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Biographical entry Cockle, James (1819 - 1895)


14 January 1819
Essex, England
27 January 1895
Bayswater, England
Barrister, Chief justice and Mathematician


Sir James Cockle worked as a Barrister in England from 1846 to 1862, then as Queensland's Chief Justice from 1863 to 1879. His particular interests lay in calculus, algebra, metaphysics and astronomy, publishing around eighty scientific papers.


After completing school, James Cockle spent a year in the United States of America and in the West Indies. Upon his return to England in 1837, Cockle enrolled in law at Trinity College, Cambridge. He completed both a Bachelor and Master of Arts there and was called to the Bar at the Middle Temple in 1846. Cockle remained a part of the England legal circuit until 1863. During this time he maintained his interest in mathematics and astronomy and was elected fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1854.

In 1863 James Cockle was appointed Chief Justice of Queensland and during his fifteen years in that position consolidated many colonial statutes. Again this new position did not interfere with his study of mathematics and other related fields and Cockle published widely while in Australia. With fourteen years of service in Queensland's justice system, Cockle took one years leave (with full pay) in 1878 and returned to England with his family. Once the leave period was over he handed in his resignation and successfully fought for a retirement pension. Now fully retired from the bar, James Cockle put all his efforts into his mathematical research. His achievements in both law and mathematics were widely applauded and Cockle received many honours including election as a fellow of the Royal Society (1865), President of the London Mathematical Society (1884-1889) and was knighted in 1869.


Education - Bachelor of Arts (BA) completed at Trinity College, Cambridge, UK
Education - Master of Arts (MA) completed at Trinity College, Cambridge, UK
1845 - 1849
Career position - Special Pleader in England
1846 -
Career position - Barrister at the Middle Temple in England
1848 - 1862
Career position - Barrister of the Midland circuit in England
Career position - Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society (FRAS), UK
1856 -
Career position - Member of the Cambridge Philosophical Society
Career position - Drafted the work Jurisdiction in Homicides Act in England
1863 - 1878
Career position - President of the Queensland Philosophical Society
1863 - 1879
Career position - Chief Justice for Queensland
Career position - Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS), England
1866 - 1867
Career position - Senior Commissioner in Queensland
Award - Knighted
c. 1870 -
Career position - Corresponding member of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society
1870 - 1885
Career position - Member of the London Mathematical Society
1874 - 1877
Career position - Chairman of Trustees of the Brisbane Grammar School
1876 -
Career position - Honorary member of the Royal Society of New South Wales
1878 -
Life event - Returned to England
Career position - Resigned from the Queensland Bar
1886 - 1888
Career position - President of the London Mathematical Society
1888 - 1892
Career position - Councillor of the Royal Astronomical Society, England

Published resources

Book Sections

  • Corley, T. A. B. and Crilly, A. J., 'Sir James Cockle, 1819-1895' in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004). Details
  • Marks, E. N., 'Cockle, Sir James (1819-1895)' in Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 3 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1969), pp. 435-436. Details


Resource Sections

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