John Cockburn Jr.

My Maternal Great-Grandfather

On Dec 6, 1869, my maternal great-grandfather, John Cockburn Jr., was born to Irish-born parents, John and Catherine Cockburn (nee Cockburn), at home in Leith, Edinburgh Scotland. John was the youngest of six children, the only son.  Unfortunately two of his sisters died under the age of three from Scarlet Fever the year before John was born.

John and his three older sisters, Elizabeth, Mary and Maria were raised in Leith, the port district of Edinburgh.  The family appears every ten years in the Scotland Census.  John’s father died in 1899 when John was 29 and he lived with his mother, Catherine, who ran a boarding house for university students, a few years longer.  

John became an upholsterer, and in 1903 at the age of 33, he married Mary Heddle (age 32) a domestic servant who had moved to Edinburgh from the Orkney Islands. Their first child, Catherine MacKenzie Cockburn (known as Katie) was born in 1904 in Edinburgh.  The next year, John sailed for Canada from Glasgow on his own and was joined by Mary and Katie in 1906.  They settled in Hamilton, Ontario and went on to have five more children, four sons and another daughter.  Their fourth child, Harold was my maternal grandfather.  Unfortunately, in 1921 Katie died of Tuberculosis at the age of 17. The most recently released Ontario Census (1921),  taken shortly after Katie’s death, shows John Cockburn (upholsterer) and wife Mary, both 50, living in Hamilton with children: Jack (14), Gertrude (12), Harold (10), Robert (7) and Fred (4).

John’s three eldest sisters also emigrated to Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and their families remained very close.  Mary (known as Molly) had married Gordon MacKenzie in 1888; John and Mary’s first two children had the middle name of MacKenzie, likely after Gordon, and in fact, the name has passed on to a few members of the next generation of Cockburns.  The surviving Cockburn siblings had a solid bond however all but the eldest son passed away in their 40s or 50s. The Cockburn’s strong family values have survived several generations of descendants, many who continue to be close, both in geography and relationships. 

On November 3 1936, at the age of 66, eleven months after his wife Mary passed away, John Cockburn died at the Hamilton General Hospital from stomach cancer.  He is buried next to his wife and a short distance from their daughter Katie at the Hamilton Cemetery.

Gertrude, Jack, Bob, Fred and Harold
Mary and John Cockburn
Katie Cockburn
"In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future." -Alex Haley "

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Muggs | Reply 23.01.2014 21.57

Karen for the first time I am getting the full story of my Grandfather and it really is so interesting.Just love your blog. Lots of work .Thank you .

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09.10 | 13:33

Hello Peter - please email me at

23.08 | 15:28

Hi Karen, If you are still maintaining this page, please drop me a line. William and Mary were my great, great, grandparents. Best Regards,

29.08 | 18:46

John. Can you email me at - then we can connect directly. ..

16.08 | 11:58

Hi Karen, if you are interested, please visit my facebook page
regards john crome.

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