Clan Cochrane  Places & People

Clan Cochrane People

Andrew James Cochrane-Johnstone (1767-1833)

Before becoming an MP, some of Andrew James Cochrane-Johnstone’s criminal acts included tyranny, extortion, slave trading, gun running and pimping whilst Governor of St Dominica. After his time in Parliament he engineered a gigantic fraud on the Stock Exchange of 1814.

Cochrane and his partners in crime bought heavily on the Stock Exchange just before a ‘French Royalist’ came ashore at Dover with the great news that Napoleon was dead. Government stocks soared and Cochrane off-loaded all of his at increased values. When the ‘French Royalist’ vanished the market collapsed. Cochrane was found to be behind the fraud and he also vanished to Europe.

His nephew the admirable Admiral Lord Thomas Cochrane, a Captain at the time, was implicated as one of Cochrane’s co-conspirators. Despite his obvious innocence, his political enemies made the most of it all.

Admiral Sir Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald, Marquess do Maranhão, GCB, ODM (Chile) (14 Dec. 1775 – 31 Oct. 1860)


Thomas Cochrane was born in Annsfield, near Hamilton, South Lanarkshire to Archibald Cochrane, 9th Earl of Dundonald and Anna Gilchrist. He spent a lot of his early life in the Fife coastal town of Culross.

From 1778 to the death of his father in 1831 Thomas was known as Lord Cochrane, and then, after the death, he became the Earl of Dundonald. Through his uncle’s (Alexander Cochrane) influences Thomas was listed in the books as having been a crew member on four Royal Navy ships, starting from the age of five. This early beginning was to be the start of a very distinguished career in the Royal Navy.

In 1812 Thomas married Katherine Francis Corbet Barnes, a noted beauty, and orphan, who was more than twenty years his junior. Together they had six children. During the Napoleonic Wars, Cochrane gained a reputation as being an aggressive, daring, and successful Captain leading to the French Navy referring to him as Le Loup des Mer, or ‘Wolf of the Seas’.

However, in 1814 Lord Cochrane was dismissed from the Royal Navy on charges of fraud on the stock exchange. This led to him becoming a mercenary, serving with the rebel navies of Chile, Brazil, and Greece in their respective wars of independence. It was from Chile where he received his Order of Merit.

By 1832 Cochrane had been reinstated back into the Royal Navy with the rank of Rear Admiral of the Blue. Over the rest of his career in the navy, Cochrane was promoted a number of times and finally retired, only a couple of years before his death with the rank of Rear Admiral of the Red, and the honorary rank of Rear Admiral of the United Kingdom.

On the 31st of October, 1860, Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald, died whilst in surgery for kidney stones at the age of 84. His career and exploits whilst in the navy served as inspiration for the naval fiction of the 19th and 20th centuries, and in particular C.S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower, as well as Patrick O’Brian’s Jack Aubrey.

Captain John Dundas Cochrane (1793-1825) - main image

After making his contributions to the Napoleonic Wars, the illegitimate son of Andrew James Cochrane-Johnstone endeavoured to walk around the world. Using a sled of horse as little as possible, he hoped to verify whether a land bridge existed between Russia and Alaska, and if there was a North-West passage over America.

When he reached St Petersburg eighty three days after leaving Dieppe he had been robbed of everything he had bar two waistcoats. He used one as a kilt and heading for Moscow, covered the final ninety six miles in thirty two hours. Whilst walking along the Arctic coast in great physical pain he spent a twenty night stretch battling through the snow ‘without even the comfort of a blanket – a great oversight’.

Whilst trying to get permission to cross the Baring Straight, with half the world walked, he fell in love and married a 14 year old girl from Kamchatka. He brought her across Russia and back to London by boat from St Petersburg. His adventures were published and sold greatly.

On a visit to his Cousin Charles Stuart Cochrane’s copper mining copper mining project in Columbia he contracted a fever and died.

Captain Charles Stuart Cochrane b.1796

Also known as ‘Senior Jean de Vega, a Spanish minstrel’ the second son of Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane was born on HMS Thetis, a ship that had five Cochranes in its compliment at the time. After fighting the Napoleonic wars he left the navy and adventure up the Magdalena River into Columbia with copper mining in mind. The venture proved unfruitful and after travelling Europe he landed back in Britain in 1828.

He spent that year and the next wandering the country with a guitar, claiming to be a Spanish troubadour. In Edinburgh where he finally revealed himself he was described as ‘a little cracked’.

In 1830 he proved himself to be perfectly able minded when he took out a patent in France on a machine for spinning Cashmere, a wool new to the western world. In Glasgow he built a mill for his machines to meet the demand in spun Tibetan goats beard.

He published his adventures in ‘Journal of a Tour Made by Senor Jean de Vega, a Spanish Minstrel of 1828-29 Through Great Britain and Ireland’.