All in the Family

Clan Cochrane

There are various theories on the origins of the name Cochrane. Tradition has it that they descend from a Scandinavian sea-warrior who settled in what was, until recently, the county of Renfrew. The name is said to derive from the “Five-Merk” land of Cochrane (Coueran) located near Paisley. Celtic Life International connected with Thomas Cochrane, President and Commissioner to the Chief of Clan Cochrane of North America, sheds some light on the origins and growth on his community.

How long have you been involved in the Clan and in what capacity?
I have been involved with Clan Cochrane for 8 years. For the first few months I was just a member. Then, when I asked why there was no representative of the Clan at the Colorado Festivals, I was told we had no commissioner and then asked if I be interested in the position. I have been a commissioner since 2005. In 2008 I was appointed to the newly created position of President under the High Commissioner and headed up the organization of Clan Cochrane’s presence at the Gathering 2009. After a reorganization in 2010 I became High Commissioner, or Commissioner to the Chief as it is known now.

What inspired you to get involved, and stay involved?
I have been interested in my Scottish roots since I was a child. My grandfather and father were both very fond of telling the stories they knew about their ancestors, and my grandfather had been a major help to his younger sister Pauline who wrote a two volume history of Cochrans starting with the ancestor who came to America from Northern Ireland in the 1740s. Once I started attending the Scottish festivals and further researching Cochrane history I was hooked.

What is the Clan’s origins and history?
Cochranes are a lowland clan originating in the lands around Paisley, Scotland. Legend has it we are descended from a Viking raider who decided to stay in Scotland in the 900s. The name appears in documents in the 1200s and the first Cochrane raised to the peerage was William Cochrane in 1669 for his support of Charles II. He became the first Earl of Dundonald and hereditary chief of Clan Cochrane. Our current Chief Douglas Dundonald the 15th Earl of Dundonald is a direct descendant. There is, of course, much more to the history and much of that detailed information information is on the Clan Cochrane wesite. Clan Cochrane in North America has been around for about 20 years. When the 14th Earl met Michael Cochrane, the former High Commissioner, he gave him the charge of establishing the clan organization here.

How has it evolved over the years?
There have been ups and downs. When I became involved we had shrunk to very few members with only 4 or 5 state commissioners. We now have 9 State Commissioners and may add 2 more this spring. And our membership is up. Our Secretary/ Historian/ Genealogist Cynthia Cochran Scheuer- Jones has been solid as a rock through the changes of the last years.

How many members are actively involved?
Around 60 are on the membership rolls at present, with many of them being Couple or Family Memberships

Where are Clan members from and how do they find you?
We seem to be strong in the South, but are growing in the West and in New England. A lot of new member meet us at festivals, but the website and facebook page are starting to make more contacts. And magazine listings such as ours in Celtic Life International also generate interest

What kinds of Clan-related events do members participate in?
The Gathering 2009 was the first large Gathering of Clan Cochrane and we hope to do that again in 2014. We met Cochranes from all over the world. In North America we rely on the State Commissioners to organize events in their areas, but we hope to have an AGM in 2013. 

What does the Clan have planned for 2012 and in the years to come?
This year we are having our newly elected board meeting via video conferencing to set our direction for the next three years. We want to start having yearly AGMs. We want to be apart of Bannockburn Celebrations in Scotland in 2014. We would love to have members and commissioners in Canada and we would love to have representatives more states in the U.S. We would love to establish ways to encourage interest in Scottish and Scots-Irish culture in genera,l and Cochrane history and genealogy in particular.