Sir Alexander and Sir Thomas Cockburn-Campbell
Pioneer Memorial Service 2004
Royal Western Australian Historical Society's
Annual Pioneers Memorial Service
on Sunday 30 May 2004 at St Bartholomews Church, East Perth Cemeteries,
Commemorating Sir Alexander and Sir Thomas Cockburn-Campbell
Citation and Read by Bonnie Hicks
The Cockburn-Campbells, Alexander and Thomas, made a rare combination in colonial days, a father and son who were equally successful in the public and cultural circles of the era. Whilst some of us may be chary of the contribution of hereditary factors to success in life, it does assist us to understand the motivations behind such men if we trace their lineage. The Cockburn-Campbell saga goes back a considerable way into antiquity. The genealogy commences with PIERS DE COCK-BURN, who inherited the lands of Cockburn, so called from a burn bearing the name COK running through the property in the Merse region. This event took place in the reign of the Scottish king William the Lion in 1214. "Burke's Peerage" claims that Sir Robert Cockburn was the first knight and received the honour from Alexander III in the 13th century. At any rate, from him can be traced 22 heads of the family down to Sir Alexander Cockburn, Lord Chief Justice of England, in whom this line of the family terminated. It was this family which showed the cocks and six mascles (diamond shapes) on their coat-of-arms.
Cockburn was joined to Campbell when Sir Alexander Cockburn inherited under special limitation a Campbell baronetcy and assumed the additional surname. At this point is is appropriate to note that Alexander and Thomas have always been used almost exclusively for the first two sons of every generation, or alternatively father and son, right down to the present Sir Thomas Cockburn-Campbell, living in Forrestfield, and his son Alexander.
"Cockburn", writes the family historian, Mr Samson of Cottesloe, "is the cradle of the family and on the slopes of the Cockburn River once stood Cockburn Castle, the ruins of which were removed about 1827 for a farmhouse. In 1857 Langton, which had been in the possession of the family for over 400 years, was sold in 1793 for £60,000 to a Mr Garvin, whose heiress married John Campbell, 4th Earl and 1st Marquis of Breadalbane". The name of Langton was perpetuated in W.A. when Sir Thomas bought a property at Mt. Barker in the 1870s and named it after the Scottish "Langton" or "Langtoun" his family once owned. Langton in Mt. Barker is now the property of parliamentarian C. B. Mitchell.
One ancestor, Sir William Cockburn, was created a baronet of Nova Scotia in 1627 and a Cockburn Island exists in Arctic Canada. This Sir William was Usher for the Scottish Court and in 1641, wrote historian Baillie, "Langton, too rashly took a rod and put himself in possession of the place. The king was offended at his presumption and ordered him into custody. The royal action caused dissent and the nobles required the king to enact a law that neither himself nor his successors should thereafter permit a member of the house to be committed without consulting the legislative body. This incident provides ample illustration of a Cockburn as resolute as future generations were to be.
When the two branches of Cockburn-Campbell were grafted together, Sir Alexander Cockburn, G.B.C., P.C., D.C.L., LL.D., 10th Baronet, succeeded his uncle the Very Reverend Sir William, D.D., Dean of York. Sir Alexander was a member of the Bar of the Middle Temple (1829), Queen's Counsel (1841), M.P. for Southampton 1847-56, Recorder of Bristol 1853-6, Solicitor-General 1851-2, Attorney-General 1851-2 and 1852-6, Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas 1856-9, then Lord Chief Justice of England. In 1871 he was arbitrator on behalf of the Crown under the Treaty of Washington and for this was created a G.C.B., having previously declined a peerage.
Sir Alexander was involved in a link between Australia and the American Civil War. In January 1865 the Confederate steamer Shenandoah entered Port Phillip and asked permission of the Victorian governor Sir Charles Darling to affect repairs and take on fuel. Suspicion was aroused because during the voyage the ship's name had been changed from The Sea King, and she had sunk several Yankee vessels, it later transpired. When the Shenandoah's captain tried to enlist local men to fight in America, the governor sent a police officer aboard. When the ship left several Australians had stowed on board. The Shenandoah committed depredations to Yankee ships to the tune of $6,300,000. With the war over, the United States sued Britain for damages done by Confederate ships allowed to sail from British ports. A court of arbitration sat at Geneva in 1872, and Britain was declared liable "for all acts committed by that vessel after her departure from Melbourne". Sir Alexander was a member of this court but he had dissented from the general judgment on the grounds that all reasonable precautions had been taken.
