FINCHETT MADDOCK, John (?1775-1858), of 9 Abbey Square, Chester and Cae Gwyn, Caern.
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Family and Educationb. ?1775, o.s. of Thomas Finchett, glover, of Chester and w. Elizabeth née Cooper. m. 18 Sept. 1803, Mary Francis, 1s. 4da. (3 d.v.p.).1 suc. Richard Maddock to Richmond Hill, Caern. 1823 and took additional name of Maddock by royal lic. 12 Feb. 1824. d. 24 Jan. 1858.
Town clerk, Chester 1817-57.
No official record of the birth of Finchett, as he was first known, has been found, but he was raised and educated in Chester, where his family, previously from the Cheshire parish of Helsall, were established in trade by the early eighteenth century.2 He was a schoolfellow and close correspondent of the Stockport poet Robert Farren Cheetham (1779-1800); and their 127 letters record how Finchett, who on 5 Feb. 1793 was articled as a clerk to the Chester notary Robert Baxter, forwarded poems to the Chester and Manchester newspapers and Gentleman’s Magazine on Cheetham’s behalf, occasionally, as requested, adding his own initials of J.F. He was perturbed by wartime censorship and the intolerance and drunkenness associated with politics in Chester, where what in 1796 he termed ‘the rage and fury of a deluded aristocratical party’ ran high. He was admitted as an attorney at Chester assizes in April and of king’s bench on 5 May 1798, and passed ‘nearly twelvemonths’ in the office of his kinsman, the London attorney Thomas Finchett, at 2 Great Prescott Street, where he enjoyed ‘clean lodgings’ and visits to the Commons. The squalor of the West End disgusted him and he ‘tired of London and revere it not for the professional improvement I am likely to acquire’.3 He practised in Chester, where his marriage in 1803 to Mary, some six years his senior, created a stir,4 and became treasurer to the militia volunteers and to the Tory Church and King Club, of which his brother-in-law Alderman Thomas Francis was secretary.5 At the general election of 1812 he was an agent for Thomas Grosvenor*, whose cousin the 2nd earl Grosvenor sanctioned his permanent appointment in 1817 as town clerk; he had acted as deputy since 1813.6 He testified at length before the parliamentary committees on the Chester election petitions of 1818 and 1820 which found for the Grosvenors, acted for their partisans on the corporation when civil actions were brought against them and joined the Cheshire and North Wales Whig Club established under Lord Grosvenor’s presidency in 1821.7 In June that year he inherited his father’s Chester properties, which he sold for £2,100 in 1827.8 He was also coheir and executor of the vindictive will of the attorney Richard Maddock of Horton, Tarvin, Cheshire and Richmond Hill, Caernarfon, in compliance with which he and his family, who inherited Richmond Hill (Cae Gwyn), took the additional surname of Maddock.9
Finchett Maddock brought his only son Thomas into his practice, and they were solicitors for the abortive 1831 Chester-Birkenhead and Chester-Tranmere railway bills and the 1832 Dee Bridge bill, which extended the completion time for the ‘Grosvenor bridge’ and remained under consideration when the death on 19 Apr. of the Whig reformer Foster Cunliffe Offley produced a vacancy in the representation of Chester.10 The corporation opposed the candidature of the radical Whig Edward Davies Davenport* and put forward Finchett Maddock, who, after deferring briefly to Sir Charles Bulkeley Egerton, the unsuccessful candidate in 1826, defeated Davenport in a three-day poll. He issued no notices, but was belatedly described as a staunch supporter of the Grey ministry’s reform bill.11 He made no known parliamentary speeches, but he voted for the second reading of the Irish reform bill, 25 May, against a Conservative amendment to the Scottish measure, 1 June, and divided with government on the Russian-Dutch loan, 12 July 1832. That month his portrait was painted by William Jones and engraved by Charles Turner.12
Finchett Maddock’s candidature for Chester as a Liberal in December 1832, when he campaigned for peace and retrenchment, and against slavery, monopolies and the corn laws, was vigorously opposed. ‘The wealth and respectability of the city’ backed him, but his detractors criticized his humble origins, mediocrity and connections with the Tories and a corrupt corporation, which, coupled with his abstemious refusal to spend on drink and rumours of his late resignation, contributed to his heavy defeat by two other Liberals.13 He did not stand for Parliament again, but he was a founder member in 1834 of the Cestrian masonic lodge and remained town clerk until August 1857.14 When he died at his residence in Chester’s Abbey Square in January 1858, he was clerk to the magistrates (worth £500 a year), the Dee Bridge Trust, the assessed and income tax commissioners and several turnpike trusts, and acted for the Chester Junction Railway Company.15 He was buried with his wife (d. 1839) in the family vault at Eastham, Cheshire. He left £105 to his daughter Elizabeth Rufford and the remainder of his estate to his son, who died unmarried, 5 Dec. 1892, having endowed the Finchett-Maddock exhibition at Oxford or Cambridge for pupils of the King’s School, Chester, and devised the bulk of his estates, worth £39,120, to his business partner Henry Moss, who took the name of Finchett Maddock by deed poll, 13 Jan. 1893.16
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Margaret Escott
- 1. Cheshire and Chester Archives EDD 3913/12/2-3; P195/5/1.
- 2. Ibid. CR38/60.
- 3. Ibid. TCP7/1, corresp. of John Finchett and Robert Farren Cheetham, 1792-1801; Cheshire and Chester Archives H.S. 111.
- 4. Ibid. H.S.112-14, 130, 134.
- 5. Ibid. CR115/2.
- 6. Grosvenor mss 9/10/35-43; 9/12/8-9; Cheshire and Chester Archives AB/5, 2 May 1817.
- 7. Report of Procs. at Chester Election (1819); (1820); Report on Chester Corporation (1827); (1829); Grosvenor mss 9/126; Cheshire and Chester Archives TCC/141; TNA KB28/502; The Times, 6 Sept. 1821, 21 May 1827, 11 Oct. 1828.
- 8. Cheshire and Chester Archives CR38/59-60.
- 9. NLW wills B/1824/105; The Times, 31 July 1815.
- 10. CJ, lxxxvi. 399, 425, 435, 481, 528, 547, 607; lxxxvii. 102, 199, 270, 331; Chester Chron. 8 Mar. 1831; Chester Courant, 27 Mar., 24 Apr. 1832.
- 11. The Times, 26 Apr.; Chester Chron. 27 Apr., 11, 18 May; Chester Courant, 1, 22 May 1832.
- 12. Cheshire and Chester Archives CR60/4/14.
- 13. Chester Chron. 28 Sept; The Times, 9, 18 Oct., 4 Dec.; Chester Courant, 13, 27 Nov., 4, 11, 18 Dec. 1832.
- 14. S.L. Coulthurst, Cestrian Lodge no. 425, pp. 9, 51 and passim; Cheshire and Chester Archives CB1, 14 Aug., 11 Sept. 1857.
- 15. Cheshire and Chester Archives TCP/7/92, 97, 232-9; The Times, 5 July 1847; Cheshire and Chester Archives CB1, 14 Aug. 1857; The Times, 29 Jan.; Chester Chron. 30 Jan. 1858.
- 16. Cheshire and Chester Archives P195/5/1, 2; G.L. Fenwick, Hist. Chester, 360; Chester Courant, 7 Dec. 1892; The Times, 16 Jan.; will proved 20 Jan. 1893.