G4 6 John Rundle Sullivan

John (Jack) Rundle Sullivan was the youngest of Timothy Sullivan's four grandsons through their father Samuel Grose Sullivan. 

G4     TS/SGS/JOHN RUNDLE SULLIVAN (1892 - 1962)

John Rundle (Jack) Sullivan was Samuel Grose Sullivan and wife Hannah Maria’s last child. He was born on 11/12/1892 at Robsart St Parkside, probably at the Headmaster’s residence on the school grounds (possibly the current “Oliphant Room”), with his mother listed as informant on the birth certificate. The middle name Rundle was the maiden name of his great grandmother (Maria Rundle) on his maternal side (Phillipps). 

The Sullivan family at this stage would have comprised parents Samuel and Hannah, with children Cecil, Hilda, Ernest, Eric, Elsie and baby John, with possibly Samuel’s mother Ellen who would by then have been 76. The family remained at Robsart St until 1899 when they moved to nearby John St in 1899, and then to the Wattle Street house in Fullarton Estate in 1904.

Jack commenced school at his father’s school at Parkside on 27/02/1899 (admission number 340) at age 6, with his father’s residence listed as Robsart St Parkside. He left after completing Form 6 in 1906 (1)

1909PACAfter leaving Parkside, Jack, like his brothers, was sent to Prince Alfred College, enrolling in February 1907 (admission No. 4095) and leaving in May 1910 (2)

Jack like his oldest brother Cecil played intercoll cricket for PAC. A ”steady bat with a good variety of strokes – a good fielder.” He also played Intercoll football.

Photo courtesy of PAC Archives

Dorothy Rundle May, nee Sullivan, Jack’s oldest daughter remembers that her father’s good friends at school were boys like Magery and Wall who went on to become well known Adelaide doctors

Jack’s father Samuel also wanted him to become a doctor, but Jack was adamant he wanted to become a farmer. Samuel therefore sent him off to a friend/colleague named Charles William Rodda at Moonta where he “learned farming” for several years.

IMG 1700Jack joined up with his recently retrenched older brother Ernest to farm at Edillilie near Port Lincoln around 1912.  His widowed mother Hannah Maria and sister Elsie Millicent joined the men sometime around 1914. Unfortunately they started out on the venture coincident with one of southern Australia’s worst droughts, particularly in 1914-1915, which eventually proved to be too much. Jack was the first to walk off and leave, or patriotically, to abandon his own purposes, by enlisting for service in World War 1 in 1916.

"The House that Jack Built" - Edillilie, Eyre Peninsula, South Australia.
2010 Photo courtesy of R Sullivan


SgtJRSullivanHe enlisted on 26/10/1916, Service Number 3223, into the 8th reinforcement contingent of 50 Battallion AIF, predominantly composed of men from South Australia. He was 23 years and 10 months old, and at enlistment he was 6 foot 1 ½’’ in height, considerably taller than most of the other Sullivan brothers. He weighed 152 lbs and could expand his chest from 34 ½ ‘’ to 38’. He had fair hair, a fair complexion, blue eyes and was a Methodist farmer. His next of kin was his mother Hannah Maria Sullivan of Edillilie, Flinders, near Pt Lincoln.(3) However most photos of Jack show him with fime dark hair and his daughter Dorothy says his eyes were hazel. Details of his War service along with those of other Sullivan men and Sullivan in-laws can be found here.

On 22/12/1918, after the Armistice, he was transferred to the Australian Army Pay Corps where he was promoted to the rank of Pay Sergeant, but remained assigned to his battalion. Having shown no previous inclination for administrative duties, it is possible has oldest brother Cecil, at the time a Captain in the Pay Corps in Melbourne, may have played a role in the promotion.

In July 1919 the AIF advised by letter that he had embarked on the “City of Exeter” 12/07/1919 bound for Australia with an expected disembarkation of 21/08/1919 in Melbourne. He was discharged on 29/09/1919, and it is very likely that he spent time in Melbourne with his brother Cecil before returning to Adelaide

Photo courtesy of  “Hurcombe’s Hungry Half Hundred” (4)

On his return to Adelaide Jack and Cecil jointly acquired the property at Firle (known then as South Payneham)  that was to become a hub for the Adelaide Sullivans for years to come. The property was transferred from previous owners the Melvilles to CAE Sullivan and John Rundle Sullivan as tenants in common on 28/05/1920 (CT 1079/59) (5)

Jack's oldest brother Cecil had apparently decided to return to Adelaide in early 1920 after his discharge from the Army. Cecil had worked in Melbourne since 1903, andfor the next two years he abandoned accountancy and became an orchardist


John Rundle Sullivan married Clyda Gladys Roach at Trinity Presbyterian Church, Camberwell, in Melbourne on 29/08/1922 (V 8004). It is probable that Jack had been introduced to Clyda by brother Cecil.

Photo courtesy of R Sullivan

Clyda apparently worked in her father’s shop as a book-keeper / accountant, which when aligned with Cecil’s love of good clothing may have led to an acquaintance and the subsequent introduction to Jack.

Clyda’s parents were Edward William Roach, an upmarket Collins St tailor, and wife Ellen Smart nee Kennedy, married 1890 Melbourne  (V1456). Edward Roach subsequently divorced his wife Ellen in 1901. Clyda was the only child of the marriage, born 1891 (V22761). Family history is that Clyda supported her mother who was an alcoholic, and divided her time between both parents. 

