Military Wiki
The Right Honourable
The Earl of Dundonald
Engraving of Lord Dundonald, based on a painting by James Ramsay (1866)
Nickname The Wolf of the Seas
Born 14 December 1775 (1775-12-14)
Died 31 October 1860 (1860-11-01) (aged 84)
Place of birth Annsfield, near Hamilton, Lanarkshire, Scotland
Place of death Kensington, London, England
Allegiance  Kingdom of Great Britain
 Republic of Chile
 Empire of Brazil
 Kingdom of Greece
Service/branch  Royal Navy
 Chilean Navy
 Brazilian Navy
Kingdom of Greece Royal Greek Navy
Years of service 1793–1860
Rank Admiral
Commands held North America and West Indies Station
Battles/wars Napoleonic Wars
Chilean War of Independence
Peruvian War of Independence
Brazilian War of Independence
Greek War of Independence
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Order of the Merit of Chile

Admiral Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald, 1st Marquess of Maranhão, GCB, ODM (14 December 1775 – 31 October 1860), styled Lord Cochrane between 1778 and 1831,[1][2] was a Scottish naval flag officer of the Royal Navy and radical politician.

He was a daring and successful captain of the Napoleonic Wars, leading the French to nickname him Le Loup des Mers ('The Sea Wolf').

He was dismissed from the Royal Navy in 1814, following a conviction for fraud on the Stock Exchange. He helped organize and lead the rebel navies of Chile, Brazil and Greece during their respective 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.

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.


Cochrane's father Archibald Cochrane, 9th Earl of Dundonald.

Thomas Cochrane was born at Annsfield, near Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, Scotland, the son of Archibald Cochrane, 9th Earl of Dundonald and Anna Gilchrist. She was the daughter of Captain James Gilchrist and Ann Roberton, the daughter of Major John Roberton, 16th Laird of Earnock.[3]

Cochrane had six brothers. Two served with distinction in the military: William Erskine Cochrane of the 15th Dragoon Guards, 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.

Cochrane was descended from lines of Scottish aristocracy and military service on both sides of his family. Through his uncle Admiral Sir Alexander Forrester Inglis Cochrane, the sixth son of the 8th Earl of Dundonald, Cochrane was cousin to his namesake Sir Thomas John Cochrane. Thomas Cochrane had a naval career[4] 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.[5]

Early life

Admiral Cochrane bust in Culross

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.[6] 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.[7]

Service in the Royal Navy

On 23 July 1793, aged 17, Cochrane joined the navy as a midshipman, spending his first months at Sheerness in a sixth-rate frigate, the 28-gun HMS Hind, commanded by his uncle, Captain Alexander Cochrane.[7] He transferred to the 38-gun fifth rate HMS Thetis, also under his uncle's command. While on the Thetis, he visited Norway and next served at the North America station.[8] In 1795, he was appointed acting lieutenant. The following year, on 27 May 1796, he was commissioned lieutenant, after passing the examination.[8] After several transfers in America and a return home, in 1798 he was assigned as 8th Lieutenant on Lord Keith's flagship HMS Barfleur in the Mediterranean.[9]

During his service on Barfleur, Cochrane was court-martialled for showing disrespect to Philip Beaver, the ship's first lieutenant. The board reprimanded him for flippancy. This was the first public manifestation of a pattern of Cochrane being unable to get along with many of his superiors, subordinates, employers, and colleagues in several navies and Parliament, even those with whom he had much in common and who should have been natural allies. His behavior led to a long enmity with John Jervis, 1st Earl of St Vincent.

In February 1800, Cochrane commanded the prize crew taking the captured French vessel Généreux to the British base at Mahón. The ship was almost lost in a storm, with Cochrane and his brother Archibald going aloft in place of crew who were mostly ill. On 28 March 1800, Cochrane, having been promoted to commander, took command of the brig sloop HMS Speedy. Later that year, a Spanish warship disguised as a merchant ship almost captured him. He escaped by flying a Danish flag and fending off a boarding by claiming his ship was plague-ridden. Chased by an enemy frigate, and knowing it would follow him in the night by any glimmer of light from the Speedy, he placed a lantern on a barrel and let it float away. The enemy frigate followed the light and Speedy escaped.

