1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cockburn, Henry Thomas

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

COCKBURN, HENRY THOMAS (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.