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Royal Naval Biography/Cochet, John

Rear-Admiral of the White.

This officer was born at Rochester, in Kent, Aug. 3, 1760; and entered the naval service, Dec. 22, 1775, under the auspices of Captain Philemon Pownall, with whom he served as a Midshipman, in the Blonde and Apollo frigates. On the 15th June, 17$0> the latter vessel, being on a cruise in the North Sea, fell in with, and after a sharp conflict compelled the French ship Stanislaus, of 26 guns, to seek shelter under the batteries at Ostend. The Apollo, on this occasion, had 6 men killed and 20 wounded. Among the former was her commander, who fell about an hour after the commencement of the action[1].

Towards the latter end of the same year, Mr. Cochet was appointed to act as Lieutenant in the Lizard; but being soon after superseded he joined the Amphion, another small frigate commanded by Captain Bazely[2], and proceeded in her to North America, where he continued until the close of the war with the colonies, and then returned to England with Captain Griffiths, in the Charlestown of 28 guns.

During the ensuing three years we find Mr. Cochet on board the Powerful, a third rate, stationed at Plymouth. In June, 1786 he was removed into the Southampton frigate, Captain Douglas, in which he served as Master’s Mate, until promoted to the rank of Lieutenant, Aug. 26, 1789, eight days after the naval review off Plymouth, on which occasion their late Majesties and family were embarked in that ship[3].

In March, 1790, our officer obtained an appointment to the Zebra sloop of war, and he remained in that vessel until April 1792. Some time previous to the commencement of the war with revolutionary France, he became first Lieutenant of the Phaeton, a fine frigate, in which, under the command of his friend Sir A. S. Douglas, he was present at the capture of many of the enemy’s vessels, and among others of the General Dumourier French privateer; her prize, the St. Jago, a Spanish galleon of immense value[4]; and la Prompte of 28 guns. In the spring of the ensuing year, he followed Sir Andrew into the Queen-Charlotte, bearing the flag of Earl Howe; and was one of the Lieutenants of that ship in the memorable battle of the 1st of June[5]. On the 27th May, 1795, he obtained the rank of Commander, and from that time remained on half-pay until Jan. 4, 1796, when he was appointed to the Ratler sloop of war, in which vessel, after cruising for some time ofT the French coast, he proceeded to the West Indies, where he was posted, by Sir Hyde Parker, into the Abergavenny, of 54 guns. His commission as detain bears date Dec. 9, 1796.

Captain Cochet remained in the Abergavenny until June, 1798, and was then appointed to the Thunderer, 74. From that ship he removed into the Valiant, of the same force, and in the spring of 1799, escorted a large fleet of merchantmen to England. From this period we lose sight of him until May, 1805, when he was nominated principal agent for transports in the Mediterranean, on which service he continued to be actively employed till June 1810. During the latter part of the war with France, he commanded the Ardent, a 64-gun ship, at Bermuda, from whence he went to Halifax in April, 1814, and resided at that place about twelve months, as agent for prisoners of war and transports.

Our officer was advanced to the rank of Rear-Admiral, Aug. 12, 1819. He married, first, a lady of the name of Jefferys; and secondly, Mrs. S. Lydia Long, widow of Captain Long of the 89th regiment. By the former he has two daughters; by the latter no living issue.

Residence.– Bideford, co. Devon.

  1. See note §, at p. 210. et seq.
  2. Captain Bazely succeeded Captain Pownall in the command of the Apollo, and on that ship being put out of commission was appointed to the Amphion. Soon after his arrival on the American station, he was entrusted with the command of a small squadron, and on the 10th Sept. 1781, in conjunction with General Arnold, completely destroyed the town of New London, together with several magazines full of stores, and all the vessels that were in the harbour. He afterwards attained the rank of Admiral of the Blue, and died at Dover, April 6, 1809.
  3. See note †, at p. 706.
  4. On the 14th April, 1793, a squadron, under the command of Rear-Admiral John Cell, consisting of the St. George a second rate, Captain Thomas Foley; Edgar, 74, Captain Albemarle Bertie; Egmont, 74, Captain Archibald Dickson; Ganges, 74, Captain Anth. James Pye Molloy; and Phaeton frigate, Captain Sir A. S. Douglas, in lat. 41° 43’ N. long. 25° W. gave chace to two sail in the N.W. The latter officer soon came up with the St. Jago, a large Spanish galleon under French colours, dropped a boat on board of her as he passed, leaving her to be taken possession of by the Ganges, and stood on in pursuit of the headmost, which he took two hours afterwards. She proved to be the General Dumourier, a French privateer coppered, mounting 22 six-pounders, with a complement of 196 men, having on board 680 cases, each containing 3000 dollars, besides some valuable packages to the amount of between two and three hundred thousand pounds sterling. The St. Jago was from Lima, bound to Spain, and had been eleven days in the enemy’s possession.
  5. See p. 75. et seq.