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Thomas Cochrane, Earl of Dundonald

The grave of Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald, the famous admiral, is in the central part of the nave of Westminster Abbey. The inscription, written by Sir Lyon Playfair, reads:

HERE RESTS IN HIS 85th YEAR THOMAS COCHRANE TENTH EARL OF DUNDONALD BARON COCHRANE OF DUNDONALD OF PAISLEY AND OF OCHILTREE IN THE PEERAGE OF SCOTLAND MARQUESS OF MARANHAM IN THE EMPIRE OF BRAZIL G.C.B. AND ADMIRAL OF THE FLEET WHO BY THE CONFIDENCE WHICH HIS GENIUS HIS SCIENCE AND EXTRAORDINARY DARING INSPIRED, BY HIS HEROIC EXERTIONS IN THE CAUSE OF FREEDOM AND HIS SPLENDID SERVICES ALIKE TO HIS OWN COUNTRY GREECE BRAZIL CHILI AND PERU ACHIEVED A NAME ILLUSTRIOUS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD FOR COURAGE PATRIOTISM AND CHIVALRY. BORN DEC 14th 1775. DIED OCT. 31st 1860

At the top of the stone is his coat of arms, crest and motto "Virtute et Labore" and at each corner are the shields of Chile, Brazil, Peru and Greece. The stone was cut by Richard William Fry of the firm of Poole & Sons.

His Life

Thomas was born at Annesfield in Lanarkshire, Scotland, a son of Archibald Cochrane, 9th Earl of Dundonald, and Anna, daughter of Captain Gilchrist of the Royal Navy. His uncles were Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane, John and Andrew.

His brothers were Archibald, Basil and William. In his autobiography he says that the earliest authentic record of the Cochranes dated back to 1262. The greatest feat in his brilliant naval career was the destruction of vast numbers of French ships in 1809 which shattered Napoleon's sea power. For this he was created a Knight of the Order of the Bath. He was also Member of Parliament for Westminster 1807-1818.

His career in the Royal Navy came to an end in 1814 when he was convicted of fraud on the Stock Exchange and imprisoned for a year. After his disgrace his Bath banner, in the chapel of Henry VII in the Abbey, was removed and kicked down the steps and his name on the stall there obliterated. Afterwards Cochrane accepted an offer from Chile to command its navy and played an important role in the independence of both Chile and Peru. He next went to Brazil, where he was appointed "First Admiral of the National and Imperial Navy" and was honoured by the Emperor with the title Marquis of Maranhao (Maranham) and the Grand Cross of Brazil. Finally he aided the Greek navy during their war of independence and was created Knight of the Saviour of Greece. On his return to England he received a pardon and was created a Rear Admiral of the United Kingdom and Knight Grand Cross of the Bath.

He married Katharine Barnes in a secret ceremony in 1812 and married her again in 1818 and 1825 according to the rites of the Church of England and the Church of Scotland. She died in France on 25th January 1865 aged 69. They had two daughters, Elizabeth who died very young, and Katherine (known as Lizzie),and five sons - Thomas Barnes Cochrane (1814-85) served with the army and married Louisa Mackinnon and succeeded to the title as 11th Earl, Horace who was in the army, Arthur who served in the navy, Ernest and William.

Wreaths have been laid on his grave by Chilean navy representatives since at least 1901 and intermittently in following years. His bicentenary was celebrated in 1975. From 1979 an annual wreath laying service has been held each May.

Further Reading

"The Autobiography of a Seaman" 1861

"Cochrane. Britannia's Last Sea King" by Donald Thomas, 1978

"Cochrane the Dauntless. The Life and Adventures of Thomas Cochrane" by David Cordingly, 2007

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

Dundonald papers are at the National Records of Scotland, and in the Admiralty papers at The National Archives, Kew, Surrey.

History of Parliament online

Born

14th December 1775

Died

31st October 1860

Occupation

Sailor

Location

Nave

Memorial Type

Stone

Thomas Cochrane, Earl of Dundonald
Thomas Cochrane, Earl of Dundonald

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2020 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Thomas Cochrane, Earl of Dundonald
Thomas Cochrane grave

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2020 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Thomas Cochrane, Earl of Dundonald
Thomas Cochrane grave with Chilean President's wreath

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2020 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

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