John McLeay, Sr.

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The Honourable
Sir John McLeay
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Boothby
In office
10 December 1949 – 31 October 1966
Preceded by Thomas Sheehy
Succeeded by John McLeay, Jr.
13th Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives
In office
29 August 1956 – 31 October 1966
Preceded by Archie Cameron
Succeeded by Sir William Aston
Personal details
Born (1893-11-19)19 November 1893
Port Clinton, South Australia
Died 22 June 1982(1982-06-22) (aged 88)
Adelaide, South Australia
Nationality Australian
Political party Liberal Party of Australia
Spouse(s) Eileen
Relations John McLeay, Jr. son
George McLeay brother
Profession Businessman

Sir John "Jack" McLeay, KCMG, MM (19 November 1893 – 22 June 1982) was an Australian politician and the longest-serving Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives.

Early life[edit]

McLeay was born in Port Clinton, the son of well to do farmers. After his initial schooling in Port Clinton, McLeay finished his education in Adelaide, attending Unley High School and Muirden College before commencing work for local businesses.

Military experience[edit]

He enlisted soon after the outbreak of World War I, serving as a stretcher-bearer in the Field Ambulance Corps in France, and was awarded the Military Medal for his bravery under fire. Returning to Adelaide after the war, McLeay joined his brother George's importing business and involved himself in local issues.

Political life[edit]

Elected to the Adelaide suburban Unley Council in 1924, McLeay served as Mayor of Unley from 1935 to 1937, resigning to contest the state Electoral district of Unley as an independent at the 1938 state election. McLeay was one of 15 independents elected to the 39 member South Australian House of Assembly and as such, held the balance of power in parliament. McLeay lost Unley at the 1941 election and later acknowledged that his three years in state parliament was a waste of time as it had become clear to him that he could not accomplish anything as an independent.

McLeay returned to public life when he was elected Lord Mayor of Adelaide in 1946, serving until 1950, during which time he gained Liberal and Country League pre-selection for the safe federal electorate of Boothby and subsequently entered the Australian House of Representatives at the 1949 election.

McLeay was elected Speaker of the House in 1956 and served as Speaker for a record ten and a half years, before his retirement from politics on 31 October 1966. Following his retirement, McLeay served as Chairman of McLeay Brothers Ltd. and director of other companies, as well as member of the Tramways Trust Board, the State Bank of South Australia and the council of the University of Adelaide. He also served as president of the Adelaide Legacy Club, the South Australian Retail Furniture Association, the South Australian Playground Association and the South Australian Tree Planters Association.

Created a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1962 for political and community services, McLeay's brother George and son John jnr, both served in federal parliament, John jnr, inheriting the electorate of Boothby from McLeay.


McLeay died in Adelaide after a short illness, predeceased by his wife, Lady Eileen. A state funeral was held in his honour.


Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Archie Cameron
Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives
1956 – 1966
Succeeded by
Sir William Aston
Preceded by
Thomas Sheehy
Member for Boothby
Succeeded by
John McLeay, Jr.