FINCH, Sir Thomas, 3rd Bt. (1578-1639), of Icklesham, nr. Winchelsea, Suss. and Charterhouse Yard, London; later of Eastwell, Kent

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press




Family and Education

b. 13 June 1578, 3rd but 2nd surv. s. of (Sir) Moyle Finch†, 1st Bt. (d.1614), of Eastwell, and Elizabeth, suo jure 1st countess of Winchilsea, da. and h. of (Sir) Thomas Heneage† of Copt Hall, Essex, chan. of the Duchy of Lancaster 1590-5; bro. of Francis*, Heneage*, John I* and Sir Theophilus*.1 educ. Trin., Camb. c.1592; Padua 1605-6;2 travelled abroad (Italy, France) 1605-6.3 m. 19 Feb. 1609, Cicely (d.1642), da. of John Wentworth† of Gosfield Hall, Gosfield, Essex, 8s. (5 d.v.p.) 6da. (1 d.v.p.).4 kntd. 8 Jan. 1609;5 suc. bro. Sir Theophilus as 3rd Bt. 20 Nov. 1619; styled Visct. Maidstone 12 July 1628; suc. mother as 2nd earl of Winchilsea 23 Mar. 1634.6 d. 4 Nov. 1639.

Offices Held

J.p. Yorks. (E. Riding) 1618-at least 1636,7 Kent 1636-d;8 freeman, Winchelsea 1621;9 commr. sewers, Kent and Suss. 1616-at least 1623.10

Member, Guiana Co. 1627.11

Commr. swans c.1628.12


Finch was educated at Cambridge, and in 1605-6 travelled through France and Italy. Though commissioned to report to the secretary of state, the earl of Salisbury (Robert Cecil†), on continental affairs, he was a reluctant correspondent.13 On one occasion he wrote for permission to visit Rome to the veteran Jesuit intriguer, Robert Parsons, and on another, while at Padua, planned to attend the lectures of ‘the best professors of the civil law of Italy’. 14 By January 1609 he had returned to England, when he was dubbed at Whitehall. He never seems to have taken to any profession, unlike his younger brothers: the Thomas Finch who served as secretary to Sir Dudley Digges* on a diplomatic mission to Muscovy in 1618 was not a knight.15

It has not been ascertained how Finch qualified himself for a seat on the East Riding bench in 1618, but as his wife was fourth cousin to Sir William Strickland, 1st Bt.†, Finch may have obtained a sufficient freehold on the Boynton estate. Although he succeeded his elder brother as head of the family in 1619, the bulk of the Kentish property remained in his mother’s hands. Consequently, he probably resided on the manor of Icklesham, adjoining Winchelsea, which had been held by his ancestors since the reign of Edward III.16 His forbears had first represented the borough in 1337, and in 1620 Finch himself applied to the corporation for a seat in the third Jacobean Parliament.17 He was subsequently elected, but made no recorded speeches. His only appointments were in March 1621, when he was named to the committees for the militia and bankruptcy bills, and on 1 Dec., when he was ordered to attend the conference on the heavily amended bill of informers.18

Finch relinquished his claim at Winchelsea at the next election in favour of his brother John, who had paid off a debt for him,19 and he does not appear to have stood for the first or second Caroline Parliaments. He put his name down for two shares in the Guiana Company in 1627, but never paid up.20 In 1628 he was elected for Kent with the backing of Buckingham’s client, Sir Edwin Sandys*.21 Though named to the committee for privileges (20 Mar.), his only other appointments were to inquire into the recusancy commissions (24 May) and the letter found by Richard Tomlins* (23 June).22 He did not acquire the bulk of his family’s Kent estates until 1634, whereupon he became 2nd earl of Winchilsea. He died at his London home on 4 Nov. 1639, and was buried at Eastwell. His executors included Strickland, now his son-in-law, and his nephew Sir Roger Twysden*. The elder branch of the Finch family played a less distinguished part in the Commons than the descendants of Heneage Finch; but his grandson, another Heneage, sat for Hythe in James II’s Parliament as a Tory.23

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Peter Lefevre / Andrew Thrush


  • 1. B. l’Anson, Finch Fam. 41.
  • 2. Al. Cant.; HMC Finch, i. 38; G.L. Andrich, Univ. Patavinae, 137.
  • 3. HMC Hatfield, xvii. 262; HMC Finch, i. 38.
  • 4. St. Mary Magdalen Milk Street (Harl. Soc. reg. lxxii), 5; Misc. Gen. et Her. ii. 336.
  • 5. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 147.
  • 6. CB; CP.
  • 7. C231/4, f. 66; C193/13/2.
  • 8. C231/5, f. 192; Cal. Assize Recs. Kent Indictments, Chas. I ed. J.S. Cockburn, 263, 364.
  • 9. E. Suss. RO, WIN 55, f. 234v.
  • 10. C181/2, ff. 247, 295; 181/3, f. 94.
  • 11. Bodl. Tanner 71, f. 161.
  • 12. C181/3, f. 267.
  • 13. HMC Hatfield, xvii. 262.
  • 14. Ibid. xxiv. 147; HMC Finch, i. 35.
  • 15. N and Q (ser. 1), iii. 392; CSP Dom. Addenda 1580-1625, p. 640; Handlist of British Diplomatic Representatives comp. G.M. Bell, 224.
  • 16. T.W. Horsfield, Suss. i. 475.
  • 17. SP14/118/9.
  • 18. CJ, i. 543a, 551b, 654b.
  • 19. GL, ms 6152, f. 158v.
  • 20. Bodl. Tanner 71, f. 161.
  • 21. Procs. 1628, vi. 152.
  • 22. CJ, i. 873a, 904a, 917a.
  • 23. CP, (Winchilsea); PROB 11/184, f. 148v.