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Robert John Cunningham Jaunay 1890–1965

Riches to rags The story of Robert John Cunningham Jaunay

Robert John Cunningham Jaunay, the only surviving son of Frank and Mary, had the distinction of being the only male Jaunay in our family since 1776 to be born in France when he was born in Reims on 24 April 1890.

The family emigrated to Australia in 1894 and young Robert who was called Bert, could not recall his time in France. Even at an early age, Bert was showing all the signs of being a rather naughty lad! Despite having the children of the Governor of South Australia, Alfred Lord Tennyson, as playmates of good influence, he was always in trouble. On one occasion he caused the horses of the Adelaide stage coach waiting at the Scenic Hotel to bolt away with the coach all the way down the steep hills towards Adelaide without their driver. Bert attended school at Tanunda and Norton Summit Public Schools apart from a brief period in Tanunda when his father took all the children out of school and had them educated by a governess, Miss Lucia von Bertouch. This was due to some concerns about the head teacher. Discipline extremes together with a particular bizarre practice on the death of a student caused this move. When a child died from typhoid fever, the coffin was paraded around the school yard in front of all the children.

rjcj When the family moved to Adelaide at the beginning of the twentieth century, Robert attended St Peters Anglican Collegiate School, considered by the establishment as the leading private school in South Australia. However, Robert was up to his old tricks and was expelled for the seemingly minor offence of driving his car on the footpath over the City Bridge in Adelaide's main thoroughfare.

Unfortunately, the lack of a formal conclusion to his education was to send Robert's fortune on a downward spiral for the rest of his life. He firstly found a position as the bookkeeper at Cordillo Downs Station just south of the Queensland border in the most north-east part of South Australia. It was claimed that Robert was the first person to drive a motor vehicle from Sydney to Cordillo Downs. As a French man, Robert, even though he was living in Australia, was required to undertake military service but his father paid a fee to release him from the commitment.

Robert [pictured on his wedding day] married Dorothy Evelyn May Beasley on 19 June 1915 at Gawler SA. They had six children by 1925. During his married life, Robert went from one menial job to another and maintained a reasonable lifestyle with his inheritance. The Great Depression saw this completely depleted and family silver and furniture was sold to make ends meet. His employment included car park attendant and offal recovering in an abattoir as well as numerous convenience store management positions in country centres and finally in suburban Adelaide. to_tree


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