In February 1801, at Malta, Cochrane got into an argument with a French Royalist officer at a fancy dress ball. He had come dressed as a common sailor, and the Royalist mistook him for one. This argument led to Cochrane's only duel.[citation needed] Cochrane wounded the French officer with a pistol shot and was unharmed.

The Action and Capture of the Spanish Xebeque Frigate El Gamo, Clarkson Frederick Stanfield

One of his most notable exploits was the capture of the Spanish xebec frigate El Gamo, on 6 May 1801. El Gamo carried 32 guns and 319 men, compared with Speedy's 14 guns and 54 men.[10][11] Cochrane flew an American flag and approached so closely to El Gamo that its guns could not depress to fire on the Speedy's hull. The Spanish tried to board and take over the ship. Whenever the Spanish were about to board, Cochrane pulled away briefly and fired on the concentrated boarding parties with his ship's guns. Eventually, Cochrane boarded the Gamo, despite being outnumbered about five to one, and captured her.

In Speedy's 13-month cruise, Cochrane captured, burned, or drove ashore 53 ships before three French ships of the line under Admiral Charles-Alexandre Linois captured him on 3 July 1801. While Cochrane was held as a prisoner, Linois often asked him for advice. In his later autobiography, Cochrane recounted how courteous and polite the French officer had been. A few days later he was exchanged for the second captain of another French ship. On 8 August 1801, he was promoted to the rank of post-captain.

After the Peace of Amiens, Cochrane attended the University of Edinburgh. Upon the resumption of war in 1803, St Vincent assigned him in October 1803 to command the sixth-rate 22-gun HMS Arab. Cochrane alleged that the vessel handled poorly, colliding with Royal Navy ships on two occasions (the Bloodhound and the Abundance), and afforded Cochrane no opportunities. In his autobiography he compared the Arab to a collier. He wrote that his first thoughts on seeing Arab being repaired at Plymouth were that she would "sail like a haystack".[12] Despite this, he intercepted and boarded an American merchant ship, the Chatham. This created an international incident, as Britain was not at war with the United States. The HMS Arab and her commander were assigned to protect Britain's important whaling fleet beyond Orkney in the North Sea.

In 1804, St Vincent stood aside for the incoming new government led by William Pitt the Younger, and Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville took office. In December of that year, Cochrane was appointed to command of the new 32-gun frigate HMS Pallas. He undertook a series of notable exploits over the following eighteen months.

In August 1806, he took command of the 38-gun frigate HMS Imperieuse, formerly the Spanish frigate Medea. One of his midshipmen was Frederick Marryat, who later wrote fictionalized accounts of his adventures with Cochrane.

In Imperieuse, Cochrane raided the Mediterranean coast of France during the continuing Napoleonic Wars. In 1808 Cochrane and a Spanish guerrilla force captured the fortress of Mongat, which straddled the road between Gerona and Barcelona. This delayed General Duhesme's French army for a month. On another raid, Cochrane copied code books from a signal station, leaving behind the originals so the French would believe them uncompromised. When Imperieuse ran short of water, she sailed up the estuary of the Rhone to replenish. When a French army marched into Catalonia and besieged Rosas, Cochrane took part in the defence of the town. He occupied and defended Fort Trinidad ('Castell de la Trinitat') for a number of weeks before the fall of the city forced him to leave; Cochrane was one of the last two men to quit the fort.

While captain of Speedy, Pallas, and Imperieuse, Cochrane became arguably the most effective practitioner of coastal warfare during the period. Not only did he attack shore installations such as the Martello tower at Son Bou on Minorca, but captured enemy ships in harbor by leading his men in boats in "cutting out" operations. He was a meticulous planner of every operation, which limited casualties among his men and maximized the chances of success.

In 1809, Cochrane commanded the attack by a flotilla of fire ships on Rochefort, as part of the Battle of the Basque Roads. The attack did considerable damage, but Cochrane blamed Admiral Gambier, the fleet commander, for missing the opportunity to destroy the French fleet. Cochrane claimed that as a result of expressing his opinion publicly, the admiralty denied him the opportunity to serve afloat. But, documentation shows that he was focussed on politics at this time and, indeed, refused a number of offers of command.[13]

Political career

In June 1806, Cochrane stood for the House of Commons on a ticket of parliamentary reform (a movement which would later bring about the Reform Acts) for the potwalloper borough of Honiton. This was exactly the kind of borough 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.

