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Posts Tagged ‘William Cobbett’

Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency (I include those who were born before 1811 and who died after 1795), today I continue with one of the many period notables.

James Watson (Radical)
21 September 1799 – 29 November 1874

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James Watson

James Watson was born at Malton, North Yorkshire. His father died when he was only a year old. His mother, who was a Sunday school teacher, taught him to read and write. Around the year of 1811, she returned to domestic service in the household of a clergyman, who had paid for James’s schooling and tuitions for a brief period. He had worked there as under-gardener, in the stables and as house-servant, and he read widely. From about 1817 Watson was with his mother in Leeds, where he became a warehouseman.

Watson was converted to freethought and radicalism by public readings from William Cobbett and Richard Carlile. He spread literature and helped with a subscription on behalf of Carlile. Carlile was sentenced in 1821 to three years’ imprisonment for blasphemy, and Watson went up to London in September 1822 to serve as a volunteer assistant in his Water Lane bookshop. In January 1823 Carlile’s wife, having completed her own term of imprisonment, took a new shop at 201 Strand, and Watson moved there as a salesman; salesman after salesman was arrested. In February 1823 Watson was charged with selling a copy of Elihu Palmer’s Principles of Nature to a police agent, spoke in his own defence, and was sent to Coldbath Fields Prison for a year.

In prison he read David Hume, Edward Gibbon, and Johann Lorenz von Mosheim’s Ecclesiastical History, and developed his anti-Christian and republican opinions. In 1825 he trained as a compositor, and was employed in printing Carlile’s The Republican; and went into business on his own. He was in poverty at times, and in 1826 caught cholera. Recovering, he became an Owenite, and in 1828 he was storekeeper of the “First Co-operative Trading Association” in London, in Red Lion Square.

In 1831 Watson set up as a printer and publisher. He became a champion of the right to free expression of opinion. Julian Hibbert, an admirer, died in January 1834 and left him a legacy, with which Watson enlarged his printing plant. He started by printing the life and works of Tom Paine, and these volumes were followed by Mirabaud’s System of Nature and Volney’s Ruins. Later he printed Lord Byron’s Cain and The Vision of Judgment, Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Queen Mab and The Masque of Anarchy, and Clark on the Miracles of Christ. These book were printed, corrected, folded, and sewed by Watson himself, and issued at one shilling or less per volume. He cared for the appearance of his books, on which he lost money.

In 1832 Watson was arrested, but escaped imprisonment, for organising a procession and a feast on the day the government had ordained a “general fast” on account of the cholera epidemic. In February 1833 he was summoned at Bow Street for selling Henry Hetherington’s Poor Man’s Guardian, and was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment at Clerkenwell. His shop was near Bunhill Fields; he then moved first to City Road, and in 1843 to 5 Paul’s Alley.

He married Eleanor Byerley, on 3 June 1834, and two months later was arrested and imprisoned for six months for having circulated Hetherington’s unstamped paper, ironically entitled The Conservative. He had come under the observation of the government as a leader of the meeting of trade unions in April of that, in favour of the action of the Dorchester labourers. This was his last imprisonment, though he continued to issue books banned by the government.

In June 1837 Watson was on the committee appointed to draw up the bills embodying the Chartist demands. He was opposed to the violence of some of the agitators, and, on the other hand, to the overtures made to Whig partisans, whom he denounced. He was averse to “peddling away the people’s birthright for any mess of cornlaw pottage”.

Watson corresponded with Giuseppe Mazzini, and in 1847 joined his Peoples’ International League. In 1848 he was one of the conveners of the first public meeting to congratulate the French Revolution of 1848.

An untaxed and absolutely free press became his main object in later years. He died at Burns College, Hamilton Road, Lower Norwood, on 29 November 1874, and was buried in Norwood cemetery. A grey granite obelisk erected by friends commemorated his “brave efforts to secure the rights of free speech”. A photographic portrait was in the Memoir by William James Linton.

