George Leeman

George Leeman (August 1809 – 25 February 1882)[1][2] was a lawyer, railwayman and a Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) for the City of York in the nineteenth century.

George Leeman
A statue of Leeman in York
Lord Mayor of York
In office
Preceded byJohn Colburn
Succeeded byWilliam Walker
In office
Preceded byRichard Evers
Succeeded byWilliam Fox Clark
In office
Preceded byRichard Evers
Succeeded byGeorge Wilson
Member of Parliament
for York
In office
11 July 1865  17 November 1868
Preceded byJoshua Westhead
Succeeded byJoshua Westhead
In office
14 February 1871  31 March 1880
Preceded byJoshua Westhead
Succeeded byJoseph Johnson Leeman
Personal details
BornAugust 1809
York, Yorkshire, England
Died25 February 1882 (aged 72)
Scarborough, Yorkshire, England
Political partyLiberal


Leeman was articled to Robert Henry Anderson's legal practice, and established a legal practice in York in 1835 when he qualified as a solicitor.[3][4] He became a senior partner in Leeman & Wilkinson of York and Beverley.[4] He was Clerk of the Peace for the East Riding of Yorkshire from 1845 (and a member of the Society of Clerks of the Peace from November 1849) and a Deputy Lieutenant for the North Riding.[5][6][7]


"I know nothing comparable in the history of science to that triumphant march —for such it was— when the Liverpool and Manchester Railway was opened."

—George Leeman[8]

In 1849 he became chairman of the York, Newcastle and Berwick Railway, succeeding his rival the 'Railway King' George Hudson after Leeman's investigations helped uncover Hudson's illegal share dealing.[3][5] Leeman was deputy chairman of the successor company, the North Eastern Railway, from 1855 to 1874 and chairman from 1874 to 1880, having encouraged its formation through mergers in 1854, and he was a chairman of the Railway Association of Great Britain.[3] [9] Leeman resigned as chairman of the NER in 1880 after the failure of his mining company reduced his wealth and harmed his health. He remained a member of the board until his death two years later.[9]

Other business

He was involved the 1860s in developing iron ore mining at Rosedale for Teesside steel works, co-owning the Rosedale and Ferryhill Iron Company from 1860 to 1877.[3][4] He was a director of the York Herald and chairman of the Yorkshire Banking Company from 1867 to 1880.[4]

Political career

He became a Liberal councillor for Castlegate Ward in 1836 and for Guildhall Ward in 1839, and was an Alderman for 28 years from 1850.[4] He was elected Lord Mayor of York three times in 1853, 1860, 1870,[4] and was the Member of Parliament for York 1865–8 and 1871–80,[3] having first stood for Parliament in 1852.[10] When Anthony Trollope campaigned in Beverley as a Liberal candidate, Leeman warned him against it; Trollope came last due to corruption and vote-buying.[11]

Personal life

Leeman was born in York, the son of George Leeman, a greengrocer.[2][4] He lived at The Mount, York, and married twice, first to Jane Johnson in 1835, and second to Eliza, the widow of Rev. Charles Payton, in 1863.[5] One son, William Luther Leeman, attended St. Edmund Hall, Cambridge, and University College, Durham, and was Rector of Middleton St. George, 1874–6, Vicar of Rosedale, Yorkshire, 1877–9, and of Seaforth, Lancashire, 1879–82.[12] His second son, Joseph Johnson Leeman (1842 – 2 November 1883), became a partner in Leeman and Wilkinson and succeeded George as MP for York.[6][13][14][15] Another son, Francis Lawley Leeman (born 19 July 1854, died 1883), attended Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge.[16] George also had at least three daughters, including Priscilla.[17]

He was a member of the Reform Club[5] and the Yorkshire Philosophical Society from 1844.[18] He died in Scarborough in 1882.[4] A statue of Leeman by local sculptor George Walker Milburn, paid for by public subscription, was unveiled in 1885 and stands outside York railway station;[3][19] Station Road was renamed Leeman Road at the same time.[20]


  1. "The House of Commons constituencies beginning with "Y"". Leigh Rayment. Archived from the original on 10 August 2009. Retrieved 3 July 2010.
  2. Boase, Frederic (1897). Modern English Biography: containing many thousand concise memoirs of persons who have died since the year 1850, with an index of the most interesting matter. II. Netherton and Worth. p. 1882.
  3. "George Leeman". History of York. York Museums Trust. Retrieved 3 July 2010.
  4. "George Leeman". Genealogy and Archive. York Cemetery. Retrieved 3 July 2010.
  5. Mair, Robert Henry (1867). Debrett's Illustrated House of Commons, and the Judicial Bench. London: Dean & Son. p. 146.
  6. Stephens, Edgar (1961). The clerks of the counties, 1360–1960. Society of Clerks of the Peace of Counties and of Clerks of County Councils.
  7. Thom, Adam Bissett (1877). The upper ten thousand. George Routledge and Sons.
  8. Williams, Frederick Smeeton (1883). Our iron roads: their history, construction and administration (2 ed.). London: Bemrose & Sons.
  9. Tomlinson, William Weaver (1914). The North Eastern Railway; its rise and development. Newcastle-upon-Tyne : Andrew Reid & Company, Limited. London : Longmans, Green & Company.
  10. Baines, Thomas. "Members of Parliament for the City of York, since 1831.". Yorkshire, past and present: a history and a description of the three ridings of the great county of York, from the earliest ages to the year 1870. II.
  11. "Novel approach to a career in politics". Hull Daily Mail. 19 September 2009. Retrieved 3 July 2010.
  12. Jackson, Richard (1909). Sedbergh School Register 1546–1909.
  13. "Joseph Johnson Leeman". Annual Register. J. Dodsley. 1884. p. 182.
  14. Ward and Lock's guide to the House of Commons. Ward, Lock and Co. 1882. p. 101.
  15. "Obituary notes" (PDF). New York Times. 3 November 1883. Retrieved 4 July 2010.
  16. Westminster School (1928). George Fisher Russell Barker, Alan Herbert Stenning (ed.). The record of old Westminsters: a biographical list of all those who are known to have been educated at Westminster school from the earliest times to 1927. Chiswick Press.
  17. "Marriages". The gentleman's magazine, and historical review. 207. J.H. and J. Parker. 1859.
  18. "Annual report of the Yorkshire Philosophical Society". Yorkshire Philosophical Society. 6 February 1844. Retrieved 3 July 2010.
  19. "Leeman Statue, York". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 3 July 2010.
  20. Tillott, P.M. (1961). "Transport". A History of the County of York: the City of York. Victoria County History. pp. 472–81.

Further reading

  • Peacock, Alf (1981). "George Leeman and York politics 1833–1880". York, 1831–1981: 150 Years of Scientific Endeavour and Social Change. William Sessions, Ebor Press in association with the British Association for the Advancement of Science (York Committee). pp. 234–54. ISBN 0-900657-56-1.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Joshua Westhead
John George Smyth
Member of Parliament for City of York
With: James Lowther
Succeeded by
Joshua Westhead
James Lowther
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Joshua Westhead
James Lowther
Member of Parliament for City of York
With: James Lowther
Succeeded by
Joseph Johnson Leeman
Ralph Creyke
Business positions
Preceded by
Sir Harry Meysey-Thompson, Bart
Chairman of the North Eastern Railway
Succeeded by
John Dent Dent
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