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The Scottish Nation
Cochran or Cochrane

COCHRAN, or COCHRANE, an ancient surname in Scotland, derived from the barony of Cochrane, in the county of Renfrew, and the family name of the earls of Dundonald. In the reign of Alexander the Third, Waldenus de Coveran or Cochran, was a witness to the charter given by Dungal (Duff-Gallus,) the son of Swayne, to Walter Cumming, earl of Monteith, of the lands of Skipness and others in Cantyre, in the year 1262. William de Cochran was one of the Scots barons who swore fealty to Edward the First of England in 1296.

      In the reign of David the Second lived Gosiline de Cochran, father of William Cochran of that ilk, and from him was lineally descended William Cochran of that ilk, who obtained a charter of confirmation from Queen Mary, of the lands of Cochran in 1576, and having erected the ancient seat of Cochrane, he ornamented it with extensive plantations. July 3, 1584, he was with John Whiteford of that ilk, and seven others, “delated” of art and part of the cruel slaughter of Patrick Maxwell of Stanley, committed in the previous January; but the laird of Whiteford was the only one put upon trial, and he was acquitted of the charge. By his wife Margaret, daughter of Sir Robert Montgomery of Skelmorly, in the county of Ayr, William Cochrane of Cochrane had a daughter, Elizabeth, his sole heiress, and in 1593, he made a settlement of his estate in her favour. She married Alexander Blair, a younger son of John Blair of Blair, in Ayrshire, when, in terms of her father’s settlement, the latter assumed the name of Cochrane. Of this marriage there were seven sons and three daughters. The eldest son, Sir John Cochrane, was a colonel in the army of Charles the First, by whom he was sent to solicit the assistance of foreign princes, and was afterwards despatched by Charles the Second on an embassy into Poland in 1650. He died, without issue, before the Restoration, and was succeeded by his brother, Sir William Cochrane of Cowdon, knight, a distinguished loyalist, created, in December 1647, Lord Cochrane of Ochiltree, and in May 1669, earl of Dundonald. [See DUNDONALD, earl of.]

COCHRAN, ROBERT, an eminent architect of the fifteenth century, was born in Scotland, and educated at Padua in Italy, where he spent several years in the study of the fine arts, particularly architecture. On his return he was employed by James the Third to erect several noble structures. He first became known to that monarch by his conduct in a duel, and he was afterwards his principal adviser. The king, forsaking his nobility, made architects and musicians his principal companions. These the haughty barons of Scotland termed masons and fiddlers. Cochran, Rogers, a musician, Leonard, a smith, Hommel, a tailor, and Torphichen, a fencing master, were his counsellors and familiars. James created Cochran earl of Mar, the title borne by the king’s own brother, whom, at the suggestion of his unworthy favourites, he had caused to be put to death. All the petitions to the king had to pass through Cochran’s hands, and as he received bribes to give his countenance and support he soon amassed great wealth. He caused the silver coin of the realm to be mixed with brass and lead, thereby decreasing its real value, while a proclamation was issued that the people were to take it at the same rate as if it were composed of pure silver. The people refused to sell their corn and other commodities for this debased coin, which introduced great distress, confusion, and scarcity. Some one told Cochran that this money should be called in, and good coin issued in its stead; but he was so confident of the currency of the Cochran placks, as they were called, that he said, – “The day I am hanged they may be called in; not sooner.” This speech, which he made in jest, became, in no long time thereafter, sad reality. While the king with an army of fifty thousand men lay encamped in the neighbourhood of Lauder, many of the nobility, determined to get rid of the king’s favourites, held a secret council in the church of Lauder for the purpose, and when thus engaged a loud knocking was heard at the door. This was Cochran himself, attended by a guard of three hundred men, all gaily dressed in his livery of white, with black facings, and armed with partisans. He himself was attired in a riding suit of black velvet, and had round his neck a fine chain of gold, whilst a buglehorn, tipped and mounted with gold, hung by his side. Having learnt that there was some consultation holding among the nobility, he came to ascertain its object. Sir Robert Douglas, of Lochleven, who had the charge of the door, when he heard the knocking, demanded who was there. Cochran answered, “The earl of Mar,” on which he was allowed to enter, when Archibald, earl of Angus, met him, and rudely pulled the gold chain from his neck, saying, “a halter would better become him.” Sir Robert Douglas, at the same time, snatched away his buglehorn, saying, “Thou hast been a hunter of mischief too long.” “Is this jest or earnest, my lords?” said Cochran, astonished rather than alarmed at this rude reception. “It is sad earnest,” said they, “and that thou and thy accomplices shall feel; for you have abused the king’s favour towards you, and now you shall have your reward according to your deserts.” Cochran, who was naturally a man of great courage, offered no resistance, and a party of the nobility having gone to the king’s pavilion, they seized in his presence Leonard, Hommel, Torphichen, and the rest, with Preston, one of the only two gentlemen amongst King James’ minions, and condemned them to instant death, as having misled the king and misgoverned the kingdom. Cochran vainly requested that his hands might not be tied with a hempen rope, but with a silk cord, at the same time offering to furnish it from the cords of his pavilion, which with the pavilion itself, were of silk instead of the ordinary materials. He was told he was but a false knave, and should die with all manner of shame, and his enemies were at pains to procure a hair-tether or halter, as still more ignominious than a rope of hemp. With this they hanged cochran over the center of the bridge of Lauder, long since demolished, in the middle of his companions, who were suspended on each side of him. This took place in July 1484.

COCHRAN, WILLIAM, an artist of considerable reputation in his time, was born at Strathaven in Lanarkshire, December 12, 1738. At the age of 23 he went to Italy, and studied at Rome under his countryman, Gavin Hamilton. On his return he settled as a portrait painter in Glasgow, where he soon realized a respectable independence. Besides portraits, he painted occasionally historical pieces, two of which, ‘Daedalus’ and ‘Endymion,’ rank high in the opinion of connoisseurs. He died at Glasgow, October 23, 1785, and lies buried in the cathedral there.

COCHRANE, ARCHIBALD, ninth earl of Dundonald, a nobleman distinguished for scientific attainments. See DUNDONALD, earl of.

COCHRANE, SIR ALEXANDER FORRESTER INGLIS, a distinguished naval officer. See DUNDONALD, earl of.

COCHRANE, CAPTAIN JOHN DUNDAS, R.N., an eccentric traveller. See DUNDONALD, earl of.

COCHRANE, THOMAS, tenth earl of Dundonald, known better as Lord Cochrane, a distinguished naval officer, in various services. See DUNDONALD, earl of.

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