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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Leake, George (1786–1849)

by M. Medcalf

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

George Leake (1786-1849), merchant, was born in England, the son of Luke Leake and his wife Ann, née Heading. He married Anne Growse, who died in 1815 leaving him with one daughter, Ann Elizabeth. He sailed for the Swan River settlement in the Calista, arriving in August 1829. He was followed some months later by his mother, his daughter and his brother Luke. He brought with him six servants and considerable property which entitled him to 15,000 acres (6070 ha), most of which he selected on the Upper Swan. He was later granted a further 10,000 acres (4047 ha).

He set up in business as a merchant backed by large funds, and while the colony was struggling his sensible advice to Governor (Sir) James Stirling and financial assistance to settlers were a great asset. Lieutenant Henry Bunbury noted in his diary in 1836 that Leake had it in his power to ruin two-thirds of the settlers by foreclosing his mortgages. Leake's public activities were many and varied. He was one of the initiators and an original director of the first Bank of Western Australia, formed in 1837. In 1839 he was one of four unofficial nominees to join five official members of the Legislative Council and retained his seat until his death. His commercial experience and ability to assess facts made him a practical legislator of great value. He was appointed a magistrate for the territory in 1839, the first to hold this position. In the same year he was chairman of the Perth Town Trust and later became chairman of the General Roads Trust. Also in 1839 he was appointed a commissioner to act as guardian to emigrant minors sent out by the Children's Friend Society. He was an early director of the Agricultural Society, an original member of the Central Board of Works constituted in 1847, and a large subscriber and member of the committee for building the Anglican church in Perth.

In 1840 he married Georgiana Mary Kingsford; there was no issue. He died on 31 May 1849, survived by his wife and daughter, who had married Richard McBride Broun in 1837.

Select Bibliography

  • W. St Pierre Bunbury and W. P. Morrell (eds), Early Days in Western Australia: Being the Letters and Journal of H. W. Bunbury (Lond, 1930)
  • A. Burton, ‘George Leake at Sea, 1829’, Journal and Proceedings (Western Australian Historical Society), vol 1, part 10, 1931, pp 25-34
  • Perth Gazette, 10 Oct 1840, 8 June 1849
  • Inquirer (Perth), 13 June 1849
  • P. U. Henn, genealogical notes (State Library of Western Australia).

Citation details

M. Medcalf, 'Leake, George (1786–1849)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 29 September 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

View the front pages for Volume 2

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