Another story of this Alexander of Langton is of a certain trial involving a very pretty girl witness. Cockburn-Campbell was very particular about recording her name and address, as was the sheriff's officer. That evening both arrived at the girl's door simultaneously. "No, no, Mr Sheriff's officer", boomed Cockburn-Campbell "judgment first, execution afterwards".
Cockburn Sound and Mount Cockburn near Wyndham were named after the 8th baronet, who at the time of Stirling's visit to W.A., was a Lord of the Admiralty. This position he held twice, from 1818 to 1830 and then from 1841 to 1846. Sir George entered the Royal Navy at nine years of age. In 1809 he forced the surrender of Martinique to the British and was thanked by the House of Commons.
In 1811 he was sent on an unsuccessful mission to negotiate reconciliation between Spain and her American colonies. Then he was created a rear-admiral and took a prominent part in the American war, especially in the capture of Washington. Early in 1815 he received the Order of the Bath for transporting Napoleon to St. Helena for exile. He was created Lord of the Admiralty and was returned as parliamentary member for Portsmouth. From then on he climbed steadily to become Admiral of the Fleet. He inherited his brother's baronetcy in 1852, a year before his death.
Another ancestor of note was Mrs Alison Cockburn, a famed Scottish beauty who wrote the exquisite ballad "The Flowers of the Forest". A graceful dancer, she spent two debutante winter seasons in Edinburgh society, and in 1731 she married Patrick Cockburn of "Ormiston", an advocate at the Scottish Bar. After her marriage she met and knew all the celebrities of the day, including Dr Johnson and Robert Burns, and many intellectuals graced her salon. She was a friend and connection of Sir Walter Scott's mother. She lived to the ripe old age of 83, engaged in writing and musical pursuits to the last.
The renewed patent which linked the names of Cockburn and Campbell was instigated by Lieut. General Sir Alexander Campbell, a victor at the battle of Talavera, under the command of the Duke of Wellington. The title was extended to his grandson, and after him to the male issue of his second wife Isabella, Lady Malcolm. The military Sir Alexander married twice and one of his daughters married a cousin, a Madras banker, Alexander Cockburn. The banker did not use the hyphenated title, but his son . . . confusingly also Sir Alexander . . . (and a Madras banker also) . . . assumed the title in 1825, by sign manual. This was the man who was later to become Government Resident at Albany. His father had been the second son of Thomas Cockburn of Rowchester and had joined his own brother Thomas as banker in the firm of Cockburn, Harrington, Barnaby and Co., Madras, in the great era of colonial expansion in India. When his son married his cousin Margaret Malcolm he became linked to a celebrated soldier, statesman, historian and archaeologist of Persia, and famed raconteur. Sir John Malcolm, G.C.B., Governor of Bombay, has a statue erected to him there and also one in Westminster Abbey, sculptured by Chartry.
When the coat of arms of the Campbell’s, of this particular branch, is examined, they show an elaborate shield. Here the cocks, hand escutcheon and six mascles are for Cockburn of Langton and Cockburn of Ryslaw. The galley ship with sails furled and oars set for action, the two medals and the likeness of Gibraltar, stand for the Campbell who fought under Wellington, but the gyronny of gold and black, and the fesse chequy of blue and gold, and the dexter hand wielding a scimitar, are found on earlier Campbell coats of arms. The two mottoes, "WITHOUT FEAR" and "FORWARD", are relatively new. The Cockburn’s also had a tartan, even though they were a Berwickshire family in the main.
This then, is the background to the baronets who settled in Western Australia.
SIR ALEXANDER AT ALBANY
In India Cockburn-Campbell acted as military secretary to his father-in-law. Of this marriage there were two daughters, Charlotte and Olympia. At this period the young Cockburn-Campbell’s returned to England and lived in some style; their portraits were painted by the famous Scottish artist Raeburn. Margaret (nee Malcolm) died in 1842 and her husband married Grace, daughter of Joseph Spence of York. There is a sensitive portrait of her showing a gentle and pretty woman, painted by Pickersgill. There were three children of this marriage, Alexander, Thomas and Cecilia.