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Thomas Curson Hansard
6 November 1776 – 5 May 1833

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Thomas Curson Hansard

Thomas Curson Hansard was the son of the printer Luke Hansard.

In 1803, he established a press of his own in Paternoster Row. In the same year, William Cobbett, a newspaperman, began to print the Parliamentary Debates. At first, these were not independent reports, but were taken from newspapers’ accounts of parliamentary debate.

In 1809, Hansard started to print Cobbett’s reports. Together, they also published a pamphlet describing an incident in which German mercenaries had flogged British soldiers for mutiny, and were imprisoned in King’s Bench Prison for libel.

In 1812, facing bankruptcy, Cobbett sold the publication to Hansard, who continued to publish it for the rest of his life. In 1829, he added his own name to the parliamentary proceedings, giving it the title Hansard that it bears to this day.

TC Hansard was the author of Typographia, an Historical Sketch of the Origin and Progress of the Art of Printing (1825).

The original business remained in the hands of his younger brothers, James and Luke Graves Hansard (1777-1851). The firm was prosecuted in 1837 by John Joseph Stockdale for printing by order of the House of Commons, in an official report of the inspector of prisons, statements regarded by the plaintiff as libellous. Hansard’s sheltered itself on the ground of parliamentary privilege, but it was not until after much litigation that the security of the printers of government reports was guaranteed by statute in 1840.

After 1889 the debates were published by the Hansard Publishing Union Limited.

Hansard is buried in Kingston Cemetery.

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

William Innell Clement
1779 – 24 January 1852

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William Innell Clement

William Innell Clement was born in London. Starting as a newsagent at a young age, he soon became one of the leading vendors in London. In 1814, Clement moved into the newspaper publishing business by purchasing The Observer, at that time a comparatively obscure Sunday paper. Within two years, Clement accepted government funds in return for providing editorial support. Endeavoring to make The Observer the leading Sunday newspaper, Clement delayed printing the paper until between four and five o’clock on the Sunday morning in order to include the latest news. Yet the paper remained dependent on government funds, with nearly half of its print run given away for free as ‘specimen copies’.

During this time Clement was also the publisher of the Weekly Political Register, which was edited by William Cobbett. He stood by Cobbett when the latter man left for the United States on the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act in 1817. Three years later, Clement sold the Weekly Political Register and his newsvending business to W. H. Smith. He then bought the Morning Chronicle on the death of James Perry in 1821 for £42,000, raising most of the purchase money by bills. The transaction involved him with Messrs. Hurst & Robinson, the publishers, and their bankruptcy in 1825 hit him very hard. After losing annually on the Morning Chronicle, Clement sold it to John Easthope in 1834 for £16,500. More profitable for Clement was his ownership of Bell’s Life in London, which he purchased between 1824 and 1825. Under the editorship of Vincent George Dowling, Bell’s Life in London became a leading sporting paper, with its circulation growing from 3,000 to over 30,000 in the first two decades of Clement’s ownership.

Clement died suddenly of apoplexy at Hackney on 24 January 1852. He is buried at Kensal Green Cemetery.

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Admiral Sir George Cranfield-Berkeley
10 August 1753 – 25 February 1818

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George Cranfield-Berkeley

Admiral Sir George Cranfield-Berkeley was born in 1753, the third son of Augustus Berkeley, 4th Earl of Berkeley and his courtier wife Elizabeth Drax. His father died when George was only two and the title Earl of Berkeley passed to his elder brother Frederick. George was privately educated until nine, when he attended Eton College, gaining a formal education until 1766 when he was attached to the royal yacht Mary commanded by a relative Augustus Keppel. Mary conveyed Princess Caroline Matilda to Denmark, where she was married to Christian VII of Denmark. Berkeley acted as page at her wedding.

