Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Loosemore, John

LOOSEMORE, JOHN (1613?–1681), organ-builder, brother of Henry Loosemore [q. v.], was born at Bishop's Nympton, Devonshire (Lysons, Magna Brit. vol. vi. pt. ii. p. 368), or, according to other authorities, at Exeter, about 1613. He was singer or lay clerk at Exeter Cathedral (Hawkins). In November 1660 he was paid 5l. by the chapter towards ‘the making of a sett of pipes to’ the temporary organ used in the cathedral until the new one was built; the old instrument had been broken by the rebels (Worth, Exeter Cathedral and its Restoration, 1878). Loosemore was sent at the expense of the chapter, 1663, to examine Harris's organ in Salisbury Cathedral, ‘the better to inform himself to make the new organ’ at Exeter, and in 1664 he visited London ‘about the church's business.’ In May 1665 the temporary organ in Exeter Cathedral was taken down, and may have been moved to the choristers' singing school attached to the cathedral (cf. Rimbault). Loosemore seems to have designed the case of the famous instrument, with its great double diapason and largest organ-pipe in England, that took its place (cf. Grove, ii. 592; Rimbault, History of the Organ, p. 62; Roger North, Life of the Lord Keeper). The greater part of the case still exists, but practically nothing remains of the mechanism except three or four dozen pipes (Worth; Hill, Organ Cases, p. 238; and Society of Antiquaries' Account of Exeter Cathedral, plate v.) Loosemore's autograph note of ‘what the organ cost’ gives 847l. 7s. 10d. as the total sum, owing to ‘not bying tinne in seson.’ Among other organs built by Loosemore was one for Sir George Trevilyan (Rimbault), the original document respecting which is still extant. Loosemore was also a maker of virginals, and, like other makers of his time, used boxwood for naturals in the keyboards. He died on 8 April 1681, aged 68. His epitaph on a gravestone in the transept of Exeter Cathedral, with that of Shearme, his son-in-law, is in Polwhele's ‘Devon,’ ii. 29.

[Grove's Dict. of Music, ii. 166, iv. 705; Hawkins's Hist. of Music, p. 771; extracts from Lord North's private account-book, 1652–1677, kindly supplied by Dr. Jessopp; parish registers of Bishop's Nympton, through the courtesy of the Rev. E. A. Lester; Dickson's Ely Cathedral Music Library; Burney's Hist. of Music, iii. 435; for account of Exeter organ see Hill's Organ Cases, preface; Woolcombe's Records, ii. 175; Lansdowne MSS. No. 213 (Brit. Mus.); authorities cited.]

L. M. M.