Sir Alexander married thirdly, on the 4th April 1871, in St. John's church, Albany. Sophia Jane Trimmer, and thus linked himself with an old established Western Australian family, for the original Spencer Trimmer had arrived in this colony in the ship Caroline in 1834, and Miss Trimmer was also a grand-daughter of Sir Richard Spencer of the Old Farm. With his wealthy and celebrated family background it is hard to determine why Sir Alexander migrated to Western Australia No-one amongst his descendents appears to know but the reason may have been financial. In 1858 Sir Alexander arrived in the colony to take up the appointment of Superintendent of Police. Two short years later he was appointed Government Resident at Albany, where he succeeded the kindly but irresolute old settler Henry Camfield, who had also reached this colony on the Caroline in 1834.
One gets the distinct impression that Cockburn-Campbell was sent to Albany to clear up an official muddle. He was barely in office in 1861 when he stirred up a hornet's nest. He penned: "I write an official letter requiring advice, putting a distinct question which the Attorney-General distinctly replies to on a non-official form, while his marginal annotations on my letter are meaningless. I act upon these and find I have erred. I send up the official letter with the annotations to explain how I came to make the mistake, trusting the Attorney-General will ingenuously acknowledge that he misled me. Instead of that, he writes a minute and sends me a second non-official letter. If magistrates are allowed to be misled by non-official answers to official questions . . . which answers are afterwards ignored . . . their position is indeed perilous." The object of his fury was Alfred Stone, a lawyer who had arrived with Cam-field and others in 1834. Stone answered bumptiously that "The friendly note was written in reply to a private note from Sir Alexander couched in terms equally friendly, and however much it appears to have led to misapprehension and mistakes it was not calculated to mislead a careful mind with the clear wording of the ordnance before it. The simple language in that section must be plain to any gentlemen of the most ordinary intelligence and its interpretation only requires the aid of plain common sense. What was the object of all these hot words but cart licenses!
Governor Kennedy, in office at this time, wrote to him with familiarity and friendliness; "Many thanks for your letters of the 4th and 8th. The ladies saw the apples safely and gratefully. Mrs Kennedy goes on well and we hope for the best, she has borne her first trial bravely. I know you have plenty of work before you— I would only enjoin patience and caution . . . you cannot reform a community in a month. As for Mr Trimmer (ten years afterwards to become Sir Alexander's father-in-law) if he cannot keep sober he must cease to hold a position to judge others for like offences; give him time and a friendly warning. At that time Trimmer was Protector of Natives and a Justice of the Peace.
J. S. Hampton, the new governor, stepped in at this point and admonished both correspondents by letter; "I object to private official letters which are 'to go no further', and I must decline receiving any such letters as it would in my opinion, be very unfair to me to receive a statement regarding any person that I cannot openly deal with."
Cockburn-Campbell found himself at variance with some local Albany identities. He admonished the P. & O. Steamship Navigation Co. agent and local American consul, W. C. Clifton, for using native constables without anyone's authority, to track down and arrest deserters from American whaling ships. When the captains of the American whalers Mermaid, Gov. Troupe, George and Susan protested against light dues which had to be paid every time they entered port, even if only for mail or medical purposes, Cockburn-Campbell was stiff-necked about it and asserted: "Albany no longer needs the notions sold by the American ships". The captains replied very smartly that they brought money into the district by buying meat and potatoes and generously spending liberty money at the inns and pubs. The governor decreed that they should only pay once a year one way.
Successive heavy floods had reduced Albany's York Street to a great ravine over which the settlers had placed footbridges. Patrick Taylor had convened a public meeting about it and sent off an official petition requesting financial aid back in the 1840s, and that was how matters stood for twenty years. Things moved under Sir Alexander and in 1870 the completed road was handed formally over to the Town Trust. Much of the work had been done by convict labour; quantities of stone and brushwood from Mt. Clarence were laid down for a firm foundation. Clifton, chairman of the Trust wrote to Baron Von Mueller asking what type of trees would best grace this lovely straight stretch of road. The distinguished botanist suggested elms at 3/6 each, but after discussion the Town Trust resolved prosaically that it would be better to build more new roads than to do "work that is solely ornamental”
The elderly Government Resident's relations with the Albany Town Trust resembled a running battle. No doubt the baronet had some contempt for traders and small officials, but, from his official reports, one cannot ignore that he generally aimed at the overall good of the community. Hawker licenses were not reissued in 1861, the year of Cockburn-Campbell's arrival. It created a furor and he felt obliged to explain his action: - "The present working of the system I believe to be the most unqualified evil. It has I believe afforded an opportunity for the disposal of stolen goods and the supply of the means of intoxication and gambling to an extent little appreciated by the respectable portions of the community. Smuggling both of spirits and tobacco, especially the latter, has also been practised, while the goods supplied have been of inferior quality and charged for at the most exorbitant rates." He went on to sympathetically cite the plight of shepherds and rural workers employed on distant farms, at the mercy of squatters or storekeeper when obtaining goods, but felt that hawkers were twice as bad.
