The younger son of Admiral Robert Loney of the Royal Navy and Ann Condy, Nicholas Loney left home at 16. He first went to Latin America where he traveled extensively and learned Spanish for a few years. He then turned home to Plymouth, England but stayed only a short time before departing for Asia. He eventually ended up in Singapore where he worked for Kerr & Co., a merchant house. As the Philippines, opened to international trade, Kerr & Co. sent him to Manila where he became a popular figure among the business community. When Iloilo City was opened to international trade in 1855, he was appointed as the first British Vice Consul in Iloilo the following year in 1856. Sugar production was increasing due to growing price of sugar in Manila and Loney helped the plantation owners and farmers by providing loans and purchasing modern machinery from Europe through his firm, Loney & Ker Co., which helped increased the efficiency of sugar production in Panay and Negros. He also encouraged improvements in infrastructure at the port of Iloilo, reclamation of the western bank of Iloilo River and the construction of the Calle Progreso (present day Isidro de la Rama Street) which became the location of numerous sugar warehouses.
He died on 23 April 1869 while exploring Mount Kanlaon on Negros Island, Philippines of an unspecified disease. He was buried by the seashore under some coconut trees in what is now Rizal Street in Iloilo City. 
In March 1904, the Municipal Council of Iloilo passed a resolution naming the quay along the Iloilo River, part of the Port of Iloilo, as Muelle Loney, or Loney Waterfront. In March 1981 a statue of him was unveiled at the end of Muelle Loney.
- John Earle, 'A British Vice-Consul in Southeast Asia', MA Dissertation, University of Plymouth (UK), 2011
- "Muelle Loney (Iloilo's River Wharf) – Hub of the Booming Sugar Trade in the Visayas during the 19th century".
- Sonza, Demy. "Nicholas Loney: Best Friend of Iloilo". Graciano Lopez-Jaena Life and Works and Iloilo History Online Resource. Dr. Graciano Lopez-Jaena (DGLJ) Foundation, Inc.