Portrait of Lord Cochrane in 1807 by Peter Edward Stroehling

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 that 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, though popular with the public, was unable to get along with his colleagues in the House of Commons, or within the government. Usually, he 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 (see below) resulted in Parliament's 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.[14] He held this seat until 1818. In 1818, Cochrane's last speech in Parliament advocated parliamentary reform.

In 1830, Cochrane initially expressed interest but then declined. Not only had Lord Brougham's brother decided to run for the seat, but Cochrane also thought 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. The Scottish peerage elected representative peers to sit in the House of Lords. He was never one of them, though several of his successors were.

Marriage and children

In 1812, Cochrane married Katherine ("Katy") Frances Corbet Barnes, a beautiful orphan, who was about twenty years his junior. 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. Katherine, whom Cochrane called 'Kate', 'Kitty' or 'Mouse' in letters to her, 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;

  • Thomas Barnes Cochrane, 11th Earl of Dundonald, b. 18 Apr 1814, m. Louisa Harriett McKinnon.
  • William Horatio Bernardo Cochrane, officer, 92nd Gordon Highlanders, b. 8 Mar 1818 m. Jacobina Frances Nicholson.
  • Elizabeth Katharine Cochrane, died close to her first birthday.
  • Katharine Elizabeth Cochrane, d. 25 August 1869, m. John Willis Fleming.
  • Admiral Sir Arthur Auckland Leopold Pedro Cochrane KCB (Commander of HMS Niger), b. 24 Sep 1824, d. 20 Aug 1905. m.
  • Captain Ernest Gray Lambton Cochrane RN (High Sheriff of Donegal) b. 4 Jun 1834, d. 2 Feb 1911 m. 1. Adelaide Blackall 2. Elizabeth Frances Maria Katherine Doherty.

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.

Great Stock Exchange Fraud

In February 1814, rumours of Napoleon's death began to circulate. The claims were seemingly confirmed by a man in a red staff officer's uniform identifying as Colonel de Bourg, aide-de-camp to Lord Cathcart and British ambassador to Russia. He arrived in Dover from France on 21 February bearing news that Napoleon had been captured and killed by Cossacks.[15] In reaction to the news and the possibility of peace, share prices rose sharply on the Stock Exchange, particularly in a volatile government stock called Omnium which increased from 26 and a half to 32.[15] But, 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 – which he had only acquired a month before – and was named as one of the six conspirators, as was his uncle, Andrew Cochrane-Johnstone and his stockbroker, Richard Butt.[15] Within days, an anonymous informant told the committee that Colonel de Bourg was an imposter; he was a Prussian aristocrat named De Berenger, and he had been seen entering Cochrane's house on the day of the hoax.[16]

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. They had previously convicted and sentenced radical politicians William Cobbett and Henry Hunt to prison in politically motivated trials.[17] The evidence against Cochrane was circumstantial (as the prosecuting counsel pointed out) and hinged on the nature of his share dealings, his contacts with those who were clearly conspirators, and the colour of uniform De Berenger had been wearing when they met in his house.[18] Cochrane admitted 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 Cochrane said that De Berenger had visited to request passage to the United States aboard Cochrane's new command, the HMS Tonnant. Although in a sworn affidavit created before the trial, Cochrane's servants agreed that the collar of the uniform above De Berenger's greatcoat had been green, they admitted to Cochrane's solicitors that they thought the rest had been red. They were not called at trial to give evidence.[19] The prosecution summoned a key witness, hackney carriage driver William Crane, who swore that De Berenger was wearing a scarlet uniform when he delivered him to the house.[20] 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. All the conspirators had given identical instructions to their brokers.[21]

A caricature created in 1815 titled Things as they have been. Things as they now are. The left side of the image depicts Cochrane as a heroic naval officer. The right side depicts him as a disgraced civilian imprisoned within the walls of the King's Bench Prison.