In 1767, Berkeley was attached to the squadron under Hugh Palliser based at Newfoundland. Berkeley was there mentored by Joseph Gilbert (who later accompanied James Cook) and John Cartwright (later a prominent political reformer). With these men, Berkeley participated in a survey of Newfoundland, learning seamanship, surveying and numerous other skills in the two-year commission. In 1769, Berkeley was transferred to the Mediterranean and served in the frigate HMS Alarm under John Jervis. For the next five years, Berkeley spent time in the Mediterranean and at home, making lieutenant in 1772 but failing to be elected as MP for Cricklade and then Gloucestershire after a bitter and enormously expensive contest.

Following the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, Berkeley served on HMS Victory, in which he commanded a gundeck at the First Battle of Ushant. Berkeley became a prominent opponent of Sir Hugh Palliser after the battle, at which Palliser was accused of refusing to obey the orders of his commanding officer, Augustus Keppel. This opposition did not prevent Berkeley gaining his first independent command the same year, when he took over the 8-gun HMS Pluto. The next year he moved to the similarly tiny HMS Firebrand and impressed his commanding officer Lord Shuldham. Shuldham’s recommendation for promotion was turned down however due to his previous involvement in the Palliser affair.

In 1780, Berkeley was appointed to HMS Fairy, a 14-gun brig under his cousin George Keppel and together they captured the American ship Mercury, taking prisoner Henry Laurens who was on a secret mission to loan money from the Dutch government. The information procured from Laurens led to a British declaration of war against the Netherlands. As another consequence, Berkeley was promoted to captain by Admiral Richard Edwards and commanded Fairy during the relief of the Great Siege of Gibraltar and further operations against American shipping from Newfoundland.

In 1781, Berkeley was given command of the frigate HMS Recovery which was placed in the squadron of Samuel Barrington. At the Second Battle of Ushant in 1782, Berkeley’s ship was engaged in the decimation of a French convoy and its escorts. As a reward, Berkeley was given the captured ship of the line HMS Pegase. Whilst aboard her he was approached by a young William Cobbet who wanted to volunteer for the navy. Berkeley dissuaded Cobbet, who later credited Berkeley with saving him from “most toilsome and perilous profession in the world”. In April 1783, Berkeley finally gained a seat in parliament, at the constituency of Gloucestershire. Berkeley would remain MP for the town for the next 27 years and took the position seriously, becoming a very important independent MP. He even attempted to bring William Pitt the Younger and Charles James Fox into an alliance, although the collapse of the scheme ended with a feud between him and Fox.

The following year, 1784 after the peace, Berkeley married Emilia Charlotte Lennox, daughter of Lord George Lennox. The marriage was a love match and Berkeley’s sister commented that they were “a pattern of domestic happiness scarcely to be equaled”. The couple had three daughters and two sons and remained an unusually tight-knit family, Berkeley using his extensive personal wealth to bring his family with him on long voyages and overseas postings. In 1786 Berkeley commanded HMS Magnificent and remained with her for three years until 1789 when he became surveyor-general of the ordnance. He left the post after the French Revolutionary Wars broke out in 1793, taking over HMS Marlborough.

Berkeley was still in command of Marlborough when she fought under Lord Howe at the Glorious First of June, fighting as part of Admiral Thomas Pasley’s van division there and at the preceding Atlantic campaign of May 1794. At the First of June, Marlborough was dismasted in close combat with several French ships and Berkeley badly wounded in the head and thigh, having to retire below after a period to staunch the bleeding. He had a long convalescence after the action but was amongst the captains selected for the gold medal commemorating the action, only awarded to those felt to have played a significant part in the victory.

Returning to service in 1795, Berkeley commanded HMS Formidable off Brest, Cadiz, Ireland and the Texel, coming ashore in 1798 to command the Sussex sea fencibles. In 1799, Berkeley was promoted rear-admiral and attached to the Channel Fleet, but the gout which had forced his first retirement returned, and Berkeley was forced to take permanent shore leave in 1800. In 1801, Berkeley increased his political interests to compensate for the loss of his naval career.

