Cochrane, John George (DNB00)

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COCHRANE, JOHN GEORGE (1781–1852), bibliographer, was born in 1781 at Glasgow, where his father was engaged in the law. Having received a fair education he was placed with a bookseller, but set out to seek his fortune in London before he was twenty. Here, after a residence of some years, he entered into partnership with John White, and the firm of White, Cochrane Co. carried on an extensive business in Fleet Street, until they became involved in the almost universal trade ruin which followed the failure of Archibald Constable [q. v.] Cochrane wrote a pamphlet, 'The Case stated between the Public Libraries and the Booksellers' (anon. 1813), calling attention to the hardship suffered by publishers, who were then obliged, under the Copyright Act, to supply copies of their most expensive books to eleven public libraries. He and his partner were examined before the parliamentary committee of 1813. The minutes of evidence include a list of important works, such as Sowerby's 'English Botany,' Lambert's 'Genus Pinus,' &c., published by them. The select committee of 1818 recommended that only five copies should be claimed for public libraries in future, which was made law by the statute of 1835.

Cochrane afterwards became manager of the foreign bookselling house of Messrs. Treuttel, Wurtz, Treuttel junior, and Richter of Soho Square, who published in July 1827 the first number of the 'Foreign Quarterly Review.' The editorship was accepted by Cochrane. The review was brought out by the same firm to the twenty-fourth number (October 1833) inclusive, and by their successor, Adolphus Richter, to the twenty-seventh (August 1834). The twenty-eighth number (December 1834) was issued by Cochrane at his own risk. Richter became bankrupt on 9 Dec. 1834, and Cochrane established 'Cochrane's Foreign Quarterly Review' (1835), only two numbers of which appeared. The 'Foreign Quarterly Review' (a list of the contributors to the first fourteen volumes of which may be seen in Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. viii. 124-7) came to an end in 1846, and was then incorporated with the 'Westminster Review.' Cochrane was an unsuccessful candidate for the librarianship of the Faculty of Advocates in Edinburgh, and for some time in that city acted as the editor of the 'Caledonian Mercury.' An intimacy with Robert Cadell [q. v.] caused him to be chosen to catalogue Sir Walter Scott's library at Abbotsford. It was necessary to print the catalogue, and extra copies were struck off for members of the Maitland and Bannatyne Clubs (1838) . References to passages in Scott's writings connected with the books throw considerable light upon Scott's literary history. A good index completes this excellent catalogue. Cochrane afterwards resided for some time at Hertford as editor of a local newspaper. On 17 Feb. 1841 he became the first secretary and librarian of the London Library, founded in the previous year. This institution was opened on 3 May at 49 Pall Mall, where the first catalogue (1842) was issued by Cochrane. In April 1845 the committee took a lease of the premises now occupied by the library. In 1847 an enlarged edition of the catalogue appeared, and a short time before his death a supplementary volume, in which a general classified index is announced. He died at his apartments in the library, St. James's Square, on 11 May 1852, in his seventy-second year. Cochrane was a zealous and able librarian, with an excellent knowledge of bibliography and literary history. Besides the above-named he published 'The English Works of Roger Ascham, preceptor to Queen Elizabeth, a new edition [ed. by J. G. Cochrane],' London, 1815, sm. 8vo, 250 copies printed, includes life by Dr. Johnson.

[Gent. Mag. June 1852, p. 628; Nichols's Illustr. of Lit. Hist. viii. 467; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. v. 454; Christie's Explanation of the Scheme of the London Library, 1841; Catalogue of the London Library, by K. Harrison, 1875, pp. vii-xi.]

H. R. T.