Name: Heneage Finch
Birth: 15 DEC 1580 in The Mote, nr Canterbury, Kent
Death: 5 DEC 1631 in Of Eastwell, Kent
Burial: Eastwell, Kent 1
Residence: Kensington 2
Occupation: Speaker of the House of Commons 1625-6
Cause: After a long illness
PCTS: Portrait, School of Daniel Myttens, at Bradbourne, Kent, in 1949
MEM: Eastwell, Kent: tomb
FILE: ~/Documents/Ged Pics mstr/Finch, Heneage, d 1631.jpg
Title: Finch, Heneage, d 1631.jpg
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Change Date: 5 JUL 2011
His son Heneage was made Earl of Nottingham, was a lawyer, and is known as ?the father of equity?.
He had 6 (or 7?) sons and 4 daughters by Frances Bell, and 2 daughters by his 2nd wife Elizabeth, dau of William Cradock of Staffordshire.
Finch, Sir Heneage (1580-1631), speaker of the House of Commons, was born on 15 December 1580 at The Mote, near Canterbury, Kent, the fifth but fourth surviving son of Sir Moyle Finch (c.1550-1614) of Eastwell in Kent and Elizabeth (1556-1634), daughter and heir of the Elizabethan chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, Sir Thomas Heneage of Copt Hall in Essex, after whom he was named. He matriculated from Trinity College, Cambridge, about 1592, and gained his BA in 1595 or 1596. In November 1597 he entered the Inner Temple; he was called to the bar in July 1606. On 20 December 1607 he was returned to parliament at a by-election for Rye in Sussex on the recommendation of his brother-in-law Sir William Twysden, taking his seat at the earliest opportunity, in 1610. He made a notable contribution to the parliament's proceedings on 2 July when, in a cogently argued speech, he disputed the crown's right to levy impositions. His intervention undoubtedly brought him to the notic!
e of the government, which on 19 August 1610 instructed him and five other leading lawyers to codify the English legal system. Finch and two of his colleagues rapidly identified numerous obsolete statutes ripe for repeal, but it was not until about 1616 that he and his fellow commissioners turned their attention to the problem of codification. He recalled that their labours took up 'ten hours in a day, all one vacation' (Letters and Life of Francis Bacon, 6.71) and culminated in the compilation of a lengthy and detailed report.
In June 1611 Finch's father purchased one of the newly created baronetcies. At a debate before the king and council in April 1612, at which both Finch and his father were present, Finch expounded the view that baronets were synonymous with earlier bannerets. He attempted to impress the king with his scholarship but his verbosity and presumption merely irritated James, who cut him short. James instructed another lawyer present 'to answer nothing to what young Mr. Finch had spoken, because he had said nothing worth the answering' (Westmorland MSS, 8-9).
Finch was reader at Lyon's Inn in 1612 and 1613. He did not sit in the 1614 parliament. On 26 November 1614 his father surrendered to him the stewardship of the duchy of Lancaster's lands in Essex. Sir Moyle died in the following month, and Finch and several other trustees took control of his estates, until the death of Finch's eldest brother, Sir Theophilus, in November 1619, when the lands reverted to Sir Moyle's second son, Sir Thomas. In 1618 or 1619 Finch entered the service of Prince Charles, whose patronage facilitated his return to the third Jacobean parliament in December 1620 for West Looe in Cornwall. On 15 February 1621 he became recorder of London, the king's first choice, Robert Shute, having died unexpectedly. In parliament Finch took a leading role in investigating the monopolist Sir Giles Mompesson. However, until reprimanded following a conference with the Lords, he proved reluctant to pursue the referees who had advised the king to award the offending p!
atents, as the evidence pointed to the royal favourite, the marquess of Buckingham. He may have gone some way towards repairing the damage to his reputation on 3 December when he eloquently defended the Commons' right to petition the king to break off the negotiations for a Spanish match.
Finch was called to the bench of the Inner Temple on 23 April 1621, and on 12 May 1622 he was appointed summer reader. On 8 June 1623 he again irritated the king by making a fawning speech on the occasion of the knighting of the lord mayor of London. He was himself dubbed on 22 June; appointed a serjeant-at-law a few days later, his formal creation took place in October, when he was also accorded the same status by Prince Charles. On 8 July 1623 his mother was ennobled as Viscountess Maidstone, becoming countess of Winchilsea on 12 July 1628.
