Cochrane Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Cochrane Meaning
Cochrane was derived from the place-name Cochrane near Paisley in
Renfrewshire.  The early spelling was
Coueran, a
name said to have derived from two Gaelic words
which together signified “battle-cry.” 
Cochrane and Cochran are the two main spellings today, with Cochran being
the principal spelling in America

Cochrane Resources on

Cochrane Ancestry

ScotlandEarly Cochranes in Renfrewshire ran
Waldeve de Coueran who witnessed a charter in 1262 to Robertus de
Cochrane who also witnessed
a charter around 1360.  And
Cochrane of Cochrane resigned the lands of
Cochrane to his successor Allen Cochrane who received a charter from
James II
in 1456. 
The family had by this time become closely associated
with both Paisley Abbey and Glasgow Cathedral in the area.

In 1482 Edward Cochrane was accused but then cleared
of having anything to do with the detention of James
III at Edinburgh
Castle.  However, Robert Cochrane – a
favorite of the King – was killed by his enemies at this time.

“In 1482, while the Court was resting at Lauder Bridge,
the tempestuous
Scottish lords arrested James III and carried him back to Edinburgh a
prisoner.  James had stubbornly refused
to renounce his favorites.  They reacted
by taking and hanging six of them on the bridge, including the
Robert Cochrane.”

The male line of Cochrane chiefs died out in the
early 1600’s.  But the heiress Elizabeth
married Alexander Blair from Ayrshire who took on the name and arms of
and ensured that the name would continue.
From this line came Sir William Cochrane of Coldoun, a Royalist
supporter at the time of Charles I and II who was made the Earl of
Dundonald in

the 18th and 19th centuries the Cochranes distinguished themselves in
both land
and sea forces and came to be known as the Fighting Cochranes.  The most famous of these
was Thomas Cochrane, the
Earl.  His exploits as a naval commander
gained him the nickname of Le Loup des Mers
(the Sea Wolf) from Napoléon Bonaparte.

The name had spread by that time across the western Lowlands of
Scotland.  It is thought that some
Highland MacEacherns might have adopted the Cochrane name after the
defeat at Culloden
to hide their Highland origins when moving south.

Ireland.  The
Scots brought the Cochrane name to Ulster from the time of the Scottish
plantations and even before.  John
Cochran, according to The
Old Cochran Manuscript
, had
departed Fernois near Paisley for Derry as early as 1570.
John Cochrane was recorded at Limavady in
Derry in 1609.  Later Cochranes were
merchants there.

Coughran and Cochran were early renditions of the name in
Ulster, although Cochrane has been the predominant spelling.  Some Cochranes in Fermanagh may have come
from the Irish Corcorans of Lough Erne.

The main Cochrane numbers were in Derry and Down.  Many
left for America in the 18th
century.  Hugh Cochrane, born around
1800, was a watch and clock maker in Armagh who had shops in Lurgan and
Portadown.  His son Hugh settled at New
Ross in Wexford.  James Cochrane helped
to develop whiskey sales from the Bushmills distillery in Antrim in the
mid/late 19th century.

And there were also Cochrans and Cochranes in Donegal:

  • the
    Rev. Ninian
    Cochran, who died in 1731, was the first minister of the Presbyterian
    church of
    Fehan.  Later Cochrans lived in the
    Chrislaghmore township nearby.  Joseph Cochrane emigrated to New
    Zealand in 1854.
  • a
    Cochrane line was first found at Edenmore in
    Stranorlar manor in 1741.  The book The Cochrane Family in Donegal, based on
    the reminiscences of Cecil Cochrane in 1910, was published in 2002.
  • while Ernest Cochrane, the youngest son of
    Admiral Thomas Cochrane of Napoleonic fame, held Redcastle on the
    peninsula and was the High Sheriff of Donegal in 1879.

England.  Some Cochranes crossed the
border south into England.

Cochrane left his home in Peebles in the 1830’s to manage collieries
ironworks near Dudley in Staffordshire.
His son Brodie became wealthy as an iron master in
Middlesborough.  He built the Durham pit
village of Sleetburn
for the colliery workers of the New Brancepeth Colliery Company which
he owned.

America.  The first Cochranes in
America might have
come from Scotland if Sir John Cochrane’s application to the King in
1682 for a
grant of 12,000 acres in the Carolinas to settle his clansmen there had
resulted in Scottish migration. 

