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Lionel Henry Leece (1890–1956)

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Leece, Lionel Henry James (1890-1956) tailor, gaoled trade union official and Communist

Birth: 18 April 1890 at Woolloomooloo, Sydney, New South Wales, son of Charles Fox Leece (1860-1942), a bookbinder, born at Liverpool, Lancashire, England, and Ellen Harriet (Nellie), née Wigley (1868-1909), born at Carlton, Victoria. Marriage: 1912 at Stanmore, Sydney, to native-born Ruby Olga Lamb (1892-1982). They had four daughters and two sons. Death: 3 June 1956 in hospital at Camperdown, Sydney, New South Wales; usual residence Chapel Street, Leichhardt, Sydney. Religion: Anglican. 

  • Worked at tailoring in Sydney. Joined Tailors and Tailoresses’ Union in 1912, serving as vice-president and executive member for several years.
  • Joined Australian Labor Party in 1912; active in ALP until 1918.
  • Secured employment with NSW railways in 1914 and joined the Amalgamated Railway and Tramway Union, becoming assistant secretary of union’s Traffic Branch. Was victimized as a result of involvement in 1917 NSW general strike.
  • Co-founded the Social Democratic League in early 1917, serving as secretary for a time. Was an active campaigner against conscription. Joined Australian Socialist Party following failure of attempt to unify local socialist parties in 1918. That year resigned from ALP to campaign for socialism.
  • Resumed tailoring in 1918, became prominent in Federated Clothing Trades Union. FCTU executive member in the 1920s. Represented the FCTU at ALP, One Big Union and other conferences. Returned briefly to ALP in early 1920s.
  • A member of the Communist Party of Australia Central Executive in 1922. CPA auditor in same year.
  • Served seven-day jail sentence during 1923 Free Speech campaign. Leader of Sydney unemployed in 1924. Expelled from ALP in 1924 for being a member of the CPA.
  • CPA candidate for Balmain at 1925 NSW elections. CPA Sydney district secretary for a time in the 1920s. A member of the committee of Workers International Relief in later 1920s. Sometime CPA ‘socialisation tutor’.
  • Occupation in 1956: retired foreman tailor. Cause of death: carcinomatosis, carcinoma of bladder.

Malcolm Henry Ellis, The red road: the story of the capture of the Lang party by Communists, instructed from Moscow (Sydney [1932]), p 87; Workers Weekly, 1 May 1925.

Additional Resources

  • profile, Workers' Weekly (Sydney), 1 May 1925, p 4

Citation details

'Leece, Lionel Henry (1890–1956)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 28 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Lionel Leece

Lionel Leece

Workers' Weekly (Sydney), 1 May 1925, p 4

Life Summary [details]


18 April, 1890
Woolloomooloo, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


3 June, 1956 (aged 66)
Camperdown, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

cancer (bladder)

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

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