Sir John CockburnPrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Chris McLaughlin

A bust commemorates Sir John Cockburn, a local mayor who became Premier of South Australia.

The first doctor to be Premier of South Australia, Sir John Cockburn was described as progressive by his supporters, but derided as a radical by detractors. Selected as the first Mayor of Jamestown in 1878, he stood for Burra in the Lower House in 1884, serving as Minister of Education from 1885 - 1887 before losing his seat and returning as a member for Mount Barker.

He was active in the planning of Federation and argued eloquently for a more democratic Constitution. He served as Premier in 1889 for a year before his government was defeated by Playford`s no confidence vote. Cockburn was responsible for an important land taxation Act and supported payment for members of Parliament, and although he did not often successfully negotiate the murky waters of faction politics he continually fought for adult suffrage, technical and industrial education, and Upper House reform.


Address:Ayr Street & Dunure Terrace, Jamestown, 5491
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -33.205564
Long: 138.606747
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:People
Sub-Theme:Government - Colonial
Monument Designer:Giovannii Delle Putta (sculptor) Ley Graham (architect)


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Sunday 12th October, 1986
Front Inscription

This monument was erected in honour of Hon. Sir John Alexander Cockburn, K.C.M.G., M.D. (1850 - 1929)

Mayor of Jamestown:  1878 - 1881
Premier of South Australia : 1889 - 1890
Agent General for South Australia : 1898 - 1901

Unveiled by Hon. Don Hopgood, B.A., Ph.D., M.P., Deputy Premier of South Australia on 12th day of October, 1986

(A Jubilee 150 Project)

Left Side Inscription

Contributions to Jamestown

Born at Corsbie, Berwickshire, Scotland on 23.8.1850, Dr. John Cockburn graduated from King`s College, London in 1874 as M.D. with First Class Honours and a gold medal.  He commenced practice in Jamestown in September 1876, and proved to be a skilled doctor with a keen interest in civic affairs.

On 25.7.1878 the Corporation of Jamestown was formed with the eloquent Dr. Cockburn as Mayor.  His vigorous leadership led to widespread beautification of the town, principally through tree planting.  Leadership was given in the formation of the Jamestown Hospital, and in other organisations, notably the Institute, Freemasonary and the Anglican Church. 

On 30.4.1884 he was elected to represent the District of Burra in the House of Assembly.  On becoming the Minister for Education on 15.6.1885, his relinquished his medical practice.  In May 1887 he left the town, the citizens presenting him an illuminated address in appreciation of his service.

Back Inscription

This monument has been completed through the efforts of :
Giovannii Delle Putta, sculptor and Ley Graham, Architect

Funding was provided by :
South Australia Jubilee 150 Board,
Corporation of Jamestown,
District Council of Jamestown,
Lions Club of Jamestown,
Jamestown Rural Youth Club.

Right Side Inscription

Contributions to South Australia

Dr. Cockburn represented Burra in the House of Assembly from 1884 to 1887, and Mount Barker from 1887 to 1898.  In this period he was a member of four ministeries :

Minister of Education from 15.6.1885 until 9.6.1887.
Premier and Chief Secretary from 27.6.1889 until 15.8.1890.
Chief Secretary from 21.6.1892 until 13.10.1892 and Minister of Education and Agriculture from 16.6.1893 until 13.4.1898.

He displayed advanced and liberal views for that era, amongst them extension of the franchise to women and payment of parliamentarians.  A strong advocate of federation, he was a South Australian delegate to all Federation Conferences between 1890 and 1898.  

Dr. Cockburn`s initiatives included school arbour days and the commencement of the School of Mines and Industries, of which he was the first President.  He was Agent General for South Australia in London from 1898 to 1901.

Until his death on 2.12.1929, he lived in retirement in Kent, but served several Australian companies, eg. B.H.P. as a London director.  He also served on the councils of various educational bodies including King`s College, London.  Created K.C.M.G., in 1900.

Source: MA, ADB
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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