FINCH, Moyle (c.1550-1614), of Eastwell, Kent.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

b. c.1550, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Sir Thomas Finch, and bro. of Henry. educ. G. Inn 1568. m. by 1573, Elizabeth (d.1634), da. and h. of Thomas Heneage of Copthall, Essex, 6s. suc. fa. 1563. Kntd. 1585; cr. Bt. 1611.

Offices Held

Dep. (to fa.-in-law) treasurer defence forces at Tilbury 1588; col. ft. reg. 1588; steward, duchy of Lancaster lands in Essex 1591; ranger, Waltham forest, Essex; j.p. Kent, Suss. from c.1583; sheriff, Kent 1596-7, 1606-7; chief steward, lands of St. Augustine’s priory, Canterbury 1603.2


Finch first entered Parliament at a by-election for Weymouth and Melcombe Regis, through the influence of the 2nd Earl of Bedford, who had campaigned with his father at St. Quentin in 1557. He left no mark upon the known surviving records of this Parliament. In 1593 he was elected knight of the shire for Kent, being named to committees on privileges and returns (26 Feb.), recusancy (28 Feb.), rogues (12 Mar.) and spinners and weavers (26 Mar.). As a knight of the shire he might also have served on the subsidy committee (26 Feb.), a committee on a legal matter (9 Mar.) and a committee on kerseys (23 Mar.).3

Though he did not stand at the 1597 general election Finch had a ‘cause’ in that Parliament, namely, his longstanding dispute with Thomas Throckmorton over Ravenstone manor, the Heneage estate in Buckinghamshire. His, Throckmorton’s and Lord Cobham’s counsel were to be heard in the House on 12 Dec. 1597. As it happened, an unexpected vacancy arose in the county representation just before Christmas when William Brooke alias Cobham died from wounds received in a duel. Finch now determined to stand, no doubt to steal a march on Throckmorton, who was precluded from membership by reason of his Catholicism. Sir Moyle and Lady Finch canvassed the county gentry and compiled at least one list of supporters among those lower orders qualified to vote, such as the dockyard officials, gunners, boatswains and tailors. However, in the end, Finch withdrew in favour of Percival Hart. A fuller account appears in the Kent constituency article, but Finch’s own version of the agreement, in a badly written copy, has survived and deserves its place here:

Before my lord of Essex and Mr. Controller [William Knollys], Mr. Harte and [I] be agreed: that if my cause in Parliament receive not ... by arbitrament, then Mr. Harte is to give it over unto me: if my cause to receive end by arbitrament, as will now presently appear, then in regard I was the last parliament knight for [the] shire, and the cause being satisfied for which I did seek the same, now ... I shall be contented that Mr. Harte shall be chosen. So that whichsoever of us it shall fall to according to this agreement there shall [be] no need that the country should be troubled—whereof I am very careful, and therefore desirous that knowledge may be given to all my friends with all possible speed that I pray them to stay at home.
Moyle Fynche

The Ravenstone manor business was, in (Sir) John Popham’s words, the subject of ‘long argument at the bar and bench’, and was eventually, in 1600, referred ‘to all the judges of England’.4

In 1601 Finch was returned for Winchelsea, whence the family came, and which, with an ingenious change of spelling, was to provide the name of the earldom held by his descendants. In this Parliament Finch served on committees concerned with the penal laws (2 Nov.), order of parliamentary business (3 Nov.), the abbreviation of the Michaelmas law term (11 Nov.), private bills (14, 23 Nov., 3 Dec.), clothworkers (18 Nov.), the government of the city of London (4 Dec.) and local county bills (1, 5 Dec.). As Member for Winchelsea, he may have attended a committee for the Severn harbour (22 Nov.). He is not known to have spoken in Parliament.5

Finch was one of the knights of the canopy at Queen Elizabeth’s funeral. He died 18 Dec. 1614, having made his will the previous May, and was buried at Eastwell. Lady Finch ‘the richest widow in England’ and future Countess of Winchilsea, was sole executrix.6

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: P. W. Hasler


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. CP; GEC Baronetage; W. Berry, Co. Genealogies, Kent, 206; CSP Dom. 1581-90, p. 579; 1603-10, pp. 41, 453.
  • 3. D’Ewes, 471, 474, 477, 496, 499, 507, 510.
  • 4. Coke, Fourth Inst. 85-6; D’Ewes, 571, 575; Staffs. RO, Sutherland mss; Popham, Reps. and Cases (1656), pp. 25-30, 53.
  • 5. D’Ewes, 622, 624, 635, 637, 642, 647, 649, 660, 662, 665, 667, 668.
  • 6. LC 2/4/4; PCC 5 Rudd; C142/349/173; Chamberlain Letters ed. McClure, 325; CP.