Sir Moyle FINCH (Bt.)
Born: ABT 1550, Eastwell, Kent, England
Died: 18 Dec 1614
Buried: Eastwell, Kent, England
Thomas FINCH (Sir)
Elizabeth HENEAGE (C.
Winchelsea) 4 Nov 1572
1. Anne FINCH
Thomas FINCH (1º E. Winchelsea)
Theophilus FINCH (Sir)
4. John FINCH
5. Francis FINCH
6. William FINCH
7. Robert FINCH
8. Catherine FINCH
Heneage FINCH (Sir
10. Elizabeth FINCH
The details in this biography come from the
History of Parliament, a
biographical dictionary of Members of the House of Commons.
Second but 1st surv. son of Sir
Thomas Finch, and brother of Henry. Educ. G. Inn 1568. m. by 1573, Elizabeth
(d. 1634), dau. and h. of
Thomas Heneage of Copthall, Essex. Suc. family 1563.
Kntd. 1585; cr. Bt. 1611. Dep. (to fa.-in-law) treasurer defence
forces at Tilbury 1588; col. ft. reg. 1588; steward, duchy of Lancaster lands in
Essex 1591; ranger, Waltham forest, Essex; j.p. Kent, Suss. from c.1583;
sheriff, Kent 1596-7, 1606-7; chief steward, lands
of St. Augustine's priory, Canterbury 1603.
Finch first entered Parliament at a
by-election for Weymouth and Melcombe Regis, through the influence of
Francis Russell, 2nd
Earl of Bedford, who had campaigned with his father at St. Quentin in 1557. He
left no mark upon the known surviving records of this Parliament. In 1593 he was
elected knight of the shire for Kent, being named to committees on privileges
and returns (26 Feb), recusancy (28 Feb), rogues (12 Mar) and spinners and
weavers (26 Mar). As a knight of the shire he might also have served on the
subsidy committee (26 Feb), a committee on a legal matter (9 Mar) and a
committee on kerseys (23 Mar).
Though he did not stand at the 1597
general election Finch had a ‘cause’ in that Parliament, namely, his
longstanding dispute with Thomas Throckmorton over Ravenstone manor, the Heneage
estate in Buckinghamshire. His, Throckmorton's and
William Brooke, Baron Cobham's counsel were to
be heard in the House on 12 Dec 1597. As it happened, an unexpected vacancy
arose in the county representation just before Christmas when
Lord Cobham died from wounds received in a duel.
Finch now determined to stand,
no doubt to steal a march on Throckmorton, who was precluded from membership by
reason of his Catholicism. Sir Moyle and Lady Finch canvassed the county gentry
and compiled at least one list of supporters among those lower orders qualified
to vote, such as the dockyard officials, gunners, boatswains and tailors.
However, in the end, Finch withdrew in favour of Percival Hart. A fuller account
appears in the Kent constituency article, but Finch's own version of the
agreement, in a badly written copy, has survived and deserves its place here:
'BEF my lord of Essex and Mr. Controller
[William Knollys], Mr. Harte and [I] be agreed: that if my cause in Parliament
receive not ... by arbitrament, then Mr. Harte is to give it over unto me: if my
cause to receive end by arbitrament, as will now presently appear, then in
regard I was the last parliament knight for [the] shire, and the cause being
satisfied for which I did seek the same, now ... I shall be contented that Mr.
Harte shall be chosen. So that whichsoever of us it shall fall to according to
this agreement there shall [be] no need that the country should be troubled
whereof I am very careful, and therefore desirous that knowledge may be given to
all my friends with all possible speed that I pray them to stay at home.
The Ravenstone manor business was, in Sir John Popham's words, the subject
of ‘long argument at the bar and bench’, and was eventually, in 1600, referred
‘to all the judges of England’.
In 1601 Finch was returned for Winchelsea, whence the family came, and which,
with an ingenious change of spelling, was to provide the name of the earldom
held by his descendants. In this Parliament Finch served on committees concerned
with the penal laws (2 Nov), order of parliamentary business (3 Nov), the
abbreviation of the Michaelmas law term (11 Nov), private bills (14, 23 Nov, 3
Dec), clothworkers (18 Nov), the government of the city of London (4 Dec) and
local county bills (1, 5 Dec). As Member for Winchelsea, he may have attended a
committee for the Severn harbour (22 Nov). He is not known to have spoken in
Finch was one of the knights of the canopy at
Queen Elizabeth's funeral. He
died 18 Dec 1614, having made his will the previous May, and was buried at
Eastwell. Lady Finch ‘the richest widow in England’ and future Countess of
After Sir Moyle's death Elizabeth
and her sons made considerable efforts to have the family's status
elevated. On 8 Jul 1623 Elizabeth was created a peeress as
Viscountess Maidstone. She was further elevated to Countess of
Winchilsea on 12 Jul 1628; the titles devolving upon her male heirs.
Elizabeth Heneage's youngest son Sir
Heneage Finch became
Speaker of the House of Commons (1626-1631). His son Heneage
(b. 1621 - d. 1682), served as
Lord Chancellor and was created Earl of Nottingham in 1681 just a
year before his death. The Earl's eldest son Daniel Finch
(b. 1647 - d. 1730) succeeded him as the 2nd earl, whilst his fourth son
Heneage Finch (b. 1649 - d. 1719) was created Earl of Aylesford
Elizabeth Heneage's eldest son
Thomas, became the Earl of Winchilsea (sometimes listed as the 1st
Earl). His son, Heneage Finch, 3rd Earl of Winchilsea, outlived
his own son William Finch, Viscount Maidstone (b. ABT 1656 - d.
1672) and he was succeeded by his grandson, the Viscount's son,
Charles. When Charles died without issue of his own, he was
succeeded as the 5th earl by his uncle Heneage (b. 1673 - d.
1726). He was the husband of the poet Anne Finch, Countess of
Winchilsea (b. 1661 - d. 1720). Upon the 5th earl's death without
issue the title passed to his half-brother John Finch.