Irish.  Instead the early Cochranes
were Scots Irish from Ulster, coming independently in the early/mid
1700’s.  Their numbers included:

  • Cochran families from Derry who arrived in
    Londonderry, New Hampshire with other Scots Irish settlers in the early
    1720’s.  Captain John Cochran made his
    home in Windham, NH; while descendants of Deacon John Cochran later
    settled in
    Pembroke, NH.  There were subsequent
    Cochran migrations to Boston, Virginia and North Carolina.
  • various other Cochrans from Ulster
    who came
    to Pennsylvania.  There were Cochrans in
    Lancaster county (Donegal township) by 1730.  John
    Cochran arrived in Chester county in 1745.  Lines
    from there ran to Deaf Robert and
    Honest Robert Cochran and to John Cochran who was the Surgeon General
    to the US
    Army during the Revolutionary War.  Many
    early Cochran lines in Pennsylvania were recounted in Ida Cochran
    1915 book Chronicles of Cochran.  
  • William and Elizabeth Cochran who arrived
    from Antrim in 1750 and made their home in Emmettsburg, just across the
    line from Pennsylvania in Maryland.  He
    moved to Brown county, Ohio in 1796 where his son General John Cochran was
  • the Cochrans who first appeared in Cecil county, Maryland
    in 1752.  William Cochran of this line
    lived at Fort
    Pitt (present day Pittsburgh) in the 1760’s, selling salt to the
    army.  His son Alexander moved with his
    family to Ohio around the year 1802.  A
    later Cochran of this Maryland line, John Price Cochran, served as
    Governor of
    Delaware from 1875 to 1879.  
  • while John
    C. Cochran, probably from Ulster, arrived in the Abbeville district of
    Carolina in the late 1700’s.  His line
    led to William Cochran, a pioneer settler in Texas who came to Dallas
    county as
    early as 1843.  Although William died ten
    years later, his wife Nancy was instrumental in the building of the
    Chapel Methodist church there. 

Cochran and Cochrane.  Cochran
was a common name for Cochrane in
Ulster and this probably explains why the Cochran spelling generally
took root
in America.  But there were curiosities

The grandson of John Cochran the
Surgeon General, perhaps wishing to downplay his Irish roots, styled
John Cochrane.  He was a New York lawyer
and politician.  The same development
occurred with Elizabeth Cochran, the grand-daughter of Irish immigrant
Cochran from Derry in the early 1800’s.
Born at Cochran’s Mills in Pennsylvania in 1864, she also added
an “e”
to her name.  But she was better known as
the investigative journalist Nellie Bly.

Meanwhile John and Sadie Cochrane had come to the Boston area from
county Tyrone in Ulster in 1888.  Their
fifth son, known as Mickey Cochrane, starred as a baseball player in
1930’s.   He is considered one of the
best catchers in baseball history and is a member of the Baseball Hall
of Fame.

Canada.  The spelling in Canada was
Cochrane, although there were many Scots Irish as well as Scottish
who settled there.

Some Irish Cochranes came to New Brunswick.  Henry
Cochrane arrived from Tyrone in 1830
and made his home in Saint John.   James
Cochrane was in New Brunswick a few years later and was a lumberman in
Charlotte county.  He moved across the
St. Croix river into Maine in 1850.

Matthew Cochrane was born in Compton
in the Quebec eastern townships in 1824, the son of an Irish immigrant

“Matthew Cochrane was one of those products of the 19th
century whom
Horatio Alger immortalized: the self-made man, the farm boy who went to
city and by dint of hard work achieved wealth and influence.”

He was a Canadian industrialist, livestock
breeder, and politician.  His Cochrane
in Alberta was one of the largest in the British Empire and the town of
Cochrane in Alberta was named in his honor.

The three Cochrane brothers who arrived in
Quebec around 1830 came from the Highlands of Scotland.
They made their home along the Baie des Chaleurs
where they owned fishing schooners.  Hay Cochrane was the main
fisherman.  His brother John was a sea
captain; while his
other brother William emigrated to Australia.
Hay and his family eventually departed for Michigan in 1887.

Australia and New Zealand.  The early
settlers there were invariably
Scots Irish too.

William Cochrane from Fermanagh arrived with his family in 1842
on the Anne Milne as assisted
immigrants.  They were pioneers of the
Mid-North Coast of NSW.  William died
from drowning in 1848, aged just twenty-six.
He left a wife Jane and seven children there.
Another William Cochrane, this time from
Tyrone, came to NSW in the 1850’s.

Dennis B. Cochrane from Mayo had come to
Hokianga in the far north of New Zealand as early as 1831.
He married a Maori princess and was living there until his death
in 1877 when it
was reported:

“One of our few very old settlers, Mr D. B. Cochrane, has
away at the ripe old age of 96.   He
arrived in Hokianga in the year 1831 and resided in or near Herds point
since.  He was wonderfully hale and
hearty until the last few months, but lately his sight and hearing have
failing and he at last died very suddenly on the morning of Wednesday

Joseph Cochrane from Derry came to Auckland in 1854 and settled at
Tauranga on the Bay of Plenty where he was a store owner and merchant.


