GJF is one of the oldest firms of advocates in the Isle of Man. Its most notable founder member is Ramsey Gelling Johnson, who was commissioned in 1912.
Ramsey Gelling Johnson served in the first World War from 1915 to 1919 and was wounded at Messines. Following his return, he later became an MHK from 1924 to 1929, Secretary of Keys from 1929 to 1938 and Second Deemster from 1947 to 1954. His family were heavily involved in farming and he was a key part of forming the Manx National Farmers’ Union. At points in his career, Ramsey Johnson also served as High Bailiff and Vicar General.
Ramsey Gelling Johnson is also credited for his efforts in encouraging the study of law in the Isle of Man, creating a trust in memory of George Sayle Johnson in 1943 which continues to present a law prize on a yearly basis to a member of the Manx Bar.
Frank Barnes Johnson also practiced with GJF and is also known for being a Clerk of Tynwald and Secretary of the House of Keyes from 1938. During his tenure at the firm, Mr. Peter Farrant, then an advocate at another practice, was approached to join the firm and he joined GJF in the 1970s. Mr. Farrant had joined the Manx Bar in 1951, but his family had many connections with the legal profession in the Isle of Man. His father was a Deemster, his grandfather and great grandfather were both members of the House of Keys and his great great grandfather was the first High Bailiff of Peel from 1777 to 1797.
By the 1970s, the practice was well established at 24 Athol Street in Douglas, which also acted as the diocesan office for the Isle of Man. The office saw much diocese business over the years as tithes were collected there, special marriage licenses were issued there and exhumation certificates were prepared there.
The practice remained at 24 Athol Street even after Mrs Parkes took over when Mr. Farrant retired. In 2014, GJF moved to their current location at Myrtle Street, close to the Registries and the courts.