Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Finch, Thomas

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FINCH, Sir THOMAS (d. 1563), military commander, was second son of Sir William Finch, who was knighted for his services at the siege of Terouenne in 1513, and attended Henry VIII with a great retinue in 1520. His mother, his father's first wife, was Elizabeth, daughter of Sir James Cromer of Tunstall, Kent, and widow of Sir Richard Lovelace. An elder brother, Lawrence, died without issue, and Thomas succeeded to his father's property. He was trained as a soldier, and in 1553 was engaged in suppressing Wyatt's rebellion in Kent. On the day after Mary's coronation (2 Oct. 1553) he was knighted. Soon after Elizabeth's accession (1559), Nicholas Harpsfeld [q. v.], archdeacon of Canterbury, threatened violent resistance to the new ecclesiastical legislation, and Finch was despatched to Canterbury to disarm his household. Early in 1563 he was appointed, in succession to Sir Adrian Poynings, knight-marshal of the army then engaged in war about Havre. He at once sent his half-brother, Sir Erasmus Finch, to take temporary charge, and his kinsman Thomas Finch to act as provost-marshal. He himself embarked in the Greyhound in March with two mndred followers, among them James and John Wentworth, brothers of Lord Wentworth, another brother of his own, a brother of Lord Cobham, and a nephew of Ambrose Dudley, earl of Warwick. When nearing Havre the ship was driven back by contrary winds towards Rye. Finch and his friends induced the captain - 'a very good seaman,' says Stow - 'to thrust into the haven before the tide,' and 'so they all perished' with the exception of 'seven of the meaner sort' (19 March). The news reached the court two days later, and produced great consternation (Cecil to Sir Thomas Smith in Wright, Queen Elizabeth, i. 133). A ballad commemorating the misfortune was licensed to Richard Griffith at the time (Collier, Stationers' Registers, 1557-70, Shakespeare Soc. 73). Finch was buried at Eastwell, Kent.

Finch married Catherine, daughter and coheiress of Sir Thomas Moyle, chancellor of the court of augmentations, and thus came into possession of Moyle's property of Eastwell, at his death 2 Oct. 1560. He owned other land in Kent, and on 9 Dec. 1558 Aloisi Pruili, Cardinal Pole's secretary, requested Cecil to direct Finch to allow the officers of the cardinal, then just dead, to dispose of oxen, hay, wood, and deer belonging to their late master in St. Augustine's Park, Canterbury (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1547-80, p. 116). His widow remarried Nicholas St. Leger, and died 9 Feb. 1586-7. Of his children, three sons and a daughter survived him. The second son, Sir Henry Finch, serjeant-at-law, is separately noticed. The third', Thomas, died without issue in the expedition to Portugal in 1589. The daughter, Jane, married George Wyatt of Bexley, son of Sir Thomas Wyatt of Allington, Kent. Finch's heir, Moyle, created a baronet 27 May 1611, married in 1574 Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Heneage of Copt Hall, Essex; inherited Eastwell on his mother's death in 1587; obtained a license to enclose one thousand acres of land there, and to embattle his house, 18 Jan. 1589, and died 14 Dec. 1614. His widow was created, in consideration of her father's services, Viscountess Maidstone, 8 July 1623, and Countess of Winchilsea, 12 July 1628, both titles being granted with limitation to heirs male. She died and was buried at Eastwell in 1633. Her eldest son, Thomas, succeeded her as Earl of Winchilsea. Her fourth son, Sir Heneage [q. v.], was speaker of the House of Commons, 1626-31.

[Collins's Peerage, ed. Brydges, iii. 378–9; Hasted's Kent, iii. 198–9; Stow's Chronicle, 1614, pp. 654–5; Wright's Queen Elizabeth, i. 127, 133; Froude's Hist. vi. 201; Machyn's Diary, pp. 302, 308.]

S. L. L.