Cochrane, Sir Henry (1836–1904), 1st baronet, manufacturer and politician, was born 21 December 1836 at Virginia, Co. Cavan, the only son of William Cochrane, farmer, of Graughlough House, Co. Cavan, and his wife Sarah, daughter of Henry McQuade. After a rudimentary local education Cochrane worked at a Belfast linen mill and later as a shop assistant. After moving to Dublin in the 1850s he worked in the wine and spirit business of the Scotsman James Weir, and the whiskey-blending firm of Kinahans. In 1867 he answered a newspaper advertisement placed by Thomas Cantrell, whose aerated water business had been established in 1852 at Bank Lane, Belfast, and who was seeking an investment of £2,000. Cochrane went into partnership with Cantrell and his investment of £2,000 funded the sinking of an artesian well in Belfast, thereby increasing output at a time when consumption of aerated water was rising (in large part due to the influence of the temperance movement). The partnership prospered and in 1869 the firm established a branch in Dublin where Cochrane took up residence. On Cantrell's death in 1885 Cochrane became the sole proprietor of the business (converted into a private limited company in 1898), and by the late 1880s Cantrell & Cochrane had over 500 employees producing over 160,000 bottles of mineral water a day. By this time the firm's premises in Dublin stretched from no. 2 to no. 11 Nassau Place; their well-known products included ‘club soda’, ‘club ale’, and ‘sparkling montserrat’. Claiming to have invented ginger ale, the firm achieved a worldwide reputation, winning a medal at the prestigious Paris Exposition Universelle (1889). Cochrane was chairman of Thacker & Hoffe Ltd, a director of E. J. Burke Ltd, a member of the Irish lights board, and president of the UK Commercial Travellers’ Association.
Cochrane was an alderman of Dublin corporation for Mansion House ward for over a quarter of a century and was knighted by Queen Victoria as the Dublin chairman of the Queen's Golden Jubilee Commemoration Committee (1887). DL of Dublin city, JP for counties Dublin, Wicklow, and Cavan, and high sheriff of Co. Wicklow (1897) and Co. Cavan (1899), he was also for several years in succession chairman of the Bray township commissioners, and was a member of the board of guardians of the South Dublin union and the union of Rathdown. A liberal unionist, he contested the College Green constituency in Dublin in 1892, hoping to take advantage of the Parnell split, but was not elected. In 1903 he made a lavish gift of £5,000 to the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society of Sir Horace Plunkett (qv). Later that year, on 8 October, he was made a baronet of the United Kingdom. An active freemason, he was a representative of the grand lodge of Georgia in the grand lodge of Ireland.
On 10 May 1865 he married Margaret (d. 7 December 1901), only daughter of Richard Gilchrist. They had four sons and three daughters. He was predeceased by his first and second sons and by his second daughter. His third son, the dramatist Ernest Cecil Cochrane (1873–1972), succeeded to the baronetcy. His fourth son was Sir Stanley Herbert Cochrane (qv). The family had residences at Woodbrook, Bray, Co. Wicklow, The Castle, Bailieborough, Co. Cavan, and Kildare Street, Dublin. Cochrane died 11 September 1904 at Woodbrook leaving an estate valued at more than £500,000. On Cochrane's death his business became a limited company, capitalised at £200,000 and was at that time the largest mineral water manufacturer in Ireland and Britain and one of the largest exporting firms of Irish manufactured goods. The firm was taken over by E. J. Burke Ltd in 1923.