FINCH, Daniel, Lord Finch (1689-1769).
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Family and Education
b. 24 May 1689, 1st surv. s. of Daniel Finch†, 2nd Earl of Nottingham and 7th Earl of Winchilsea, by his 2nd w. Anne, da. of Christopher Hatton†, 1st Visct. Hatton. educ. Westminster; Christ Church, Oxf. 1704; travelled abroad (Low Countries, Germany, Italy) 1708, 1709–10; LL.D. Cambridge, 1728. m. (1) 28 Dec. 1729, Lady Frances Feilding (d. 1734), da. of Basil, 4th Earl of Denbigh, 1da.; (2) 18 Jan. 1738, Mary, da. and coh. of Sir Thomas Palmer, 4th Bt.*, 8da. (4 d.v.p.). suc. fa. as 8th Earl of Winchilsea and 3rd Earl of Nottingham 1 Jan. 1730; KG 13 Mar. 1752.
Gent. of the bedchamber to Prince of Wales 1714–16; ld. of Treasury 1715–16; comptroller of Household 1725–30; PC 1 June 1725; first ld. of Admiralty Mar. 1742–Dec. 1744, Apr.–July 1757; ld. pres. of Council 1765–6.
A year or so after matriculating at Christ Church, Oxford, Lord Finch was taken away from university and placed under the supervision of William Wotton, a prebendary of Salisbury, his father Lord Nottingham declaring that he would send no more of his sons to Oxford (a resolution that was abandoned within two years). In 1708, accompanied by a governor, Finch toured the military encampments at Tournai under the hospitable care of Lord Stair, a senior officer in command. Another officer described him as ‘a youth of much modesty, virtue and sweetness of temper, and seems to have a good understanding and a good stock of sense’. As part of his foreign itinerary he spent time at the ducal academy at Wolfenbüttel with other young Tories, and in 1710 was preparing to set forward for Italy from The Hague, though at first he protested, ‘not caring to ride post haste for three quarters of a year’ and preferring an immediate return home.1
While still abroad, Finch was returned on his father’s interest for Rutland in the general election of 1710. The ‘Hanover list’ classified him as a Tory, and he appeared in the first session as a ‘Tory patriot’ favouring peace, and a ‘worthy patriot’ approving the exposure of the mismanagements of the previous ministry. At the beginning of May, Robert Harley* pondered the possibility of recalling Nottingham to the Cabinet but was strongly dissuaded by Lord Poulett, who argued that Nottingham’s inclusion in the ministry would threaten Harley’s own supremacy. Poulett pointed out that Nottingham might be just as useful if Lord Finch were given a place instead. Harley thought this ‘prudent’ but there is no evidence that Finch received any offer, although some of his relations were provided for. Towards the end of the year Finch obediently toed his father’s line in opposition, a lone figure at first: he was the only one of his father’s close associates among the Tory defectors on the ‘No Peace without Spain’ motion on 7 Dec. In 1713 he began an early and energetic campaign for the general election, fearful that his father’s and his own defection from the ministry was likely to prove a sore point with the freeholders. Harley, now Lord Treasurer Oxford, was informed by a Tory clergyman in Rutland that Finch’s chances appeared slim despite his having ‘been personally around the county, haranguing the freeholders, and spending liberally among them, endeavouring as well as he can to justify his own and others’ proceedings last winter’. Before the dissolution Finch voted on 18 June 1713 against the French commerce bill. Finch’s prospects in Rutland improved as the election drew near, and after a stiff contest he headed the poll.2
The Worsley list analysing the 1713 Parliament identified Finch as a Whig, though he would have been more accurately described as a ‘whimsical’ Tory. On 5 Mar. 1714 he told against Thomas Wynn† in the Caernarvon Boroughs election but he made no significant speech aside from his defence of Richard Steele* in March 1714. This intervention was a repayment of a debt of gratitude his family owed to Steele for replying to a public attack on one of the Finch sisters in the Examiner of 23 Apr. 1713. When Finch rose on 18 Mar. 1714 to argue against the charge that Steele’s Englishman was seditious, he was at first supposed to have been so flustered and overcome with nerves that he resumed his seat, uttering ‘it is strange I can’t speak for this man, though I could readily fight for him’, but on being urged, he resumed his speech. As Nottingham’s heir, he was assured of attention, and, as one observer recorded, he ‘made a very handsome speech in which every sentence pushed at the T[reasure]r’. On the ‘tenderest part of the charge’, that Steele had insinuated that the Hanoverians were suspicious of royal and ministerial intentions, he gave examples to illustrate how dismissive the English ministers had been towards the electoral court. In justification of Steele’s reflections on the peace, he pointed out that ‘we may give all the fine epithets we please, but epithets do not change the nature of things’, and denied that the peace could be considered universally ‘honourable’ or uniformly ‘advantageous’. In spite of his acknowledged eloquence Finch suffered the mortification of being accidentally shut out of the division that led to Steele’s expulsion. Steele none the less publicly demonstrated his gratitude by dedicating to Finch a new work against popery, The Romish Ecclesiastical History of Late Years, published at the end of May, which congratulated him ‘upon the early conspicuous figure you make in the business of the nation’.3
After the Queen’s death, Nottingham ranged himself in alliance with the Townshend Whigs, and Finch was among the family members rewarded for their loyalty to the new dynasty, being appointed to the Prince of Wales’s household. As a Hanoverian Tory now in office, he naturally puzzled the compilers of lists of the 1715 Parliament, one calling him a Tory, while another assumed that he was now a Whig. Returned again in 1715 he continued to serve for Rutland until succeeding to his father’s earldoms in 1730.4
Finch died on 2 Aug. 1769.
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Andrew A. Hanham
- 1. Nicolson Diaries ed. Jones and Holmes, 299; HMC Portland, iv. 496–7; BL, Walpole mss, Stephen Poyntz to Horatio Walpole II*, 17 Dec., 27 Dec. N.S. 1709, 10 Jan. 1710 N.S.; Trans. R. Hist. Soc. ser. 3, i. 187.
- 2. H. Horwitz, Revol. Politicks, 223, 228, 234; HMC Portland, iv. 684; Add. 70251, Thomas Peale to Oxford, 27 Jan. 1712–13, 15 July 1713; Devonshire mss at Chatsworth House, Halifax pprs. Nottingham to Ld. Guernsey (Heneage Finch I*), 26 Aug. 1713.
- 3. Speck thesis, 88; G. A. Aitken, Life of Steele, i. 318; ii. 19, 30; Cobbett, Parlty. Hist. vi. 1272, 1274, 1283; NLS, Advocates’ mss, Wodrow pprs. letters Quarto 8, f. 69; Steele Corresp. 480.
- 4. Horwitz, 246.