Johnstone, Andrew James Cochrane (DNB00)
|←Johnston, William (1802-1888)||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 30
Johnstone, Andrew James Cochrane
JOHNSTONE, ANDREW JAMES COCHRANE (fl. 1814), adventurer, born on 24 May 1767, was eighth son of Thomas Cochrane, eighth earl of Dundonald, by Jane, eldest daughter of Archibald Stuart of Torrence, Lanarkshire (Burke, Peerage, 1890, p. 455). On 10 June 1783 he was gazetted cornet in the 23rd regiment of light dragoons, then stationed in India (Army List, 1785, p. 55), and became lieutenant in the 19th regiment of light dragoons on 6 Dec. 1786 (ib. 1790, p. 53), and captain lieutenant and captain on 10 Nov. 1790 in the 60th or royal American regiment of foot. He represented Stirling burghs from 1791 until March 1797 (Foster, Members of Parliament for Scotland, 2nd edit. p. 71). On 20 Nov. 1793 he married Georgiana, daughter of James, third earl of Hopetoun [q. v.], when he assumed the additional surname of Johnstone. He was appointed lieutenant-colonel of the 79th regiment of foot or Cameronian volunteers on 3 May 1794 (Army List, 1795, pp. 23, 181), and colonel in the army on 26 Jan. 1797. In March of the last-named year he was chosen governor of Dominica, and was given the colonelcy of the 8th West India regiment of foot on 23 Jan. 1798, and the brigadiership of the Leeward Islands on 12 April 1799. His rule was marked by tyranny, extortion, and vice. He drove a brisk and profitable trade in negroes, and kept a harem. Johnstone was recalled in 1803, and his commission was suspended. He and the major of his regiment, John Gordon, accused each other of peculation. The courts-martial, which were held in January and February 1804 and in March 1805, considered that both had been guilty of irregularities. In the next general brevet promotion Johnstone was passed over, and he therefore resigned his commission. He published a ‘Defence’ in 1805, which evoked some popular sympathy, and William Cobbett based on it a vehement attack on the commander-in-chief, the Duke of York. Mr. Whitbread presented a petition to the house in his behalf, after two hundred other members had been solicited to do so in vain, but without effect. On a general election taking place in May 1807, Johnstone and his brother George Augustus Cochrane were both returned for Grampound, Cornwall, after spending an enormous sum in bribes. In August 1807 he spoke in favour of an inquiry into the situation of Ireland, and made a variety of motions relative to the sale of commissions and the state of the compassionate fund preparatory to bringing his own case before the notice of the house. His election was declared void in March 1808, and he was unseated, but was returned in July 1812 on his brother accepting the Chiltern Hundreds, and again at the general election in October following. Johnstone in 1807 went to Tortola, where he hoped, through the influence of his brother Sir Alexander Forrester Inglis Cochrane [q. v.], then commander-in-chief of the Leeward Islands station, to obtain some lucrative appointment. He was allowed to take up his residence at the custom house, and committed various acts of fraud. In December 1807, orders having been given for the capture of the Danish islands of St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John, Johnstone was made auctioneer and agent for the captors as far as the navy was concerned. He bribed the judge of the vice-admiralty prize court of Tortola to make over the assets of the conquered islanders to the captors in prejudice of the crown, and personally obtained possession of much produce and money. On refusing to give up the property he was arrested, but was released on parole and escaped to England. There he made a good profit out of the transaction.
He next obtained a contract for furnishing the Spanish government with muskets at a stipulated price of three guineas each. He manufactured the guns at Birmingham for seventeen shillings apiece. He had agreed with the junta-general to receive his payment by an order upon the royal treasury at Vera Cruz, and a British frigate was appointed to carry him thither. During the voyage he was detected by the captain in a flagrant smuggling transaction. From several Spanish colonies he received large remittances and consignments of produce, in return for which he engaged to ship arms and other articles, but he never shipped any, and as a member of parliament successfully claimed exemption from arrest.
On 20 Feb. 1814, when false news reached the Stock Exchange of Bonaparte's death, Johnstone speculated in the funds with great success, acting as the chief of a financial conspiracy, into which he dragged his nephew Thomas, afterwards tenth earl of Dundonald (1775–1860) [q. v.] Johnstone asserted his innocence in the House of Commons and the newspapers, and threatened prosecutions against the Stock Exchange committee for defamation of character. He was tried for conspiracy in June, found guilty, but before sentence was passed fled the country. In July he was expelled from the House of Commons, and was not heard of again.
By his first wife, who died on 17 Sept. 1797, Johnstone had a son who died young, and a daughter Elizabeth. She was married on 28 March 1816 to William John, eighth lord Napier (d. 1834), and died on 6 June 1883. Johnstone married secondly, on 21 March 1803, Amelia Constance Gertrude Etienette, widow of Reymond Godet of Martinique, and only child and heiress of Baron de Clugny, governor of Guadaloupe, who was soon compelled to divorce him.
He published: 1. ‘Proceedings of the General Court-Martial in the Trial of Major John Gordon,’ 8vo, London, 1804. 2. ‘Correspondence between Colonel Cochrane Johnstone and the Departments of the Commander-in-Chief and the Judge Advocate-General from September 1803 to August 1804,’ 8vo, London, 1805. 3. ‘Defence of the Hon. Andrew Cochrane Johnstone, including a view of the Evidence produced on his Trial, to which is prefixed a Letter to the Duke of York on the present Administration of Military Law,’ &c., 8vo, London, 1805; another edit., Edinburgh, 1806. 4. ‘The Calumnious Aspersions contained in the Report of the Sub-committee of the Stock-Exchange exposed and refuted,’ 8vo, London, 1814.
[Mackenrot's Secret Memoirs; Public Characters, x. 316–20; Trial, 1814.]