Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

certainly gave great attention to the elaboration of his judgments and charges to juries. He presided at the Tichborne trial at Bar, lasting 188 days, of which his summing-up occupied eighteen.

The greatest public occasion on which Sir Alexander Cockburn acted, outside his usual judicial functions, was that of the “Alabama” arbitration, held at Geneva in 1872, in which he represented the British government, and dissented from the view taken by the majority of the arbitrators, without being able to convince them. He prepared, with Mr C. F. Adams, the representative of the United States, the English translation of the award of the arbitrators, and published his reasons for dissenting in a vigorously worded document which did not meet with universal Commendation. He admitted in substance the liability of England for the acts of the "Alabama,” but not on the grounds on which the decision of the majority was based, and he held England not liable in respect of the “Florida” and the “Shenandoah.”

In personal appearance Sir Alexander Cockburn was of small stature, but great dignity of deportment. He was fond of yachting and sport, and was engaged in writing a series of articles on the “History of the Chase in the Nineteenth Century” at the time of his death. He was fond, too, of society, and was also throughout his life addicted to frivolities not altogether consistent with advancement in a learned profession, or with the positions of dignity which he successively occupied. At the same time he had a high sense of what was due to and expected from his profession; and his utterance upon the limitations of advocacy, in his speech at the banquet given in the Middle Temple Hall to M. Berryer, the celebrated French advocate, may be called the classical authority on the subject. Lord Brougham, replying for the guests other than Berryer, had spoken of “the first great duty of an advocate to reckon everything subordinate to the interests of his client.” The lord chief justice, replying to the toast of “the judges of England,” dissented from this sweeping statement, saying, amid loud cheers from a distinguished assembly of lawyers, “The arms which an advocate wields he ought to use as a warrior, not as an assassin. He ought to uphold the interests of his clients per fas, not per nefas. He ought to know how to reconcile the interests of his clients with the eternal interests of truth and justice” (The Times, 9th of November 1864). Sir Alexander Cockburn was never married, and the baronetcy became extinct at his death.

Authorities.-The Times, 22nd of November 1880; Law Journal; Law Times; Solicitors' Journal, 27th of November 1880; Law Magazine, new series, vol. xv. . 193, 1851; Ashley's Life of Lord Palmerston; Nash's Life of Lord Westbury; “Reminiscences of Lord Chief justice Coleridge,” by Lord Russell of Killowen, in the North American Review, September 1894; The Greville Memoirs; Croker's Correspondence and Diaries; Justin M'Carthy's History of Our Own Times; Serjeant Ballantine's Experiences; Bench and Bar, by Serjeant Robinson; Fairchild's Life of Lord Bramwell; Manson's Builders of Our Law; Burke's Peerage, ed. 1879; Foster's Peerage, 1880.

COCKBURN, ALICIA, or Alison (1713-1794), Scottish poet, authoress of one of the most exquisite of Scottish ballads, the “Flowers of the Forest,” was the daughter of Robert Rutherfurd of Fairnalee, Selkirkshire, and was born on the 8th of October 1713. There are two versions of this song, the one by Mrs Cockburn, the other by lean Elliot (1727-1805) of Minto. Both were founded on the remains of an ancient Border ballad. Mrs Cockburn's-that beginning “I've seen the smiling of Fortune beguiling” is said to have been written before her marriage in 1731, though not published till 1765. Anyhow, it was composed many years before Jean Elliot's sister verses, written in 1756, beginning, “I've heard them liltin' at our ewe-milkin'.” Robert Chambers states that the ballad was written on the occasion of a great commerical disaster which ruined the fortunes of some Selkirkshire lairds. Later biographers, however, think it probable that it was written on the departure to London of a certain John Aikman, between whom and Alison there appears to have been an early attachment. In 1731 Alison Rutherfurd was married to Patrick Cockburn of Ormiston. After her marriage she knew all the intellectual and aristocratic celebrities of her day. In the memorable year 1 745 she vented her Whiggism in a squib upon Prince Charlie, and narrowly escaped being taken by the Highland guard as she was driving through Edinburgh in the family coach of the Keiths of Ravelston, with the parody in her pocket. Mrs Cockburn was an indefatigable letter-writer and a composer of parodies, squibs, toasts and “character sketches”-then a favourite form of composition-like other wits of her day; but the “Flowers of the Forest” is the only thing she wrote that possesses great literary merit. At her house on Castle-hill, and afterwards in Crichton Street, she received many illustrious friends, among whom were Mackenzie, Robertson, Hume, Home, Monboddo, the Keiths of Ravelston, the Balcarres family and Lady Anne Barnard, the authoress of “Auld Robin Gray.” As a Rutherfurd she was a Connexion of Sir Walter Scott's mother, and was her intimate friend. Lockhart quotes a letter written by Mrs Cockburn in 1777, describing the conduct of little Walter Scott, then scarcely six years old, during a visit which she paid to his mother, when the child gave as a reason for his liking for Mrs Cockburn that she was a “virtuoso like himself.” Mrs Cockburn died on the 22nd of November 1794.

See her Letters and Memorials … with notes by T. Craig Brown (1900).

COCKBURN, SIR GEORGE, Bart. (1772-1853), British admiral, second son of Sir James Cockburn, Bart., and uncle of Lord Chief Justice Cockburn, was born in London. He entered the navy in his ninth year. After serving on the home station, and in the East Indies and the Mediterranean, he assisted, as captain of the “Minerve” (38) at the blockade of Leghorn in 1796, and fought a gallant action with the Spanish frigate “Sabina” (40) which he took. He was present at the battle of Cape St Vincent. In 1809, in command of the naval force on shore, he contributed greatly to the reduction of Martinique, and signed the capitulation by which that island was handed over to the English; for his services on this occasion he received the thanks of the House of Commons. After service in the Scheldt and at the defence of Cadiz he was sent in 1811 on an unsuccessful mission for the reconciliation of Spain and her American colonies. He was made rear-admiral in 1812, and in 1813-14, as second in command to Warren, he took a prominent part in the American War, especially in the capture of Washington. Early in 1815 he received the order of the Bath, and in the autumn of the same year he carried out, in the “Northumberland” (74), the sentence of deportation to St Helena which had been passed upon Bonaparte. In 1818 he received the Grand Cross of his order, and was made a lord of the admiralty; and the same year he was returned to parliament for Portsmouth. He was promoted to the rank of vice-admiral in 1819, and to that of admiral in 1837; he became senior naval lord in 1841, and held office in that capacity till 1846. From 1827 he was a privy councillor. In 1851 he was made admiral of the fleet, and in 1852, a year before his death, inherited the family baronetcy from his elder brother, being himself succeeded by his brother William, dean of York, who died in 1858.

See O'Byrne, Naval Biography; W. James, Naval History; Gentleman's Magazine for 1853.

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