LEAKE, George (1856-1902)


LEAKE, George (1856-1902)
premier of Western Australia
a member of a well-known Western Australian family, was born at Perth in 1856. His grandfather, George Leake, came to Perth with the pioneers in 1829, and was chairman of directors of the Bank of Western Australia when it was founded in 1837. His uncle Sir Luke Samuel Leake (1828-86), became a member of the legislative council and was its speaker from 1870 until 1886, and his father, George Wall Leake (1826-95), also had a distinguished career. He became crown solicitor in 1860, acting attorney-general and a member of the executive and legislative councils, 1879-80, and police magistrate in 1881. On occasions he was acting puisne judge and acting chief justice. He was nominated to the new legislative council in 1890 and died in 1895. George Leake was educated at the Bishop's boys' school at Perth and at St Peter's College, Adelaide. He studied law, was admitted to the Western Australian bar in 1880, and three years later became crown solicitor. He was elected unopposed for Roebourne as a member of the legislative assembly in 1890 and was offered a position in the ministry formed by Forrest (q.v.). Leake, however, declined this and shortly afterwards resigned his seat. In June 1894 he was elected for Albany and in the following year was elected leader of the opposition. He was a leader in the federal movement, was president of the federal league of Western Australia, and represented that colony at the 1897 federal convention. He became a Q.C. in 1898. In 1900 he resigned his seat and paid a visit to Europe. After his return he was elected a member of the legislative assembly in April 1901, and on 27 May became premier and attorney-general. He was defeated in November but the succeeding ministry lasted only four weeks and Leake again became premier. In the following June he contracted pneumonia and died while still a comparatively young man on 24 June 1902. He married in 1881 the eldest daughter of Sir A. P. Burt (q.v.), who survived him with sons and daughters. The Times, 26 June 1902, announced that it had been the king's intention to confer the order of C.M.G. on the late Hon. George Leake.
Leake in his youth was a good cricketer and sportsman, and later became chairman of the committee of the Western Australian Turf Club. He was immensely popular as a politician and showed good debating powers. He ranked high among the men of his time, but his early death put an end to what would probably have been a very distinguished career.
P. Mennell, The Dictionary of Australasian Biography; Who's Who, 1902; H, Colebatch, A Story of a Hundred Years, p. 458; The West Australian, 25 and 27 June 1902; The Times, 26 June 1902.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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