Finch-Hatton, Harold Heneage (DNB12)

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FINCH-HATTON, HAROLD HENEAGE (1856-1904), imperialist politician, born at Eastwell Park, Kent, on 23 Aug, 1856, was fourth son of George Wilham Finch-Hatton, tenth earl of Winchilsea [q. v.], by his third wife, Fanny Margaretta, daughter of Edward Royd Rice, of Dane Court, Kent. His brother, Murray Edward Gordon Finch-Hatton, twelfth earl of Winchilsea (1851-1898), M.P. for South Lincolnshire (1884-6) and the Spalding division (1885-7), was well known as a leading agriculturist. Finch-Hatton was educated at Eton, and matriculated at Balliol College, Oxford, on 20 Oct. 1874, but did not graduate. In 1876 he joined a brother in Queensland, remaining in the colony till 1883. For some time he was engaged in cattle-farming at a settlement named Mt. Spencer, but subsequently went prospecting for gold in the Nebo goldfields, some forty miles further inland and about 100 from Mackay. Gold was found at Mount Britten and shares were bought in other claims; but the working expenses, chiefly owing to the defective communication with the coast, made the venture unremunerative, and after some eighteen months the Finch-Hatton brothers disposed of their rights to a Melbourne syndicate, retaining only a fourth share in the concern. Finch-Hatton always preserved his interest in Queensland, and as permanent delegate and chairman of the London committee of the North Queensland Separation League rendered energetic service to the colony. In 1885 he published a readable record of his Australian experiences in a book entitled 'Advance, Australia I' containing a sympathetic esti- mate of the 'Blacks' (aborigines) founded on individual intercourse, and thoughtful surveys of the sugar and mining industries. The final chapter on Imperial Federation condemned the action of Lord Derby as colonial secretary in dealing with the New Guinea question. (For a criticism of some views expressed in the book see A. Patchett Martin, Australia and the Empire, pp. 88-90.)

On his return to England Finch-Hatton occupied himself in financial work. But his chief interest was in imperial politics. He was one of the founders of the Imperial Federation League, and for some time acted as its secretary ; he was also secretary to the Pacific Telegraph Company, formed for the promotion of cable communication between Vancouver and Australia. When, in the autumn of 1885, he contested East Nottingham as a conservative he strongly advocated imperial federation as a prelude to free trade within the empire. Finch-Hatton was defeated by a majority of 991. Twice afterwards, in July 1886 and July 1892, he was unsuccessful in the same constituency. His opponent at all three elections was Mr. Arnold Morley. At the general election of 1895 he was returned unopposed for the Newark division of Nottinghamshire. His poHtical career, however, was brief. An able maiden speech (28 April 1896) on the second reading of the agricul- tural rating bill, in which he appealed to his twenty years' experience of Australian land legislation, was followed by bad health. Falling out of sympathy with his party, he resigned his seat rather suddenly in May 1898 {The Times, 13 May 1898). He regarded the conservative foreign policy as too timid, and disapproved of the Irish Land Act of 1896 and other domestic legislation. When not in London he henceforth Uved at Harlech, and in 1903 was high sheriff of Merionethshire. Highly skilled in field sports, a good rifle shot and keen huntsman, he excelled at golf, often competing for the amateur championship. He could also throw the boomerang 'like a black.'

He died, unmarried, from heart-failure on his own doorstep at 110 Piccadilly, on 16 May 1904, 'after having completed the last of his morning runs round the park.' He was buried in Ewerby churchyard, near Sleaford, Lincolnshire.

[The Times, 18 May 1904; Burke's and G. E. C.'s Peerages; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Finch-Hatton's 'Advance, Australia!' 1885; Hansard's Parl. Debates; Sleaford Gazette, 21 and 28 May 1904; Mennell's Dict. of Australasian Biogr.; R. Nevill and C. E. Jerningham's Piccadilly to Pall Mall, pp. 71-3.]

G. Le G. N.