Henry Cockburn, Lord Cockburn


Henry Cockburn, Lord Cockburn

Henry Thomas Cockburn (October 26, 1779 - April 26, 1854), was a Scottish judge and biographer, with the style of Lord Cockburn "(pronounced Co'burn)."

His father, a keen Tory, was a baron of the Court of Exchequer, and his mother was connected by marriage with Lord Melville. He was educated at the Royal High School and the University of Edinburgh.

He was a member of the famous Speculative Society, to which Sir Walter Scott, Henry Brougham and Francis Jeffrey belonged. He entered the Faculty of Advocates in 1800, and attached himself, not to the party of his relatives, who could have afforded him most valuable patronage, but to the Whig party, and that at a time when it held out few inducements to men ambitious of success in life.

Cockburn became a distinguished advocate, and ultimately a judge. He was one of the leaders of the Whig party in Scotland in its days of darkness prior to the Reform Act of 1832, and was a close friend of Sir Thomas Dick Lauder, Bt.

On the accession of Earl Grey's ministry in 1830 he became Solicitor General for Scotland. In 1834 he was raised to the bench, and on taking his seat as a judge in the Court of Session he adopted the title of Lord Cockburn.

Cockburn's forensic style was remarkable for its clearness, pathos and simplicity; and his conversational powers were unrivalled among his contemporaries. The extent of his literary ability only became known after he had passed his seventieth year, on the publication of his biography of lifelong friend Lord Jeffrey in 1852, and from his chief literary work, the "Memorials of his Time", which appeared posthumously in 1856. His published work continued with his "Journal", published in 1874. These constitute an autobiography of the writer interspersed with notices of manners, public events, and sketches of his contemporaries, of great interest and value. He died on 26 April 1854, at his mansion of Bonaly, near Edinburgh.

He had a strong interest in architectural conservation, particularly of Edinburgh. The Cockburn Association (Edinburgh Civic Trust), founded in 1875, is named after him.

External links

* [http://tls.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,25336-1995024,00.html Scotland's greatest Whig Romantic] , Times Literary Supplement, January 18, 2006

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*1911
*A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature


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