Cochrane, Alexander Forrester Inglis (DNB00)

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COCHRANE, Sir ALEXANDER FORRESTER INGLIS (1758–1832), admiral, younger son of Thomas Cochrane, eighth earl of Dundonald, was born on 22 April 1758, entered the navy at an early age, and was made lieutenant in 1778. In 1780 he was a junior lieutenant of the Montagu, with Captain Houlton, and was wounded in the action off Martinique on 17 April. In the following December he was made commander, and, continuing on the West Indian station under Sir George Rodney, was advanced to post rank on 17 Dec. 1782. Returning to England at the peace, he was placed on half-pay, and had no further employment till 1790, when he was appointed to the Hind frigate, which he still commanded when the war with France broke out in 1793, during the spring and summer of which year he cruised with distinguished success against the enemy's privateers. He was afterwards transferred to the Thetis of 42 guns, which he commanded for several years on the North American station. On 17 May 1795, having the Hussar in company, he fell in with five large French storeships, of which he captured two, frigates armed en flûte after a well-contested action [see Beresford, Sir John Poo]. In 1799 he was appointed to the Ajax of 80 guns, which he commanded during the following year in the Channel fleet, under Lord St. Vincent, and was especially engaged in the detached squadrons under Sir Edward Pellew and Sir John Borlase Warren [q.v.] in the expeditions to Quiberon Bay and against Ferrol. The Ajax afterwards joined the Mediterranean fleet under Lord Keith, with whom she sailed to the coast of Egypt, where Cochrane was appointed to superintend the landing of the troops and to support them with a flotilla of armed boats on Lake Marcotis. His performance of these duties called forth high praise from both Lord Keith and General Hutchinson. At the peace of Amiens the Ajax returned to England and was paid off, when Cochrane was elected member of parliament for the Stirling boroughs. In the following year, however, when the war again broke out, he was appointed to the Northumberland of 74 guns, and on his advancement to be rear-admiral on 23 April 1804, hoisted his flag on board the same ship, and for some time commanded the squadron of Ferrol, from which station he was able to send the news of the Spanish armament, which led to the seizure of the treasure ships off Cape Santa Maria on 5 Oct. [see Moore, Sir Graham]. James (Naval History, 1860, iii. 287) implies that the intelligence was incorrect, and that the Spanish armament and war preparations at Ferrol existed only in Cochrane's imagination, a view which appears untenable, though it is quite possible that their immediate importance was exaggerated, and such, indeed, was Lord Nelson's opinion at the time (Nelsomn Despatches, vi. 241).

Cochrane was still off Ferrol in February 1805 when he heared of the sailing of Missiessy with a strong squadron from Rochefort, and at the same time received orders to follow in pursuit. Missiessy, carrying out his part of the extended programme, had gone to the West Indies, where he was to be joined by Villeneuve, with the fleet from Toulon. Villeneuve was, however, driven back by stress of weather, and Missiessy, after a fruitless attack on Dominica and levying a contribution on St. Kitts, returned to Europe, while Cochrane, unable to get any exact information, had visited Madeira, Barbadoes, and Jamaica, and had returned to Barbadoes, having been meantime apointed commander-in-chief at the Leeward lands. He was still at Barbadoes, with his flag in the Northumberland, when Nelson arrived there on 4 June in his pursuit of Villeneuve, who, in a second attempt, had succeeded in getting out of the Mediterranean. Nelson now took the Northumberland under his orders, retaining her with him during his ineffectual cruise in the West Indies, but leaving her behind when he sailed on his return voyage. In the following year, when Sir John Thomas Duckworth followed the French squadron to the West Indies, Cochrane again joined the main fleet, and, as second in command, had a very important share in the battle of St. Domingo (6 Feb. 1806), when the Northumberland's loss amounted to a hundred killed and wounded, or nearly one-third of the whole. For his services on this occasion Cochrane was made a knight of the Bath, was presented with the freedom of the city of London, and a sword of honour. Cochrane continued as commander-in-chief at the Leeward Islands, and after the capture of Guadeloupe in January 1810 was appointed governor of that island, which post ne held till 1814, when he was appointed to the command of the North American station. Here, with his flag in the Tonnant of 80 guns, he was employed during the next year in directing the operations along the coast, more especially the unsuccessful attempts against Baltimore and New Orleans, in which, however, he had no active share. At the peace he returned to England, where he remained unemployed till 1821, when he was appointed commander-in-chief at Plymouth. This was the end of his active service. He died suddenly in Paris on 26 Jan. 1832, and was buried in Pere-la-Chaise.

He attained the rank of vice-admiral on 25 Oct. 1809, admiral on 12 Aug. 1819, and was made G.C.B. in June 1815, on the reconstitution of the order. He married in 1788 Maria, widow of Captain Sir Jacob Waite, bart., R.N., by whom he had several children.

[Marshall's Roy. Nav. Biog. i. 257; United Service Journal, 1832, pt. i. 372.]

J. K. L.