The Earl of Dundonald and Marquess of Maranhão
|Born||14 December 1775|
Annsfield, near Hamilton, Lanarkshire, Scotland
|Died||31 October 1860 (aged 84)|
Kensington, Middlesex, England
|Years of service||1793–1860|
|Rank||Admiral of the Red|
|Commands held||North America and West Indies Station|
|Member of Parliament|
1807 – 1818
|Member of Parliament|
1806 – 1807
Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald, Marquess of Maranhão,(14 December 1775 – 31 October 1860), styled Lord Cochrane between 1778 and 1831, was a British naval flag officer of the Royal Navy, mercenary and Radical politician. He was a daring and successful captain of the Napoleonic Wars, leading Napoleon to nickname him Le Loup des Mers, 'The Sea Wolf'. He was successful in virtually all his naval actions.
He was dismissed from the Royal Navy in 1814 following a controversial conviction for fraud on the Stock Exchange. He helped organise and lead the rebel navies of Chile and Brazil during their respective successful wars of independence through the 1820s. While in charge of the Chilean Navy, Cochrane also contributed to Peruvian Independence through the Freedom Expedition of Perú. He was also hired to help the Greek Navy but did not have much impact.
In 1832, he was pardoned by the Crown and reinstated in the Royal Navy with the rank of Rear-Admiral of the Blue. After several more promotions, he died in 1860 with the rank of Admiral of the Red, and the honorary title of Rear-Admiral of the United Kingdom.
His life and exploits inspired the naval fiction of 19th- and 20th-century novelists, particularly the figures of C. S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower and Patrick O'Brian's protagonist Jack Aubrey.
Thomas Cochrane was born at Annsfield, near Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, Scotland, the son of Archibald, Lord Cochrane (1748-1831), who later became, in October 1778, The 9th Earl of Dundonald, and his wife, Anna Gilchrist. She was the daughter of Captain James Gilchrist and Ann Roberton, the daughter of Major John Roberton, 16th Laird of Earnock.
Thomas, Lord Cochrane, as he himself became in October 1778, had six brothers. Two served with distinction in the military: William Erskine Cochrane of the 15th Dragoons , who served under Sir John Moore in the Peninsular War and reached the rank of major; and Archibald Cochrane, who became a captain in the Navy.
Lord Cochrane was descended from lines of Scottish aristocracy and military service on both sides of his family. Through his uncle, Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane, the sixth son of The 8th Earl of Dundonald, Cochrane was cousin to his namesake, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Thomas John Cochrane (1789-1872). Sir Thomas J. Cochrane also had a naval career and was appointed as Governor of Newfoundland and later Vice-Admiral of the United Kingdom. By 1793 the family fortune had been spent, and the family estate was sold to cover debts.
Lord Cochrane spent much of his early life in Culross, Fife, where his family had an estate.
Through the influence of his uncle Alexander Cochrane, he was listed as a member of the crew on the books of four Royal Navy ships starting when he was five years old. This common (though unlawful) practice called false muster was a means of acquiring the years of service required for promotion, if and when he joined the Navy. His father secured him a commission in the British Army at an early age, but Cochrane preferred the Navy. He joined it in 1793 upon the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars.
In June 1806, Lord Cochrane stood for the House of Commons on a ticket of parliamentary reform (a movement which later brought about the Reform Acts) for the potwalloper borough of Honiton in Devon. This was exactly the kind of borough which Cochrane proposed to abolish; votes were mostly sold to the highest bidder. Cochrane offered nothing and lost the election. In October 1806, he ran for Parliament in Honiton and won. Cochrane initially denied that he paid any bribes, but he revealed in a Parliamentary debate ten years later that he had paid ten guineas (£10 10s) per voter through Mr. Townshend, local headman and banker.
In May 1807, Cochrane was elected by Westminster in a more democratic election. He had campaigned for parliamentary reform, allied with such Radicals as William Cobbett, Sir Francis Burdett, and Henry Hunt. His outspoken criticism of the conduct of the war and the corruption in the navy made him powerful enemies in the government. His criticism of Admiral Gambier's conduct at the Battle of the Basque Roads was so severe that Gambier demanded a court-martial to clear his name. Cochrane made important enemies in the Admiralty during this period.
In 1810, Sir Francis Burdett, a member of parliament and political ally, had barricaded himself in his home at Piccadilly, London, resisting arrest by the House of Commons. Cochrane went to assist Burdett's defence of the house. His approach was similar to what he used in the navy and would have led to numerous deaths amongst the arresting officers and at least partial destruction of Burdett's house, along with much of Piccadilly. On realising what Cochrane planned, Burdett and his allies took steps to end the siege.
Cochrane was popular with the public but was unable to get along with his colleagues in the House of Commons or within the government. He usually had little success in promoting his causes. An exception was his successful confrontation of a prize court in 1814.
His conviction in the Great Stock Exchange Fraud of 1814 resulted in Parliament expelling him on 5 July 1814. However, his constituents in the seat of Westminster re-elected him at the resulting by-election on 16 July. He held this seat until 1818. In 1818, Cochrane's last speech in Parliament advocated parliamentary reform.
