George Leake

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For other people named George Leake, see George Leake (disambiguation).
George Leake
George Leake.jpg
3rd Premier of Western Australia
In office
27 May 1901 – 21 November 1901
Preceded by George Throssell
Succeeded by Alf Morgans
In office
23 December 1901 – 24 June 1902
Preceded by Alf Morgans
Succeeded by Walter James
Personal details
Born (1847-12-03)3 December 1847
Perth, Western Australia
Died 24 June 1902(1902-06-24) (aged 54)
Perth, Western Australia
Nationality Australian
Political party Unaligned
Spouse(s) Louisa Emily Burt

George Leake CMG (posthumous) QC (3 December 1856 – 24 June 1902) was Premier of Western Australia from 27 May 1901 to 21 November 1901, and again from 23 December 1901 until his death on 24 June 1902.

Early life[edit]

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, daughter of the late Chief Justice; Sir Archibald 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-election,[1] 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.

Last days and death[edit]

In June 1902, Leake caught pneumonia. He died on 24 June 1902, to date the only Western Australian premier to die in office. Two days later it was announced in The Times that King Edward VII had intended to make him a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG), and the award was made posthumously.[2]


  1. ^ Until 1947, newly appointed ministers were required to resign and stand for re-election.
  2. ^ It's an Honour: CMG 26 June 1902


Further reading[edit]

  • 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.
  • Leake family tree.
Preceded by
George Throssell
Premier of Western Australia
Succeeded by
Alf Morgans
Preceded by
Alf Morgans
Premier of Western Australia
Succeeded by
Walter James