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.[22] 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.[22] On 20 June 1814, Cochrane was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, fined £1,000 and was 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.[22] On the orders of the Prince Regent, Cochrane was humiliated by the loss of his knighthood in a degradation ceremony at Westminster Abbey. His banner was taken down and physically kicked out of the chapel and down the steps outside.[22] 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 it would lead to the outbreak of a riot.[23][24]

The question of Cochrane's innocence or guilt created much debate at the time, and it has divided historians ever since.[25] 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.[26] 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 the trial was politically motivated and that a "higher authority than the Stock Exchange" was responsible for his prosecution.[24] 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.[27] Later that year the Tory government fell and was replaced by a Whig government in which his friend, Lord Brougham, was appointed Lord Chancellor.[27] 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.[28][29] 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. In May 1847, with the personal intervention of Queen Victoria, Cochrane's knighthood was restored and he was created a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath.[30][31][32] Only in 1860 was his banner returned to Westminster Abbey; it was the day before his funeral.[29]

In 1876, his grandson received a payment of £40,000 from the British government, based on the recommendations of a Parliamentary select committee, in compensation for Cochrane's conviction. The committee had concluded his conviction was unjust.[33]

Service with other navies

Chilean Navy

Painting of the First Chilean Navy Squadron commanded by Cochrane.

A painting of the Capture of Valdivia in the Chilean naval and maritime museum

Cochrane left the UK in official disgrace, but that did not end his naval career. Accompanied by Lady Cochrane and their two children, he reached Valparaíso on 28 November 1818. Chile was rapidly organizing its new navy for its war of independence.

On 11 December 1818, at the request of Chilean leader Bernardo O'Higgins, Cochrane became a Chilean citizen, was appointed Vice Admiral, and took command of the Chilean Navy in Chile's war of independence against Spain. He was the first Vice Admiral of Chile.[34](p37) Cochrane reorganized the Chilean navy, introducing British naval customs. He took command in the frigate O'Higgins and blockaded and raided the coasts of Peru as he had those of France and Spain. On his own initiative, he organized and led the capture of Valdivia, despite only having 300 men and two ships to deploy against seven large forts. He failed in his attempt to capture the Chiloé Archipelago for Chile. In 1820, O'Higgins ordered him to convoy the Liberation Army of General José de San Martín to Peru, blockade the coast and support the campaign for independence. Later, forces under Cochrane's personal command cut out and captured the frigate Esmeralda, the most powerful Spanish ship in South America. All this led to Peruvian independence, which O'Higgins considered indispensable to Chile's independence and security. Cochrane's victories in the Pacific were spectacular and important. The excitement was almost immediately marred by his accusations that he had been plotted against by subordinates and treated with contempt and denied adequate financial reward by his superiors. The evidence does not support these accusations, and the problem appeared to lie in Cochrane's own suspicious and uneasy personality.[35]

Loose words from Katy resulted in a rumor that Cochrane had made plans to free Napoleon from his exile on Saint Helena and make him ruler of a unified South American state. This could not have been true because Charles,[Clarification needed] the supposed envoy bearing the rumored plans, had been killed two months before his reported "departure to Europe".[36] Cochrane left the service of the Chilean Navy on 29 November 1822.

Chilean naval vessels named after Lord Cochrane

The Chilean Navy has named five ships Cochrane or Almirante Cochrane (Admiral Cochrane) in his honour:

Brazilian Navy

Brazil was fighting its own war of independence against Portugal. Excepting Montevideo (now in Uruguay but then in Cisplatina), in 1822 the southern provinces came under the control of the patriots led by the Prince Regent, later Emperor Pedro I. Portugal still controlled some important provincial capitals in the north, with major garrisons and naval bases such as Belém do Pará, Salvador da Bahia and São Luís do Maranhão.

Coat of arms of the Marquess of Maranhão.[37]

Cochrane took command of the Brazilian Navy on 21 March 1823 and its flagship, the 'Pedro I'. He blockaded the Portuguese in Bahia, confronted them at the Battle of May 4, and forced them to evacuate the province in a vast convoy of ships which Cochrane's men attacked as they crossed the Atlantic. Cochrane sailed to Maranhão (then spelled Maranham) on his own initiative and bluffed the garrison into surrender by claiming that a vast (and mythical) Brazilian fleet and army were over the horizon. He sent a subordinate, Captain John Pascoe Grenfell, to Belém do Pará to use the same bluff and extract a Portuguese surrender. As a result of Cochrane's efforts, Brazil became totally de facto independent and free of any Portuguese troops. On Conchrane's return to Rio de Janeiro in 1824, the Emperor Pedro I rewarded the officer by granting him the non-hereditary title of Marquess of Maranhão (Marquês do Maranhão) in the Empire of Brazil. He was also awarded an accompanying coat of arms.

