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Having studied law at Edinburgh University, Henry Cockburn became an advocate gaining success as counsel for the defence in criminal cases.

One famous case involving an associate of the infamous Burke and Hare caused him to assert that, 'except that he murdered, Burke was a gentlemanly fellow'.

Made Solicitor General for Scotland in 1830 after the Whig Government gained power, he was central to the drawing up of the Scottish Reform Bill, and in 1834 became a judge at the Court of Session.

The posthumous publication of his journals, 'Memorials of his Time' and 'Circuit Journeys', chronicled the upheavals and great uncertainty that characterised Scotland in the aftermath of the French Revolution, over the Reformation and throughout the early Victorian era.

Robert Louis Stevenson
used 'Memorials' for its characterisation of Braxfield ('Hanging' judge 1722-1799), on which he drew inspiration for 'Weir of Hermiston'.


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