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William Cochran Research Notes

Contents  The Problem  |  William Cochran's occupation  |  Sneddon  |  Children of William Cochran and Margaret Watson  |  Possible birth of William Cochran  |  Which John Cochran?  |  Unanswered Questions  |  Timeline


Background that helps to understand church records:

The Statistical account of Scotland, Vol. 7, Paisley, County of Renfrew (1834-45), p.225-226  (Follow the instructions to use the link "Browse Scanned Pages")  Although the church records come from different churches, that does not necessarily mean that the people moved.  Until 1736 Abbey Parish included Paisley and the surrounding towns.  In 1736 the burgh of Paisley was "erected", separated from Abbey Parish, and a church was built.  In 1756, a second church was built.  Built on the height called Oakshawhead, it was called the "High Church" and the older church became known as the "Low Church".  But they were still considered one Parish.

In 1781 a third church was built near the High Church and was called "Middle Church".  At this time, the Paisley Parish was divided into three parishes, each named for their church.  In 1798, six chapels were built, including a chapel known as the "Gaelic church", intended for the Highlanders in Paisley.  The Gaelic church apparently was not a separate parish.

Wiki re Paisley Methodist Church:  Paisley’s first Methodist chapel was opened on George Street in 1812. A new chapel was built some years later. Paisley was missioned from Glasgow until 1838 when it became a separate circuit. No further history is known.   (Source: Methodism in Scotland, by Wesley F. Swift, pub. 1947. FHL book 941 K2sw.). [The marriage record of Archibald McKaig and Agnes Cochran says "both ME".  Presumably, ME stands for Methodist Episcopal.]

Scottish Way of Birth and Death - Marriage, University of Glasgow   A 'regular' church marriage, requiring marriage banns to be read in the church some weeks in advance, was the usual practice, and from 1834 'priests and ministers not of the established church' were also allowed to conduct legal marriage ceremonies.  [suggesting that before 1834, marriages in nonconformist churches were not recognized]

The Problem  Who is he?  Earlier research regarding Agnes Cochran provided some information about her parents, including the marriage (Parish registers for Middle Church, Paisley 1788) and probable children of William Cochran and Margaret Watson.  Other than his occupation as linen or thread manufacturer, and his date of death, little was known about William Cochran.

William Cochran's occupation  One of the characteristics that helps to identify him is his occupation:

  • 1788 weaver (marriage record)
  • 1799 manufacturer (Sasine #5656)
  • 1811 thread manufacturer (Sasine #10191 & 1868 (son William's death record)
  • 1832 manufacturer, Old Sneddon Street (newspaper notice of his death)
  • 1866 linen manufacturer (daughter Christina's death record)

In the 1841 and 1851 Census Records, some of his children and grandchildren were workers in a thread factory.

Sneddon  or "Old Sneddon", a street in Paisley, appears in many records:

  • In Agnes Cochran's Poor House Case record, her birth place is given as "of Old Sneddon".
  • Paisley Advertiser 14 July 1832, "DEATHS/Here, on the 12th current, Mr William Cochran, manufacturer, Old Sneddon Street" (Paisley Library Newspaper Index - William Cochran, per 24 Sep 2014 email from Paisley Library)
  • Sasine #5657, 13 Jul 1799, disposition by John Caldwell to William Cochran, manufacturer ("in the half pro vidio of a Tenement of land or Dwelling House & Yeard" at the back thereof in SNEDDON of PAISLEY)
  • Sasine #6114, 22 Oct 1800, disposition by the Trustees of James Carson, merchant, Paisley, to William Cochrane, manufacturer ("in the Upper or Third Story, Garret Story, & 2 Cellars of a large Tenement of land at the head of SNEDDON or Dwelling House & Yeard" at the back thereof in Sneddon Street, PAISLEY; Mid yard or piece of vacant ground on the North side of the Sneddon garden & a road leading thereto); followed by Sasine #6115, a bond by William Cochrane to William Watson, a farmer of Abbots Inch.
  • Sasine #8338, 18 Dec 1806, disposition by William Watson, a farmer of Abbots Inch

Children of William Cochran and Margaret Watson - See The Descendants of William Cochran and Margaret Watson.

Possible birth of William Cochran  Willam's marriage year of 1788 provides the only clue to his birth date.  Taking a broad view, he was probably between age 17 and age 50 at the time of his marriage.  The criteria selected for further investigation:

  • An estimated birth year between 1738 and 1771 (between ages 17 and 50 in 1788).
  • Father named John.  Further research with sasines may support or reject this criterion.
  • Born in or near Paisley.  While the possibility of his birth elsewhere cannot be ruled out, Paisley seems the best place to stert.

