1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Finch of Fordwich, John Finch, Baron
FINCH OF FORDWICH, JOHN FINCH, Baron (1584–1660), generally known as Sir John Finch, English judge, a member of the old family of Finch, was born on the 17th of September 1584, and was called to the bar in 1611. He was returned to parliament for Canterbury in 1614, and became recorder of the same place in 1617. Having attracted the notice of Charles I., who visited Canterbury in 1625, and was received with an address by Finch in his capacity as recorder, he was the following year appointed king’s counsel and attorney-general to the queen and was knighted. In 1628 he was elected speaker of the House of Commons, a post which he retained till its dissolution in 1629. He was the speaker who was held down in his chair by Holles and others on the occasion of Sir John Eliot’s resolution on tonnage and poundage. In 1634 he was appointed chief justice of the court of common pleas, and distinguished himself by the active zeal with which he upheld the king’s prerogative. Notable also was the brutality which characterized his conduct as chief justice, particularly in the cases of William Prynne and John Langton. He presided over the trial of John Hampden, who resisted the payment of ship-money, and he was chiefly responsible for the decision of the judges that ship-money was constitutional. As a reward for his services he was, in 1640, appointed lord keeper, and was also created Baron Finch of Fordwich. He had, however, become so unpopular that one of the first acts of the Long Parliament, which met in the same year was his impeachment. He took refuge in Holland, but had to suffer the sequestration of his estates. When he was allowed to return to England is uncertain, but in 1660 he was one of the commissioners for the trial of the regicides, though he does not appear to have taken much part in the proceedings. He died on the 27th of November 1660 and was buried in St Martin’s church near Canterbury, his peerage becoming extinct.
See Foss, Lives of the Judges; Campbell, Lives of the Chief Justices.