Cochrane Miscellany

Cochranes and Cochrans Today

Numbers (000’s) Cochrane Cochran Total
UK    12     1    13
America     4 23 27
Elsewhere    12     2    14
Total    28    26    54

Early Cochranes.  It was thought that the
ancestry of this family began with a Viking warrior who settled in
between the eighth and tenth centuries.
The name was of territorial origin and the Cochranes took the
name of
the lands in the ancient barony of Cochrane.

George Fraser Blackin his 1946 book The Surnames of Scotland
had the following to say about early

“The first of the name in
record was Waldeve de Coueran, who witnessed a charter granted in 1262
Dugal.  William de Coughran of the county
of Lanark rendered homage to Edward I of England in 1296.
John de Coweran was a witness to a notarial
copy, made in 1346, dealing with the creation of the Abbey of Paisley;
Robertus de Cochrane witnessed a charter by Robert the Steward to
Thomas Simple
of the land of Cragrossy in Stratherne around 1360.”

Thomas Cochrane – Master and Commander.  Thomas Cochrane, the son of a minor Scottish
aristocrat, was born in South Lanarkshire in 1775 and spent much of his
life roaming the family’s estate in Culross, Fife.
He signed up with the Royal Navy in 1793 at
the tender age of 17, joining his uncle Captain Alexander Cochrane
aboard HMS Hind.

He became one of the
most successful and bold captains of the Napoleonic wars.
The French nicknamed him “le Loup des Mers”,
or the “Sea Wolf.”  But his time with the
Navy was fraught with conflicts; with his superiors, subordinates,
equals, even
those he could have had natural alliances with.
This path of conflicts began when Cochrane was tried by a court
for disrespecting his superior.  He was
found innocent but was reproached for being flippant.

In 1800 he set sail
aboard HMS Speedy in his newly
appointed position as Commander.  In this
role he narrowly escaped capture and death!
The first he dodged by flying a Danish flag, pretending to be a
ship and claimed that the boat could not be searched as they were
ridden with
plague!  The second escape was a stroke
of genius.  The enemy was chasing them by
night, following the light from the Speedy.  Cochrane let loose a barrel with a candle
attached and the enemy ship followed that instead, allowing the Speedy to slip silently away.

One of his
most famous feats was the daring and fearless capture of the Spanish
frigate, El Gamo.
By flying an American flag, Cochrane managed to get the Speedy so close to the Spanish that they
couldn’t angle their cannons to fire at the hull.  This
left the Spanish one option – to board
their opponent’s ship.  But Cochrane
teased them, pulling away just as they reached out and aiming at those
attempted to board.  In the end Cochrane
and his crew boarded the El Gamo,
despite being vastly outnumbered, and successfully seized her.

Cochrane was
tried and convicted of being a conspirator to the Great Stock Exchange
Fraud of
1814.  This scam involved the fabrication
of a story that Napoleon had been defeated, which sparked a colossal
rise in
the value of government securities.
Convicted after a suspect trial, Cochrane was sentenced to one
year in
prison, public pillory and the loss of his naval rank.

Before his name was restored, Cochrane left
Britain for South America. He took command of the Chilean navy and led
towards independence from Spain.  He also
led the Chilean fleet to help gain independence from Spain for Peru too.  He then moved on to Brazil and offered a
helping hand in their fight for independence from Portugal.

In 1832 he was
granted a free pardon back in England and restored to his position in
the Royal
Navy.  He died in 1860, aged eighty-five,
and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

eventful and controversial life of a bold, brave and radical leader has
inspired many characters in fiction.  Horatio
Hornblower in C.S. Forester’s novels was modelled on his
character.  Perhaps the most famous
fictional figure was Captain Jack Aubrey, created by Patrick O’Brian
the inspiration for the 2003 film Master
and Commander

The Old Cochran Manuscript.  The Old Cochran Manuscript by Robert Cochran, which is in the library of
the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia, was thought to
have been
deposited there by Dr. John Cochran, Surgeon-General in the War of the
Revolution.  The original document was
written around 1730 either in Ireland or in Pennsylvania by Robert

This manuscript stated that John Cochran – from Fernois
near Paisley –
was in 1570 the first Scottish Cochran to go to Ireland.