Using these criteria, seven possibilities have been found:

  1. William, son of John Cochran and Elisabeth Wallace was born 9/baptized 13 May 1736 (Church of Scotland, Abbey, Paisley, Renfrewshire, Parish register for 1736).  Other children of John Cochran and Elisabeth Wallace: Robert 1737, Margaret 1745 (possibly others where mother is not named on baptism record).

  2. William, son of John Cochran and Marion Patison was born 3/baptized 5 Aug 1736 (Church of Scotland, Abbey, Paisley, Renfrewshire, Parish register for 1736).  Other children of John Cochran and Marion Patison: Jean 1726, Marion 1733 (possibly others where mother is not named on baptism record).

  3. William, son of John Cochran and Margaret Fisher was born 4/baptized 6 Aug 1742 (Church of Scotland, Low Church, Paisley, Renfrewshire, Parish register for 1742).  Other children of John Cochran and Margaret Fisher: Mary 1740, Janet 1745, Lilias 1747, Margaret 1749, Margaret 1752, Jean 1755.

  4. William, son of John Cochran and Ann McNeil was born 2/baptized 3 May 1751 (Church of Scotland, Abbey, Paisley, Renfrewshire, Parish register for 1751).  John Cochran and Ann McNeil were married 31 May 1750 (Church of Scotland, Abbey, Paisley, Renfrewshire Parish register for 1750).  No other children of John Cochran and Ann McNeil have been found in the Parish records.  However, according to the Ancestral File on Family search, this couple also had a daughter Agnes b. 1754.  The same file says William married Elizabeth Dunlap.  Neither of these events could be confirmed in parish records.  See William, son of John Cochran and Ann McNeilage below.

  5. William, son of John Cochran and Janet (probably Margaret) Craig was born 12/baptized 13 Jan 1762 (Church of Scotland, Low Church, Paisley, Renfrewshire, Parish register for 1762).  Other children of John Cochran and Margaret Craig: Margaret 1754, Janet 1756, John 1757, Hugh 1759, Robert 1763, Robert 1765, James 1769.

    Naming his mother Janet rather than Margaret is probably an error.  If so, then William would be the William Cochran, merchant of Glasgow, who appears frequently with his brothers Hugh, Robaert and James in ths Sasines.  Their father's occupation is often given as weaver and town treasurer, but Sasine 4940 names a John Cochran, manufacturer.

    John Cochran and Margaret Craig were married in November 1752 (Church of Scotland, Low Church, Paisley, Renfrewshire Parish register for 1752).  No marriage record has been found for John Cochran and Janet Craig.

  6. William, son of John Cochran and Ann McNeilage was baptized 9 Oct 1763 (Oakshaw East Associate Congregation, Paisley, Renfrewshire, Parish register for 1763).  Other children of John Cochran and Ann Mcneilage, baptized at the Oakshaw church: Mary 1758 (father no occupation, mother McNeil); John 1761 (father weaver, mother MacNeilage); Ann 1767 (father weaver, mother McNeilage); James 1771 (father merchant, mother MacNeilage).

  7. William, son of John Cochran and Elisabeth Patterson was born 12/baptized 19 Jun 1768 (Church of Scotland, Abbey, Paisley, Renfrewshire, Parish register for 1768).  No other children of John Cochran and Elisabeth Patterson have been found.

Which John Cochran?  Only one of the seven William Cochrans named above can be ruled out -- "William, son of John Cochran and Janet (probably Margaret) Craig", and that one only by accepting the assumption that Janet and Margaret Craig are the same person.  Hopefully, further research in the sasines and other records will help to identify the other John Cochrans and provide more details about William Cochran, manufacturer.  As they were with William, occupations may be a help in learning more about John Cochran.

