Henry Cockburn (consul)

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Henry Cockburn CB (2 March 1859 – 1927) was a British diplomat.


Cockburn was born in Calcutta in 1859. He was a son of Francis Jeffrey Cockburn (Edinburgh, Midlothian, 8 January 1825 – Brentford, London, 10 July 1893[1]), a Judge in India and with the Bengal Civil Service, and wife (Calcutta or Westbury, Tasmania, 25 January 1855) Elizabeth Anne (Eliza Ann) Pitcairn (Hobart, Tasmania, 23 September 1831, bap. Hobart, Tasmania, 7 November 1831 – Wycombe, Oxfordshire, 1923). His paternal grandparents were Henry Cockburn, Lord Cockburn, and his wife Elizabeth Macdowall,[2] while his maternal grandparents were Robert Pitcairn (Edinburgh, Midlothian, 17 July 1802 – Hobart, Tasmania, 1868) (son of David Pitcairn and Mary Henderson) and his wife (m. Hobart, Tasmania, 30 September 1830) Dorothy/Dorothea Jessy Dumas.

Claud Cockburn, the journalist, was his son and the journalists Alexander Cockburn, Andrew Cockburn and Patrick Cockburn are his grandsons.


Cockburn served in China for 25 years from 1880,[3] as British Consul-General to Peking and Vice-Consul in Chungking, China.[2] In late 1901 Cockburn was appointed to assist Sir James Lyle Mackay, who had been appointed His Majesty´s Special Commissioner to conduct negotiations with representatives of China,[4] The negotiations resulted in the Sino-British "Mackay Treaty," which anticipated the abolition of extraterritoriality in China.

In 1905 Cockburn was appointed Consul-General in Seoul, Korea,[2] at the beginning of the Japanese occupation.[3] In 1908 Cockburn sought to protect a Korean journalist, Yang Ki-taik, who had been detained but was able to escape and seek refuge in The Korea Daily News building, which Japanese police were unable to enter due to its British ownership and a treaty with Britain. Under pressure from the Foreign Office, Cockburn eventually handed over Yang Ki-taik, but resigned in protest.[3]

He was invested as a Companion of the Order of the Bath.[2]

Marriage and issue[edit]

He married at Totlands Bay, Hampshire, on 9 October 1899 Elizabeth Gordon Stevenson (India Office, Bengal, 11 October 1862, bap. Moulmein, Bengal, 5 November 1862 – ?), daughter of Colonel James Francis John Stevenson (bap. Portsmouth, Hampshire, 8 January 1823 – at sea, 7 December 1873[5]) (son of Robert Charles Stevenson and wife Alicia Maria Groves/Gronbe[6][7]) and wife (m. Kilmonivaig, Inverness-shire, 19 September 1850) and wife Louisa Cameron Ross (Kilmonivaig, Inverness-shire, 12 October 1829 – ?) (daughter of Ewen Ross and wife (Kilmallie, Argyll, 3 January 1827) Frances "Fanny" Cameron), by whom he had one daughter and one son:[2]


  1. ^ England and Wales National Probate Calendar, 1893, p. 90: "Cockburn Francis Jeffrey of 2 Kent-avenue Ealing Middlesex gentleman died 10 July 1893 Probate London 25 August to Eliza Anne Cockburn widow Henry Cockburn esquire and Robert Henry Kinsey surgeon Effects £4019 16s. 4d."
  2. ^ a b c d e Charles Mosley, editor, Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes (Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003), volume 1, page 120.
  3. ^ a b c Patrick Cockburn, CounterPunch, 4 November 2013, How My Grandfather’s Brave Stand for Justice Cost Him His Career
  4. ^ "No. 27367". The London Gazette. 22 October 1901. p. 6846. 
  5. ^ England and Wales National Probate Calendar, 1875, "Stevenson James Francis John 5 March. The Will of James Francis John Stevenson late a Colonel of the Madras Corps and Commissioner of Arracan British Burmah who died 7 December 1873 at Sea was proved at the Principal Registry by the Reverend Robert Augustus Gordon of 1 Hill-street Berkeley-square in the County of Middlesex Clerk one of the Executors."
  6. ^ Robert Charles Stevenson m. Alicia Marion Luke 4 Apr 1816 Calcutta, Bengal, India.
  7. ^ "Grave at Calcutta – 'Sacred to the memory of Captain Robert Charles Stevenson, of H.M. 59th Regiment, who departed this life at Calcutta, on the 4th December 1826, aged 40 years, leaving a widow and five helpless children to deplore the loss of the best of husbands and fathers.'"

External links[edit]