FINCH, Sir Theophilus (1573-1619), of Heneage House, London and 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. 29 Oct. 1573,1 1st s. of Sir Moyle Finch†, 1st bt. of Eastwell, and Elizabeth, suo jure 1st countess of Winchelsea, da. and h. of Thomas Heneage† of Copthall, Essex; bro. of Francis*, Heneage*, John I* and Sir Thomas, 3rd bt.*2 educ. Magdalen, Oxf. 1588, BA 1592; G. Inn 1618.3 m. 16 July 1596,4 Agnes (bur. 16 Feb. 1621)5, da. of Sir Christopher Heydon† of Baconsthorpe, Norf., s.p.6 kntd. 30 July 1599;7 suc. fa. as 2nd bt. 18 Dec. 1614.8 d. 20 Nov. 1619.9

Offices Held

Vol. [I] by 1599.10

Commr. sewers, Kent and Suss. 1616-18.11


Finch was descended from a Winchelsea wine-merchant who flourished in the reign of Edward I. The family acquired Eastwell by marriage in 1560 and made it their principal residence.12 Finch himself was knighted by the 2nd earl of Essex in Ireland. On his return he duelled over a point of honour with Sir John Townshend†, an adversary of his in-laws the Heydons of Baconsthorpe in Norfolk, but by doing so he ‘lost his father’s favour’, and without the latter’s financial support quickly ran up debts that left him ‘dangerously beset to be arrested’. The quarrel between Heydon and Townshend was eventually referred to the Privy Council, but Finch seems to have avoided further involvement; when he appealed to Sir Robert Cecil† for protection from his debts in October 1600 he gave assurances that he had abandoned his ‘former courses’ and would ‘not hereafter deal with Sir John any further in that kind unless provoked by him’.13

Perhaps in a further attempt to protect himself from his creditors, Finch was returned to Parliament in 1614 for Great Yarmouth. He presumably owed his seat to the local connections of the Heydon family, particularly his mother-in-law, the widow of Sir Edward Clere† of Ormesby, four miles north of the borough.14 He left no trace on the records of the brief Addled Parliament. His father died a few months later, but convinced of Finch’s incorrigible thriftlessness, instructed Sir William Twysden* and other trustees to allow him no more than an annuity of £100 during his mother’s life, whereby he was left ‘hopeless and unprovided of any means to pay and satisfy his debts’. By 1618 he owed £9,000 by his own admission.15 He was reconciled with his mother, reputedly the wealthiest widow in England, shortly before he died, intestate, in November 1619. Buried near the tomb of his maternal grandfather, Thomas Heneage, in St. Paul’s Cathedral,16 he was succeeded in his baronetcy by his brother Sir Thomas.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Peter Lefevre


  • 1. Soc. Antiq. ms 168, f. 187v.
  • 2. B. I’Anson, Finch Fam. 41.
  • 3. Al. Ox.; GI Admiss.
  • 4. Vis. Norf. (Norf. Arch.), ii. 200.
  • 5. CP, xii. 775-6; PROB 11/137, f. 122.
  • 6. Vis. Norf. (Norf. Arch.), ii. 190.
  • 7. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 96.
  • 8. C142/349/173; CB, i. 35.
  • 9. W. Camden, Annalium Apparatus (1691), p. 51.
  • 10. CSP Ire. 1600, p. 234.
  • 11. C181/2, ff. 247, 295, 328v.
  • 12. Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. xlii), 14, 67; VCH Suss. ix. 107, 187; Suss. Arch. Colls. lxx. 20; E. Hasted, Kent, vii. 403-5.
  • 13. HMC Hatfield, x. 352.
  • 14. C2/Jas.I/S34/3.
  • 15. C2/Jas.I/F10/6; Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, i. 566; PROB 11/125, ff. 34-5.
  • 16. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 181; Harl. 5811, f. 12.