In 1830, Cochrane initially expressed interest in running for Parliament but then declined. Lord Brougham's brother had decided to run for the seat, and Cochrane also thought that it would look bad for him to be publicly supporting a government from which he sought pardon for his fraud conviction.
In 1831, his father died and Cochrane became the 10th Earl of Dundonald. As such, he was no longer entitled to sit in the Commons.
While serving as the Commander-in-Chief of the North America and West Indies Station, Cochrane became acquainted with geologist and physicist Abraham Gesner in Halifax. The pair planned a commercial venture that would supply Halifax with lamp oil and mine bitumen deposits in Trinidad and Albert Country, New Brunswick. By 1850, Cochrane had purchased all the land surrounding Trinidad's pitch lake in support of the endeavour. Ultimately, the enterprise did not come into fruition, and Cochrane returned to England after his term of service expired in April 1851.
In 1812, Cochrane married Katherine ("Katy") Frances Corbet Barnes, a beautiful orphan who was about twenty years his junior. They met through Cochrane's cousin Nathaniel Day Cochrane. This was an elopement and a civil ceremony, due to the opposition of his wealthy uncle Basil Cochrane, who disinherited his nephew as a result. Cochrane called Katherine "Kate," "Kitty," or "Mouse" in letters to her; she often accompanied her husband on his extended campaigns in South America and Greece.
Cochrane and Katherine remarried in the Anglican Church in 1818, and in the Church of Scotland in 1825. They had six children:
The confusion of multiple ceremonies led to suspicions that Cochrane's first son Thomas Barnes Cochrane was illegitimate. Investigation of this delayed Thomas's accession to the Earldom of Dundonald on his father's death.
In 1823 Lady Cochrane sailed with her children to Valparaiso on Sesostris to join her husband. On 13 June Sesostris stopped at Rio de Janeiro where she discovered that he was there, having in March taken command of the Brazilian Navy.
Main article: Great Stock Exchange Fraud of 1814
In February 1814, rumours began to circulate of Napoleon's death. The claims were seemingly confirmed by a man in a red staff officer's uniform identified as Colonel de Bourg, aide-de-camp to Lord Cathcart, the British ambassador to Russia. He arrived in Dover from France on 21 February bearing news that Napoleon had been captured and killed by Cossacks. Share prices rose sharply on the Stock Exchange in reaction to the news and the possibility of peace, particularly in a volatile government stock called Omnium which increased from 26+1⁄2 to 32. However, it soon became clear that the news of Napoleon's death was a hoax. The Stock Exchange established a sub-committee to investigate, and they discovered that six men had sold substantial amounts of Omnium stock during the boom in value. The committee assumed that all six were responsible for the hoax and subsequent fraud. Cochrane had disposed of his entire £139,000 holding in Omnium (equivalent to £9,790,000 in 2019) – which he had only acquired a month before – and was named as one of the six conspirators, as were his uncle Andrew Cochrane-Johnstone and his stockbroker, Richard Butt. Within days, an anonymous informant told the committee that Colonel de Bourg was an imposter: he was a Prussian aristocrat named Charles Random de Berenger. He had also been seen entering Cochrane's house on the day of the hoax.
The accused were brought to trial in the Court of King's Bench, Guildhall on 8 June 1814. The trial was presided over by Lord Ellenborough, a High Tory and a notable enemy of the radicals, who had previously convicted and sentenced to prison radical politicians William Cobbett and Henry Hunt in politically motivated trials. The evidence against Cochrane was circumstantial and hinged on the nature of his share dealings, his contacts with the conspirators, and the colour of uniform which De Berenger had been wearing when they met in his house. Cochrane admitted that he was acquainted with De Berenger and that the man had visited his home on the day of the fraud, but insisted that he had arrived wearing a green sharpshooter's uniform rather than the red uniform worn by the person who claimed to be de Bourg. Cochrane said that De Berenger had visited to request passage to the United States aboard Cochrane's new command HMS Tonnant. Cochrane's servants agreed, in an affidavit created before the trial, that the collar of the uniform above De Berenger's greatcoat had been green. However, they admitted to Cochrane's solicitors that they thought the rest had been red. They were not called at trial to give evidence. The prosecution summoned as key witness hackney carriage driver William Crane, who swore that De Berenger was wearing a scarlet uniform when he delivered him to the house. Cochrane's defence also argued that he had given standing instructions to Butt that his Omnium shares were to be sold if the price rose by 1 per cent, and he would have made double profit if he waited until it reached its peak price.
