James Pattison Cockburn

Birth: 1779


James Pattison Cockburn (1779?-1847), major-general royal artillery, was born about 1779. He entered the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, as a cadet, 19 March 1793, and passed out, as a second lieutenant royal artillery, 2 March 1795, the dates of his subsequent commissions being as follows: First lieutenant 1803, captain 1806, brevet-major 1814, lieutenant-colonel 1825, brevet-colonel 1837, major-general 9 Nov. 1846.

He served at the capture of the Cape of Good Hope in 1795, in the expedition which was sent against Manilla in 1798, but recalled when on its passage owing to the threatening aspect of affairs in the Carnatic, and also at the siege and capture of Copenhagen in 1807. He held the post of director of the Royal Laboratory, Woolwich, from 10 Oct. 1838 to 31 Dec. 1846. As a cadet Cockburn had been a pupil of Paul Sandby, royal academician (who was many years professor of landscape-drawing at the Royal Military Academy), and became a very accomplished artist.

During periods of leave from Malta and Woolwich, where he was stationed after the peace, he executed many drawings of continental scenery, which were engraved and published under the titles of 'Swiss Scenery' (London, 1820); ' Views of the Valley of Aosta ' (London, 1822); 'Views to illustrate the Simplon Route' (London, 1822); 'Views to illustrate the Mont Cenis Route' (London, 1822). These drawings supplied the continental 'scenes' for illustrated editions, annuals, and similar works of various descriptions for long afterwards.

He also executed the landscapes in Professor T. L. Donaldson's fine work 'Pompeii Illustrated' (London, 1829), which from a preface by the artist appear to have been executed in 1819. A notice in Spohr's 'Autobiography,' quoted in 'Notes and Queries,' 3rd series, viii. 309, suggests that Cockburn was in the habit of using the camera lucida to insure exactness of landscape detail.

Cockburn, who had long been in feeble health, died at his residence, Woolwich Common, 10 March 1847.

[Kane's Lists of Officers R. Art. (revised ed. 1869); Brit. Mus. Cat.; Gent. Mag. new series, xxvii. 350.]


Henry Manners Chichester, Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 11. pg. 188.

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