National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Henry Cockburn (1779-1854)

Henry Cockburn (1779-1854)

Author and judge

Henry Cockburn was a nephew of Henry Dundas and through his influence gained the position of advocate-depute. He did not share his uncle's political persuasion and was instrumental in the foundation of the 'Edinburgh Review' in 1802. As an advocate he defended many of the political radicals, who had been a constant worry to the establishment since the French Revolution. He became Lord Cockburn in 1830 and Solicitor General of Scotland. In this capacity he assisted in the drafting of the Scottish Reform Bill in 1832. In 'Memorials of His Time' (1856) he laments 'the last purely Scotch age' before political factionalism and provides a vivid first-hand account of life in the capital during the 'Age of Enlightenment'. He died on 26 April 1854.

Birth in 1779

Henry Cockburn was born on 26 October 1779, the son of Archibald Cockburn and Janet Rannie. The entry in the Old Parish Register (OPR) for Cockpen gives the place of birth as Hope Park in Edinburgh. Four of the five other entries on the same page, headed 1781, are for the births and baptisms of his brothers.

Birth and baptism entry for Henry Cockburn

Birth and baptism entry for Henry Cockburn (31 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 676/1

Marriage in 1811

Henry Cockburn, advocate, married Elizabeth McDowall on 12 March 1811. The entry in the Old Parish Register for Edinburgh shows they were both from St Andrews Church Parish and her father was the late James McDowall of Glasgow.

Marriage entry for Henry Cockburn

Marriage entry for Henry Cockburn (18 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 685-1/53, page 358

1841 and 1851 censuses

In 1841 Lord Cockburn, Lord of Session, was living at Bonally House in the parish of Colinton (or Hailes) with his wife and a servant. His age, 60, would have been rounded down to the nearest five for the 1841 census.

1841 census record for Henry Cockburn

1841 census record for Henry Cockburn (26 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1841/677/3, page 1

In 1851 Henry Cockburn, 71, Supreme Judge, was at the same address with his family and nine servants. The household schedule is over two pages.

1851 census record for Henry Cockburn, part 1

1851 census record for Henry Cockburn, part 2

1851 census record for Henry Cockburn (23 and 86 KB jpegs)
National Records of Scotland, 1851/677/3, pages 22-23

Testament of Henry Cockburn

National Records of Scotland, SC70/4/34 pp907-959

View transcript (119 KB PDF)

The images of the original document are in jpeg format (approximately 175 KB):

View page 1 of the actual document
View page 2 of the actual document
View page 3 of the actual document
View page 4 of the actual document
View page 5 of the actual document
View page 6 of the actual document
View page 7 of the actual document
View page 8 of the actual document
View page 9 of the actual document
View page 10 of the actual document

View page 11 of the actual document
View page 12 of the actual document
View page 13 of the actual document
View page 14 of the actual document
View page 15 of the actual document
View page 16 of the actual document
View page 17 of the actual document
View page 18 of the actual document
View page 19 of the actual document
View page 20 of the actual document

View page 21 of the actual document
View page 22 of the actual document
View page 23 of the actual document
View page 24 of the actual document
View page 25 of the actual document
View page 26 of the actual document
View page 27 of the actual document