FINCH, Heneage II (1657-1726), of Eastwell, Kent.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

b. 3 Jan. 1657, 2nd s. of Heneage, 3rd Earl of Winchilsea (d.1689) by 2nd w. Lady Mary Seymour, da. of William Seymour, 2nd Duke of Somerset. educ. Wye g.s. 1663; Chelsea, Mdx. 1665; travelled abroad (France, Italy) 1676-7. m. lic. 14 May 1684 Anne (d. 5 Aug. 1720), da. of Sir William Kingsmill of Sydmonton, Hants, s.p. suc. nephew as 5th Earl of Winchilsea 5 Aug. 1712.1

Offices Held

Col. of militia ft. Kent by 1678-89, dep. lt. 1678-89; freeman, Canterbury 1680; j.p. Kent c.1683-9, commr. for assessment 1689-90.2

Capt. Coldstream Gds. 1682, lt.-col. 1687-9; groom of the bedchamber to the Duke of York 1683-5, (as King James II) 1685-Dec. 1688.

V.-pres. Soc. of Antiquaries 1724-d.3


Finch’s father was too young to fight in the first Civil War, but he later claimed to have been an active Royalist from the age of 19, and he was certainly one of the leading Cavalier plotters in Kent in 1655. At the Restoration he accepted employment as ambassador to the Porte in order to pay off his debts, an aim in which he was only partly successful, and when he returned he was made lord lieutenant of Kent. Finch became a soldier and a courtier, and married a maid of honour to Mary of Modena. He was returned to James II’s Parliament as the King’s nominee for Hythe, and at Mary’s special request helped to support her canopy at the coronation. He was appointed to seven committees, none of any political importance, though one was for the bill to convey fresh water to Rochester and Chatham. His father was dismissed as lord lieutenant in 1687, and took an active part in the Revolution; but Finch apparently complied with James’s policy, later becoming a non-juror. He was captured in 1690 while trying to escape to France. He lived mostly at Eastwell with his nephew, the 4th Earl, where he was able to indulge his antiquarian tastes; but he stood unsuccessfully for Rochester in 1701 and for Maidstone in 1705 and 1710. When he succeeded to the peerage he refused the oaths and never took his seat, though his wife, a poetess of some merit, was lady of the bedchamber to Queen Anne. He died of inflammation of the bowels on 30 Sept. 1726. Lord Hertford, his friend and fellow antiquarian, wrote that ‘for sure he had no enemy, nor was he one to anybody’.4

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Basil Duke Henning


  • 1. HMC Finch, i. 251, 364; ii. 26-29.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1678, p. 354; Jan.-July 1683, p. 134; Roll of Freemen ed. Cowper, 317.
  • 3. J. Evans, Soc. of Antiquaries, 68.
  • 4. Kent AO, NR/AEp/50; Suss. Arch. Coll. xv. 192; HMC Le Fleming, 270; R. Morrice, Entering Bk. 3, p. 142; Luttrell, ii. 38, 50, 73; Poems of Anne, Countess of Winchilsea ed. Reynolds, pp. xxix-xxxi.