Thomas Cochrane

(10th Earl of Dundonald)

1775 - 1860

Thomas Cochrane
©2023 Gazetteer for Scotland

Thomas Cochrane

Naval commander. Born in Annsfield (near Hamilton, South Lanarkshire), and raised in Abbey House in Culross (Fife), Cochrane was elected as a Member of Parliament in 1806. He served successfully in the British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars, gaining a reputation for his daring. However, his radical attitude, campaign against corruption in the navy and criticism of his meek and indecisive commander, led to his dismissal. He was falsely accused of involvement in a stock market fraud by a disgruntled establishment.

He proceeded to become Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean Navy (1819), helped Brazil towards independence (1823) and led the Greek Navy against Turkey (1827).

He was vindicated and re-instated as a Rear Admiral in the British Navy on his return to Britain. Between 1848 and 1851, he served as commander of the North American and West Indies Station, based in Bermuda.

He was one of Britain's greatest naval heroes and was buried in Westminster Abbey (London).

Cochrane is said to have been the model for C.S. Forrester's character Horatio Hornblower. He is remembered through HMS Cochrane, the name of the naval base at Rosyth, on the Firth of Forth, and a monument in Culross. A sea chest presented to him by the people of Chile is held by the Royal Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

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