LOCH, John (1781-1868), of 18 Upper Bedford Place, Russell Square, Mdx.
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Family and Educationb. 8 Sept. 1781, 2nd s. of George Loch (d. 1786) of Drylaw, Edinburgh and Mary, da. of John Adam of Blair Adam, Kinross; bro. of James Loch*. m. 17 Feb. 1820, Rabina Marion, da. of Archibald Cullen of 23 Old Square, L. Inn, Mdx., 1s. d.v.p. 1da. d. 19 Feb. 1868.
Cdr. E.I. Co. marine service 1806.
Dir. E.I. Co. 1821-54, dep. chairman 1828-9, 1836-7, chairman 1829-30, 1833-4.
Between voyages to Bombay and China in the marine service of the East India Company, Loch served as a volunteer with the navy. He was in Lord St. Vincent’s flagship during the blockade of Brest in the summer of 1800, and later that year went on the Ferrol expedition as aide-de-camp to Sir Edward Pellew†: one of his Adam cousins deemed it ‘labour lost’, as he had nothing to do.1 From the Chiffone, off Le Havre, 21 May 1805, he wrote to his brother James of the defeat, ‘by a much larger majority than I expected’, of the Roman Catholic petition: ‘the English are terrible fellows in sticking by old prejudices’. Although a political opponent, he was ‘almost a little sorry’ for Lord Melville in his humiliation.2 In 1808, commanding the Scaleby Castle on her return from China, he beat off a French frigate near the Nicobar Islands.3 He made ‘a considerable fortune’ in the East, where he seems to have been involved in private trade with China, but ‘delicate’ health forced him to return home prematurely.4 In 1817 he began to canvass for a seat in the court of directors of the East India Company. He was elected four years later, became one of the leaders of the dominant private trading interest and was twice chairman, though his abilities in that capacity were modest.5 In February 1830, during his first spell in the chair, he was rescued from the threat of being examined before the Lords select committee on the Company’s affairs by the intervention of Lord Ellenborough, president of the board of control.6 A month later he stood on a vacancy for Hythe, where his third cousin Stewart Marjoribanks, the brother of a fellow director, was the other sitting Member. A rumoured opposition did not materialize and Loch, who promised to ‘support economy in all its branches’ and to promote the interests of the shipping industry, was returned as a self-styled ‘independent man’.7
Loch, whose brother was at this time associated with the Huskissonites, took his seat on 1 Apr. 1830 and four days later voted for Jewish emancipation. He voted for parliamentary reform, 28 May. It is not clear whether it was he or James who divided with ministers on the grant for South American missions, 7 June. He probably voted against the abolition of the death penalty for forgery the same day. On 19 June he opposed Mackintosh’s bill to compensate sufferers by the defalcation of the registrar of Madras, disputing the validity of its premise that ‘the state is answerable for the delinquencies of its officers’. He was in minorities for amendments to the sale of beer bill, 21 June, 1 July 1830. He stood again for Hythe at the 1830 general election and survived the resident ratepayers’ attempt to open the borough. He was described by one reporter as a supporter of the Wellington ministry ‘from principle’;8 but ministers listed him among the ‘Good Doubtfuls’, with the comment that he would be a ‘friend except on parliamentary reform’. He probably voted with them on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830, though it is possible that it was he rather than James who abstained.9 Three months later Ellenborough noted him as being ‘violent’ against the Grey ministry and scornful of their budget;10 but, like his brother, he voted for the second reading of their reform bill, 22 Mar., and against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. At the ensuing general election he was returned unopposed for Hythe as a reformer.11
Loch was named to the select committees on the East India Company, 28 June 1831, 27 Jan. 1832. He voted for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July 1831, but was rather less assiduous than James in his support of its details. He only paired for the passage of the bill, 21 Sept., and was not present to vote for the motion of confidence in the ministry, 10 Oct. It is uncertain whether it was he or his brother who voted with government on the Dublin election dispute, 23 Aug. He divided for the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, and was in the majorities for its borough disfranchisement schedules, 20, 23 Jan., and third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He voted for the address asking the king to appoint only ministers who would carry undiluted reform, 10 May. He sided with government on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12, 20 July. Either he or James voted against Baring’s bill to exclude insolvent debtors from Parliament, 6 June, and in favour of public inquests, 20 June 1832. He retired from the House at the dissolution later that year.
When Marjoribanks’s brother resigned as chairman of the East India Company in protest at the new Charter Act in October 1833 Loch replaced him. He hoped to salvage some of the company’s independence and succeeded in regaining the directors’ unrestricted use of patronage.12 On 15 Mar. 1837 he was attacked and stabbed at East India House by one Kearney, a disgruntled former employee of the Company, who soon afterwards committed suicide in custody.13 Loch left the direction in 1854. His only son, George Loch, joined the navy but died of fever at Martinique, aged 25, in 1848. His daughter Marion Finella, whose birth in 1823 proved fatal to his wife, married Edward Marjoribanks, the nephew of his former colleague at Hythe. It was at his son-in-law’s home at Bushey Grove, Hertfordshire that Loch died in February 1868.14 By his will, made on 27 Apr. 1852 and proved on 3 Feb. 1870, he left all his property to his daughter. His nephew William Adam Loch remembered him as ‘a man of strong masculine sense’, who ‘possessed a sweet temper and warm affections combined with a calm and remarkably sound judgement’.15