Thomas Cochrane

(1775—1860) naval officer

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Cochrane had a long and colourful life. In 1793 he joined the navy, in which his uncle was serving. During 1800–1 he commanded the Speedy, preying upon Spanish shipping. Next he took up politics, was returned to Parliament in 1806 for Honiton, and then Westminster as partner to Sir Francis Burdett. They formed a radical pair, urging parliamentary reform. In 1814 Cochrane was involved in a Stock Exchange fraud, sentenced to a year in prison, and expelled from Parliament. His Westminster constituents returned him again, but he failed to become a second Wilkes. In 1818, abandoning Parliament, he left for South America, where Spain's colonies were in rebellion, and performed deeds of heroism on behalf of Chile, Peru, and Brazil. He was employed once more 1848–51 as commander‐in‐chief West Indies and promoted admiral. Cochrane was a vigorous and brave leader of men, but a bad subordinate. An uncomfortable national hero, he was buried in Westminster abbey.

Subjects: British History.

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