Select Cochrane Surname Genealogy

The Scottish surname 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.

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Select Cochrane Ancestry

ScotlandEarly Cochranes in Renfrewshire ran from Waldeve de Coueran who witnessed a charter in 1262 to Robertus de Cochrane who also witnessed a charter around 1360.  And Robert 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 particular 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 much-despised 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 Cochrane 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 1669.

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 tenth 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.

.  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 Inishowen peninsula and was the High Sheriff of Donegal in 1879.
England.  Some Cochranes crossed the border south into England. 

Brodie Cochrane left his home in Peebles in the 1830’s to manage collieries and 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.

.  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 really resulted in Scottish migration. 

Scots 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 Haughton’s 1915 book Chronicles of Cochran.  
  • William and Elizabeth Cochran who arrived from Antrim in 1750 and made their home in Emmettsburg, just across the state line from Pennsylvania in Maryland.  He moved to Brown county, Ohio in 1796 where his son General John Cochran was born. 
  • 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 British 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 South 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 Cochran 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 here. 

The grandson of John Cochran the Surgeon General, perhaps wishing to downplay his Irish roots, styled himself John Cochrane.  He was a New York lawyer and politician.  The same development occurred with Elizabeth Cochran, the grand-daughter of Irish immigrant Robert 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 the 1930’s.   He is considered one of the best catchers in baseball history and is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

.  The spelling in Canada was invariably Cochrane, although there were many Scots Irish as well as Scottish Cochranes 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 from Ulster.

“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 the city and by dint of hard work achieved wealth and influence.”

He was a Canadian industrialist, livestock breeder, and politician.  His Cochrane ranch 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 passed away at the ripe old age of 96.   He had arrived in Hokianga in the year 1831 and resided in or near Herds point ever since.  He was wonderfully hale and hearty until the last few months, but lately his sight and hearing have been failing and he at last died very suddenly on the morning of Wednesday August 26th.”

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.

Select Cochrane Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select 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 Cochranes 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)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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