Berkeley continued building his political status during the Peace of Amiens and by it’s end Berkeley had been appointed inspector of sea fencibles, a job he undertook with vigour, conducting a fourteen-month survey of Britain’s coastal defences, which greatly improved the island’s defences. In 1806, after a shift in political power, Berkeley fell out of favour somewhat and was dispatched to the North American Station. From there, Berkeley ordered the attack by HMS Leopard on the American frigate USS Chesapeake in retaliation for American recruitment of British deserters. This action, known as the Chesapeake-Leopard Affair, helped precipitate the War of 1812.

Having embarrassed the British government with this action, Berkeley was recalled home. However, public opinion supported his orders, so Berkeley was moved to command in Lisbon in the hope he could organise the chaotic supply system for Wellington’s army in the Peninsula War. Berkeley recognised that only a dedicated and organised convoy system could keep the supply of men, food and material regular and consequently set one up. Simultaneously, he reequipped and galvanised the remnants of the Spanish Navy, rescuing several ships from capture by the French as well as used frigates to supply partisan units all along the coast of Portugal and Northern Spain.

By 1810, Wellington could truthfully say of Berkeley that “His activity is unbounded, the whole range of the business of the Country in which he is stationed, civil, military, political, commercial, even ecclesiastical I believe as well as naval are objects of his attention”. He was promoted to full admiral and made Lord High Admiral of the Portuguese Navy by the Portuguese Regent in Brazil. By 1810 he had used sailors to man coastal defences all over Spain, freeing soldiers for Wellington and also formed a squadron of river gunboats to harry French units from major rivers like the Tagus.

Berkely retired from the post in 1812, again laid low by health. He and Wellington remained good friends for the rest of their lives, and Wellington later stated that Berkeley was the best naval commander he had ever cooperated with. Berkeley’s final voyage was to return to Britain aboard HMS Barfleur. Later rewards included being made a Knight Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1813 which was converted to a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in 1815. He was reportedly disappointed not to have been given a peerage for his long and excellent service.

Berkeley retired to a house in South Audley Street, London, where his gout continued to plague him with severe pain for the rest of his life. He spent some time during this period conversing with lifelong friend Edward Jenner, whose vaccine for smallpox Berkeley had persuaded the government to investigate, particularly with regard for the health of the navy. He was confined to bed as a result of chronic gout, and died in February 1818 at the age of 64, survived by his family.

His eldest son Sir George Berkeley was a general and father of the 7th Earl of Berkeley while his younger son Grenville Berkeley was a politician. His third daughter Mary Caroline (d. 1873) married Henry Fitzroy, 5th Duke of Grafton.

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Gwyllym Lloyd Wardle
1762– 30 November 1833

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Gwyllym Lloyd Wardle

Gwyllym Lloyd Wardle was born at Chester about 1762, he was the only son of Francis Wardle, J.P., of Hartsheath, near Mold, Flintshire, and Catherine, daughter of Richard Lloyd Gwyllym. He was during 1775 at Harrow School, but left in poor health; he was then at the school of George Henry Glasse at Greenford, near Ealing, Middlesex. He was admitted pensioner at St John’s College, Cambridge, on 12 February 1780, but did not take a degree.

After travelling on the continent of Europe, Wardle settled at Hartsheath. He went into business with William Alexander Madocks, in particular at Tremadog.

When Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn, 5th Baronet raised a troop of dragoons, officially called “the ancient British Light Dragoons”,’ and popularly known as “Wynn’s Lambs”, Wardle served in it, in Ireland. He is said to have fought at the battle of Vinegar Hill in 1798. At the peace of Amiens the troop was disbanded, and Wardle retired with the rank of lieutenant-colonel.

Wardle moved to Green Park Place, Bath, Somerset, in about 1800, where he was living when elected Member of Parliament for Okehampton in Devon in 1807. He won the election with 113 votes, and he is said to have been returned without the support of the borough’s patron. According to a pamphlet by William Farquharson, he also had interests in a gin distillery in Jersey.