“Hugh and James,
having rescued their father who had been apprehended for debt, were
then to leave.  They went to the foot of
the Foughen waters in Londonderry and were protected by the Lord Askain
employed them in their former business. This was in the year 1570 in
minority of James the Sixth, before the English Conquest in the North

James, John’s third son, was called “Old James of Maboy,”
having settled in Maboy, Londonderry.
James featured quite a bit in Robert’s manuscript as he was

General John Cochran of Brown County, Ohio.  General John Cochran, born in 1781,
was only 13 years old when his parents William and Elizabeth came down
the Ohio
river, landing at Maysville, Kentucky.
He lived with his family on their settlement near the east fork
of Eagle
Creek in Brown county, Ohio.

He left home at an early age and worked at the
Kanawah salt works on the Ohio river where he had become the overseer
in 1799
at the tender age of eighteen.  John was
said to have shipped the first barge load of salt down the Ohio river
Louisville, Kentucky.  He later returned
to farm in Brown county.

John served in the War of 1812.  Being
very interested in the military, he
passed through all the grades – from Captain to the rank of Brigadier
General.  He was usually called General
Cochran from
that time on.  After returning from the
he entered politics, first in the state legislature and then as a state

In his business pursuits, he met with great success and
died in 1864 in
possession of considerable wealth.

Cochran in Georgia.  Georgia has the largest number of Cochrans living in the
state and also has the town of Cochran in Bleckley county which was
named after Judge Arthur
E. Cochran, a railroad pioneer in the area.

Arthur, born in 1820, was the son of William Cochran of
Rutherfordton, North Carolina.  Moving to Georgia, he quickly
became one of the most brilliant lawyers in the state.  He was a member of the state
legislature and of the secession convention (where he supported
remaining in the Union) and was later the
first judge of the Brunswick Superior Court Circuit.

Recognizing the need for better
railroads, he
resigned from the bench and was named the first President of the Macon
Brunswick Railroad.  In that capacity he
was instrumental in developing the railroad into middle Georgia. In appreciation of these efforts the town of Cochran
was named in his honor.  He died in 1865 at
the young age of forty five.

son Arthur Jr. represented Pierce county in the
Georgia legislature at the tender age of twenty one and later
established a
successful legal practice in San Diego, California.  

Hay Cochrane’s Life on the Baie des Chaleurs in Quebec.  Hay Cochrane lived at Grand Cascapedia on the Baie
des Chaleurs.  He would often take his
young sons out with him on is fishing trips for cod in the 1870’s.
rough weather he would lash the boys to the mast so they would not wash
overboard.  It was the custom to start the winter with a barrel of
fish.  To his dying day he could eat fish
times a day.  He especially liked boiled fish.

He was a stern
Presbyterian.  A Sunday jaunt would mean
a walk to the bay.  Once when the little boys loitered behind, the
found them whittling.  He took the knife away and said: “Boys, din
ye know
it’s the Sabbath?”

Hay’s first wife had died childless by drowning.   When he was about forty years old he
the nineteen-year old Margaret Harriman from Maine.
She bore him eight surviving children.  But
after a marriage of twenty years, she
died of pneumonia at the age of thirty-nine.

Schooling for their sons was
sketchy.  It was a three mile walk to school.
And after his wife died he could not afford
the tuition there to send them there.
They taught himself to read and write at home, although one
brother and
one sister never did learn to read or write.

Finally in 1887 Hay and his family
departed Grand Cascapedia for Michigan.


Cochrane Names

  • Robert Cochrane.
    a favorite of the young King James III, was killed by jealous Scottish
    lords in 1482. 
  • Thomas Cochrane was a daring naval commander during the Napoleonic wars which earned him the nickname of Le Loup des Mers (the Sea Wolf). 
  • Matthew Cochrane was the owner of the Cochrane ranch in Alberta, the
    largest in Canada in the late 1800’s. 
  • Elizabeth Cochran, better known by her
    pen-name Nellie Bly, was an American investigative journalist of the late 1800’s. 
  • Mickey Cochrane starred as a baseball catcher for the Detroit Tigers in the 1930’s. 
  • Hank Cochran was a prolific American country
    music singer and songwriter of the 1960’s and 1970’s

Select Cochran/Cochrane Numbers Today

  • 13,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Northern Ireland)
  • 27,000 in America (most numerous in Georgia)
  • 14,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)


Select Cochrane and Like Surnames 

These are surnames from the Scottish Lowlands.  Some are clan names; some – like Gordon, Graham and Hamilton – have Anglo-Norman antecedents that crossed the border into Scotland; and some – like Douglas and Stewart – were very powerful in early Scottish history.  Stewart in fact became the royal Stuart line.




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