This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974
Henry Brougham Loch (1827-1900), public servant and governor, was born on 23 May 1827 in Edinburgh, the seventh son of James Loch, M.P., of Drylaw, and his wife Ann, née Orr. After service in 1840-42 as midshipman in the navy he was commissioned in the Bengal cavalry in 1844 and was A.D.C. to Lord Gough in the Sutlej campaign in 1845. In the Crimean war Loch helped to organize irregular Turkish cavalry, and in 1857-58 accompanied Lord Elgin's mission to China. In 1860 he returned as private secretary to Elgin on his second mission and negotiated the surrender of the Taku forts on the way to Peking, but Loch and his small party were then taken prisoner and suffered from ill treatment. Back in England he was appointed a C.B. and left the army but furthered his connexion with the Whigs by acting as private secretary to the Home secretary, Sir George Grey, in 1861-63, and marrying in 1862 Elizabeth, daughter of the Hon. Edward Villiers and niece of the Earl of Clarendon and of C. P. Villiers. In 1863-82 he was lieutenant-governor of the Isle of Man, where he was popular but took little part in affairs outside his satrapy save for publishing in London a Personal Narrative of Occurrences During Lord Elgin's Second Embassy to China (1869), and a Memorandum Upon the Present Military Resources of England, with Suggestions as to the Manner in Which They may be Strengthened (1870). Created K.C.B. in 1880, he became a commissioner of woods and forests and land revenue in 1882 and was appointed governor of Victoria in 1884.
Like other governors, Loch took little part in political affairs, though his regular receptions were said to have helped to 'soften the asperity of political conflicts'. As a channel of communication with the Colonial Office he was replaced by the agent-general; with little confidential information at his disposal, his reports became somewhat infrequent and superficial. He was by-passed in the negotiations over the New Hebrides and New Guinea, and when Victoria's defence forces were being reorganized, Loch's support of the claims of the commandant, Colonel Disney, for independence from the minister, F. T. Sargood, was fruitless. However, Loch was more active and useful in discussions with Britain on naval affairs and Chinese immigration, though his influence on policy was slight. More important was his social success, particularly when irritation was aroused in some quarters by a variety of differences of opinion with Britain. He was favourably contrasted with his predecessor, the Marquis of Normanby. Loch appears to have been esteemed by more than the few who normally heed activities at Government House. His wife was active in philanthropic works and in 1887 helped to organize the Queen's Jubilee fund for 'the relief of suffering womankind'.
On leave in England in 1889 Loch was appointed high commissioner for South Africa and governor of Cape Colony but before taking office he briefly returned to Melbourne. Promoted G.C.M.G. in 1887 and G.C.B. in 1892, he was appointed P.C. and created baron on his return to England in 1895. In the House of Lords he sat with the Liberal Unionists; he intervened in debates on African questions, and amongst other things demanded greater government control over chartered companies. He died on 20 June 1900 survived by a son and two daughters.
Loch was widely declared to have been the most popular and respected governor in Victoria. He and Lady Loch left behind nothing but pleasant memories, and received more than the usual quota of farewell addresses, mementos and presentations from the community.
A. G. L. Shaw, 'Loch, Henry Brougham (1827–1900)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/loch-henry-brougham-4033/text6407, published in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 3 September 2014.
This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974