Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 11.djvu/198

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Cockburn
Cockburn
192

states that Cockburn was surprised by James V while sitting at dinner, and hanged over the gate of his own tower. The latter version harmonises better with the exquisitely pathetic ballad 'The Border Widow's Lament,' which is founded on the circumstances attending his death, and in which his widow narrates:

I took his body on my back,
And whiles I gaed and whiles I sat
I digged a grave and laid him in,
And happed him with the sod sae green.

According to Sir Walter Scott the ballad was long current in Ettrick. The wife of Cockburn on learning his capture is stated to have retreated into the recesses of the Dowglen, to a place still pointed out as the Lady^s Seat, where amid the roar of the foaming cataract she strove to drown the sounds attending his execution. At a spot called the Chapel Knowe, lately enclosed and planted, the grave of Cockburn is still pointed out, marked with a slab sculptured with armorial bearings, and having an inscription, now legible with difficulty: 'Here lyis Perys of Cokburne and hys wyfe Mariory.'

[Bishop Lesley's History of Scotland (Bannatyne Club), 1830, pp. 141-2; Sir Walter Scott's Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border; Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland, under 'Henderland.']

T. F. H.


COCKBURN, WILLIAM, M.D. (1669–1739), physician, was second son of Sir William Cockburn, baronet, of Ryslaw and Cockburn. He proceeded M.A. at Edinburgh. His name occurs in the register of the university of Leyden as a student of medicine under date 29 May 1691, he being then in his twenty-third year. He probably took his M.D. degree at Leyden. On 2 April 1694 he became a licentiate of the College of Physicians in London (he never got promotion in the college hierarchy), and about the same time was appointed physician to the fleet. His first book, 'Economia Corporis Animalis,' was published the year after. It was a sort of scheme of general pathology, or first principles of physic. In 1696 he brought out a small work on the 'Nature and Cure of Distempers of Seafaring People, with Observations on the Diet of Seamen in H.M.'s Navy.' This was a record of his two years' experience as ship's doctor on the home station. Among other things, it points out that chills are due to the suppression of the perspiration, and it contains remarks on the cause of scurvy: the 'boatswain's favourites,' he points out, suffered much more from scurvy than the men set to do the hard work, a diet of salt beef and pork requiring active exercise to carry it on. He had no notion, however, of the importance of succulent vegetables in the victualling. Scurvy was not effectually banished from the fleet until Blane's rules of victualling in 1795, and Cockburn was inclined to despise the ignorance of those who, 'at the name of scurvy, fly to scurvy-grass, water-cresses, and horse-radishes, but to what advantage may be easily understood by our foregoing theory.' He was sensible enough to see that land-scurvy, which the dogmatists of the 'scorbutic constitution' discovered under many guises, ' is not so very frequent as it is commonly imagined, and that so-called cases of it are something-else.'

Through his connection with the fleet Cockburn was able to introduce his secret remedy for dysentery, which made his fortune. The account given (pamphlet on a 'Medicine against Looseness,' by La Touche, 1757) is that in July 1796 he was dining on board one of the ships in the company of Lord Berkeley of Stratton, when, after some compliments to him, it was remarked that 'there was nothing farther wanting but a better method of curing fluxes.' Cockburn replied that he thought he could be of use. The trial was made next day upon seventy patients on board the Sandwich, and proved brilliantly successful. The result was reported to the admiralty board by Sir Clowdisley Shovell, who was directed to purchase a quantity of the electuary for the use of the Mediterranean squadron. Cockburn supplied the fleet with his electuary for forty years, and it was probably in use also in the army on foreign service. William III conveyed his thanks to the inventor for a benefit of national importance, and Louis XIV in 1698 was in treaty, through his ambassador in London, for the purchase of the secret for use in the French fleet, when war broke out and put an end to the negotiations. Its fame brought him crowds of private patients suffering with fluxes of various kinds. In the long list of electuaries given in Cooley's 'Cyclopædia' there is none bearing Cockburn's name, and it does not appear that the composition of it was made public; but it is almost certain that it was not a preparation of ipecacuanha, or the ordinary 'dysenteric root,' for we know that Cockburn, like many of his contemporaries, had lost faith in that remedy.

The date of his settling in London as a physician is not known exactly. He seems to have kept his connection with the navy for many years, and in 1731 he became physician to Greenwich Hospital. On the title-page of a pamphlet published after his death with the object of keeping up the sale of the secret remedy he is described as 'late of St. James s