Cockburn-Campbell objected to the Town Trust's practice of hacking into any handy block that might contain building sand or gravel. The Trust wrote straight to the governor complaining. This stung Cockburn-Campbell to write also: "If it is expected that the Resident Magistrate should have weight sufficient to efficiently protect the public's interests and carry out such measures as may be for the benefit of the district, the inhabitants and especially public bodies should be instructed to make their communications through him at the first instance. If he is only required to do the work of a magistrate the case is of course different, but I believe that His Excellency's intention in sending me here was not so restricted.
Piqued, the Town Trust's chairman, John Dunn, ignored one of Sir Alexander's notes; "I do not know this gentleman" he scribbled on the paper, and haughtily wrote a memo of his own requesting the baronet to remove one of the working parties from York Street. The clerk, who had written the original note for Sir Alexander, informed Dunn that since he had refused to point out the place where he intended removing gravel he was not permitted to take any. Dunn answered by threatening the law . . . one presumes not in the shape of the Government Resident "until I can refer to His Excellency for a ruling. Cockburn-Campbell reiterated that all convict workers would be withdrawn until the Trust abided by the ruling. After a special meeting the Trust resolved that it disagreed with the ruling of Sir Alexander but that the town works should not be held up by lack of a free work force. As a final touch Sir Alexander referred them to a letter from the Colonial Secretary to the previous Government Resident, Camfield, wherein one of the benefits Albany was entitled to was non-disfigured private allotments.
By the 1870s Albany's Minon tribe was only a pitiful remnant. They had been pitifully decimated by influenza and measles. Cockburn-Campbell had the settlement's official medical officer Dr Baesjou examine such of the remainder as could be located. Venereal disease was found to be rife and Cockburn-Campbell took strong measures. Sergeant Tunney was relieved as warder, and ordered to place the natives into a small yard and cells attached to the former guardhouse, and there they were to be medically treated.
One of the most irksome aspects of the seaport was the extremely neglected condition of all the official buildings, mostly ranged along what was termed the 'beach', an area ranging from the present Lawley Park almost to the entrance to the harbour. The land is now buried under many tons of reclamation sand. Cockburn-Campbell scathingly wrote: "I am sorry that His Excellency concurs with the clerk of works in the opinion that it is proper to compel the Resident Magistrate to use a room which is 9ft. 8in. wide by 13ft. long, which I declare on the credit of a gentleman is, in winter, a very gloomy room, being to the south, having no sun, with a verandah the eaves of which project 7 feet in front of the window; as for there being no fireplace, the idea in this climate is absurd."
The Town Trust later held meetings in the Court-House, (the old Post Office since 1965). This was not the original court-house, its predecessor having been another building on the 'beach'. Thanks to Sir Alexander the grand building was erected which then became the hub for most of the official work of the town. Sir Alexander suggested the site and he corresponded at length with the governor, suggesting a lower storey for a bonded customs store, middle floor for post-office and sorting room, and a top floor for court-room, magistrate's room and rooms for prisoners and witnesses. The costs could, he surmised, be borne from buoyant local revenue. In 1867 Manning, the Government architect drew up plans incorporating most of these ideas, though the building differed from the one we see now; for example, the clock tower was not added until 25 years later, and the business of securing a clock dragged on through father and son's official lives. Francis Bird, who purchased the Old Farm, did the 1895 architectural work.
Sir Alexander was first elected president of the Albany Mechanics' Institute in 1866, and during his term a new reading-room and caretakers' rooms were added; the institute was open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The institute was extremely popular with expatriates and colonials alike, a place of education which met a great need in the isolated colony. The institute provided the small community with good literature, English and intercolonial papers, and occasional cultural or scientific lectures.
Why Sir Alexander went to England toward the end of 1869 is unknown but it was obviously a quick trip. Not only is it mentioned in his daughter's journal . . . "Papa went out to Australia in 1857 and returned on Tues. Nov. 30th, 1869. He is so changed, so absorbed . . . slow . . . infirm and sad." Cockburn-Campbell refers to the trip: "April 1st, 1871 . . . since returning to Albany from England" . . .; he further related the criticism by his ship's captain of one of Albany's local P. & O. officers, Toll, the captain having satisfied the baronet's curiosity about Toll's lack of promotion by adversely commenting on Toll's seamanship.