On the second day of the trial, Lord Ellenborough began his summary of the evidence and drew attention to the matter of De Berenger's uniform; he concluded that witnesses had provided damning evidence. The jury retired to deliberate and returned a verdict of guilty against all the defendants two and a half hours later. Belatedly, Cochrane's defence team found several witnesses who were willing to testify that De Berenger had arrived wearing a green uniform, but Lord Ellenborough dismissed their evidence as inadmissible because two of the conspirators had fled the country upon hearing the guilty verdict. On 20 June 1814, Cochrane was sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment, fined £1,000, and ordered to stand in the pillory opposite the Royal Exchange for one hour. In subsequent weeks, he was dismissed from the Royal Navy by the Admiralty and expelled from Parliament following a motion in the House of Commons which was passed by 144 votes to 44. On the orders of the Prince Regent, Cochrane was humiliated by the loss of his appointment Knight of the Order of the Bath in a degradation ceremony at Westminster Abbey. His banner was taken down and physically kicked out of the chapel and down the outside steps. But, within a month, Cochrane was re-elected unopposed as the Member of Parliament for Westminster. Following a public outcry, his sentence to the pillory was rescinded for fears that it would lead to the outbreak of a riot.
The question of Cochrane's innocence or guilt created much debate at the time, and it has divided historians ever since. Subsequent reviews of the trial carried out by three Lord Chancellors during the course of the 19th century concluded that Cochrane should have been found not guilty on the basis of the evidence produced in court. Cochrane maintained his innocence for the rest of his life and campaigned tirelessly to restore his damaged reputation and to clear his name. He believed that the trial was politically motivated and that a "higher authority than the Stock Exchange" was responsible for his prosecution. A series of petitions put forward by Cochrane protesting his innocence were ignored until 1830. That year, King George IV (the former Prince Regent) died and was succeeded by William IV. He had served in the Royal Navy and was sympathetic to Cochrane's cause. Later that year, the Tory government fell and was replaced by a Whig government in which his friend Lord Brougham was appointed Lord Chancellor. Following a meeting of the Privy Council in May 1832, Cochrane was granted a pardon and restored to the Navy List with a promotion to rear-admiral. Support from friends in the government and the writings of popular naval authors such as Frederick Marryat and Maria Graham increased public sympathy for Cochrane's situation. Cochrane's knighthood was restored in May 1847 with the personal intervention of Queen Victoria, and he was appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath. Only in 1860 was his banner returned to Westminster Abbey; it was the day before his funeral.
In 1876, his grandson received a payment of £40,000 from the British government (equivalent to £3,800,000 in 2019), based on the recommendations of a Parliamentary select committee, in compensation for Cochrane's conviction. The committee had concluded that his conviction was unjust.
Convoys were guided by ships following the lamps of those ahead. In 1805, Lord Cochrane entered a Royal Navy competition for a superior convoy lamp. He believed that the judges were biased against him, so he re-entered the contest under another name and won the prize.
In 1806, Cochrane had a galley made to his specifications which he carried on board Pallas and used to attack the French coast. It had the advantage of mobility and flexibility.
In 1812, Lord Cochrane proposed attacking the French coast using a combination of bombardment ships, explosion ships, and "stink vessels" (gas warfare). A bombardment ship consisted of a strengthened old hulk filled with powder and shot and made to list to one side. It was anchored at night to face the enemy behind the harbour wall. When set off, it provided saturation bombardment of the harbour, which would be closely followed by landings of troops. He put the plans forward again before and during the Crimean War. The authorities, however, decided not to pursue his plans.
In 1818, Cochrane patented the tunnelling shield, together with engineer Marc Isambard Brunel, which Brunel and his son used in building the Thames Tunnel in 1825–43.
Cochrane was an early supporter of steamships. He tried to take the steamship Rising Star from Britain to Chile for use in the war of independence in the 1820s, but its construction took too long; it did not arrive until the war was ending. Rising Star was a 410-ton vessel adapted to a new design at Brent's Yard at the Greenland Dock at the Thames: twin funnels, a retractable paddle wheel, and driven by a 60-horsepower engine.(p33) Similarly, he suffered delays with construction of a steamship which he had hoped to put into use in the Greek War of Independence. In the 1830s, Lord Dundonald, as he now was, experimented with steam power, developing a rotary engine and a propeller. In 1851, Lord Dundonald received a patent on powering steamships with bitumen. He was conferred with Honorary Membership in the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland in 1857.
Lord Dundonald was interred in Westminster Abbey in the floor of the nave directly before the choir. His epitaph, written by Sir Lyon Playfair, reads:
'Here rests in his 85th year Thomas Cochrane Tenth Earl of Dundonald of Paisley and of Ochiltree in the Peerage of Scotland Marquess of Marenham in the Empire of Brazil GCB and Admiral of the Fleet who by his confidence and genius his science and extraordinary daring inspired by his heroic exertion in the cause of freedom and his splended services alike to his own country, Greece, Brazil, Chile and Peru achieved a name illustrious throughout the world for courage, patriotism and chivalry. Born Dec 14 1775. Died Oct 31 1860'
|Ancestors of Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald|
His career inspired a number of writers of nautical fiction. The first was Captain Frederick Marryat, who had served under him as a midshipman and published his first novel in 1829. In the 20th century, the figures and careers of Horatio Hornblower in the novels by C. S. Forester and of Jack Aubrey in the Aubrey–Maturin series of novels by Patrick O'Brian were in part modelled on his exploits.
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Dundonald, Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of .|