James Losh by J.G.Lough, Lit & Phil Newcastle, Photo: Pam Forbes
For James Losh employment by the Beaumonts came towards the end of a long and successful career. As the second son in a minor gentry family from Wreay in Cumberland Losh was destined for the Church. However he became a Unitarian and a republican and trained for the law instead. Losh became a friend of Wordsworth and a member of Godwin’s circle where he met, inter alia, Humphrey Davy and Shelley. Married and settled in Newcastle he became a partner in the family alkali works and a successful lawyer. A passionate campaigner for the abolition of slavery Losh became a key member of the enlightened social circle around William Turner’s Unitarian church and the Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle. His Whig politics brought him into contact with the young T.W.Beaumont in the 1820s and his mother Diana sought Losh out for advice and support in the wake of the disastrous end of her son’s engagement to Elizabeth Swinburne in 1823. Losh was the first chair of the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway company, of which Colonel Beaumont was a major shareholder. In 1828, shortly after the death of Martin Morrison, who had been the Beaumont’s chief agent, Losh accepted the position of auditor to Colonel and Mrs. Beaumont at a salary of £500 p.a., a position he held until his death. In 1829 he was also appointed by the Beaumonts to be steward of the regality of Hexham. Losh’s role was more than that of an auditor – he became a trusted advisor to both Diana Beaumont and her son, T.W. Beaumont. He kept a diary from 1797 until he died, and large extracts from his diaries were published by the Surtees Society in 1962/3. His views on the Beaumonts and others expressed in his diaries are typically measured and perceptive. A fine statue of Losh by Lough (see above) dominates the staircase of the Lit and Phil in Newcastle. Losh’s niece, Sarah Losh, designed the idiosyncratic church at Wreay – a story told in Jenny Uglow’s “The Pinecone”.
E.T.Hughes (ed) The Diaries and Correspondence of James Losh, Surtees Society, Vols 171, 174, (1962/3)
Jenny Uglow, The Pinecone, (2012) contains much about the Losh family