FINCH, Francis (c.1602-77), of Rushock, Worcs.
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Family and Education
b. c.1602, o.s. of Henry Finch of Kempley, Glos. by Anne, da. and coh. of Leonard Pigot of Little Horwood, Bucks., wid. of Samuel Danvers of Culworth, Northants. m. settlement 1619, Jane (d.1680), da. of John Thornborough, bp. of Worcester 1617-41, 5s. (4 d.v.p.) 6da. suc. fa. 1631.1
Commr. of array, Worcs. 1642; freeman, Worcester 1643; j.p. Worcs. July 1660-d., Mdx. Aug. 1660-d. commr. of oyer and terminer, Oxford circuit July 1660, assessment, Worcs. Aug. 1660-d., loyal and indigent officers, London and Westminster 1662, recusants, Worcs. 1675.2
Commr. for excise Oct. 1660-8, 1674-d., wine duties retrospect Apr.-Oct. 1670.3
According to his grant of arms in 1634, Finch’s grandfather ‘went out of Kent’ into Buckinghamshire, and he himself was acknowledged as a kinsman by the Earl of Winchelsea, the head of the Kentish Finches. He was married at the age of 17 to the daughter of Bishop Thornborough, a lusty prelate who believed in early marriage, and may have selected him as a sound Protestant husband for a daughter who had already shown inclinations to Popery. Later she was to introduce a Jesuit into the bishop’s palace to minister to her sick brother. Finch had interests in the Forest of Dean iron industry; but in 1639 he leased Rushock, valued at £300 p.a., from the Merchant Taylors, and made it his principal residence. A commissioner of array in the Civil War, he claimed a reward at the Restoration for 17 years’ faithful service to the monarchy, during which he had ‘suffered plunder amounting near unto £10,000’. He came up to London on a safe-conduct from Sir William Waller I in the summer of 1644, and was promptly arrested as a spy, though Waller had found him ‘very ready to give demonstration of his fidelity to the Parliament’ by drawing off Sir John Winter, Samuel Sandys I and other gentlemen of quality in his neighbourhood. Kempley was discharged from sequestration by the Gloucestershire county committee, probably because it was already mortgaged up to the hilt, and in 1649 Finch compounded at one-sixth for stocks of coal, iron, and other materials at Elbridge furnace, and for farm stock and household goods at Rushock, worth in all £300. He was not involved in royalist conspiracy until the autumn of 1659, when in conjunction with the mineralogist Sir John Pettus he sought to win over Charles Fleetwood, the republican general.4
On 14 Apr. 1660 Finch and Sir John Pakington, 2nd Bt., presented George Monck with a declaration of the Worcestershire Cavaliers disclaiming animosity towards their opponents. At the Restoration he successfully applied for a seat on the excise board with a salary of £250 p.a., doubtless assisted by his ‘ancient friend’, Lord Chancellor Clarendon, who regarded him as ‘a very honest and discreet person’. At the general election of 1661 he was returned as government candidate for Winchelsea, the constituency where the Kentish Finches had begun their parliamentary career in 1337. A moderately active Member of the Cavalier Parliament, he was probably appointed to 81 committees, including the committee of elections and privileges in eight sessions. In the first session he was named to the committees to inquire into the shortfall in the revenue and to consider the bill of pains and penalties and the Stour and Salwarp navigation bill. After the autumn recess he was probably responsible for the bill to regulate imports of madder, since he had applied for the post of searcher and was the third Member named to the committee. With (Sir) Robert Clayton he took over in 1662 the lease of the royal iron-works in the Forest of Dean, which had 11 years to run. In 1663 he was among those appointed to consider bills for the recovery of arrears of excise and the better regulation of the tax, and attended a conference on 23 July. He was teller against the recommendation of the supply committee that there should be a restriction on the real value of lands for the subsidy. In the next session he was named to the committees on the bills to expedite the payment of vinters’ forfeitures and to improve the revenue from the Forest of Dean, and on 29 Apr. 1664 he was among those ordered to bring in a bill for the redress of frauds and abuses in the excise. He was also appointed to the committees for the conventicles bill and the additional corporations bill. In the next session he was granted privilege against Sir Thomas Grobham Howe, the purchaser of Kempley. On 20 Oct. 1666 he was among those ordered to receive information on the insolence of popish priests and Jesuits. ‘A very discreet, grave person’, he told Samuel Pepys ‘many fine things’ about such leading personalities in the Commons as John Vaughan and William Prynne.5
Finch doubtless regretted the fall of Clarendon in 1667, and an administrative reform in the following year when the new commissioners appointed for London in 1666 ousted their rivals, deprived him of office, together with (Sir) Denny Ashburnham, though their salaries were continued in the form of a pension until alternative employment should be found. His name appeared on both lists of the court party in 1669-71 among the independent Members who usually voted for supply. He was appointed to the committees to receive information of seditious conventicles (18 Nov. 1669) and to consider a bill to prevent the growth of Popery (2 Mar. 1671). It is doubtful whether he had any practical suggestions to offer, since his wife appears to have brought up his surviving children as Roman Catholics. From 1673 his committee appointments cannot be distinguished from those of Daniel Finch, who as a rising politician was doubtless more active. His name appears on the Paston list, and a vacancy on the excise board in 1674 enabled him to regain office with double his former salary. Moreover, in consideration of his ‘great sufferings’, he was allowed to sell three places in the Sandwich customs. He was listed as an official in 1675, and marked ‘thrice vile’ by Shaftesbury in 1677. On 14 Apr. he claimed privilege for a tenant of his in Shropshire, and delivered a private bill to the Speaker, which was never read. On 23 Aug. he was reported ‘lately deceased’. A priest was apprehended, and later martyred, at Rushock during the Popish Plot. The lease was transferred in 1691, and no other member of the family entered Parliament.6
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: Basil Duke Henning
- 1. Vis. Glos. (Harl. Soc. xxi), 61; Vis. Eng. and Wales Notes ed. Crisp, viii. 3; Glos. Inquisitions (Index Lib. ix), 159; PCC 38 Bath.
- 2. List of Worcester Freemen (1747).
- 3. Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 75; ii. 559; iv. 579; CSP Dom. 1670, p. 178.
- 4. Worcs. Recusant, iii. 36-38; Townshend’s Diary (Worcs. Rec. Soc.), i. 108, 137, 141; SP29/9/2; CSP Dom. 1644, pp. 445-6; Cal. Comm. Comp. 86; SP23/213/737-41; Cal. Cl. SP, iv. 355, 389, 393, 444; Mordaunt Letter-Bk. (Cam. Soc. ser. 3, lxix), 66.
- 5. Townshend’s Diary, i. 37; HMC Popham, 227; Mordaunt Letter-Bk. 63; Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 19; C. E. Hart, Royal Forest, 158; CJ, viii. 508, 601; Atkyns, Glos. 256; Pepys Diary, 23 June 1665, 3 July 1666.
- 6. C. D. Chandaman, Eng. Pub. Revenue, 57-58; Cal. Treas. Bks. ii 559; iv. 335; CSP Dom. 1667-8, p. 467; 1673-5, p. 302; 1677-8, p. 318; PC2/66/208; Nash, Worcs. ii. 302; Worcs. Recusant, iii. 39.