George Leake

George Leake

George Leake CMG (Posthumous) QC (3 December 185624 June 1902) was premier of Western Australia from 27 May 1901 to 21 November 1901, and again from 23 December 1901 until 24 June 1902.

George Leake was born on 3 December 1856 in Perth in what was then the British colony of Western Australia. He was educated at the Church of England Collegiate School (now Hale School) and at St Peter's College in Adelaide. He studied law, and in 1880 was admitted to the Western Australian bar and became a partner in his father's law firm. The following year he married Louisa Emily Burt. In 1883 he was appointed Crown Solicitor and Public Prosecutor. Leake also took a keen interest in the gold mining industry, and was a member of the syndicate that successfully sent Harry Anstey to find gold in the Yilgarn in 1887.

In September 1886, Leake was appointed acting Attorney-General, and was subsequently nominated to the colony's Legislative Council. He remained in the position until December. On 28 November 1890, Leake was elected unopposed to the Legislative Assembly seat of Roebourne. He was offered a position in John Forrest's ministry, but declined, and resigned shortly afterwards on 30 December 1890 to avoid forfeiting his position as Crown Solicitor.

On 23 June 1894, Leake was elected as Legislative Assembly member for Albany, and in the following year became Leader of the Opposition. He was an enthusiastic proponent of federation and was president of the Federation League. In 1897 he was chosen as a Western Australian delegate to the Federal Convention, and attended meetings in Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne. He became a Queen's Counsel in 1898.

On 2 August 1900 Leake resigned his seat for business reasons, and travelled to Europe. After his return, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly as member for West Perth on 24 April 1901. No party won clear support in that election, and the incumbent premier George Throssell resigned office before parliament met, rather than test his support. Leader of the Opposition Frederick Illingworth was then invited to form a government, but could not do so because Leake refused to serve under him and some other members refused to serve without Leake. Eventually it was agreed that Leake would become premier, and Illingworth would be treasurer and colonial secretary. Leake became Premier and Attorney-General on 27 May.

Leake's government did not have the support of the majority of parliament, but it was allowed to govern for five months until finally being defeated in November. Alf Morgans then formed a government, but in the subsequent ministerial by-election1, supporters of Leake stood against Morgans' new cabinet, and three of the six new ministers were defeated. Morgans then resigned and Leake returned as Premier and Attorney-General on 23 December 1901, this time with much clearer support.

In June 1902, Leake caught pneumonia. He died on 24 June 1902, to date the only premier to die in office. Two days later it was announced in "The Times" that King Edward VII had intended to make him CMG.


1. Until 1947, newly appointed ministers were required to resign and stand for re-election.


*Black and Bolton 2001
*cite book|author=Reid, Gordon Stanley and Oliver, Margaret Ruth|year=1982|title=The Premiers of Western Australia 1890–1982|location=Nedlands, Western Australia | publisher=University of Western Australia Press|id=ISBN 0-85564-214-9
*Dictionary of Australian Biography|First=George|Last=Leake|Link=
*cite book|author=The Constitution Centre of Western Australia|year=2002|title= [ Governors and Premiers of Western Australia] |location=West Perth, Western Australia | publisher=The Constitution Centre of Western Australia|id=ISBN 0-7307-3821-3
*Kimberly 1897

Further reading

* Chapman, Jenny.(1965) "Perserverando : the Leake family in the political, economic and social life of W.A., 1829-1902, with particular reference to George Leake (1786-1849), Sir Luke Samuel Leake (1828-1886), and George Leake (1856-1902)" held in Battye Library.

NAME=Leake, George
DATE OF BIRTH=3 December 1856
PLACE OF BIRTH=Perth, Western Australia
DATE OF DEATH=24 June 1902
PLACE OF DEATH=Perth, Western Australia

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