Sir Moyle FINCH (Bt.)

Born: ABT 1550, Eastwell, Kent, England

Died: 18 Dec 1614

Buried: Eastwell, Kent, England

Father: Thomas FINCH (Sir)

Mother: Catherine MOYLE

Married: Elizabeth HENEAGE (C. Winchelsea) 4 Nov 1572


1. Anne FINCH

2. Thomas FINCH (1º E. Winchelsea)

3. Theophilus FINCH (Sir)

4. John FINCH

5. Francis FINCH

6. William FINCH

7. Robert FINCH

8. Catherine FINCH

9. Heneage FINCH (Sir Knight)

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.

Moyle Fynche'

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 Parliament.

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 Winchilsea, was sole executrix.

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 in 1714.

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.

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