FINCH, Daniel, Lord Finch (1689-1769).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1710 - 1 Jan. 1730

Family and Education

b. 24 May 1689, 1st surv. s. of Daniel Finch, M.P., 2nd Earl of Nottingham and 7th Earl of Winchilsea, by his 3rd w. Anne, da. of Christopher, 1st Visct. Hatton; bro. of Hon. Edward, Henry, John and William Finch. educ. Westminster; Ch. Ch. Oxf. 1704. Grand Tour 1706. m. (1) 28 Dec. 1729, Lady Frances Feilding (d. 24 Sept. 1734), da. of Basil, 4th Earl of Denbigh, 1da.; (2) 18 Jan. 1738, Mary, da. and coh. of Sir Thomas Palmer, 4th Bt., 4da. suc. fa. as 8th Earl of Winchilsea and 3rd Earl of Nottingham 1 Jan. 1730; K.G. 13 Mar. 1752.

Offices Held

Gent. of the bedchamber to Prince of Wales 1714-16: ld. of Treasury 1715-16; comptroller of the King’s Household 1725-30; P.C. 1 June 1725; first ld. of Admiralty Mar. 1742-Dec. 1744 and Apr.-July 1757; ld. pres. of the Council 1765-6.


Daniel Finch, 2nd Earl of Nottingham and 7th Earl of Winchilsea (1647-1730), commonly called ‘Dismal’, had five surviving sons and seven surviving daughters, known from their swarthiness as ‘the black funereal Finches’. All five sons were returned to Parliament, three of them by their sisters’ husbands, the ‘proud’ Duke of Somerset and Sir Thomas Watson Wentworth, successively created Earl of Malton and Marquess of Rockingham. Other sisters married Sir Roger Mostyn and William Murray, afterwards Lord Mansfield. As one of them, Isabella, said to her brother Edward, ‘the women of the family had been the credit and indeed the support of it’. When he asked her how, ‘I told him’, she wrote to her brother-in-law, Lord Malton,

by the figure they had made in the world and the service they had done the brothers by having married people of fortune and interest, who had brought them into Parliament ... He only replied that he had not his seat from any brother-in-law. I at him again and told him that had not you chose Henry, Cambridge would and then he would have been to seek for a place.1

On coming of age Lord Nottingham’s eldest son, Lord Finch, was returned for his county, shortly before his father went over to the Whigs. Classed as a Whig at George I’s accession, when he was appointed to the Prince’s bedchamber, he seconded the motion for choosing Spencer Compton as Speaker and was a member of the secret committee of inquiry into the conduct of the late Queen’s ministers, subsequently speaking in support of the Duke of Ormonde’s impeachment (15 Aug. 1715). Promoted to the Treasury board in October 1715, he was one of the managers of the impeachment of the rebel lords (9 Jan. 1716); but when Lord Nottingham was turned out in March 1716 for sponsoring a parliamentary agitation for their reprieve, Finch resigned, ‘only because’, as he afterwards told his father, ‘you was ill used, not for the things done’.2 Going into opposition, he spoke against the septennial bill, declaring it to have been ‘calculated to serve the avarice of a few persons’ and calling the House a ‘lick spittle Parliament for giving into it’3. In April 1717 he attacked the vote of supply for warlike preparations against Sweden, ascribing it to the fact that Bernstorff, the King’s chief Hanoverian adviser, had lands in Mecklenburg, and suggesting that it would have been cheaper to have made him a present of £50,000.4

During the split in the Whig party (1717-20), Finch voted against the Government but dissociated himself from the discontented Whig leaders, in deference to Lord Nottingham, who considered that they had treated him as badly as the ministers had done. At or about the time of the re-union of the Whig party he appears to have reluctantly refused an attractive offer because, as he wrote to his father (5 Apr. 1720), ‘your Lordship would not come into it and it was my duty to sacrifice my avarice to your commands ... For myself I look upon the game to be up and ambition is as dead in me as if I were six foot under ground’. Ceasing to attend Parliament, he devoted himself to ‘the only passion I have left ... the advancement of my brothers in the world.’ Having made some money in the South Sea bubble, he advanced his brother William £1,000 for his initial expenses in Sweden, paid his brother John’s expenses on contesting Maidstone, and subsequently bought him a fine set of chambers in the Temple.5 He was continually pressing on Lord Nottingham schemes for their advancement.

For myself [he wrote, 8 Nov. 1722] I have no desire, I have no ambition, and if ever I was to stir in life it shall only be for them. There was a time, I own, I did imagine to have had a share in the government of this country before this time or to have fallen in the attempt. To serve them now, to raise their fortune, is my view, and if I do succeed in that I don’t care what turn my own affairs take.

And again 31 Jan. 1723:

The love I have had for my brothers and family is seriously the most real solid pleasure that I ever met with in this world. I have always founded and built my happiness, present and future, as to this world, upon theirs.

But a fortnight later he was writing to his father about the possibility of his being offered an important post abroad, presumably an embassy: ‘’tis recovering a rank which is lost by being out of it so long. Besides, there is no way so likely of coming into business at home as by such a foreign step.’ He continued:

I would either give up quite and not let any one action of my life look as if I was at all concerned in this ridiculous world or be something in it. But to be in a middle way is tedious and unpleasant. Besides all the younger sons would rise faster and better in proportion to the figure one makes than they could do any other way and really I can’t help thinking, since this country must be governed, why one had not better govern than be governed.6

Though this particular post did not materialize, Finch made a return to politics by moving the Address at the opening of the next session and speaking in support of the army estimates a fortnight later. In April 1725 he presented to the House Bolingbroke’s petition for the restitution of his estates, following it up with an implementing bill, which was supported by Walpole and passed into law. Appointed comptroller of the Household at the end of the session, he spoke in the next in defence of the treaty of Hanover, making his last recorded speech in the Commons in support of a vote of credit on 25 Mar. 1726. Soon after succeeding his father in 1730 he resigned with his friend Carteret, by whom, according to Hervey, he was usually governed, but who on this occasion was governed by him.7 He spent most of the rest of his long political career in opposition in the Lords.

He died 2 Aug. 1769.

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: Romney R. Sedgwick


  • 1. 7 July 1744, Rockingham mss.
  • 2. 4 Feb. 1724, Finch mss at HMC.
  • 3. Coxe, Walpole, ii. 63.
  • 4. W. Michael, England under Geo. I, ii. 273.
  • 5. Ld. Finch to Ld. Nottingham, 12 Jan. 1718, 5 Apr. and 10 May 1720, 14 May 1723, 4 Feb. 1724; Ld. Nottingham to Ld. Finch, 3 Nov. 1724, Finch mss.
  • 6. Finch mss.
  • 7. Hervey, Mems. 120.