He was born at Berwick-upon-Tweed, England on Feb. 13, 1819
His family immigrated to Canada in 1832, when he was 13-years old
He attended Upper Canada College, which still exists today as a school.
He moved to Cobourg to practice law and was a successful businessman in 1845.
James Cockburn knew great sadness in his life: His father died just after the family arrived in Canada; his mother died after her dress caught on fire during a visit to his sister’s home many years later; and his wife died of consumption (tuberculosis) in 1862.
Cockburn began his political career in municipal politics in 1855.
When he entered provincial politics in 1861, Ontario was known as the Province of Canada or “The Union”.
James Cockburn was elected as a Reformer (Liberal) during his first election, but changes sides to become a Tory after he was in office.
He was so popular; he was acclaimed when he ran for re-election in 1863.
When Confederation was being discussed, James Cockburn was Solicitor General, allowing him to attend the crucial Quebec Conference in 1864.
James Cockburn hosted a number of Maritime delegates at his home in Cobourg just prior to traveling to Quebec for the conference.
He died on August 14, 1883 in Toronto and is buried in St. James Cemetery.