Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Finch, Heneage (1647?-1719)

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FINCH, HENEAGE, first Earl of Aylesford (1647?–1719), second son of Heneage Finch, first earl of Nottingham [q. v.], was educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford. He left the university without a degree, and entering the legal profession was admitted a barrister of the Inner Temple. His name soon became known as the author of various reports of celebrated trials and other legal tracts; he was appointed king's counsel 10 July 1677, and solicitor-general in 1679, entering parliament as member for the university of Oxford in the same year. In 1686 he was deprived of the solicitor-generalship by James II, and two years later pleaded as leading counsel on the side of the seven bishops. He sat for Guildford in the parliament of 1685, again representing the university of Oxford in the Convention parliament of 1689-90, and all subsequent ones (except that elected in 1698), till his promotion to the peerage in 1703 (Members of Parliament Blue Book, pt. i. see Index). Burnet relates that in the debate on the Act of Settlement of 1701 Finch attempted to alter the clause for abjuring the Prince of Wales into an obligation not to assist him, and pressed his point 'with unusual vehemence in a debate that he resumed seventeen times in one session against all rules' (Burnet, History of his own Time, ed. 1823, iv. 537-8 and note). In August 1702 he was chosen by the university to present a complimentary address to Queen Anne on her visit to Oxford, and in 1703 was created, 'in consideration of his great merit and abilities,' Baron Guernsey, and sworn of the privy council. Burnet remarks that there were great reflections on the promotion of Finch and others, to make, it was said, a majority for the Stuarts in the House of Lords. In 1711 he also became master of the jewel house. On the accession of George I he was raised to the peerage, taking the title of Earl of Aylesford, an estate having been left to him there, with a large fortune, by his wife's father. Besides this new dignity he was again sworn of the privy council, and created chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, which office he resigned in 1716. He died 22 July 1719, and was buried at Aylesford, Kent. He married Elizabeth, daughter and coheir of Sir John Banks of Aylesford, by whom he had nine children.

His portrait appears in the print engraved by White in 1689 of the counsel of the seven bishops.

[Collins's Peerage, ed. 1779, iv. 316; Sharpe's Peerage, i. 20; Welch's Alumni Westmonasterienses, p.571; Poynter's Chronicle, 1703, 1711; Luttrell's Relation of State Affairs; Burnet's History of his own Time, ed. 1823, ii. 106, 397; Doyle's Baronage.]

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