As a result of the scandals arising from the relationship of Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany, the commander-in-chief of the army, with Mary Anne Clarke, Wardle brought forward a motion against the Duke on 27 January 1809. Acting with Sir Francis Burdett, Wardle was able, through parliamentary privilege, to fight against the government’s libel action against the press, which aimed to prevent corruption rumours against the Duke from becoming public. The House of Commons went into committee on the subject on 1 February, and the proceedings lasted until 20 March. Though he failed in convicting the Duke of personal corruption, sufficient indiscretions were proved to force his retirement. Due to public interest in the case, Wardle briefly became more prominent than Burdett, who was otherwise a more substantial radical campaigner.

Up to this point Wardle had been thought a bon viveur rather than a politician, but he remained committed to his cause. He made a long speech in parliament on 19 June 1809 on the public economy, and his resolutions on this were agreed. He was presented with the freedom of the city of London on 6 April 1809 and congratulatory addresses were presented to him by many corporations throughout the United Kingdom. His likeness was reproduced in a number of forms.

On 3 July 1809, Wardle’s fortunes changed for the worse, when an upholsterer called Francis Wright brought a court action against him over matters concerning the furnishing of Mary Anne Clarke’s house. With the attorney-general prosecuting, the jury found against Wardle, and evidence came out that Clarke and Wardle had colluded against the Duke. Wardle denied this in an open letter, and on 11 December he brought an action against the Wrights and Clarke for conspiracy. He lost the case, along with his reputation, James Glenie, a witness for the crown in the first trial, was also heavily criticised by the judge Lord Ellenborough.

Wardle’s radical supporters included Timothy Brown, Major John Cartwright, William Cobbett, William Frend, and Robert Waithman. He was not re-elected for Okehampton after the dissolution of parliament in 1812, despite strong backing.

Wardle moved to a farm in Kent between Tunbridge and Rochester; Mary Anne Clarke wrote that he sold milk. Later, with money troubles, he emigrated. He died in Florence, on 30 November 1833, aged 71.

An address from Colonel Wardle to his countrymen, arguing for Catholic Emancipation, was circulated in 1828. It was dated Florence, 3 November 1827, and praised conditions of life in Catholic Tuscany.

In 1792 Wardle married Ellen Elizabeth Parry, daughter of Love Parry of Madryn, Carnarvonshire, who brought him estates in that county. They had seven children. He was an unfaithful husband.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

George Soane
1790–12 July 1860

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George Soane

George Soane was the younger son of John Soane, he was born in London. He graduated B.A. from Pembroke College, Cambridge, in 1811. Shortly afterwards he married Agnes Boaden, against his parents’ wishes. His writing career was not enough to earn a living. Soane fell into debt, and was imprisoned. In 1814 he was editing the Theatrical Inquisitor, but also served time for fraud. He gave evidence on the King’s Bench Prison, from his experience of it, to a committee of enquiry in 1815.

In The Champion during September 1815 Soane attacked his father’s reputation as an architect, in two anonymous articles. His mother died shortly afterwards. These pieces led to a family rupture, and indirectly to the foundation of Sir John Soane’s Museum. Soane attempted to block the private Act of Parliament of 1833 that set up the museum’s endowment. The matter was debated in the House of Commons for an hour, with William Cobbett putting Soane’s side of the argument, that he would be deprived of a rightful inheritance. Joseph Hume spoke in favour of the act, which was passed.

Soane died on 12 July 1860.

Soane became known as an author of melodramas.

  • The Bohemian: a Tragedy, London, 1817.
  • The Falls of Clyde: a Melodrama, London, 1817.
  • The Inn-Keeper’s Daughter, Drury Lane, 1817.
  • Self-Sacrifice: a Melodrama, London, 1819.
  • The Dwarf of Naples: a Tragi-comedy, London, 1819.
  • The Hebrew: a Drama, London, 1820.
  • Pride shall have a Fall: a Comedy, London, 1824.
  • Faustus, or the Demon of Drachenfels, London, 1825.
  • Aladdin: a Fairy Opera, London, 1826.
  • The Night Dancers: an Opera, London, 1846.
  • The Island of Calypso: an Operatic Masque, London, 1850.

