Royal Reels: Gambling


Although the recipient or sender of the attached four covers, Captain The Honourable E.G.L. Cochrane, never rose to the naval heights that other family members ascended, he was responsible for much of the family mail, at least 10 covers at last count. He is shown as Captain of the H.M.S. Peterel, at the Cape of Good Hope. The two green 6d Queensland stamps are cancelled with the unframed duplex BRISBANE/ 2/ FE 24/ 69/ QUEENSLAND, there is a red not deciphered postmark (not typical of Cape Town) dated 27 AP 69 as well, and the reverse was not seen (Figure 1).

This cover was extensively researched on 2 occasions 18 months apart, but both searches were essentially unproductive. There was considerable information on the naval Cochranes, and a small amount of information on the H.M.S. Peterel.  Lets clear the decks on the Peterel name which has a long lineage in the Royal Navy. The Peterel of the cover was a wooden hull sloop with screw propulsion, of 669 tons and 160 feet in length, manned by 140, and with 11 guns. It was launched at Devonport Dockyard in 1860, had 5 captains sailing to North America, the West Indies, the Cape of Good Hope, the east coast of Africa and the Pacific. On the 16 April 1868 until 7 April 1870 it was commanded by Ernest Gray Lambton Cochrane at the Cape and the west coast of Africa. It was last in commission in 1876 and to date, extensive search has not revealed a picture of this Peterel.

Then recently, within a week, more covers were seen on several old auction sites, and considerable textual information was found on two previously unseen internet sites. Thomas Cochrane, the 10th earl of Dundonald was born in 1775 and in 1793 he joined the crew of the HMS Hind of which his uncle, Sir Alexander was the captain. He had a long HMS naval career serving in the Napoleonic wars, and also served in the Chilean navy, fought for the independence of Chile and Peru against the Spanish and was an admiral of the Brazilian fleet. In 1851 he was promoted to admiral of the Royal Navy, and he developed a business interest after surveying Pitch Lake in Trinidad and developing it as a source of asphalt. He died in London in 1860.

Arthur Auckland Leopold Pedro Cochrane was born to the above Thomas in 1824 and he entered the Royal Navy in 1839. He was involved in the Crimean war in 1854, became a captain of several ships and served in the Anglo-Chinese war in 1858, was invalided to land duty, and made Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Squadron, promoted to admiral in 1881, retired from the navy in 1886, knighted and died in 1905.

Ernest Grey (sic) Lambton Cochrane was a son of Thomas Cochrane and was born in 1834 and entered the Royal Navy in 1847 and between 1847-1855 he served on board the ships VictoryHibernian and Trafalgar. In 1854 he participated in the capture of Bomarsund during the Crimean war aboard H.M.S. Wellesley and in 1854 he made lieutenant of the Edinburgh. In 1856 he served as lieutenant-commander of HMS Club. In 1864 he married Adelaide Blackwall, the daughter of Samuel Blackwall, the Governor of Sierra Leone, and Adelaide died 2 weeks later. In 1866, he married Elizabeth Frances Katherine Doherty, the only child of Richard Doherty, of Redcastle, County Donegal, Ireland and he came into land and money. From April 16, 1868 until April 7, 1870 he was Commander of HMS Peterel off the Cape of Good Hope and west coast of Africa, and he was active in the British attempts to suppress the African slave trade. In 1873 he retired as captain from the Royal Navy, was appointed High Sheriff of County Donegal and on February 2, 1911 he died at his Redcastle Estate, Inishowen, County Donegal, Northern Ireland.

I have chosen 4 covers in dated order, the first postmarked N/ DERRY/ NO30/ 68 on four GB 1d Reds, addressed to Captain, The Honble Ernest Cochrane, C/o the Ship Peterel, Cape of Good Hope, Africa with an additional manuscript ‘By private steamer, via Falmouth’ as well as a large London accountancy hand-stamp ‘2′, and an arrival CAPE TOWN/ A/ FE 1/ 69/ CAPE COLONY (Figure 2).

The cover is addressed to The Honble Mrs Ernest Cochrane, Red Castle, Co Donegal, Ireland and the mauve 6d GB stamp with the large white corner letters is tied with the ‘250′ numeral of Devonport on arrival with a faint (and overstruck postmark) of PAID/ DEVONPORT/ CAPE PACKET/ 7 FE 69, as well as two originating postmarks, the one at the top border being CAPE TOWN/ F/ JA 5/ 69/ CAPE COLONY. The large black manuscript ‘1′ accountancy mark has been ‘squiggled’ through to avoid a postage due charge on arrival, for the extra one penny claimed by the Cape of Good Hope has been prepaid in the 6d stamp. There is proof that this was sent from Captain Cochrane to his wife for there was an ‘E.C.’ monogram on the reverse flap (Figure 3).

This cover’s handwriting and method of address is similar to that in the second cover with Captain, The Honble E.G.L. Cochrane, H.M.Ship Petrel (sic). Cape of Good Hope, Africa and it has a strip of four and a vertical pair of the GB 1d Reds postmarked with multiple N/ 69 DERRY/ FE 2/ 69 with the numeral ‘172′ duplex (Figure 4).

This cover was sent by Captain Cochrane to his wife addressed as The Honble Mrs Ernest Cochrane, Red Castle, Co. Donegal, Ireland and the vertical strip of 5 and one single of the G.B. red 1d stamps have two strikes of the rare DEVONPORT/ H.M.S/ 250 duplex which is only used on Naval bag mails. Cochrane was at the Island of Ascension and the log of the ship that carried the mail (Union Line SS Roman) shows that the date of sending was 16 August 69 and the arrival date was SP 6/ 99. Cochrane’s red sealing wax was initialed on the reverse (Figure 5).