As in Chile and earlier occasions, Cochrane's joy at these successes was rapidly replaced by quarrels over pay and prize money, and a totally imaginary accusation that the Brazilian authorities were plotting against him.[38]

In mid-1824, Cochrane sailed north with a squadron to assist the Brazilian army, under General Francisco Lima e Silva, to suppress a republican rebellion in the state of Pernambuco which had begun to spread to Maranhão and other northern states. The rebellion was rapidly extinguished. Cochrane proceeded to Maranhão, where he took over the administration. He demanded the payment of a vast sum of prize money which he claimed was owing to himself and the squadron as a result of the recapture of the province in 1823.[39] He took all money from the public funds and sacked all merchant ships anchored in São Luís do Maranhão.[40] Defying orders to return to Rio de Janeiro, Cochrane transferred to a captured Brazilian frigate, left Brazil on 10 November 1825, and returned to Britain.

Greek Navy

Cochrane went to Greece to support its fight for independence from the Ottoman Empire, which had deployed an army raised in Egypt to suppress the Greek rebellion. Between March 1827 and December 1828, he took an active role in the campaign, but meeting with limited success due to the poor discipline of the Greek soldiers and seamen. One of his subordinates, Captain Hastings, attacked Ottoman forces at the Gulf of Lepanto, which indirectly led to intervention by Great Britain, France and Russia. They succeeded in destroying the Turko–Egyptian fleet at the Battle of Navarino, and the war was ended under mediation of the Great Powers.

Greece was probably the only campaign in Cochrane's naval career in which the results of his efforts were disappointingly slight. At the end of the war, he resigned his commission and returned to Britain. For the first time since he was convicted for the 1814 Stock Exchange Scandal, his lively nature was brought to a standstill. Despite reports to the contrary, there is little evidence to suggest that he had a nervous breakdown.

Return to Royal Navy

Cochrane inherited his peerage following his father's death on 1 July 1831, becoming the 10th Earl of Dundonald. He was restored to the Royal Navy list on 2 May 1832 as a Rear Admiral of the Blue. Cochrane's full return to Royal Navy service was delayed by his refusal to take a command until his knighthood had been restored, which took 15 years. He continued to receive promotions in the list of flag officers, as follows:

  • Rear Admiral of the Blue on 2 May 1832
  • Rear Admiral of the White on 10 January 1837
  • Rear Admiral of the Red on 28 June 1838
  • Vice Admiral of the Blue on 23 November 1841
  • Vice Admiral of the White on 9 November 1846
  • Vice Admiral of the Red on 3 January 1848
  • Admiral of the Blue on 21 March 1851
  • Admiral of the White on 2 April 1853
  • Admiral of the Red on 8 December 1857

On 22 May 1847 Queen Victoria reinstated him as a knight in the Order of the Bath. He returned to the Royal Navy, serving as Commander-in-Chief of the North America and West Indies Station from 1848 to 1851. During the Crimean War, the government considered him for a command in the Baltic, but decided that there was too high a chance that Cochrane would risk the fleet in a daring attack. On 6 November 1854, he was appointed to the honorary office of Rear-Admiral of the United Kingdom, an office that he retained until his death.

In his final years, Cochrane wrote his autobiography in collaboration with G.B. Earp. With his health deteriorating, in 1860 he twice had to undergo painful surgery for kidney stones. He died during the second operation on 31 October 1860, in Kensington.[41] He was buried in Westminster Abbey, where his grave is in the central part of the nave. Each year in May representatives of the Chilean Navy hold a wreath-laying ceremony at his grave.[42]

Innovations in technology

Convoys were guided by ships following the lamps of those ahead. In 1805, Cochrane entered a Royal Navy competition for a superior convoy lamp. Believing the judges to be biased against him, he reentered the contest under another name and won the prize.[43]

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.[44]

In 1812, 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 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.[45][46]

In 1818, Cochrane patented, together with the engineer Marc Isambard Brunel, the tunneling shield that Brunel and his son used in the building of 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. The Rising Star was a 410-ton vessel adapted to a revolutionary design at Brent's Yard at the Greenland Dock at the Thames: twin funnels, retractable paddle wheels and driven by a 60-horsepower engine.[34](p33) Similarly, he suffered delays with construction of a steamship he had hoped to put into use in the Greek War of Independence. In the 1830s, he experimented with steam power, developing a rotary engine and a propeller. In 1851, Cochrane received a patent on powering steamships with bitumen.[47] He was conferred with Honorary Membership of the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland in 1857.[48]

