Saturday musings: in praise of Henry Cockburn

Today is the 240th anniversary of the birth of Henry Cockburn of Bonaly, Lord Cockburn – ‘Cocky’ to his friends. He entered the Faculty of Advocates in 1800 and ultimately became one of the leaders of the Whig party in Scotland. On the formation of Earl Grey’s ministry in 1830, he became Solicitor General for Scotland and drafted the First Scottish Reform Bill. In 1834 he was raised to the Court of Session with the judicial title of Lord Cockburn

So why, I hear you ask, is any of this remotely interesting?

Cockburn’s principal claim to fame, in my view, is not his legal career or even his record as a leading supporter of electoral reform, but his writings on his professional and personal life. Stumbling across his Circuit Journeys in a second-hand bookshop, I was immediately hooked and sought out Memorials of his Time and its sequel, his Journal. Continue reading