Royal Society Publishing

William Cochran. 30 July 1922 – 28 August 2003

Michael Woolfson

Elected FRS 1962


William Cochran was born at Driffenbeg, a moorland sheep farm, on 30 July 1922, to James Cochrane and Margaret Watson Baird; the final ‘e’ in the family name drifted in and out in random fashion through the generations. He traced his ancestry back more than 350 years to his great'great'great'great'great'great'grandfather, another William Cochran. In 1649 this forebear obtained title to Maynes of Craig ‘the four merks five shilling land of the five pound lands of Craig’ near Strathaven from Robert Hamilton of Sillertounhill. At around this time he married a widow, Alison Lawson, a marriage that provided a sound, if not abundant, foundation to the family fortunes from that time forth. The farm was passed from son to son–from William to John in 1669, to Alexander in 1717, to William in 1745 and to yet another William in about 1795. The most interesting of these early kin was John, who was a Covenanter, a Presbyterian rebel who opposed Anglicanism. He took part in the Covenanter Rebellion of 1679 in which, at Drumclog, the Covenanters defeated the forces of John Graham, Vicount of Dundee, who, in 1678, had been charged with task of suppressing the Covenanters. However, later the tide turned against the rebels and John was for some time imprisoned in Edinburgh with his farm ‘forfault’.