Overend, Thomas George (1846–1915), barrister and county court judge, was born 24 October 1846, the fifth son (one of his brothers died before the age of one) of James S. Overend (1808–53), engineer and contractor, a methodist of Tandragee, Co. Armagh, and his wife, Martha Best (1807–68), a member of the established church. After working with the Portadown News, he ‘put himself through’ Oxford (BA 1872), Lincoln's Inn, London, and King's Inns, Dublin. He was called to the bar in 1874 (QC 1885) and went on the north-eastern circuit, earning £1,500 in his fourth year by individual fees of 2 guineas. In 1892 he was elected a bencher of King's Inns and, owing to his health being undermined by hard work, accepted appointment that year as chairman of the quarter sessions, county court judge for the city and county of Londonderry, and recorder, offices which he held until 1912. A patient and scrupulously fair judge who was popular with practitioners and the public, he resigned for health reasons in 1912. He lived at Sorento House, Sorrento Terrace, Dalkey (1890–1906) and then at 8 St James's Terrace, Clonskeagh, Dublin, until his death on 10 February 1915. He was survived by his wife, Hannah (née Kingsbury) (died 1 July 1953), his sons, Andrew Kingsbury Overend and George Acheson Overend, and two daughters, Emily Martha Lorimer (1881–1949) OBE, a fellow of Somerville College, Oxford, and Edith Florence Booth.
Andrew Kingsbury Overend (‘King’) (1877–1947), high court judge, was educated at Dr Barnard's School, Dublin, Corrig School, Kingstown, Balliol College, Oxford, and King's Inns, Dublin. He was called to the Irish bar in 1902 (KC 1920, bencher of King's Inns 1924) and followed his father on the north-eastern circuit. A chancery lawyer, he specialised in commercial and constitutional cases. Despite being an unrepentant protestant unionist who declined to take the judicial oath in Irish, he was Dublin counsel for Stephen O'Mara (qv) in proceedings reported as Fogarty v. O'Donoghue, in which the Free State government sued the trustees of the second dáil before the Irish and New York courts. He was appointed to the high court in January 1943 and served until his death on 16 April 1947. Charitable, kindly, and humorous, he enjoyed company but had a reputation for aloofness and austerity. He lived at 1 Wilton Terrace, Dublin, and married Olive Rosaleen Whitton (d. 24 December 1961), who survived him along with their two daughters, Margaret (Peggy) Goldsmith Trevelyan (private secretary to Lady Simon) and Olive Anne (Nancy) Overend, barrister (personal secretary to Sir John Anderson (qv) at the Home Office). His son, Lieutenant Commander Maurice K. Overend RN, died on active service on 20 January 1945; the latter's young son, Sean K. Overend (b. 1941), became a circuit court judge on the western circuit in England (retired 31 March 2006).
Thomas George's younger son, George Acheson Overend (‘Achie’, ‘GAO’) (1885–1979), solicitor, was born 21 May 1885. Educated at TCD (LLB 1906), where he was a gold medallist, he enrolled as a solicitor in 1907. In 1910 he joined the practice of Alfred and Lewis Goodbody, which had offices in Tullamore and Dublin, and in 1912 he became a partner. The Goodbody family connections with the quaker industrial base of Dublin and midland Ireland formed the basis of a practice with which GAO would be associated for almost seventy years. Monumentally industrious and punctilious, he eschewed politics, taking the view that political involvement compromised the independence of a practising lawyer, a view which he did not extend to public service. He held a commission in the Royal Garrison Artillery during the First World War and commanded the Dundrum branch of the LDF during the Second World War. Later he served as a member of the company law reform committee (1951–8), chaired successively by H. Vaughan Wilson SC and Arthur Cox (qv), which proposed modernising Irish company law with a new act similar to the 1948 English act. He was a member of the boards of three Dublin hospitals and for many years of the council of the Law Society.
GAO married Ida Muriel Gordon (d. 22 September 1966) in 1914 and resided at Greenacres, Dundrum, Co. Dublin, and at 152 Merrion Road, Dublin. He died on 22 December 1979, survived by his sons George Gordon Overend (see below), Derek Acheson Overend (an executive of IBM Ireland), and Brian Kingsbury Overend, another partner in A. & L. Goodbody, whose own son Rodney (d. 1995) was also a solicitor with the firm and is commemorated by a bursary established by it for the postgraduate study of law.
George Gordon Overend (‘GGO’) (1916–91), solicitor, was born in Dublin on 18 March 1916 and was educated at Sandford Park School, Wrekin College, Shropshire (where his uncle Walter Gordon was headmaster), TCD (LLB 1937), and the Law Society (enrolled solicitor 1939). After an apprenticeship with his father his entire career, from 1937 to 1987, was with A. & L. Goodbody. He became the driving force in the firm, seeing its client base emerge from an essentially protestant base, and developed it into a modern firm with the highest professional standards and international contacts made through membership of international professional bodies. GGO identified the importance of branding, so that all typewriters had the same typeface and correspondence a common house style; to him a solicitor's correspondence was the best advertisement to be had. He was a key advisor on the merger to establish Allied Irish Banks and was chairman of both Norwich Union Ireland and Beechams Ireland, as well as a governor of the Irish Times Trust.
When GGO joined the firm in 1937 there were fewer than ten people involved in the practice, but on his retirement it had grown to occupy four Georgian houses on Fitzwilliam Square. He was the first to introduce a computer to an Irish legal office and oversaw the admission of younger partners, particularly from 1979 as the younger generation were brought to the fore. Of the new offices in Earlsfort Centre, he commented how one had to be careful of overheads. Following his retirement as chairman and managing partner in 1982 he served as a consultant until 1987.
GGO lived at 24 Nutley Road, in Westminster Road, and later at Heidelberg, Ardilea, not far from his grandfather's residence at Clonskeagh. He died after a long illness on 8 October 1991, survived by his wife, Muriel Frances Temple (d. 29 February 2000), whom he had married on 19 May 1943, and his three daughters, Janet Muriel Patricia (who married David J. McConnell, sometime vice-provost of TCD, professor of genetics, chairman of the Adelaide and Meath Hospital at Tallaght, and chairman of the Irish Times Trust), Lorna Acheson Fry, and Cherrie Ann Lowe.
The Overend family served the law in Ireland and England for over a hundred years. What characterised each generation was their integrity and reliability, their practical knowledge of the law, and their perceptive judgement of character as they adapted successfully to a changing Ireland not always sympathetic to their background. The years in which George Acheson Overend and George Gordon Overend practised as commercial lawyers covered the period from Edwardian Ireland to membership of the EEC. In that period, through both world wars, independence, the depressed and insular 1930s, the years of the emergency, the Whitaker plans for economic expansion, and the re-establishment of free trade with the UK following the years of protection, their business practices and client base adapted from the nonconformist protestant industrial clients of Alfred & Lewis Goodbody to include semi-state bodies and multinational companies to which Ireland had been promoted by the Industrial Development Authority. George Acheson and George Gordon both served as president of the Law Society (1941–2 and 1961–2 respectively). GGO's legacy to his partners and their successors was a sense of integrity, a discipline for the practical explanation of the law in plain English that could be readily understood by those involved in commerce, and a growing office with recognised procedures which could be adapted but must be followed so as to provide a preeminent service to its clients.