Loring, Joshua

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Loring, Joshua

LORING, JOSHUA. (1744–1789). Loyalist, commissary of prisoners. Massachusetts. Born in Roxbury, Massachusetts, on 1 November 1744, Loring was the son of a British naval officer and privateer of the same name who was one of General Gage's mandamus councillors. The younger Loring served in the British army for four years. He sold his lieutenant's commission in 1768 and settled in Boston, having been named to the sinecure of deputy surveyor of the King's Woods by New Hampshire Governor John Wentworth. Loring sided with the crown during the lead-up to the Revolution, placing such confidence in Britain's ability to crush the rebellion that he paid five hundred pounds for the office of Suffolk County sheriff in 1775. In March 1776 he left Boston with the British, first for Halifax and then New York, where in early 1777, General William Howe named Loring commissary of prisoners. This remunerative office was undoubtedly obtained through the influence of his unfaithful wife, Elizabeth, who was having a very public affair with General Howe.

The Narrative of Colonel Ethan Allen, published in 1779, made Loring a byword in America for corruption and cruelty. Both British and American officials suspected Loring of profiting excessively from his office, British general James Robertson charging him with billing the government for rations for dead prisoners. Others defended Loring as acting in a professional manner. Returning to England in 1782, Loring sought recompense from the government for the loss of 20,000 acres and property worth over a £1,000; he received £830. He spent the last years of his life in Englefield, Berkshire, where he died on 18 September 1789.

SEE ALSO Mandamus Councillors.

                     revised by Michael Bellesiles