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Bonaly Tower

Lord Henry Cockburn

Lord Henry Cockburn

Lord Henry Cockburn (1779-1854)

Henry Cockburn entered the Faculty of Advocates in 1800 at 21 years of age. Following in the footsteps of his father. He married in 1811 and lived in the new town of Edinburgh (14 Charlotte Square). He also had a country farmhouse in Bonaly at the foot of the Pentland Hills.  He had 10 children.  In 1834 he became a Judge in the Court of Session. And also became Solicitor General for Scotland and Lord Cockburn. A great conservationist protecting Edinburgh’s old buildings for the benefit of Edinburgh. He was happily married for over 40 years and died at Bonaly on 26 April 1854 and is buried in the Dean Cemetery. After his death in 1875 The Cockburn Association was founded and named in his honour. The first major campaign by the Association was to resist the removal of trees at Bruntsfield Links and the Cockburn has campaigned for the retention and improvement of Edinburgh's open and green spaces ever since.

Lord Henry Cockburn

Bonaly Tower Edinburgh

Bonaly Tower Edinburgh was the country residence of Lord Cockburn. This building was originally purchased as a farm house circa 1810. Lord Henry Cockburn a wealthy Advocate of Edinburgh (became a Lord in 1834) over time had the farmhouse extended with a peel tower added, designed by William Playfair in 1839, the west wing by David Bruce in 1870 and later a library was added in 1888, where the original farmhouse had stood. 

Bonaly Tower Lord Cockburn's House

Bonaly Tower Edinburgh

Stain Glass Window in Bonaly Tower


“DARING AND VIGILANT”     VIGILANS - ET – AUDAX (Shield with three cockerels)

Cockburn crest on the stain glass window left side on the tower steps.

Henry Cockburn, son of Archibald Cockburn Baron of the Exchequer. First owned the Farmhouse at Bonaly which was developed into Bonaly Tower circa 1839


 De Ponte crest on the stain glass window right side on the tower steps.


 "OF THE OLD BRIDGE"          DE – VELEI – PONTE     (Shield with six diamonds)


The Veteri Pontes held the lands of Carriden (Bo’ness) West Lothian, for many generations circa 1250, Nicholas de Veteri Ponte made a gift of Swaynyston (Swanston) near Colinton to the Hospital of Soltre (Sutra).  Sir William de Ponte, fought alongside Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn. Due to his daughter being the sole survivor of his estate it was passed to the family of Cockburn as his daughter Mariota’s husband was Sir Alexander de Cockburn. The de Pontes were among the earliest known landowners in Fife. This surname is now almost extinct in Scotland.

Stain Glass Windows of Bonaly Tower Colinton Edinburgh

Bonaly Tower Garden Statues Edinburgh

Lord Henry Cockburn was a conservationist and the statues in the garden Shakespeare, Robert the Bruce and The Black Douglas were saved by him when Edinburgh was going through building of the New Town and many later renovations.   

Lord Cockburn died in Bonaly in 1854.

Bonaly Tower Garden Statues Edinburgh

Shakespeare in Edinburgh

There is also a statue of Shakespeare. This is the only known statue of Shakespeare in Edinburgh. One of the many things Lord Cockburn saved from destruction in 1860.  The statue stood at Theatre Royal in Shakespeare Square in 1860. The Square was where The Post Office building stands at the foot of the North Bridge across from the Balmoral Hotel. More saves of Lord Cockburn are pieces of decorative stonework, including several urns, 2 decorative bird-baths and a plaque depicting Edinburgh Castle.

James (“James the Good” or “Black Douglas”)   Douglas

James Douglas was a great friend of Robert the Bruce and fought with him on many occasions and was at his side at the Battle of Bannockburn 1314. James Douglas was charged with transporting the heart of Robert the Bruce to Palestine in redemption of his unfulfilled vow to go on crusade. On the journey in 1330 carrying a silver casket containing the embalmed heart of Robert the Bruce he was killed in a battle with the Moors in Spain. From that day the Douglas coat of arms have borne a human heart. The Knights that survived returned to Scotland where Sir James “Black Douglas” Douglas was buried in St Bride’s church in Douglas. The casket and Heart of Robert the Bruce was taken to Melrose Abbey where it remains. 

Sir James Douglas Statue from the Portrait Gallery Edinburgh

King Robert the Bruce

The gardens have historic interest with statues of Robert the Bruce King of Scotland crowned 1306 born 1274 died 1329 and Sir James Douglas “Black Douglas” to the English and Sir James “the good” to the Scots Born circa 1286 died 1330. Inscriptions over recesses read “My King and Country Ever Claimed | Those Marshall Deeds for Which I’m Famed” and “I Scotland’s Glorey Made Returne | Victoriously at Bannockburn”.

King Robert the Bruce Statue from the front of the National Portrait Gallery Edinburgh
Robert the Bruce Heart buried in Melrose Abbey
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