Burial and memorial

Cochrane 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'[49]

Fictional references

Influence on naval fiction

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 18xx. 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.[50]

Appearance in fiction

  • Lord Cochrane was first featured as a character in a novel in G. A. Henty's With Cochrane the Dauntless (1897).
  • The novel The Sea Lord (originally The Frigate Captain) by Showell Styles is about Lord Cochrane.
  • The novel Sharpe's Devil by Bernard Cornwell features an episode from Cochrane's time in Chile.[51]
  • Lord Cochrane is a minor character in Manuela by Gregory Kauffman, a novel about the South American revolutions.
  • The novel Flashman and the Seawolf, by Robert Brightwell, is based on Cochrane's early career on the Speedy.
  • In the alternate history series The Domination by S.M. Stirling, Lord Cochrane is featured leading the occupation of Cape Colony in South Africa.[52]

See also


  1. The heir-apparent to an earldom uses the Earl's next-highest title as a courtesy title; see Earl for details.
  2. Even after he had inherited the title of Earl of Dundonald in 1831, he was often still referred to as Lord Cochrane.
  3. Cordingley, p.10.
  4. Cordingley, p.20.
  5. Cordingley, p.19 & p.21.
  6. Cordingley, p.25.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Cordingley, p.21.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Cordingley, pp.22–24.
  9. Cordingley, pp.28–29.
  10. Cordingly p.58.
  11. "No. 15393". 1801-01-08. 
  12. Cochrane Britannia's Sea Wolf, Thomas, p. 82
  13. Vale, Brian, The Audacious Admiral Cochrane, Conway, 2004, p. 63-72
  14. Leigh Rayment's peerage page
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Vale (2004) p.74.
  16. Cordingly p.241.
  17. Cordingly p.243.
  18. Vale (2004) p.78.
  19. Dale, Richard, Napoleon is Dead: Lord Cochrane and the Great Stock Exchange Scandal, Sutton 2006
  20. Cordingly p.244.
  21. Vale (2004) p.77.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 Cordingly p.250.
  23. Vale p.81.
  24. 24.0 24.1 Cordingly p.251.
  25. Cordingly pp.251–252.
  26. Cordingly p.352.
  27. 27.0 27.1 Cordingly p.334.
  28. "No. 18934". 8 May 1832. 
  29. 29.0 29.1 Cordingly p.335.
  30. Vale (2008) pp.193–194.
  31. Cordingly pp.343–344.
  32. "No. 20736". 25 May 1847. 
  33. Thomas, Donald (1997). Cochrane: Britannia's sea wolf. Naval Institute Press. ISBN [[Special:BookSources/978-1-55750-808-9[page needed]|978-1-55750-808-9[page needed]]]. 
  34. 34.0 34.1 Brian Vale, Cochrane in the Pacific, I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd, 2008, ISBN 978-1-84511-446-6
  35. Vale, Brian, 'Cochrane in the Pacific', I. B. Tauris 2008
  36. Vale, Brian, 'Cochrane in the Pacific', I. B. Tauris 2008, page 205
  37. VASCONCELOS, Jaime Smith & VASCONCELOS, Rodolfo Smith. Archivo Nobiliarchico Brasileiro. Lausanne, 1918.
  38. Vale, Brian. Independence or Death! British Sailors and Brazilian Independence, I. B. Tauris, 1996
  39. Vale, 1996
  40. Gomes, Laurentino. "1822". Nova Fronteira, São Paulo, 2010
  41. Vale, Brian (2008). Cochrane in the Pacific: Fortune and Freedom in Spanish America. I. B. Tauris. ISBN 1-84511-446-9. 
  42. "Thomas Cochrane", Westminster Abbey
  43. Cordingly p.337
  44. Gardner p. 108
  45. Cordingly p. 337
  46. Grimble pp. 384–417
  47. Cordingly p.346
  48. Iesis - Honorary Members and Fellows
  49. National Maritime Museum Memorials Listing
  50. King, Dean, 2000, Patrick O'Brian: A Life Revealed, p. 193, Henry Holt & Co, New York ISBN 0-8050-5976-8
  51. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Devil: Chile 1820 (Sharpe's Adventures) ISBN 0-06-093229-5
  52. S.M. Stirling, The Domination (Omnibus edition of first 3 works) ISBN 0-671-57794-8


