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The Cochrane Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: VIRTUTE ET LABORE (by valour and exertion)

Let me share with you the historical background of your family name, Cochrane. According to a family legend, your ancestry can be traced back to a Viking invader who settled in Renfrewshire during the 8th to 10th centuries. The name Cochrane may have originated from two Gaelic words, meaning ‘the roar of battle’ or ‘battle-cry,’ reflecting the family’s strong naval tradition. However, early forms of the name suggest that it referred to a place, specifically the lands and Barony of Cochran near Paisley, where your ancestors resided. The exact meaning of the name remains unknown. The first recorded instance of the name is Waldeve de Coueran, who served as a witness to a charter in 1262. Another mention is made of William de Coughran in 1296. The origins of Waldeve and William are uncertain. They might have been Vikings, Norman knightly landowners, or had their roots in the ancient Brythonic Kingdom of Strathclyde. These origins pertain to the main line of your family, while separate branches have different origins.

During the eighteenth century, the Scots Gaelic name MacEachrain and the Irish Gaelic Ó Corcráin were sometimes Anglicized as Cochrane, despite having no direct connection. The former translates to ‘son of Eachrain,’ meaning the horse master, while the latter, occasionally rendered as Corcoran, means ‘son of Corcran,’ referring to the purple one. Now returning to the main line, William de Cochran of that Ilk obtained a charter from Robert II for the lands of Cochran, which had been held by him and his predecessors as vassals of the High Steward of Scotland.

Around 1350, Robert II constructed a castle at Dundonald in Ayrshire. The Cochrane family came into possession of the Dundonald estate and its castle around 1638. It was from these lands that the first Earl of Dundonald derived his title in 1669. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, there were notable chiefs from your family who served in the British military, both on land and at sea, earning the nickname ‘fighting Cochranes.’ Among them, the most renowned was Thomas, the tenth Earl. Renowned for his dedication to the sea, he displayed personal bravery and tactical brilliance in numerous naval battles, often emerging victorious against superior forces. However, due to political enemies, he was unjustly prosecuted for financial irregularities. In 1817, he accepted an invitation from Chile to organize and lead its navy. As a result, he played a significant role in securing independence not only for Chile but also for Peru, Brazil, and Greece.

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The Family Crest

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Family Crest Motto: VIRTUTE ET LABORE (by valour and exertion)

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