The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Sir Alexander Cockburn

Sir Alexander Cockburn

A carte-de-visite portrait of Sir Alexander James Edmund Cockburn (1802-1880), 12th Baronet and Lord Chief Justice of England.

Educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, Cockburn entered the Middle Temple in 1825 and was called to the bar in 1829. In 1841 he took silk, and in 1847 he was elected unopposed as Liberal M.P. for Southampton. Under Lord John Russell’s ministry he was appointed Solicitor General in 1850 and Attorney General in 1851. Under Lord Aberdeen’s ministry he was again appointed Attorney General, and remained so until 1856. He inherited his baronetcy in 1858 and the following year became Chief Justice of the Queen’s Bench, continuing as a judge for twenty-four years.

He died on 20 November 1880 at his house in Hertford Street, London. As he never married and produced no heirs, the baronetcy became dormant on his death.

During his career, Cockburn was involved with several important trials, one of the most far-reaching of which was that of Daniel McNaghten in 1843, who had shot Sir Robert Peel’s secretary, Edward Drummond. Cockburn appeared for the assassin and made a speech which helped establish the insanity defence in Britain for the next century. As a judge, he presided over the famous Tichborne Case, which lasted 188 days, of which his summing-up occupied eighteen.

Photographed by the London Stereoscopic and Photographic Company.


Code: 123948
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© Paul Frecker 2019