Guilty or victim?
Lord Cochrane was a brilliant naval strategist, heir to the Dundonald earldom, and radical member of Parliament.
He was also charged with stock fraud in the winter of 1814.
In an elaborate scheme, a man claiming to be one Colonel de Bourg, aide de camp of Lord Cathcart, arrived by boat to Dover, bearing the news that Napoleon had been defeated and killed, and that the Bourbons had been restored to the throne of France. In addition, three "French Officers" were seen celebrating in London.
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While rumors of Napoleon's defeat were not uncommon, especially in light of Wellington's victories in the Iberian Peninsula, the Admiralty was able to debunk the de Bourg claims. An investigation ensued.
Immediately, stock fraud became the focus. Particularly the manipulation of government stocks. Itw as discovered that Lord Cochrane, his uncle the Hon. Andrew Cochrane-Johnstone, and Mr. Richard Butts (Cochrane's financial advisor) had purchased a considerable amount of government stock the previous week (on spec, as it were, as they didn't pay for the stock they purchased before the fraud was perpetrated) and sold at a considerable profit while the stock market was in the throes of euphoria thinking the war was over.
In all, they purchased more than 1 million pounds of government stock, sold it at stunning prices, and pocketed the profits.
All three co-conspirators were arrested, a task made particularly easy by the arrest of the man who pretended to be Colonel de Bourg.
Lord Cochrane was stripped of his naval rank and expelled from the Order of the Bath, and each co-conspirator was sentenced to one year in jail, 1000 pounds in fines, and an hour in the public pillory. (The pillory punishment was dropped.)
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in this book by Richard Dale available
Throughout it all, Cochrane protested his innocence. He sued the judge in the case (unsuccessfully) but public sentiment seemed to be behind him, as he was re-elected to Parliament just after the case.
For nearly two decades, Cochrane maintained his innocence, petitioning the government to redress his grievances, and finally, in 1831, the king pardoned him. He was restored to rank of Rear Admiral, returned to the Order of the Bath, and his record cleared.
Though Cochrane no doubt benefited from the fraud, historians now believe he was, as he claimed, innocent in the affair.
But the true mastermind of the fraud has never been uncovered.
Best-selling, award-winning author Erica Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. She’s a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota, and she married her total opposite and soul mate! When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks. You can connect with her at her website, www.ericavetsch.comwhere you can read about her books and sign up for her newsletter, and you can find her online at https://www.facebook.com/EricaVetschAuthor/ where she spends way too much time!