Edward William Roach died aged 60 at Camberwell in 1921 (V695) a year before the marriage. He was a wealthy man and left a third of his substantial estate to his daughter Clyda and to her children. The happy couple appears to have relocated back to Adelaide after the marriage, with Clyda bringing her mother over from Melbourne to live with them shortly thereafter.

 “Kasouka’ at 9 Trafalgar Rd East Camberwell, the Roach family residence,  with 5 choice building allotments, all part of the estate of the late E.W. Roach was advertised in the Argus on 23/09/1922 for auction on 14 October.  It appears that Mrs Roach then lived with Jack and Clyda in Kurrajong, the bluestone residence that was part of the Firle property.

Jack subsequently built the larger house further north on the block “Carbethon” (which is an aboriginal name thought to mean “happy home"), where they lived with Mrs Roach as the family grew. Ellen Smart Roach died age 67 on 12/05/1928 at Payneham South (Firle) and was buried in the Payneham Cemetery

HMSClydaOn 27/08/1926 Hannah Maria Sullivan, Jack’s mother, purchased 103 Gage St Firle (Kurrajong) from John Rundle Sullivan and Clyda Gladys Sullivan. Hannah and daughter Elsie Millicent remained at Kurrajong until her death in 1944, Elsie her daughter having died two years earlier. Ron and Geoff Sullivan, Jack’s nephews, often stayed at Kurrajong when visiting from Broken Hill during  school holidays.

Photo of Jack, mother Hannah Maria, wife Clyda and Jack's older brother Wilf with Wilf,s daughter Margaret Rendle - circa 1920.
Photo courtesy of R Sullivan
Oldest brother Cecil Sullivan and his wife Edith dropped out of the scene and had little contact with Jack and his family, nor his mother Hannah or sister Elsie, until Elsie was diagnosed with cancer, when Cecil got back in contact. There is no known reason for this estrangement. 

Kurrajong transferred back to Jack and Clyda on 29/06/1944 through Hannah Maria’s will. For a while Mrs Gertrude Painter lived at Kurrajong with her son Rowland, Gertrude having looked after Hannah during her final years of deafness and blindness. Getrude Painter was Jack’s cousin, only daughter of Jack’s uncle Richard Wearne Sullivan, and so the Samuel Grose Sullivan and Richard Wearne Sullivan branches had remined in contact. Gertude had married John Edward Painter in 1906, with son Rowland George Painter born in 1907.

John Edward Painter at the age of 37 had also enlisted for War service in 1915, and served as an infantryman in the same battalion as Jack. He died in action in France in 1916, and is buried in a war grave near Villiers Brettoneux, leaving Gertrude widowed with a young son. Details of John Painter’s War service along with those of other Sullivan men and Sullivan in-laws can be found here.

Jack and Clyda remained at Firle for the rest of their lives. They had three daughters, Dorothy Rundle Sullivan born in 1924, Gladys Millicent Sullivan born in 1927, and Clyda Marjorie Sullivan born in 1930.

Wife Clyda was outgoing and involved herself in community activities including the Red Cross and Mothers and Babies. Jack was also outgoing, social and sports minded, playing cricket for Payneham in the Adelaide Turf Association, becoming a member at Grange Golf Club where he played with his doctor mates Magery and Wall, and he was also involved with night bowls.

Neither were churchgoers, possibly because of the absence of a local church, but were both morally principled – do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Clyda Gladys Sullivan, Jacks wife, was diagnosed with cancer near the start of the second World War and died on 18/06/1945 aged 53, and was buried in the Payneham Cemetery in the same grave as her mother.

During the war Jack felt obliged to serve again, but conscious of his need to look after Clyda he chose to assist the war effort through munitions work. He was employed at the Perry factory at Mile End on machining work. Frank Tennyson Perry, born in 1887, and later Sir Frank, managed this work as part of his national role in the War effort. Family history recalls that Frank would tour the works, and was accorded due respect by the workforce, except for John Rundle who had been at school with him at PAC and who was most comfortable in addressing the industrialist by his first name.

After Clyda’s death in 1945, and following on from his mother’s death in 1944 and sister Elsie’s death two years earlier, Jack’s outgoing nature and wide circle of friends and sporting and social contacts sustained him, plus the task of bringing up three daughters.

In October 1946 he sold 103 Gage St (Kurrajong) to his older brother Ernest who was retiring from his job in Broken Hill. (5)

In 1951 he sold off a substantial part of the block to the Wakefield Land Company which then subdivided into housing allotments.(5)

Ultimately John Rundle Sullivan died 13/11/1962 aged 70 and was buried in same grave at Payneham Cemetery as his wife and mother in law.


(1)     Parkside Primary School Attendance Records - Copy held by SA Genealogy & Heraldry Society
(2)     Prince Alfred College Archives
(3)     War Service Records - National Archives
(4)     "Hurcombes Hungry Half Hundred - A Memorial History of the 50th Battalion AIF 1916 - 1919 " / Freeman R.R. (1991). Copy held by SA
        Genealogy & Heraldry Society.
(5)      SA Lands Titles Office Records