Obituary: Madam Anne Leask of Leask

This is taken from the Leask Society website:

With sadness, we report the death of Madam Leask of Leask, 22nd Chief of the Clan Leask, who died peacefully in her sleep on 25 April 2008.

Madam Leask’s funeral will be held at 2.45pm on Thursday 15th May, at St Faith Crematorium, Norwich, NR10 3LF.

Our thoughts are with the family in their time of loss.

Madam Anne Leask of Leask

D.L.J., B.A. (Hons.), M.A., Ph. D.,

Chev. Ordre des Palmes Académiques

Born Moira Anne Meridith Gordon Fleming Curr on 5 January 1912 in Belfast, Northern Ireland, daughter of Alexander Leask Curr, a lecturer at Queen’s University, born in Linlithgow, and Anne Marie Stuart Curr nee Leask, born in Forfar.

After the death of her father in Edinburgh in 1916, the family moved to Norwich, Norfolk. Moira attended Lonsdale School for Girls and Blyth Grammar School at Norwich. Here she displayed the early ambition and achievement which she was to show throughout her life. Becoming House Captain, school prefect, captain of the school hockey team, vice-captain of the tennis team, gym, swimming and athletics champion and, although only five feet two inches tall, played for the netball team.

Gaining two Norfolk scholarships to the University of London, she obtained an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in French and Spanish with minors in English and Latin. While in London she pursued her athletic successes in several sports.

On graduation, Moira moved to Hertfordshire where she married Sidney Helgesen, born Stevenston, Ayrshire, son of Lauritz Amandus Helgesen of Norway and Helen Burnett of Glasgow. They had one child, Michael Philip Helgesen, born 1936.

In 1941 Moira and Michael moved to Bermuda, and then to New York City and Florida. They returned to Britain in 1945. Going back to the USA, Moira resumed her studies at Colorado University where she gained her Master’s Degree with “straight As” in all subjects. She obtained her Doctorate in 1955.

At Toledo, Ohio, Moira – now called Anne – became Associate Professor from 1960 to 1965. Later she taught at Kalamazoo College, Michigan, and then Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, from where she retired to Britain in 1968. During her career, she published numerous books on French and Spanish subjects and was honoured by the French government, awarding her Chevalier des Palmes académiques, its highest academic award.

After retirement she concentrated her efforts on the Clan Leask. In 1963 she purchased the ruins of Leask House in Ellon, Aberdeenshire, and in 1968 the 21st chief of the Clan Leask, Alexander Graham Leask of Edinburgh, conceded his chiefly rights to her in her lifetime. In 1980 Madam Leask published a short book entitled “The Leasks – Historical Notes on the Aberdeenshire, Orkney and Shetland families”.

In 1981 a joint gathering was arranged for Clan Leask and Clan Hay at Edinburgh Castle, and here the beginnings of the Clan Leask Society were formed with representatives from America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand appointed from those present. Madam Anne pursued the development of the Clan Leask Society’s development worldwide, and it grew steadily. An annual feature became the attendance at the Aboyne Highland Games, and gatherings were also held periodically at each of the overseas branches.

Ill-health forced Anne to give up active participation in the Clan Leask in the mid-1990s, and in recent years she suffered from dementia.

Madam Leask will be succeeded in her chiefship of the Clan Leask by Jonathan Leask, who will in due course become the 23rd Chief of the Clan Leask.

Everyone at ScotClans sends their thoughts to the family and friends of this remarkable woman.

About Amanda Moffet

I run with Rodger Moffet. Live in Edinburgh and love travelling around Scotland gathering stories.

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3 thoughts on “Obituary: Madam Anne Leask of Leask

  1. Stephen Phillips

    Thank you for a very good obituary. My mom (Nancy leask Phillips ) spoke of her whenever the subject of genealogy came up.
    Your piece helps fill out a few details about the clan.

  2. Kelly Cooper

    Hello Amanda Moffet. 🙂 My name is Kelly Cooper. I am planning a trip to Ellon,Scotland during the last week of July 2019. I have become very intrigued with our Leask genealogy.
    I am the ancestor of Peter Leask ( born June 28th,1786). Peter Leask’s father was William Leask ( Liesk). William Leask was born in 1739. William Leask resided on Skilmafilly Farm. He died on July12, 1823 ( buried in Fyvie, Scotland (Parish of New Deer, by Ellon, Scotland) I have tried to no avail, to find out where William Leask’s plot or burial site is. I have definitely come up short. I can’t even find out where the cemetery of Fyvie, Scotland ( Parish of New Deer) is. I wanted to visit the cemetery where William Leask was buried( possibly his grave site). William Leask’s wife, Margaret Johnston ( also there is record of her name as (Margaret Galation) born 1750, married William Leask on July 20, 1770, died July 22, 1810. She was buried in Fyvie Scotland from May 19 – Mar. 6,1814. Her name on the gravestone was Margaret Johnston. I am confused as to where her burial plot is after 1810. Unless they demolish grave sites after a certain period of time? Maybe that is why I can’t find out much information as to where William Leask is buried? Just a guess. Margaret Johnston’s marriage record to William Leask is Margaret Johnston. Going back to William Leask’s and Margaret Johnston’s son Peter; Where Peter Leask lived on Ryland Farm in Banffshire, Scotland. Peter Leask died on July 6th,1877). Peter was buried in Union, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. Peter Leask’s son was Alexander Leask (born July 19th, 1827). His place of residence was ( Lot 12, Con 2, Brock Twp, Ontario, Canada). He died on Feb. 4th, 1895. Alexander Leask’s son was named Peter Andrew Leask ( born Nov. 2nd, 1851). He resided in Virden, Manitoba, Canada, Municipality of Woodworth. He died in 1917 ( I believe in Virden, Manitoba, Canada, in the Municipallity of Woodworth. His son John Fergueson Leask, my grandfather ( born Oct. 17th, 1892 in Virden, Manitoba, Canada). He also resided in Virden, Manitoba, Canada, Municipality of Woodworth. My grandfather John Fergueson Leask died in Virden, Manitoba, Canada on Jan. 3rd, 1963. My mother Dorothy Mitchell ( Nee: Leask) ( John Fergueson Leask’s daughter ) was born in Virden, Manitoba, Canada on Dec. 26th, 1938. My She grew up in the municipality of Woodworth as well of the town of Virden, Manitoba, Canada. Until she married my father ( Vernon Harold Mitchell born May 25, 1937). My mother Dorothy Mitchell recently passed away on Nov. 16, 2018. 🙁
    My name is Kelly Anne Cooper ( Nee: Mitchell). I was born in Virden, Manitoba, Canada on June 21st,1968. I now live in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada.
    I hope that I haven’t overloaded you with too much information. If you have time, it would be a pleasure to hear back from you. Thank you for your time. Regards, Kelly Coope


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