Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Jones, Reginald Stuart (1902–1961)

by Stephen Garton

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

Reginald Stuart Jones (1902-1961), medical practitioner and playboy, was born on 5 September 1902 at Enfield, Middlesex, England, son of Stanley Abel Jones, grocer's assistant, and his wife Selina Rose, née Ingram. About 1912 he followed the family to New South Wales and lived at Woolgoolga, where Stanley was a timber merchant. Educated at Grafton High School, Reginald won a scholarship in 1921 to Wesley College, University of Sydney (M.B., Ch.M., 1926); he was a prominent athlete, cricketer, footballer and rifle-shooter.

After serving his residency (1926-27) at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, in 1927 Jones sailed for London as ship's doctor in the Raranga. He worked as a medical officer (1928) at Queen Mary's Hospital for the East End and as chief medical officer (1929-30) at Australia House, and qualified as a fellow (1929) of the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh. At the parish church, Grange, on 4 November 1929 he married 19-year-old Shena Reid with the forms of the Church of Scotland; they were to have one son before being divorced in 1936. While in Britain, Jones began his enduring passions for betting on racehorses and spending big. Back in Sydney in 1930, he practised at Canterbury and was a specialist in gynaecology (from 1935) in Macquarie Street. He was president (1933) of the New South Wales National Coursing Association, had a string of eighteen greyhounds and raced ponies.

It was not long before Jones established his reputation as a prominent and flamboyant figure in Sydney's underworld. He associated with the notorious Phil 'the Jew' Jeffs, Clifford Thompson, 'Scotty' Jowett, Frederick 'Chow' Hayes and Richard Reilly. Part-owner of a number of nightclubs, in 1936 Jones opened the Four Hundred Club, complete with band and a floor show headed by Roy Rene and Jim Gerald; in the following year he lost his share of the club after a violent dispute with Jeffs. During World War II Jones allegedly plied drugs and black-market liquor to American servicemen from his yacht, Sirocco, which was also used for parties, famous in underworld and nightclub circles.

From the 1940s it was rumoured that Jones ran a profitable abortion practice—in partnership with Ivan Markovics—from his Macquarie Street surgery. Despite his varied activities, he was rarely charged with any offence. In 1944 he was tried for performing an illegal operation on a woman, but she refused to testify. Next year he was acquitted of having an unlicensed revolver in his possession. The only successful charge against Jones was that of driving under the influence of alcohol in 1949. Istov Molnar was arrested in Jones's surgery in 1959 for unlawfully using an instrument to procure an abortion.

At Cronulla on 6 January 1944 Jones had married with Presbyterian forms Mary Kathleen Ryan, a 24-year-old telephone operator. Later that year he was kidnapped by Jowett and Thompson (his wife's lover), and shot at point-blank range while in the back of Thompson's car. Instead of dumping his body as planned, the abductors left Jones at a private hospital. He recovered, his underworld reputation was enhanced, and Jowett and Thompson were convicted of attempted murder in 1945.

On the proceeds of his activities, Jones ran a string of racehorses and built a quasi-Moroccan mansion, Casa Clavel, equipped with its own shooting-gallery, at Bellevue Hill. Divorced in May 1950, he claimed to be aged 39 when he married a 23-year-old beauty queen and typiste Adeline Claudia Morick at St Stephen's Lutheran Church, Adelaide, on 17 June that year; they were to have three daughters. He was involved in some notable betting plunges in the 1950s. In 1958 he was disqualified by the Queensland Turf Club for involvement in a horse-doping scandal, but his appeal was upheld.

A large, round-faced man and a flash dresser, Jones was renowned for his prodigious appetite for drink and gambling, and was rumoured to carry a pistol which he fired into the ceilings or floors of pubs and bars. In December 1960 he lodged an objection to an assessment of £136,000—for evaded income tax and penalties—on the grounds that the disputed money was race winnings. Survived by his wife and two of their daughters, and by the son of his first marriage, he died suddenly of coronary thrombosis on 10 June 1961 at his Coogee home and was buried with Anglican rites in Waverley cemetery. His estate was sworn for probate at £91,273, with debts totalling £154,565.

Select Bibliography

  • D. Hickie, The Prince and the Premier (Syd, 1985)
  • People (Sydney), 29 Aug 1951
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 2 Nov 1944, 12 Jan, 28-29 Mar 1945, 5 Apr 1952, 11 Dec 1959, 9 Dec 1960, 14 Aug 1962, 13 Oct 1966
  • Truth (Sydney), 27 Mar-5 Apr 1945
  • Sun Herald (Sydney), 27 Apr, 4, 10 May 1958, 20 Jan 1985
  • Truth (Melbourne), 24 June 1961
  • Mirror (Sydney), 19 Aug 1962.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Stephen Garton, 'Jones, Reginald Stuart (1902–1961)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/jones-reginald-stuart-10641/text18913, published in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 21 September 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

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