  • Cordingly, David (2007). Cochrane The Dauntless: The Life and Adventures of Thomas Cochrane. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7475-8545-9. 
  • Gardner, Robert (2000). Frigates of the Napoleonic Wars. London. ISBN 1-55750-288-9. 
  • Grimble, Ian (2000). The Sea Wolf: The Life of Admiral Cochrane. Edinburgh: Birlinn. ISBN 978-1-84158-035-7. 
  • Vale, Brian (1996). Independence or Death! British Sailors and Brazilian Independence. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 1-86064-060-5. 
  • Vale, Brian (2004). The Audacious Admiral Cochrane. Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 978-0-85177-986-7. 
  • Vale, Brian (2008). Cochrane in the Pacific: Fortune and Freedom in Spanish America. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 978-1-84511-446-6. 

Further reading

  • Cochrane, Alexander, in collaboration with the 14th Earl of Dundonald, "The Fighting Cochranes: A Scottish Clan over six hundred years of naval and military history" 1983, Quiller Press, London, ISBN 0-907621-19-8
  • Dale, Richard. "Napoleon is Dead: Lord Cochrane and the Great Stock Exchange Scandal" (2006) London: Sutton Pub., 256pp, ISBN 978-0-7509-4381-9
  • Davie, Donald. Poem entitled 'Lady Cochrane' in "Collected Poems 1971–1983". 1983, Manchester: Carcanet Press, ISBN 0-85635-462-7 and Mid Northumberland Arts Group ISBN 0-904790-30-4. U.S. edition 1983, Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, ISBN 0-268-00745-4
  • Dundonald, Thomas. Cochrane, Earl of, 1775–1860. The Autobiography of a Seaman. Introduction by Richard Woodman.
    New York: Lyons Press, 2000. ISBN 1-86176-156-2
  • Earnock and its Early Proprietors, nd Hamilton Advertiser, n.d. July 1874
  • Gomes, Laurentino (2010). 1822 — How a wise man, a sad princess and a money-crazy Scotsman helped D. Pedro create Brazil, a country that had everything to go wrong. Nova Fronteira.  (Portuguese)
  • Harvey, Robert. Cochrane: The Life and Exploits of a Fighting Captain. New York: Carroll & Graf, 2000. ISBN 0-7867-0923-5
  • Harvey, Robert. "Liberators: Latin America`s Struggle For Independence, 1810–1830". John Murray, London (2000). ISBN 0-7195-5566-3
  • Lloyd, Christopher Lord Cochrane. Seaman, Radical, Liberator. – A Life of Tomas Lord Cochrane 10th Earl of Dundonald. 1775–1860, ISBN 0-8050-5986-5
  • M'Gilchrist (aka McGilchrist), John. "The Life and Daring Exploits of Lord Dundonald". 1st Edition. London: James Blackwood, Paternoster Row. 1861.
  • Stephenson, Charles. "The Admiral's Secret Weapon: Lord Dundonald and the Origins of Chemical Warfare" (2006) Boydell press, ISBN 978-1-84383-280-5
  • Thomas, Donald. Cochrane: Britannia's Sea Wolf. 2nd Edition 2001, Cassell Military Paperbacks, London, 383pp, ISBN 0-304-35659-X
  • Freedom's Mercenaries: British Volunteers in the Wars of Independence of Latin America (1810-1825), by Moises Enrique Rodriguez (Lanham, Maryland, 2006).
  • Under the Flags of Freedom: British Mercenaries in the War of the Two Brothers, the First Carlist War, and the Greek War of Independence (1821-1840), by Moises Enrique Rodriguez (Lanham, Maryland, 2009).

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Francis Austen
North America and West Indies Station

Succeeded by
Sir George Seymour
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sir William Hall Gage
Rear-Admiral of the United Kingdom
Succeeded by
Sir Graham Eden Hamond, Bt
Peerage of Scotland
Preceded by
Archibald Cochrane
Earl of Dundonald
Succeeded by
Thomas Barnes Cochrane
Titles of nobility of the Brazilian Empire
New title Marquess of Maranhão

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