Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Jauncey, Leslie Cyril (1899–1959)

by Margaret Steven

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

Leslie Jauncey, 1926

Leslie Jauncey, 1926

photo supplied by Toby Shnookal

Leslie Cyril Jauncey (1899-1959), economist and author, was born on 7 November 1899 at Norwood, Adelaide, son of George Jauncey, clerk, and his wife Agnes Binnie, née Davis. With his three elder brothers he was educated at Prince Alfred College. Jauncey's father had died in December 1899 and when his mother, a leading Methodist and prominent member of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, died in 1916 he completed his schooling and joined his brother Eric in the United States of America. He graduated from Washington University, St Louis, Missouri (B.A., 1926), and from Harvard University (M.A., 1927; Ph.D. economics, 1929). In 1929-30 he was associate professor and head of the department of economics of the University of New Mexico and in 1930-32 was research assistant in business economics at the Harvard Business School.

In 1932 Jauncey returned to Australia and met King O'Malley to whom he had dedicated his doctoral thesis and who was to become a lifelong friend. With O'Malley's encouragement he published this thesis as Australia's Government Bank (London, 1934) attributing the major role in the founding of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia to O'Malley. On his way to England in 1933 Jauncey met Beatrice Eva Fripp, née Edmonds, from New Zealand, whom he later described as 'in no way economically depressed'. They were married on 17 January 1934 in London where Jauncey had begun writing The Story of Conscription in Australia (London, 1935), a lively, partisan narrative that was to be as controversial as his first book. He wrote privately on the anniversary of the defeat of conscription in October 1917 that 'I always spend two minutes in silence on that anniversary'. His book emphasized the role of the religious pacifists and he acknowledged his debt to the Quakers John P. Fletcher and J. F. Hills.

Jauncey led a peripatetic existence and admitted cheerfully that 'Most reformers seem to lose money rather constantly and I am afraid I am no exception'. The Jaunceys returned to Australia and visited New Zealand and South Africa in 1934. An enthusiastic radical from his boyhood, Jauncey returned to London fired with 'the spirit of Eureka' to be further inspired by a visit to Russia at the end of 1935 when he embarked on 'a great history of finance in Soviet Russia'. After brief visits Jauncey and his wife travelled in the U.S.A. after 1936 from San Diego to New York, unable to decide where to settle. In ill health for some of the time Jauncey pondered whether to return to Australia, dabbled mildly in radical politics and contributed articles to, among other journals, the Sydney Labor Daily.

In 1940 the Jaunceys invested in property in San Diego, California, and lived there until they visited Australia and New Zealand in 1947-48. In 1949 Jauncey's first book, revised, was published in Melbourne as Modern Banking. He died of cancer on 12 March 1959 at San José, California, and was cremated. His wife survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • P. O'Farrell, Introduction to L. C. Jauncey, The Story of Conscription in Australia (Lond, 1968)
  • King O'Malley papers (National Library of Australia).

Citation details

Margaret Steven, 'Jauncey, Leslie Cyril (1899–1959)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/jauncey-leslie-cyril-6829/text11819, published in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 1 October 2014.

This article has been amended since its original publication. View Original

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2014

Leslie Jauncey, 1926

Leslie Jauncey, 1926

photo supplied by Toby Shnookal