FINCH, Hon. William (1691-1766), of Charlewood, Herts.

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



31 Jan. 1727 - 1747
11 Dec. 1747 - 1754
5 Feb. 1755 - 1761

Family and Education

b. 18 Jan. 1691, 2nd surv. s. of Daniel Finch, 2nd Earl of Nottingham and 7th Earl of Winchilsea, and bro. of Daniel, Lord Finch, and Hon. Edward, Henry and John Finch. educ. Ch. Ch. Oxf. 1707. m. (1) 25 Jan. 1733, Lady Anne Douglas (d. 26 Oct. 1741), da. of James, 2nd Duke of Queensberry [S] and 1st Duke of Dover, s.p.; (2) 9 Aug. 1746, Lady Charlotte Fermor, da. of Thomas, 1st Earl of Pomfret, 1s. 4da.

Offices Held

Envoy to Sweden 1720-4; envoy to United Provinces 1724-8 and minister 1733-4, P.C. 13 July 1742; vice-chamberlain of the Household 1742-65.


William Finch owed his start in life to Lord Carteret, who when ambassador to Sweden 1719-20 took him with him as secretary, securing his appointment as envoy there after his own departure. In 1721 Carteret, now secretary of state, sent a friendly admonition to his protégé at Stockholm:

I beg of you not to write such short letters, the King does really take notice of it, and when you have a whole week to prepare a despatch in you may certainly send all the occurrences ... If you give occasion to reflect upon your want of diligence you will disconcert all my schemes for your service. I have often given you hints of this nature, which proceeded always from my affection to you and from observing that other people took notice of it. I know you think me pedantic but nothing is done in this world without pains and application, nothing but labour can set a man on his own feet.1

After Sweden Finch served for two spells at The Hague, where his ‘indolent ministry’ threw the Dutch ‘entirely into the hands and under the direction of France’.2 When in 1734 Walpole’s brother, Horace, was sent there with the rank of ambassador on a special mission, Finch

desired to be recalled, and quitted the King’s service; thinking his capacity (which was a very mean one) equal to the most delicate transactions of state, and not comprehending, though it had been as good as he thought it, that yet Sir Robert Walpole ... might choose rather to confide in his own brother in an affair where the utmost secrecy was required than in a brother to my Lord Winchilsea, and one who was brought into the world by Lord Carteret, owed everything to his favour, and still lived with him in the strictest friendship.3

Finch, who had been brought into Parliament by his brother-in-law the Duke of Somerset, had previously voted with the Government, but now went over to the Opposition till Walpole’s fall, when he and his brother Edward obtained posts in the royal Household as Carteret’s adherents. On the dismissal of their patron in 1744 they were not molested, on the ground that it would be ‘very indecent to ask the King to remove the people that are immediately about his person’. But after the abortive attempt by Carteret (now Granville) and Bath to form an Administration in 1746 the King was invited to agree that the Government should ‘be purged of all their friends and dependents’. He agreed to everything, Newcastle told Chesterfield, ‘except the Bedchamber’, i.e. Edward Finch’s dismissal, and to that of William Finch, which he

begged us not to insist upon in such a manner, and said he should take it so kindly if we did not do it, that in the opinion of everybody it would have been indecent to have pressed it. As to Ned Finch, we all thought the Bedchamber could not be attacked.

They therefore escaped, though Chesterfield considered it

a ridiculous and an indecent thing that Will Finch should every day by virtue of his office hear and see everything that is done in that backstairs room ... As for Ned, I would rather he had a thousand pounds a year at the board of Trade than his present five hundred in the Bedchamber.4

A few years later they were both included by the 2nd Egmont in a list of ‘the most obnoxious men of an inferior degree’ in the Commons.

William Finch retained his place till 1765, when he was pensioned off. In December of that year Mrs. Montagu

saw a very odd scene at the Prince of Wales drawing room, Mr. Finch, partly mad, had beat his wife, Lady Charlotte [governess to the royal children], and thrown her down stairs, upon which they were separated by articles, notwithstanding this he was talking to her as she sat in the drawing room with the youngest prince in her lap ... he is certainly the first man who ever talked in public to a wife from whom he was separated.5

He died 25 Dec. 1766.

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: Romney R. Sedgwick


  • 1. 10 Nov. 1721, Finch mss at HMC.
  • 2. Horace Walpole to Sir Robt. Walpole, 28 Oct. 1736, Coxe, Walpole, iii. 427.
  • 3. Hervey, Mems. 367.
  • 4. Lodge, Private Corresp. Chesterfield and Newcastle (R. Hist. Soc. Cam. 3rd. ser. xliv), 110-11, 115.
  • 5. R. Blunt, Mrs. Montagu, 92.