In April 1809, Cochrane led a successful fireship attack on a powerful French squadron anchored in Basque Roads, off Rochefort. Cochrane died in 1860 at the age of 85. In 1800, he set sail aboard HMS Speedy in his newly appointed position as Commander. (Although the pillory was later dropped because of a fear that Cochrane’s supporters would revolt if it was allowed to go ahead.) Cochrane decided to approach the defence of the house in the same manner he did when defending against enemy attack; there was potential for great loss of life for the guards of the House of Commons, as well as damage to Burdett’s house and surrounding area! Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald, had one of the most extraordinary and controversial naval careers of the 19th century. In the end, Cochrane and crew boarded the El Gamo, despite being vastly outnumbered, and successfully seized her. You may perhaps be more familiar with his exploits as fictionalised in C S Forester’s Hornblower novels, or as Jack Aubrey, in Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey – Maturin series. Few people know about Thomas Cochrane, whose life was the basis for the movie Master and Commander. Discover the true story behind the man who inspired the fictional novel 'Master and Commander'. He took command of the Chilean navy and led them towards independence from Spain. He openly criticised British conduct in the war and the corruption within the Navy which earned him many enemies. However, Cochrane tried to have his superior officer, Lord Gambier, court-martialled for his reluctance to follow up the attack in full. Copyright © Historic UK Ltd. Company Registered in England No. The eventful and controversial life of a bold, brave and radical leader has inspired many characters in fiction; Horatio Hornblower, in C.S.Forester’s novels was modelled on his character and Sharpe’s Devil by Bernard Cornwell features an experience from Cochrane’s time in Chile. Admiral Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald, Marquess of Maranhão, GCB, ODM, OSC (14 December 1775 – 31 October 1860), styled Lord Cochrane between 1778 and 1831, was a Scottish naval flag officer of the Royal Navy, mercenary and radical politician. Exhibition: Admiral Cochrane - the Real Master and Commander, National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, until February 19 2012 The fictional heroes based on Lord Cochrane, such as CS Forester's Hornblower and Patrick O'Brian's Jack Aubrey, are better known than the historical figure behind them, but only in his home country, as the opening video of this exhibition highlights. Master and Commander is a nautical historical novel by the English author Patrick O'Brian, first published in 1969 in the US and 1970 in UK.The book proved to be the start of the 20-novel Aubrey–Maturin series, set largely in the era of the Napoleonic Wars, that O'Brian continued working on up until his death in 2000.. Thomas who, you may ask? The enemy frigate followed the glimmering light allowing Cochrane and his ship HMS Speedy to escape. This scam involved the fabrication of a story that Napoleon had been defeated, which sparked a colossal rise in the value of government securities. 5621230. He also opposed a vote of thanks to Gambier in Parliament, which effectively ruined his naval career. Convicted after a suspect trial, Cochrane was sentenced to one year in prison, public pillory and the loss of his naval rank. Burdett had barricaded himself in his own house to avoid arrest by the House of Commons when Cochrane came to his aid. By flying an American flag, Cochrane managed to get the Speedy so close to the Spanish that they couldn’t angle their cannons to fire at the their hull. Cochrane let loose a barrel with a candle attached and the enemy ship followed that instead, allowing the Speedy to slip silently away. And now to the fraud conviction: Cochrane was tried and convicted of being a conspirator to the Great Stock Exchange Fraud of 1814. Thomas Cochrane was the son of a minor Scottish aristocrat, and although his father’s preoccupations appear to have involved many weird and wonderful inventions, his family background was one with a distinguished military service history. We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. From 1817 to 1827 he fought in the navies of Chile, Brazil and Greece in their wars for independence. And in reality it was Cochrane rather than Crowe who escaped a chasing enemy frigate at night by tying a lantern to a barrel and letting it float off. The second escape was a stroke of genius; the enemy was chasing them by night, following the light from the Speedy. In 1806, Cochrane stood for election into the House of Commons for the borough of Honiton. This left the Spanish one option; to board their opponent’s ship. With no further naval employment Cochrane returned to his other role, as an MP in the House of Commons, but in 1814 he was convicted of fraud on the stock exchange. Royal Navy officer Thomas Cochrane (1775–1860) was a notorious naval officer and the real-life ‘Master and Commander’. Cochrane had been listed as a crew member on Naval boats since he was five; an illegal tactic often employed so that, when he did join the Navy, there was a record of the length of service necessary to become an officer. And he strived onwards, campaigning for parliamentary reform alongside fellow radicals like Sir Francis Burdett. Perhaps the most famous fictional figure would be Captain Jack Aubrey, created by Patrick O’Brian and the inspiration for the 2003 film, ‘Master and Commander’. As a naval commander he was bold and resourceful, but he … If you enjoyed Master and Commander, or even just enjoy the stories of the British at sea during the peak of their empire, this is a great book for you. The novel is set at the turn of the 19th century. In this role he narrowly escaped capture and death! While in command of HM sloop Speedy, Cochrane captured over 50 vessels in the Mediterranean, including El Gamo, a powerful Spanish frigate with twice the firepower of the Speedy and over six times as many men and marines.