Australian Dictionary of Biography

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: Use double quotes to search for a phrase

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Older articles are being reviewed with a view to bringing them into line with contemporary values but the original text will remain available for historical context.

Hubert Vaughan (1888–1976)

by Raymond Nobbs

This article was published:

Hubert Vaughan (1888-1976), insurance manager and actuary, was born on 8 July 1888 at Alexandria, Sydney, third son of native-born parents Kelson Sydney James Vaughan, clerk, and his wife Gertrude, née Skinner. Educated at the Marist Brothers' High School, Darlinghurst, Hubert joined the Mutual Life & Citizens' Assurance Co. Ltd in 1906. He qualified as a fellow of the Institute of Actuaries, London, in 1912 and lectured part time on actuarial mathematics at the University of Sydney in 1914. Vaughan sailed for Britain in July 1915, intending to join the British Army. Commissioned in the artillery on 29 October, he served on the Western Front with a heavy howitzer battery and held the rank of lieutenant (from July 1917). He took part in the fierce fighting during the German offensive in March 1918 and was wounded in September. After being demobilized from the army, he visited Canada.

Back in Sydney, Vaughan returned to the M.L.C. and was appointed assistant actuary (1921) and associate actuary (1927). At the Church of Our Lady of Dolours, Chatswood, on 24 June 1921 he married with Catholic rites Eileen Charlotte Appleton (d.1953); they were childless. He was one of three advisers to the Commonwealth royal commission on national insurance (1923-27) and helped to draft the State's Local Government (Superannuation) Act (1927). From 1938 he was a member of the committee that advised the Commonwealth government on the Life Insurance Act which was eventually passed in 1945. At the M.L.C. he had been promoted to actuary in 1935, secretary in 1939, and general secretary and actuary in 1941, a post from which he retired in 1954. A director of the company (from 1951), he was deputy-chairman in 1961-68.

Much of Vaughan's energy was devoted to actuarial education. He firmly believed that promotion should be based on merit, not on seniority 'which is a tenet of the Australian religion'. As joint secretary with Milton Alder, he had been a founder in 1925 of the State branch of the Economic Society of Australia and New Zealand. President of the Actuarial Society of Australia and New Zealand in 1933 and 1947, he published widely in a number of journals. He wrote mainly on the theories of interpolation, graduation, valuation, endowment assurance and summation formulae. In 1947 he was awarded the Messenger and Brown prize for his contributions to the Journal of the Institute of Actuaries.

Work was Vaughan's greatest passion, although he sometimes relaxed by swimming and playing golf. He belonged to the Chatswood Golf Club and owned a modest home at Chatswood in which he lived for fifty-five years. A member of the University Club, he had a wide general knowledge, and special interests in physics and Shakespeare. His shy and reserved manner, dry humour, slow speech and several mild eccentricities gave credence to an assertion, popular at the time, that one had to be slightly odd to be an actuary. Vaughan died on 22 February 1976 at his Chatswood home and was cremated. He left $10,000 to the Institute of Actuaries, London. Macquarie University named a prize for actuarial studies after him.

Select Bibliography

  • G. E. Hall and A. Cousins (eds), Book of Remembrance of the University of Sydney in the Great War, 1914-1918 (Syd, 1939)
  • A. C. Gray, Life Insurance in Australia (Melb, 1977)
  • C. Bellis, The Future-Managers (Syd, 1997)
  • Institute of Actuaries Year Book (United Kingdom), 1975-76, p 134
  • Institute of Actuaries of Australia and New Zealand, Transactions, 1976
  • private information.

Citation details

Raymond Nobbs, 'Vaughan, Hubert (1888–1976)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2002, accessed online 17 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (Melbourne University Press), 2002

View the front pages for Volume 16

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


8 July, 1888
Alexandria, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


22 February, 1976 (aged 87)
Chatswood, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.