Born in London, he was educated at Eton College, and Peterhouse, Cambridge, which he left to become a member of Lincoln's Inn. He was called to the bar in 1775, and the deaths of his father and uncle left him with a handsome property and the family estates. A Foxite Whig, He was a prolific writer on the law and political topics, a vigorous and contentious advocate of parliamentary and other reforms, and carried on a voluminous correspondence with all the literary men of his time. A strong supporter of Napoleon, he wrote numerous letters to the press opposing the Government's decision to send Napoleon to St Helena and himself attempted to serve a writ of habeas corpus while Napoleon was held on board a ship in Plymouth.
He became the patron of Robert Bloomfield, the author of The Farmer's Boy, and was responsible for the publication of that work. Byron, in a note to his English Bards and Scotch Reviewers, ridiculed Lofft as "the Maecenas of shoemakers and preface-writer general to distressed versemen; a kind of gratis accoucheur to those who wish to be delivered of rhyme, but do not know how to bring forth."
Lofft died at Montcalieri, near Turin.
He married Anne, daughter of Henry Emlyn, in 1778. Their fourth son Capell Lofft the younger (1806-1873), also a writer, inherited his father's liberal ideas and principles, and carried them in youth to greater extremes. In his old age he abandoned these theories, which had brought him into the company of some of the leading political agitators of the day. He died in America, where he had a Virginia estate.
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- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press