John Cochran, weaver, married Janet/Margaret Craig

John Cochran, married Ann McNeilage

  • weaver, 1761-1767 baptisms of children
  • merchant, 1771 baptism of child

John Cochran, manufacturer, family connection unknown

John Cochran, merchant, family connection unknown

  • Testament Dative And Inventory, Glasgow Commissary Court 05 May 1765: John Cochran Senior, Merchant In Paisley (single, heir: brother Robert)
  • Inhabited House Tax rolls: volume 50 Jan 1779: yarn merchant, Jul 1779-Apr 1780, Apr 1782-Apr 1783
  • Inhabited House Tax rolls: volume 51 Apr 1782-Apr 1783: John Cochran, merchant (listed twice)
  • Paisley Sheriff Court 24 Feb 1830: John Cochran Silk And Cotton Yarn Merchant In Paisley

John Cochran, occupation unknown, family connection unknown

  • Inhabited House Tax Apr 1780-Apr 1781/Apr 1781-Apr 1782: John Cochran
  • Female servant tax rolls, volume 2 1785-86: Jno Cochran Junior, Snedon (servant Elizabeth Cochran)
  • Female servant tax rolls, volume 14 1788-89: John Cochran Linwood (Abbey) (servant Isobell Dick)
  • Female servant tax rolls, volume 26 1791-92: John Cochran
  • Horse tax rolls: volume 04 1786-1787: Jno Cochran
  • Horse tax rolls: volume 18 1790-1791: John Cochrane Jr.

Bailee Cochran, Paisley unless otherwise noted, family connection unknown

  • Female servant tax rolls, volume 2 1785-86: Bailee Cochran Senior
  • Female servant tax rolls, volume 6 1786-87: Bailee Cochran (servant Isabel Love)
  • Female servant tax rolls, volume 10 1787-88: Bailee John Cochran (servant Janet McLean)
  • Female servant tax rolls, volume 18 1789-90: Bailee John Cochran (servant Janet McLean)
  • Female servant tax rolls, volume 22 1790-91: Bailee John Cochran (servant Jenny McLean); Bailee J Cochran (Abbey)
  • Female servant tax rolls, volume 26 1791-92: Bailee John Cochran (Abbey) (servant Mary McFarlane)
  • Inhabited House Tax rolls: volume 51 Apr 1784-Apr 1785: Baillie Cochran; Baillie John Cochran (Abbey); both repeated Apr 1787-Apr 1788, Apr 1788-Apr 1789, Apr 1797-Apr 1798

Unanswered Questions

  1. Was he the poet, William Cochran, who wrote The Seasons, in Four Descriptive Poems: with Moral Reflections and Hymns, published by the author in 1780? (Google Books)
  2. When was William born? Who were his parents?

  3. Are there Methodist records that will fill in missing information for William, his wife, and their descendants?

  4. Who is Jean Cochran?  The 1841 census for William's household also includes a Jean Cochran, age 28 [b.c.1818].  Since no relationships are given in that census, she may or may not be a sibling of William, Christina and Agnes.

    There is a Jean Cochran in the Statutory Birth Register, born 3 May 1818, daughter of John Cochran and Jean Paterson.  John Cochran and Jean Paterson also had a daughter Elizabeth, born 20 Aug 1820 (Statutory Birth Register).  Both births were in Paisley Low Church Parish.  That may be the Jean Cochran in William's household in 1841.  However, there are other census records with a Jean Cochran of that age, including one in Paisley Low Church Parish.

  5. Which son John is the one in the various records?

Timeline  All events occurred in Paisley, unless otherwise indicated.


between 1740-1771  Birth of William Cochran (later known as manufacturer)
batween 1766-1771Birth of Margaret Watson (estimated age 45 or younger at birth of last child in 1811)

1788-89Female servant tax rolls, William Cochran not married (1 servant not named) (Scotlands Places, E326/6/14/130)
30 Aug 1788Marriage of William Cochran, weaver, and Margaret Watson
July 1789Birth and baptism of son John

March 1791Birth and baptism of son William, who probably died soon
April 1793Birth and baptism of son William
January 1795Birth and baptism of daughter Mary, who probably died soon
October 1796Birth and baptism of daughter Mary
1799-1800Land transactions of William Cochran, manufacturer (Sasines #5656, 5657, 6114, 6115)

Abt 1805Birth of daughter Christina
December 1806Birth and baptism of son John
1806-1808Land transactions of William Cochran, manufacturer (Sasines #8338, 9128)
Abt 1809Birth of daughter Agnes
between 1808-1811Trust established for Sequestered Estate of William Cochran, manufacturer

Abt 1811Birth of daughter Ann
1811-1813Land transactions of Trustees for Sequestered Estate of William Cochran, manufacturer (Sasines #10191, 11098)
1815Land transaction of William Cochran, manufacturer, and his son William with consent of Margaret Watson (Sasine #12061)

1826Land transactions of William Cochran, Junior, (Sasine #3764 (as heir to his brother John), and 3821)

12 Jul 1832Death of William Cochran, manufacturer

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© 2015 Shirley York Anderson