Thomas Smith Leask, SV/PROG

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Thomas Smith Leask, SV/PROG

Birthplace: Firth & Stenness, Orkney, Scotland
Death: Died in Perthshire, Scotland
Immediate Family:

Son of Robert Leask of Leigh and Margaret Smith
Husband of Lucy Taylor Leask, SM/PROG
Father of John Robert Leask; Georgina Mary Grace Orford; Alexander Alfred Siddle Campbell; Eric Leask; Dora Elsie Ebbelwhite and 3 others
Brother of Margaret Leask; Jessie Sommerville Leask; Robert Leask of Coldomo; William Smith Leask; John Smith Leask and 3 others

Occupation: Retired Merchant, Traveller and Hunter
Managed by: Carole Anne Bailey
Last Updated:

About Thomas Smith Leask, SV/PROG


[Old Lore Miscellany of Orkney, Shetland, Caithness and Sutherland, Volume II, Part IV, October 1909, Leask of Aglath, Orkney, pp. 203-07]


Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa by Eric Rosenthal

  • Traveller and hunter.
  • Born in the Orkney Islands in 1839, he reached Natal in 1862 and began his travels in Mashonaland in 1866.
  • Accompanied by Dr. Calderley, he went to the Zambesi in 1869, and the two were among the earliest Europeans to see the Victoria Falls
  • Leask was a personal friend of both Moselekatse and Lobengula.
  • He retired in 1870 and went into partnership with J Taylor, as Thomas Leask & Co. in Klerksdorp.
  • There he played a leading part in the discovery of the first gold and was elected the first President of Klerksdorp Chamber of Mines in 1887.
  • He died in Scotland in 1912.

There is a biography of Thomas Smith Leask (1839-1912) in SA Biographies V4

  • On p17-18 he writes that in 1865 James Taylor opened a store in Klerksdorp (the first business).
  • Later Thomas Leask joined as a partner.
  • Thomas in later years became synonymous with the history as well as the discovery and exploitation of gold in this area.
  • Thomas Leask arrived from the Orkney Islands in Scotland in 1861 and moved to the Transvaal to settle in Klerksdorp.
  • He married in 1873 Lucy Salmon (5 daughters and 2 sons were born from this marriage).
  • This firm (Taylor & Leask) was later joined by junior partners: Cato, Cruickshank & Brown.
  • In 1886, Thomas Leask, with the help of Apie Roos, started gold mining in this area.
  • After the death of his partner, Taylor, the firm was joined by another partner called Siddle.
  • During 1888 the firm changed its name to Thomas Leask and Company and this store was situated in Emily Hobhouse Street where the present Wesbank is situated today.
  • Thomas Leask retired and returned to the Orkney Islands where he died in 1912.
  • After his retirement, he left the business to his two sons who subsequently sold it.
  • This firm was once again reopened under the name of Leasks in 1926 by one of the sons of Thomas Leask as the other has moved to George in the Cape Province.
  • The firm closed down finally in 1953. In early years the store provided in almost all the essential commodities of the community.
  • On p206-208 Brown describes the Orkney G.M. Co.
  • This mine was originally started by Thomas Leask in 1888 with capital of 70 000.
  • This mine was later developed as Western Reefs Mine and later incorporated into Vaal Reefs Gold Mine (now known as the Vaal River Operations of Anglo Gold)
  • The following photographs appear in this book:
  • The first store of Taylor & Leask in Oudorp, Klerksdorp appear in his book (credit; Klerksdorp Museum).
  • Thomas Leask (credit: Western Transvaal Record).
  • A very dark photo of Leask & Co in Emily Hobhouse street (p43) (credit: Klerksdorp Museum)
  • There is also references to Thomas Leask in Klerksdorp’s FIFTY YEARS of MINING by Herman Guest published by the Klerksdorp Mine Managers Association in 1938 (143pp)
  • A Street in Klerksdorp is named after him.

References and Soirces

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Thomas Smith Leask, SV/PROG's Timeline

October 12, 1839
Firth & Stenness, Orkney, Scotland
March 28, 1874
Age 34
September 16, 1875
Age 35
Age 35
July 22, 1880
Age 40
Transvaal, South Africa
May 21, 1882
Age 42
Klerksdorp, North West, South Africa
December 4, 1884
Age 45
Transvaal, South Africa
June 10, 1888
Age 48
May 7, 1890
Age 50