LOMAX, Joshua (c.1652-1724), of Childwick Bury, nr. St. Albans, Herts.
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Family and Education
b. c.1652, s. of Joshua Lomax of Bolton, Lancs. by Anne. educ. Bolton g.s.; L. Inn 1670, called 1678, 1681. m. lic. 29 Mar. 1683, Ruth, da. and coh. of John Lee of Plaistow, Suss., 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 5da. (2 d.v.p.). suc. fa. 1685.
Lomax’s father, whose income was assessed at £600 p.a., was an attorney who ‘dealt much in buying and selling of lands, by which [he] obtained a fair estate’. His business partner was a Presbyterian, and it is possible that Lomax senior was similarly inclined, since he was listed among the ‘parliamentary’ party of St. Albans and ‘always accounted a friend and assistant to the fanatical party’. His will nevertheless shows that, in later life at least, his godly zeal was contained within the Established Church. After a long and pious religious preamble, he directed that his burial sermon should be delivered by the local vicar without any ‘funeral panegyric’, and that 12d. was to be distributed to every poor householder of St. Albans who attended and listened carefully, in the hope that the financial inducement would lead to the conversion of some ‘vile wretch who lives without God’. He also left enough money for this to become an annual lecture, and established a trust fund for Bolton school, where he himself had been educated, to pay for a poor student wishing to become a minister. Lomax’s Calvinistic belief in salvation through grace was passed on to his son, who nevertheless found such views best expressed outside the strict Anglicanism of the later Restoration Church. The younger Joshua’s call to the bar in 1678 was subsequently ordered ‘to be vacated unless he take the sacrament’, and it was presumably for failure to conform that his call was repeated in February and November 1681. It is unlikely that he ever complied, since he was indicted in 1683 for being ‘disaffected to the doctrine and discipline of the Church of England, a depraver and evil speaker of the rites and ordinances thereof’, and for having made himself ‘an utter stranger’ to his parish church. Although he allowed all his children to be baptized according to Anglican rites, Lomax was described as a ‘profess’d Dissenter’ and became one of the original trustees of the Dissenting congregation at Dagnal Lane in St. Albans in 1698, about 90 members of which were borough voters in 1715. This interest, together with a proprietorial influence derived from the manor of Childwick Bury, which had been bought by his father in 1666 and which lay only two miles from the town, encouraged Lomax to stand for St. Albans. His sympathies with the Whigs had already been made plain at the 1697 by-election for the county, when he had voted for Hon. Robert Cecil*.1
Lomax was returned at the first election of 1701, but was unseated on 10 Mar., on the petition of the High Church Tory John Gape*, before he could make any mark in the House. He stood again, without success, in the November 1701 election and at that of the following July, on both occasions petitioning unsuccessfully against Gape, but he did not contest the seat in 1705, perhaps as a result of pressure from the Duke (John Churchill†) and Duchess of Marlborough. Indeed it has been suggested that Lomax was a Whig follower of Marlborough who was returned in 1708 with the Duke’s backing, but the relationship may have been less close than this description suggests, since the Duchess later regarded at least one of Lomax’s letters as ‘foolish and false’ and bewailed the difficulty of managing him. At the county election of 1708 Lomax voted for the unsuccessful Whig candidates Sir John Bucknall* and John Plumer, and was marked on a copy of a printed list of MPs as a Presbyterian Whig. In 1709 he voted for the naturalization of the Palatines, but his only significant entry in the Journals relates to a complaint made on 10 Feb. 1710 against a bailiff who had insulted him ‘in a very violent and rude manner’. The bailiff had acted as a witness for Gape in 1705, suggesting that the local struggle for control of the borough was still being fiercely fought out. In the light of his Nonconformity it is not surprising to find that he voted for the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell, and that he lost his seat at the next election. He did not stand again until 1715, though it was not until a by-election in 1717 that he finally resumed sitting at Westminster, where he voted for the repeal of the Occasional Conformity and Schism Acts.2
Lomax died at his house on 11 Dec. 1724, and although the language used in his will was less full-blown than that of his father, he recommended his soul ‘into the hands of Almighty God, believing through the merits, death and passion of our saviour Jesus Christ to have full and free pardon of all my sins and to inherit everlasting life’. As early as 1694 Lomax had £500 invested in the Bank of England, an amount still held in stocks in 1710, and in 1702 had been able to pay £1,000 of debts incurred by a collector of the excise for whom he had acted as security. He was wealthy enough at his death to bequeath £6,000 to his daughters, as well as property at Plumstead, near Woolwich, and Thames Street, London, to his wife; but he left the bulk of his estate in trust until his surviving son Caleb† had reached the age of 40, ‘hoping by that time he may come to be sensible of his folly’. The cause of the rift between the two is unknown, but Caleb went on to follow his father into Parliament, representing St. Albans from 1727 until his death in 1730.3
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Mark Knights
- 1. Chauncy, Herts. ii. 451; VCH Herts. iii. 105; HMC Verulam, 101, 103; PCC 60 Lloyd; L. Inn Recs. iii. 124, 133, 135; W. Urwick, Nonconformity in Herts. 187; IGI, Herts.; Post Boy, 7–9 Sept. 1710; H. C. Lansberry, ‘Pol. and Govt. in St. Albans 1685–1835’ (London Univ. Ph.D. thesis 1964), 218; Herts. RO, Q/PE/2, f. 6, pollbk.
- 2. HMC Verulam, 176; G. Holmes, Pol. in Age of Anne, 191; Herts. RO, D/EX/294/Z1, pollbk.
- 3. The Gen. n.s. vi. 107; Cal. Treas. Bks. xvii. 161; PCC 274 Bolton.