Henry Thomas Cockburn

(Lord Cockburn)

1779 - 1854

Statue of Henry Cockburn, Parliament Hall
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Statue of Henry Cockburn, Parliament Hall

Barrister, judge, historian and conservationist. Born in Edinburgh and educated at the Royal High School and the University of Edinburgh. He was a member of a distinguished legal family, being a nephew of Henry Dundas, Viscount Melville (1742 - 1811). Cockburn became one of the leading barristers of his time and took part in some noted criminal cases. Taking up the post of Solicitor General for Scotland in 1830, Cockburn was responsible for preparing the Scottish Reform Act. He was appointed a Judge in the Court of Session in 1834, taking the title Lord Cockburn. In addition, he was a regular contributor to the Edinburgh Review and maintained a wide circle of influential friends, which included Lord Henry Brougham (1778 - 1886), Francis Horner (1778 - 1817), Lord Francis Jeffrey (1773 - 1850) and Sir Walter Scott (1771 - 1832). Cockburn's journals, which provide a remarkable social history of Scotland at the time, were published posthumously as Memorials of his Time (1856) and Circuit Journeys (1888).

He was a noted conservationist of Edinburgh's built environment. The Cockburn Society, which continues to have a significant role in the protection of the city, is named in his honour.

He died at Bonaly Tower, the country seat he had built in southwest Edinburgh, and lies buried in Dean Cemetery. Cockburn Street in the Old Town of Edinburgh was also named after him.

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