Soane’s other works included:

  • Knight Damon and a Robber Chief, London, 1812.
  • The Eve of St. Marco: a Novel, London, 1813.
  • The Peasant of Lucerne, London, 1815.
  • Specimens of German Romance, London, 1826.
  • The Frolics of Puck, London, 1834.
  • Life of the Duke of Wellington, London, 1839–40.
  • The Last Ball and other Tales, Woking, 1843.
  • January Eve: a Tale, London, 1847.
  • New Curiosities of Literature, London, 1847.

Soane also made translations from French, German, and Italian. He translated Undine into English in 1818, and there was a stage version by 1821. He supplied letterpress in 1820, translating some extracts of Goethe’s German, when the illustrations by Moritz Retzsch to Faust I were published in London (plates copied by Henry Moses).

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Thomas Cochrane 10th Earl of Dundonald
14 December 1775 – 31 October 1860

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Thomas Cochrane

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.

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 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 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.

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. 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.

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. 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. In 1795, he was appointed acting lieutenant. The following year, on 27 May 1796, he was commissioned lieutenant, after passing the examination. 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.

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. Cochrane wounded the French officer with a pistol shot and was unharmed.

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. 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”. 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 fictionalised 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 harbour 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 maximised 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.

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.

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. 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.

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, m. Louisa Harriett McKinnon.
  • William Horatio Bernardo Cochrane, officer, 92nd Gordon Highlanders, m. Jacobina Frances Nicholson.
  • Elizabeth Katharine Cochrane, died close to her first birthday.
  • Katharine Elizabeth Cochrane, m. John Willis Fleming.
  • Admiral Sir Arthur Auckland Leopold Pedro Cochrane KCB
  • Captain Ernest Gray Lambton Cochrane RN 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.

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. 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.

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. Within days, an anonymous informant told the committee that Colonel de Bourg was an imposter; a man named Charles Random, a former periodical colourist, who used his wife’s name and passed as a Prussian aristocrat named De Berenger, and he had been seen entering Cochrane’s house on the day of the hoax.

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. 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. 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 an 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. 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. 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.

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. 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.

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. 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. 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.

The question of Cochrane’s innocence or guilt created much debate at the time, and it has divided historians ever since. 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. 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. 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. Later that year the Tory government fell and was replaced by a Whig government in which his friend, Lord Brougham, was appointed Lord Chancellor. 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. 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. Only in 1860 was his banner returned to Westminster Abbey; it was the day before his funeral.

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.

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 organising 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.(p37) Cochrane reorganised 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 organised 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.

Loose words from Katy resulted in a rumour 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, the supposed envoy bearing the rumoured plans, had been killed two months before his reported “departure to Europe”. 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:

  • The first, Almirante Cochrane, was a famous battery ship that fought in the War of the Pacific (1879–1884).
  • The second Almirante Cochrane was a dreadnought battleship laid down in Britain in 1913. The Royal Navy acquired the unfinished ship in 1917, converting her into the carrier HMS Eagle (1918).
  • The third ship, Cochrane, was a Fletcher-class destroyer, the former USS Rooks (DD-804), commissioned into the Chilean Navy in 1962 and scrapped in 1983.
  • The fourth ship, Almirante Cochrane, was a County-class destroyer, the former HMS Antrim (D18), which the Chilean Navy acquired in 1984 and decommissioned in 2006.
  • The fifth and current ship to bear the name, Almirante Cochrane (FF-05), is a Type 23 frigate, the former HMS Norfolk (F230), which the Chilean Navy commissioned in 2006.

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.

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 4 May, 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 Cochrane’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 an accusation that the Brazilian authorities were plotting against him.
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 prize money which he claimed he was owed as a result of the recapture of the province in 1823. He absconded with public money and sacked merchant ships anchored in São Luís do Maranhão. 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.

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 met 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 Great Stock Exchange Fraud of 1814, 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

In 1818, Cochrane patented, together with the engineer Marc Isambard Brunel, the tunnelling 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. 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. He was conferred with Honorary Membership of the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland in 1857.

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