Admiral Sir Thomas J. Cochrane G.C.B. 1789-1872
As yet we have not traced any information concerning the life and death of the Admiral on the Island, the only known fact is that he died on the Island. However we have unearthed information concerning the earlier part of this career.
Elder son of Admiral Sir Alexander Forrester Inglis Cochrane. During their careers both men created a great deal of envy and provoked a considerable amount of acid comment. Earl St. Vincent (John Jervis) stated that the ‘Cochrane’s are not to be trusted, they are all mad, romantic, money getting and not telling the truth.’
Reputedly Sir Alexander practiced nepotism unduly, as when he entered his 7 year old son on the books of his ship ‘Thetis’ as a volunteer in 1796 and then kept him under his pennant (flag) until 1805 when he was appointed lieutenant on ‘Jason’. In 1806 Thomas was appointed captain and saw service in the West Indies until 1809. By 1825 Thomas Cochrane had put in over 26 years of service in the Royal Navy, including 8 years on the North American station. On the 16 April of that year he was appointed the first resident Governor of Newfoundland though he was unpopular with the local people because of his personal extravagance and was recalled in 1834. Apparently his carriage was pelted with mud as he and his daughter made their way to the wharf to board their departing ship. I think his reputation changed over time and he was later recognised as a good governor, having much improved the area’s infrastructure.
During his stay, a new government house was built, agriculture was encouraged and the first roads were built. After the establishment of representative government, Sir Thomas was accused of favouritism and he upset various factions, To resolve the problem the British Government recalled him and it is said that the crowd threw mud at his carriage on his last drive through St. John’s to the ship taking home.
He served as the Conservative MP for Ipswich between 1839 and 1841 and later that year was promoted to Rear Admiral. During 1842 to 1847 he was successively second in command and Commander-in-Chief of the China Station and from 1852 to 1856 was Commander-in-Chief for Portsmouth. From the 20 March 1854 to 19 March 1856 his flag flew over Victory in Portsmouth as Vice Admiral and was appointed Admiral of the Fleet in 1865. He died on the Island in 1872 aged 83, and from information gained from his wife’s burial was buried in the family mausoleum in Kensal-Green, London.