The island of Madeira was discovered in 1419 by the Portuguese mariner João Gonçalves Zarco who had been instructed by Prince Henry the Navigator to explore the West African Coast. Prince Henry appointed Zarco first Governor of the island and ordered him to plant sugar cane and vineyards. The original impetus to the trade in Madeira was provided in the late 17th Century by the King of Portugal, Felipe I, who ordered that ships bound for the new Brazilian colony should call at the island to take on wine for the settlements that he was developing there.
John Leacock sailed to Madeira from the United Kingdom (after the death of his father) in 1741 and at the age of 15 became the youngest apprentice at the firm of Madeira merchants, Catanach and Murdoch staying until his contract expired on 11 March 1749. During his apprenticeship he had been in constant contact with an old school friend, John Patient, residing at that time in Charles Town, South Carolina who suggested that they themselves should commence trading. Leacock agreed and this marks the birth of the now world famous company.
In 1925, the wine industry was going through tough times and so both Leacock's and Blandy's amalgamated their interests and joined the Madeira Wine Association (now the Madeira Wine Company). The origins of the Madeira Wine Company started in 1913 when two companies, Welsh & Cunha and Henriques & Camara, joined forces to form the Madeira Wine Association Lda. Through the lean years that followed more companies joined to ensure their survival by reducing costs and pooling production whilst maintaining commercial independence.
The origins of the Madeira Wine Company started in 1913 when two companies, Welsh & Cunha and Henriques & Camara, joined forces to form the Madeira Wine Association Lda. Through the lean years that followed more companies joined to ensure their survival by reducing costs and pooling production whilst maintaining commercial independence.
Leacock's today is one of the four main brands in the company together with Blandy's, Cossart Gordon and Miles, and whose main markets include the United States of America, the Scandinavian countries, and the United Kingdom.
Having recently been completely re-packaged with a new and modern label, Leacock's is set to continue its prominent positioning in the world market.By the reign of the English King, Charles II, demand for Madeira was firmly established along the North American seaboard. Indeed the wine played such an important part in the American way of life that it was used to toast the Declaration of Independence (July 4th 1776) and the Inauguration of George Washington (first President of the United States -1789) who, it was said, "drank a pint of Madeira at dinner daily."