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Henry Thomas Cockburn: Wikis


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Lord Cockburn, from the Etching in Crombie's Modern Athenians

Henry Thomas Cockburn (October 26, 1779 – April 26, 1854) was a Scottish judge and biographer, with the style of Lord Cockburn (pronounced /ˈkoʊbərn/ "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.

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Legal offices
Preceded by
John Hope
Solicitor General for Scotland
1830–1834
Succeeded by
Andrew Skene
Academic offices
Preceded by
Marquess of Lansdowne
Rector of the University of Glasgow
1831—1834
Succeeded by
Lord Stanley


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

HENRY THOMAS COCKBURN (1779-1854), Scottish judge, with the style of Lord Cockburn, was born in Edinburgh on the 26th of October 1779. His father, a keen Tory, was a baron of the Scottish court of exchequer, and his mother was connected by marriage with Lord Melville. He was educated at the high school and the university of Edinburgh; and he was a member of the famous Speculative Society, to which Sir Walter Scott, Brougham and 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 or Liberal party, and that at a time when it. held out few inducements to men ambitious of success in life.. 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 Lord Jeffrey in 1852, and from the Memorials of his Time, which appeared posthumously in 1856. He died on the 26th of April 1854, at his mansion of Bonaly, near Edinburgh.


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