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Cockburn, Henry

Cockburn, Henry (1779–1854). Scottish advocate, judge, and diarist, whose Memorials of his Time (1856) remains one of the most vivid and attractive accounts of Scottish politics and Edinburgh society and culture in what Cockburn called ‘the last purely Scotch age’. A well-connected Whig who spent his whole life in Edinburgh, a successful and talented criminal advocate, Cockburn was a founder member of the Edinburgh Review. He became solicitor-general for Scotland in 1830, drafted the Scottish Reform Act, and was promoted to the Scottish bench in 1834. Cockburn's generous and unaffected prose did not make him a particularly trenchant Edinburgh reviewer or Whig pamphleteer. It did make him a diarist of near genius. His Memorials are his greatest work. His Journals which cover 1832–54 are less successful. His strongly topographical Circuit Journeys, written while he was a circuit judge, is a neglected masterpiece. In his later years he became a notable and ardent conservationist.

Nicholas Phillipson

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