As recorder of London Finch enjoyed an almost automatic right to represent the city in parliament, and he was returned by the Londoners in 1624. An active member of the committee for grievances, he played an important role in harrying the beleaguered lord treasurer, Lionel Cranfield, earl of Middlesex, who stood accused of taking bribes and of introducing an imposition of 3 per tun on wine imports. Bribery was a form of behaviour which Finch deplored in private as well as in public, as his commonplace book shows, but he was most incensed at the new impost on wine-echoing not merely his earlier expressed hostility to impositions, but also the concern of his London constituents. He did not join the initial clamour for war with Spain in 1624, and on 1 March he even criticized in committee one of the reasons advanced by his colleagues to persuade James to break off the marriage negotiations with Spain. However, he clearly had no wish to offend Prince Charles, not least becaus!
e this would have jeopardized his career, and he therefore subsequently moderated his tone. Indeed, on 11 March he even proposed that, should the king accept the house's advice to break off the treaties, 'we will be ready to assist him and make it good with our bodies and goods to the uttermost' (Harvard U., Houghton L., English MS 980, p. 107).
Finch's participation in the parliament of 1624 appears to have been cut short by illness, and over the summer he suffered from an eye condition which kept him from his duties. He had recovered by October, when he presented London's mayor to the exchequer. In April 1625 the city again elected him to parliament, where his attention now focused on religious issues, in particular the growth of Arminianism which, as an orthodox Calvinist, he regarded with alarm. On 7 July he reported from the committee for religion, to which had been referred two recent publications by the Arminian cleric Richard Mountague. He declared that it was the opinion of the whole committee that Mountague's Apello Caesarem was 'a factious and seditious book, tending manifestly to the dishonour of our late king and to the disturbance of our church and state'. He himself was particularly incensed at Mountague's claim that the church contained within it a powerful faction of 'puritans', whose doctrines M!
ountague held to be worse than those of the papists. He observed that by Mountague's definition 'we may all be puritans', even those who conformed to the established rites and ceremonies of the church (Jansson and Bidwell, 331, 337). Mountague's A New Gagg for an Old Goose he described as containing many propositions which contradicted the Thirty-Nine Articles. He was appointed to the committee for drawing up charges against Mountague, but was subsequently reassured by Charles I's response to the Commons' petition on religion, and on 10 August, during the Oxford sitting of parliament, he unsuccessfully urged the house to show its gratitude to Charles by voting additional subsidies.
Shortly after parliament was dissolved it was rumoured that Finch would replace Sir Robert Heath as solicitor-general, but in the event this office was bestowed upon Sir Richard Shilton. On 29 December 1625 Finch received notification that he had been chosen to serve as speaker in a fresh parliament which had been summoned to meet in February 1626. He acknowledged that he was indebted for this honour to the royal favourite, Buckingham, 'as I am much otherwise' (Finch MSS, 1.44), but he initially declined the invitation only to change his mind after discussing the matter with the lord keeper, Sir Thomas Coventry. Once at Westminster he found himself in a near-impossible position. While the king expected swiftly to receive a grant of subsidies to pay for the war with Spain, many members of the Commons were determined to vote supply only if they were first permitted to impeach Buckingham. As the attack on Buckingham gathered pace Finch was frequently obliged to vacate the s!
peaker's chair in order to make way for the grand committee, so leaving him powerless to direct the business of the house. His impotence was revealed most starkly following the arrest in open parliament of Sir Dudley Digges and Sir John Eliot on 11 May. Finch, then in the chair, attempted to keep to the business in hand but his colleagues 'refused to proceed but abruptly broke off'. On the following day he urged the house to return to its earlier business, but was met with shouts of 'sit down' (Bidwell and Jansson, 3.233, 236). He entered the house again the next morning, but he had learned his lesson and stayed in the chamber only long enough to lead the house in prayer. The collapse of the 1626 parliament was followed by royal demands for a forced loan and he was among the first to contribute, also acting as a commissioner for its collection in London. His enthusiasm for this unpopular levy was not shared by the citizens of London, who also disapproved of his dependence o!
n Buckingham, and in February 1628 they broke with tradition !
when they refused to return Finch, their recorder, to parliament. Finch's marriage to Frances, daughter of Sir Edmund Bell of Beaupre Hall, Outwell, in Norfolk, which may have lasted almost twenty years, ended with Frances's death on 11 April 1627, leaving him with three young sons and a daughter. Over the summer of 1628 he courted Elizabeth Bennett (d. 1661), daughter of William Cradock and widow of the London alderman and mercer Richard Bennett, who had reportedly left her 30,000. She initially rebuffed his advances, announcing that she would not marry anyone who had already started a family, but he persuaded her to change her mind and they were married on 16 April 1629. They subsequently had two daughters, the younger of whom was the philosopher Anne Conway*. With his new-found wealth Finch purchased a magnificent house in Kensington, which William III would later acquire as Kensington Palace.
