Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Finch, Edward (1756-1843)

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FINCH, EDWARD (1756–1843), general, fourth son of Heneage, third earl of Aylesford, by Lady Charlotte Seymour, daughter of Charles, sixth duke of Somerset, was born on 26 April 1756. He went to Westminster School as a queen's scholar in 1768, and was elected to Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1773, proceeding B.A. in 1777. He entered the army as a cornet in the 11th dragoons on 27 Dec. 1778, exchanged into the 20th light dragoons, and on 7 Oct. 1779 was promoted lieutenant into the 87th regiment. He accompanied this regiment to the West Indies in January 1780, and served there and in America until he was promoted lieutenant and captain into the 2nd or Coldstream guards on 5 Feb. 1783. On 11 May 1789 he was elected M.P. for Cambridge, a seat which he held for thirty years, and on 3 Oct. 1792 he was promoted captain and lieutenant-colonel. He accompanied the brigade of guards to Flanders under General Lake in 1793, and served throughout the campaigns under the Duke of York with great credit. He was present at the actions of Caesar's Camp and Famars, in the famous engagement of Lincelles, and at the battles of Hondschoten, Lannoy, Turcoing, and round Tournay. He remained with his corps until the withdrawal of the British troops from the continent in April 1795. He was promoted colonel on 3 May 1796, and nominated to command the light companies of the guards in Coote's expedition to cut the sluices at Ostend [see Coote, Sir Eyre, 1762-1824], but was prevented from going by an accidental injury he received the day before the expedition sailed. He was present with the guards in the suppression of the Irish rebellion of 1798, and in 1799 commanded the 1st battalion of the Coldstreams in the expedition to the Helder and at the battles of Bergen. In the following year Finch was appointed to the command of the brigade of cavalry, consisting of the 12th and 26th light dragoons, which accompanied Sir Ralph Abercromby's army to Egypt. His regiments hardly came into action at all in the famous battles of March 1801, for the ground was not well adapted for cavalry, and he only covered the siege operations against Alexandria. He received the thanks of parliament with the other generals, and on 1 Jan. 1801 he was promoted major-general. In 1803 he took command of the 1st brigade of guards, then stationed at Chelmsford, consisting of the 1st battalion of the Coldstreams and the 1st battalion 3rd guards, and commanded that brigade in the expedition to Denmark in 1809, and at the siege of Copenhagen. In 1804 he was appointed a groom of the bedchamber to the king, on 25 April 1808 he was promoted lieutenant-general, and on 3 Aug. 1808 appointed colonel of the 54th regiment. On 18 Sept. 1809 he was transferred to the colonelcy of the 22nd foot, and on 12 Aug. 1819 he was promoted general. His seniority to Lord Wellington prevented him from being employed in the Peninsula, and he never saw service after 1809. He continued to sit in the House of Commons for Cambridge, through the influence of the Duke of Rutland, until December 1819, when he accepted the Chiltern Hundreds, and throughout the thirty years of his parliamentary career his seat was only once contested, in 1818. Finch, after 1819, entirely retired from public life, and he died on 27 Oct. 1843, at the age of eighty-seven, being at the time of his death the sixth general in order of seniority in the English army.

[Royal Military Calendar; Hart's Army List; Mackinnon's History of the Coldstream Guards; Welch's Alumni Westmonast. p. 397; Gent. Mag. December 1843.]

H. M. S.