The last official act of the Government Resident baronet was to receive (but not sign, as it was returned to Perth by his successor George Augustus Cockburn Hare to be rectified) a writ to provide for the establishment of a Legislative Council, the division of the Colony into electoral districts, and the election of members to serve in it. The election was to be supervised by Cockburn-Campbell. The winner for the local Plantagenet division was Sir Alexander's second son. When Sir Thomas succeeded to the title it was a twist of the fist of fate. Sir Alexander was actually succeeded by his eldest son Alexander who died in the same year, 1871. Old Sir Alexander is buried in the old Anglican cemetery near two Spencer graves, the family to which he linked himself so late in life.
What we know of Alexander the son is very slight, and mainly culled from the journal of his sister Cecilia. This record is in the hands of the present family and in its original form was so candid ... or so erroneous . . . that Sir Thomas' daughter tore out the first few pages and burnt them. The journal starts in 1868 and sets down the family events in retrospect. She writes of "Alick" being very ill as a baby but then states, "Alick is now 27 and tho' not strong capable of a great deal of exertion." She adds, "In the year 1864 he became acquainted with dear Janie ... a charming Irish girl who came to Guernsey deep in a decline. He was engaged without our knowledge. Her name was Jane Amy Robsart Leonara Mac-grath. Her smile was lovely. Poor child! She died in Alick's arms at 9 a.m. Sunday July 30th, 1865, aged 23. My darling brother Alick is in Australia now. He sailed Jan. 1867 and on the 3rd May the Woya Woya cast anchor in the lovely bay of the Sound. Alick mentions the church of Albany in his diary. It is very pretty with good windows partly painted, partly cut and with a tessellated pavement. The altar-piece is very elegant. There is an organ but no organist." According to "Burke's Peerage" Alexander or Alick would have been 27 at his death.
SIR THOMAS, MAN OF MANY TALENTS
Second sons frequently turn out to be more outstanding than the elder sons they succeed and Sir Thomas fits well into this pattern. Here was a man who was an explorer (in a minor way), surveyor, farmer, intellectual, musician, linguist and parliamentarian of considerable note. Educated at Heidelberg University, he travelled for some time in Europe. On arriving in Australia he joined the Gregory brothers, famed explorers, in Queensland, in the 1860s. About 1870 he must have visited his father at Albany, possibly when his father married Sophia Jane Trimmer. Shortly afterwards Thomas married the new bride's sister Lucy Ann. Cecilia wrote of her, "She is a gentle, lovable girl of 19, born and bred in the colonies but well understands the bush life and will make Tom a managing wife." In later life Lucy Ann achieved considerable local fame as an accomplished accoucheuse. Amongst the many babies she delivered was Frederick Marshall Johnson, later Commonwealth Surveyor-General.
Their first home was at "Langton", about 5 miles out of Mt. Barker. Part of the original homestead still stands as part of the main house. Their offspring were baptised either at St. John's or at the Egerton-Warburton's chapel St. Werburgh's. Sir Thomas' calling in the baptismal registers is variously listed as "farmer and grazier" and sometimes just "baronet".
The Dowager Lady Campbell, as Sophia Jane became known, owned "Goblup" at Ettikup and according to the Wray's made frequent trips there, no mean feat in the days of rough bush tracks and before the advent of the railroad. Eventually Lady Cockburn-Campbell sold the property to Lord Brassey, who visited Western Australia with his invalid wife in his private yacht. Brassey was later Governor of Victoria from 1895 to 1901.
On the death of his father Sir Thomas returned to Albany. Mrs Patrick Taylor frequently mentions them in her diaries, including: "I saw Lady Campbell with her brother trying to get him out of town; she supposed she had succeeded but he has returned. Have we not all our trials," and "The McKail girls walked with me to Mrs Hare's, who was going to the school board meeting so left me with anxious Mr Hare but she soon came back as no-one was there but Sir Thomas."
People found Sir Thomas a good friend and companion. Mrs Taylor recounts: "After dinner they all went over the river and the major asked them in to look at his harmonium. Just as they were leaving Sir Thomas Campbell and H. Warburton, who joyfully mounted and rode away with Sir Thomas, came over with the girls and we all had a very pleasant evening. The visit has done Patrick so much good. It is nice now and then to be with civilised people," and I had a long chat with Sir Thomas and we went into the kitchen, ne to smoke his pipe and watch our proceedings." The Bunbury artist and landowner Henry Charles Prinsep recorded, "At Cattle-Chosen I was delighted to help entertain Sir Thomas Cockburn-Campbell with whom I talked about operas, plays, etc. and all.”
