Finch, John (1626-1682) (DNB00)

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FINCH, Sir JOHN (1626–1682), physician, younger son of Sir Heneage Finch, speaker of the House of Commons [q. v.], was born in 1626, and, after education at Mr. Sylvester's school in the parish of All Saints, Oxford, entered Balliol College as a gentleman commoner and graduated B.A. 22 May 1647. In 1648 he left Oxford, and graduated M.A. at Christ's College, Cambridge, in 1649; then went to Padua and took the degree of M.D. in that university. He became English consul at Padua, and was made syndic of the university. The Grand Duke of Tuscany afterwards appointed him to a professorship at Pisa. At the Restoration he returned to England, and on 26 Feb. 1661 was elected an extraordinary fellow of the College of Physicians of London. 'Obpræclara doctoris Harvei merita,' say the college annals, probably in reference to the fact that Harvey had been a doctor of physic of the university of Padua. Lord Clarendon presented Finch to the king, who knighted him on 10 June 1661, and on 26 June in the same year he was created M.D. at Cambridge, Dr. Carr appearing as his proxy. He was one of the fellows admitted by the council of the Royal Society, in virtue of the power given them for two months, on 20 May 1663. The house now called Kensington Palace belonged to Finch, and in 1661 he sold it to his elder brother, Sir Heneage Finch, afterwards Lord Nottingham. In 1665 he was sent as minister to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, and in 1672 was promoted to be ambassador at Constantinople. On his voyage thither he stopped at Leghorn and at Malta to arrange the restitution of some goods belonging to the basha of Tunis which had been seized by English privateers. On 2 May 1675 he left his house in Pera, with a retinue of one hundred and twenty horses and fifty-five carts of baggage, and after a nine days' journey reached Adrianople. The object of the visit was to obtain the sultan's confirmation of privileges granted to English residents in his dominions, and after tedious delays this was accomplished on 8 Sept. The town was crowded, and the ambassador, who had at first wretched lodgings, was later obliged to live in tents in the fields owing to an epidemic of plague, of which some of his household died. He returned to Constantinople, and in 1682 to England. He died of pleurisy on 18 Nov. 1682 in London, whence his body was conveyed by his kinsmen to Cambridge and there buried, as he had desired, near that of his friend Sir Thomas Baines [q. v.], in the chapel of Christ's College. Their friendship is the most interesting circumstance of the life of Finch. It began at Cambridge, where Henry More the Platonist introduced Finch, on his migration from Oxford, to Baines, already a member of Christ's College. They pursued the same studies and lived in the same places, both graduated in medicine at Padua, were admitted fellows of the College of Physicians of London on the same day, and were together created doctors of physic at Cambridge. When Finch had been knighted he sought the same honour for Baines, and when he went abroad as an ambassador he took Sir Thomas Baines with him as physician to the embassy. They consulted together on every difficulty, and at Constantinople were known as the ambassador and the chevalier, and it was considered as important to secure the influence of the one as of the other. Thus constant throughout life they are buried side by side, under the same marble canopy, and are every year commemorated as benefactors of their college, where they jointly founded two fellowships and two scholarships, anxious to encourage in future generations the formation of friendships at the university as true and as lasting as their own.

[Munk's Coll. of Phys. i. 298; Pepys's Diary 6th ed. in. 446; Cambridge University Calendar 1868; North's Life of the Hon. Sir Dudley North, Knt., London, 1744; tomb in the chapel of Christ's College, Cambridge; Dodd's Church History, iii. 257; Wood's Fasti, ed. Bliss ii. 101]

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