Cockburn, James (fl.1783) (DNB00)

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COCKBURN, JAMES (fl. 1783), colonel 35th foot, commandant at St. Eustatius in 1781, was second son of Dr. James Cockburn, and grandson of Dr. William Cockburn [q. v.], physician-general to the British army in the Duke of Marlborough's campaigns. During a long and meritorious service of thirty-six years, mostly in the 35th foot, of which he was adjutant from 1757 to 1772, he was several times wounded, and fought under Wolfe at Quebec, in the subsequent conquest of Canada, and in the American campaigns of 1775-6, including the battles of Bunker's Hill and White Plains. He was in command at St. Eustatius when that island, garrisoned by detachments of the 13th and 15th foot and a few artillery, was surprised and captured by a small French naval squadron on 26 Nov. 1781. For this he was tried by a general court-martial, held at the Horse Guards 31 May 1783, which sentenced him to be cashiered. He died soon afterwards. Cockburn married Lætitia Little, heiress of the ancient Irish houses of Rossiter and Devereux, and by her had several children. His eldest son, William, succeeded his uncle in the baronetcy and estates of Cockburn of Cockburn and Ryslaw, Berwickshire, and served with distinction in the army in India [see Cockburn, Sir William, lieutenant-general].

Printed copies of the court-martial proceedings, one edition with numerous notes (London 1783), will be found in the British Museum Library. The Egerton MSS. also contain two letters, one from Cockburn to Brigadier Christie announcing the capture of St. Eustatius, and the other from Mrs. Lætitia Cockburn, dated Greenwich, 18 March 1781, to General Vaughan, thanking him for having appointed her husband to the post of quarter-master-general (in the West Indies), an appointment he appears never to have taken up.

[Burke's Baronetage; British Museum Catalogues.]

H. M. C.