COCHRANE, Hon. Alexander Forrester Inglis (1758-1832), of Lamancha, Peebles.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



24 Feb. 1800 - 1802
28 Feb. 1803 - 1806

Family and Education

b. 22 Apr. 1758, 6th surv. s. of Thomas Cochrane, 8th Earl of Dundonald [S], by 2nd w. Jane, da. of Archibald Stuart of Torrance, Lanark; bro. of Hons. Andrew James Cochrane* and George Augustus Frederick Cochrane*. m. 26 Apr. 1788 at New York, Maria, da. of David Shaw, wid. of Capt. Sir Jacob Wheate, 5th Bt., RN, 3s. 2da. KB 29 Mar. 1806; GCB 2 Jan. 1815.

Offices Held

Lt. RN 1778, cdr. 1780, capt. 1782 (half-pay 1783-90), paid off 1802; r.-adm. 1804, v.-adm. 1809, adm. 1819.

C.-in-c. Leewards 1805; gov. and c.-in-c. Guadeloupe 1810-14; c.-in-c. N. America 1814-15; c.-in-c. Plymouth 1821-4.


Cochrane entered the navy at an early age and was wounded serving under Rodney in the West Indies, 17 Apr. 1780. While on half-pay he played a hapless part in his eldest brother’s efforts to recover the family fortunes by promoting industrial chemicals.1 The latter renounced partnership with him in 1789. He captured eight French privateers in 1793 and two French storeships in 1795. In 1796 he was wounded in action against a French frigate. In 1799 he was transferred from the North American station to the Channel fleet. He served in the Quiberon and Ferrol expeditions and his services in debarking and supporting the expedition to Egypt were highly commended: but he so irked his commander, Lord Keith, that the latter thought him ‘a crackheaded, unsafe man’. Meanwhile, at the instigation of Henry Dundas, he had been returned for Stirling Burghs, previously represented by his younger brother Andrew, on the Hopetoun interest, at a contested by-election. Because of his naval duties, he must at first have been a purely nominal supporter of Pitt and Dundas. His ambition at this time was the East Indies command, for which he applied to St. Vincent.2

Cochrane was involved in a double return in 1802, but was preferred by the House to his cousin Sir John Henderson on petition. On 28 June 1803 he voiced naval officers’ discontent with the King’s proctor’s expensive handling of their prize cases in the court of Admiralty. He resumed active service in 1803, was promoted rear-admiral in 1804, serving off Ferrol, whence he unsuccessfully chased a French squadron to the West Indies, and was subsequently in command of the Leeward station. Cochrane’s having the West Indian command on Lord Melville’s recommendation was reported to have been opposed by the King in his spleen against Melville, February 1805.3 He distinguished himself at the battle of St. Domingo, 6 Feb. 1806, and was thanked by Parliament, given the freedom of London and knighted for his services. He had been listed a supporter of Pitt’s second ministry. There was some doubt as to his candidature in 1806. In his absence he was to have been replaced as candidate for Stirling Burghs by his nephew Maj. Basil Cochrane, but he decided to stand for re-election, only to be defeated. He was also defeated at Fowey, where John Teed* made him his nominal running partner.

At the time of the 1807 election, Cochrane was reducing the Danish islands in the West Indies. He again received public thanks for his part in the reduction of Martinique (1809) and Guadeloupe (1810) and at the next dissolution was governor of Guadeloupe. From 1815, when he returned from blockading the United States, he was unemployed and again aspired to a seat. A member of the Pitt Club of Scotland, he thought he stood a good chance against Lord Archibald Hamilton in Lanarkshire, with ministerial support promised by Lord Melville. He canvassed in November 1816. At the election of 1818 his qualification was called into question and he could ill afford his defeat.4 In January 1819 he was rumoured to be standing at the Westminster by-election, but nothing came of it.5 He died at Paris, 26 Jan. 1832.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. SRO GD46/17/7, Dundonald to Stewart, 26 Aug. 1789.
  • 2. Markham Corresp. (Navy Recs. Soc. xxviii), 153; St. Vincent Letters (idem. lxi), 253.
  • 3. Add. 51570, Hamilton to Holland, 13 Feb. [1805].
  • 4. NLS mss 2265, ff. 98, 104, 153; Edinburgh Advertiser, 27 Mar., 12 June, 7 July 1818.
  • 5. Grey mss, Lambton to Grey [15 Jan. 1819].