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Cochrane


The name Cochrane originates from the "five-merk" lands of Coueran, Cochrane, near Paisley in Renfrewshire though some suggest that some MacEacherns who removed to the Lowlands adopted the name Cochrane as a means of concealing their origins. Its affinity to the Irish Corcoran is also suggestive of a link. The first Cochrane recorded in Scotland was one Waldeve de Coveran who witnessed a charter in favour of the 5th Earl of Menteith in 1262. In 1456, Robert Cochrane of Cochrane resigned the lands of Cochrane to his successor, Allan who received a charter of them from James II. Edward Cochrane (perhaps of this family) was declared innocent of having any part in the detention of King James III in Edinburgh Castle in 1482. The last Cochrane of that Ilk left only a daughter, Elizabeth who married Blair who took his wife's name and estates. Their son Sir William Cochrane was created 1st Earl of Dundonald in 1669. After the death of the 7th Earl the descendants of Sir William's second son became the Earls. Thomas, the 10th Earl (1775-1860) was the most celebrated chief of the Cochranes and is generally known as Lord Cochrane. He joined the navy at 18 years and became famous when in command of a brig he captured a Spanish frigate, whose crew out numbered his by six-to-one, with 32 heavy guns. He followed this feat by defending Trinidad Castle against the French in 1808. He was returned to Parliament and was outspoken on the Admiralty and the commander-in-chief. He was deprived of his position and seat in government when he was prosecuted wrongly for fraud. In 1817 the Chileans invited him to command their navy in the attempt to secure independence which he succeeded in doing. He followed by helping the Brazilians and the Greeks against the Turks. He was at last reinstated and in 1854 was made Rear Admiral. He also promoted the use of steam propelled warships while his continued attacks on the incompetence and navy hierarchy led to far-reaching reforms. Dundonald Castle in Kyle built by the Stewarts in the 12th century was bought by the Cochranes in the 17th century. The Cochrane tartan was officially approved by the 14th Earl of Dundonald and Chief of the Cochranes, which removed the earlier doubts that the sett was incorrect.


COCHRANE: Tradition traces the Cochrane ancestry to a Viking warrior who settled in Renfrewshire where his descendants took their name from the lands of Cochrane near Paisley. Established therein by the 12th century, they held the Lordship from the 14th, and rose to prominence during the reign of King James II (1437-60). Robert Cochrane, master mason and favourite of James III, was the reputed architect of the great hall of Stirling Castle, but his patronage availed him nought for he was hanged with others at Lauder Bridge in 1482 by a group of indignant nobles jealous of those favoured by the king. The principal family remained adherents to the Royal House of Stewart and gained further holdings in Renfrewshire, obtaining a charter of confirmation from Queen Mary in 1556. The Tower or Castle of Cochrane was built c.1592 by William Cochrane, but lacking male heirs, his line was continued through a daughter who married Alexander Blair of Blair in Ayrshire who, on the death of his father-in-law, by Great Seal charter, assumed the name and arms of Cochrane. Alexander acquired the Ayrshire lands of Auchencreuch in 1618, and Cowdoun in 1622, and the seven sons of his marriage began in earnest the enviable catalogue of military service which has placed the Cochranes apart. These sons took part in the Civil Wars, and William, the 2nd son, was created Lord Cochrane of Dundonald by Charles I, and in 1669, made Earl of Dundonald by Charles II. The rule of the later Stuarts became abhorent to the Cochranes and many became supporters of the Covenanters, later lending support to William of Orange. The 10th Earl pursued a naval career during the Napoleonic Wars and his expertise in capturing larger ships, and an ingenuity for discomfiting the enemy, gained him high regard. Later, as MP for Westminster, he became a victim of party politics, and with his services largely unrecognised, in 1817 he accepted command of the Chilean Navy and assisted that country gain its freedom from Spain.


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