress of business for 24 weeks successively. Within the last few years he had produced a verse translation of Aeschylus's "Prometheus Vinctus," so scholarly and so poetic, especially in the rendering of its grandest choruses, that Professor Gilbert Murray (Oxford Professor of Greek), to whom it was submitted, said he was proud to think it was the work of a fellow-countryman of his (for the professor is an Australian), and the Balhol classical tutor stated that "Gilbert Murray might have done it better, but it would not have been so like the original." The translation is now in the Queensland University library, where it may serve as an incentive to future classical scholars. His verse translations, too, from some of Heine's poems, are very beautiful and true. For 25 years he was one of the most regular workers in the Brisbane Literary Circle, and his addresses, whether on Shakespeare, or prehistoric man, or French literature (from which he would sometimes translate the latest comedy for the amusement of the members), were always sure of a good audience, because of his reputation for thoroughness and perfection of style. When he took up microscopic work he made a special study of the algae, and was soon recognised as an expert and discoverer in that line. His natural taste for the habits of a recluse prevented his ever attaining that prominence in the eye of the public to which his remarkable abilities and learning naturally would have promoted him; but it may be truthfully said of him that he was never guilty of any unkindness or wrong to any human being, and his many friends from his old school (of which he was for several years a trustee), from the literary circle, and from his clientage in law and business, will honour and cherish his memory.

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