Finch was appointed serjeant-at-law to Queen Henrietta Maria in April 1629. He was undoubtedly destined for further promotion but he died on 5 December 1631 after a long illness. By his will, which he drew up on 16 April 1631, he placed his estate in the hands of seven trustees, his children being all under age, and instructed them to raise 10,000 to purchase a jointure property for his widow, who survived until September 1661. Despite requesting to be buried at Eastwell, Finch was interred in the south chancel of the church at Ravenstone in Buckinghamshire. His simple marble tomb, costing 50, was commissioned by his brother Francis and was built by Nicholas Stone. Finch was the author of an unpublished treatise 'touching the power and jurisdiction of bishops' (Bodl. Oxf., MS Eng. hist. C240). His eldest son, also Heneage Finch (1621-1682), became lord chancellor and earl of Nottingham.
Andrew Thrush (author of this article)
Sources 'Finch, Sir Heneage', HoP, Commons [draft] + Leics. RO, DG7 box 4966; Finch papers, XVIII, Law 3 + B. I'Anson, The history of the Finch family (1933), 41 + W. Berry, County genealogies: pedigrees of the families in the county of Kent (1830), 207 + W. H. Rylands, ed., The visitation of the county of Buckingham made in 1634, Harleian Society, 58 (1909), 147 + E. R. Foster, ed., Proceedings in parliament, 1610, 2 (1966) + W. Notestein, F. H. Relf, and H. Simpson, eds., Commons debates, 1621, 7 vols. (1935) + M. Jansson and W. B. Bidwell, eds., Proceedings in parliament, 1625 (1987) + W. B. Bidwell and M. Jansson, eds., Proceedings in parliament, 1626, 4 vols. (1991-6), esp. vol. 3 + Baker, Serjeants + L. B. Larking, ed., Proceedings principally in the county of Kent in connection with the parliaments called in 1640, and especially with the committee of religion appointed in that year, CS, old ser., 80 (1862) + The letters and life of Francis Bacon, ed. J. Spedding, 7 v!
ols. (1861-74), vol. 6, p. 71 + G. W. Johnson, ed., The Fairfax correspondence: memoirs of the reign of Charles the First, 1 (1848), 89 + [T. Birch and R. F. Williams], eds., The court and times of Charles the First, 1 (1848), 61 + The letters of John Chamberlain, ed. N. E. McClure, 2 (1939), 351, 502 + Report on the manuscripts of Allan George Finch, 5 vols., HMC, 71 (1913-2003), vol. 1 + The manuscripts of Rye and Hereford corporations, HMC, 31 (1892), 135, 162 + The manuscripts of the earl of Westmorland, HMC, 13 (1885); repr. (1906), 8-9 + J. Le Neve, Monumenta Anglicana, 5 vols. (1717-19) + Collectanea Topographica et Genealogica, 5 (1838), 218
Archives Leics. RO, legal papers
[Ref: Andrew Thrush. Finch, Sir Heneage (1580?1631)?, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/9432, accessed 15 Dec 2006]
*By the pretty and wealthy widow, Sir Heneage had two daughters, Elizabeth, wife of Edward Maddison, Esq., and Anne, married to Edward, third Viscount and first Earl of Conway, ancestor of the present
Marquis of Hertford.
?... Nicholas Stone's bust of Sir Heneage Finch of 1632, formerly at Eastwell in Kent, ...?
(The Kinnoull Aisle and Monument, By Deborah Howard, in Architectural History, Vol. 39, 1996 (1996), pp. 36-53)
Father: Moyle Finch b: ABT 1556 in Eastwell, Kent
Mother: Elizabeth Heneage b: 9 JUL 1556 in Copt Hall, Epping, Essex
Frances Bell b: ABT 1594 in South Acre, Norfolk
in Beaupre-Hall, Norfolk
- Frances Finch
- Anne Finch
- Title: Collins' Peerage of England
- Type: Web Site
Title: Stirnet Genealogy
Author: Patrick Barns-Graham