Sir Thomas must have been a very busy man, farming at Langton and contributing regularly to colonial and overseas magazines as a writer, a member of the Legislative Council, and last but not least he held an esteemed place in the local government affairs of Albany.
Sir Thomas was nominated chairman of the Municipal Council in 1875 but because his Legislative Council affairs would probably detain him six to eight weeks of the year in Perth he put it to a meeting whether it would not be better to appoint a special chairman to act for him during this period.
The Council had "an expenditure of £170, a balance of £33/10/0, provided that nothing unforeseen should occur to reduce the account", morosely recorded the Town Clerk, Hebb. This gentleman died the following year and Sir Thomas was obliged to make a statement that he had carefully examined the state of the Council's affairs and found them greatly confused. Some of the sorting out he performed himself and he also recommended the appointment of John Wray, Jun., to assist and to take on the position of clerk, and collector.
Surveying remained one of Cockburn-Campbell’s interests. He wrote to the Surveyor-General on 11th October, 1874: "I am requested by the Albany Municipal Council to inform you that their maps of the town are very defective and that as I had seen a new map supplied from your office to the Resident Magistrate they would be glad if they could be supplied with a similar one." Sir Thomas was as interested in justice for the working-man as his father before him. He wrote to the P. & O. agent, H. K. Toll, on 6th November, 1874: "You will see from the Bye-laws printed on the jetty board that no goods may be landed or shipped away from any place except the jetty without a special permit. This of course I can give you but I would not do so without payment being made both of the jetty dues and the trucking fees . . . the truckmen have contracted to do the work for certain fees, and in fairness to them I would not be justified in allowing them to be deprived of the fees which they are justly entitled to under the Bye-laws. The trucking fees are paid to the truckmen themselves."
Judging by correspondence files Cockburn-Campbell may have begun to spend more time in Perth but he also regularly communicated with and made strong representation for his Albany electors in a most conscientious manner. To us many of the matters seem trivial but to the Albany citizen of the 1870s they were of prime importance . . . matters such as a Government grant of £10 for local recreation grounds, a request for the clock from the Perth military barracks to be re-erected on the Albany Post Office, through Cockburn-Campbell, the government was informed, "as we consider Albany to be the next town of importance to Fremantle in this colony we think our application ought to be entertained." In 1895 Sir Thomas was urged to petition to the government for £1,000 to build a town hall in Albany, but the government proved unobliging. Still, the rejection rankled. A meeting was held in the Court-House in 1887 for the lofty purpose of considering the insanitary condition of the town but matters moved quite smartly onto the proposed and now scuttled Town Hall. They again petitioned Cockburn-Campbell to obtain a grant of money or land.
When the ebullient J. F. T. Hassell thought he had discovered payable gold on his Kendenup property, Cockburn-Campbell became one of the members of the company formed to mine the gold. The venture, the Standard Gold Mining Company, commenced operations in 1874 but folded up in 1876. It has been reputed enough gold was mined to make a small ring for Hassell's wife. Three years after this ill-starred venture Cockburn-Campbell became editor of the newspaper, the West Australian, and in this was associated with Charles Harper under a memorandum of agreement dated 3rd September 1879, Harper was to advance all the purchase money and Cockburn-Campbell was to be the nominal half-owner and to pay Harper 7% per annum on his half until he could repay the principal. He was to receive £300 a year as managing editor and the net proceeds were to be equally divided. The partners quickly decided that the name of the paper, then published only on Tuesdays and Fridays as the Western Australian Times should be changed and it first appeared under its new name on 18th November 1879. There was an increase in its size on 1st June, 1880; it began to appear three times a week in 1883 and as a daily in 1885. All those changes occurred during Cockburn-Campbell's editorship which was prematurely ended in 1887 by his ill health, but he continued to write for the West Australian and other papers published both locally and abroad.
Cockburn-Campbell had a considerable literary background and had written for local, intercolonial and overseas magazines since his arrival in the colony. One of the first innovations he introduced was a translated version of a very long French novel. About this time he also composed a waltz which was published under the title of "Fair Maid of Perth". This he dedicated to Mrs Cockburn Hare, whose father-in-law succeeded Sir Alexander as Albany's Resident.