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Feez, Adolph Frederick (1858–1944)

by J. C. H. Gill

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981

This is a shared entry with Arthur Herman Feez

Adolph Frederick Milford Feez (1858-1944), surveyor and solicitor, and Arthur Herman Henry Milford Feez (1860-1935), barrister, were sons of Lieutenant-Colonel Albrecht Frederick Robert John Feez, a Rockhampton merchant born in Bavaria, and his wife Sophia, daughter of Mr Justice S. F. Milford. Born on 29 May 1858 in Brisbane, Adolph began his education at Rockhampton, went to The King's School, Parramatta, New South Wales, then sought the experience necessary to join his father in business at Rockhampton. He rapidly abandoned business, took up surveying and spent eighteen months with a survey party in the Riverina. He was then for two years second-in-charge of a survey camp in the far west of Queensland, and accomplished the first surveys of the Diamantina and other rivers.

When he returned sick to Rockhampton, C. S. D. Melbourne, solicitor and family friend, persuaded Feez to take up law. Articled to Melbourne, he worked subsequently at Charters Towers and Cairns and completed his articles in Brisbane with Peter MacPherson and L. F. Bernays; he was admitted as a solicitor on 1 December 1885 and on 1 January next year commenced practice as a partner in MacPherson, Miskin & Feez. After Miskin retired, MacPherson & Feez was involved in some of the major litigation of the 1890s, including two Privy Council, appeals on behalf of the Brisbane City Council, Martin's case and the Clark and Fauset case over the Victoria Bridge. They were also retained in the celebrated Robb arbitration case. When the partnership was dissolved at the turn of the century, Feez carried on under his own name until 1905 when Arthur Baynes joined him. In 1912 Adalbert Friedrich Theodor Ruthning came into the firm which became Feez, Ruthning & Baynes. After Baynes died in 1923, it became Feez, Ruthning & Co. in January 1927. Feez retired on 31 December 1942, but the firm still continues under the same name.

In 1885, Feez represented Queensland twice at Rugby Union. He founded the Brisbane Hunt Club, was master and hunted regularly until lack of support caused the club to collapse after eight years. He was also a founder of the Queensland Polo and the Queensland Lawn Tennis associations. A keen judge and breeder of horses and cattle, he always maintained some rural interests. On 11 October 1888 at Brisbane, Feez had married Kate Elise Molle. She and their three children survived him when he died on 13 October 1944; he was cremated. His estate was valued for probate at £4973.

Arthur Feez was born on 4 March 1860 at Rockhampton. Matriculating from The King's School to the University of Sydney, he graduated in law and was admitted to the Queensland Bar on 6 September 1881. He was a leader in establishing on 7 November 1907 the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting for the State of Queensland, and from 1912 until he left Queensland he was its chairman. By 1900 Feez was the colony's leading barrister, retained in major cases like the Tyson succession case and Regina v. Queensland Trustees Ltd (1900). He stood unsuccessfully for Rockhampton against William Kidston in 1908. When he took silk late in 1909, he filled a long-standing gap in the Queensland Bar. Domineering, determined but always correct, he was known for his dislike of any hint of smart tactics.

As leader of the Bar, Feez was senior counsel in many of the bitter anti-socialist constitutional actions brought against the T. J. Ryan government. Ryan was a capable constitutional lawyer but he and his party, after his death in 1921, developed an antipathy to Arthur Feez because of his dogged resistance to their socialist plans. His opposition to the appointment of T. W. McCawley as a Supreme Court judge helped fuel this antipathy. Consequently Feez, although leader of the Bar, had the humiliation of seeing bench vacancies filled several times by lesser lights. When F. T. Brennan was made an acting judge of the Supreme Court on 13 March 1925, a brief item in the Brisbane Courier announced that Feez had presented his commission as K.C. to the Supreme Court of New South Wales on 22 April. He lived in Sydney until he retired in 1934. In 1889 Feez had married Fanny Lloyd Hart by whom he had one daughter. He died in London on 8 April 1935 while on a world tour.

Feez was chancellor of the diocese of Brisbane in 1897-1910. He had been best man at the wedding of Nellie Melba to Charles Armstrong, and his interest in the arts led to friendships with Anna Pavlova and the Carandini family. During his lifetime he made many philanthropic gifts, but he left his estate, sworn for probate at £139,620 in New South Wales and £34,223 in Queensland, largely to his daughter and granddaughter.

Select Bibliography

  • Alcazar Press, Queensland, 1900 (Brisb, nd)
  • J. Hetherington, Melba (Melb, 1967)
  • D. J. Murphy, T. J. Ryan (Brisb, 1975)
  • W. R. Johnston, History of the Queensland Bar (Brisb, 1979)
  • QSR, Memoranda, 1908-09, 1910-11, 1925
  • Brisbane Courier, 7 Sept 1881, 23 Apr 1925
  • Telegraph (Brisbane), 19 May 1934
  • Courier Mail (Brisbane), 9, 11 Apr 1935.

Additional Resources

Citation details

J. C. H. Gill, 'Feez, Adolph Frederick (1858–1944)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/feez-adolph-frederick-6150/text10559, published first in hardcopy 1981, accessed online 25 November 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981

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