I On Myself Can Live

Colonel Heneage Finch (Continued)

On November 28, 1664, William, now Viscount Maidstone, age 11, was admitted as a Fellow-Commoner of St. John's College, Cambridge; his mentors were a tutor Robert Grove, aged 30, and the Reverend John Talbot, Fellow of Peterhouse. Two years later, 1666, plague came to Cambridge, and the Reverend Talbot took Maidstone with him to Norfolk, about "250 yards" from Felbrigg Hall, where Talbot's maternal aunt, Mrs Elizabeth Mede Windham Chamberlayne and her teenage daughter, Elizabeth Wyndham, lived. Mrs Chamberlayne's first husband, Thomas Windham was dead; she had remarried Richard Chamberlayne, and she and he were living in her first husband's house because she had charge of the affairs of William Windham, her eldest son by Thomas Windham. We cannot know if anyone hatched a scheme to marry the two young people; but for a girl whose portion under her father's will was 15001 the Viscount Maidstone was opportunity knocking. From the extant documents it is clear that the girl's mother encouraged the courtship, and John Talbot performed the marriage ceremony.

The second Earl first heard about when on February 8, 1667, the husband of one of Mrs Chamberlayne's sisters (born either Anne, Bridget, or Dorothy Mede), Nicholas Pennyng wrote to him the following nervous letter:

Mr Bro. sister having an elder daughter by her first Husband Monsieur Judg Windham hath without the pryvity or consent of my Bro: Meade, in whose house it was acted, and therefore might the more pbably, contract a gult upon him (but I can assure you he ws out of Towne) I say did make I heare a Marriage with your eldest sonn. I plead not for the act (wch when I heard of it first, I could not believe), but only tell your honnr the young Lady is very deserving and if anything can be said in her behalf it must be that she and her mother or rather the latter I knoe to be more happy than possibly her p'sent fortune could deserve, otherways noe place on Earth could be more happy now none can make this happy but a smile from your Lordship ...

(Ischam 311-12)

But the second Earl did not smile. William had set out before the letter could arrive, and on May 11, 1667, at Belgrade told his father his side of the story which was that the marriage was a sham: not only had he been tricked into it, he had not, immediately after the marriage or since had full intercourse with this girl. He did not however deny sexual relations altogether. The tone of the boy's frightened self- justification comes through in the Earl's letter to his mother-in-law, Francis Devereux Seymour, Duchess of Somerset (the Duke had died in 1660):

My son sweareth about 2 or 3 in the afternoon that he was married that he was then made drunk by their putting wine into his beer and that as soon as the gentlewoman's mother went out of the chamber, he took his clothes and ran out of the room, and that since he never was in bed with her, and that neither at that time, when he was abed with her or since, did he enjoy her, nor doth he know whether she be man or woman

(Wyndham 283)

The second Earl was furious, and as was his wont, began to write letters. First he attempted to annul the marriage forthwith, if marriage it was. He wrote Sir Orlando Bridgeman, about to become Lord Keeper; he wrote the Earl of Southampton, the Lord High Treasurer; he wrote Clarendon; he wrote Arlington, the secretary of state--all to the effect that his son was "by some unworthy persons ... taken advantage [of, who] have ... ensnared [him] in a Match, no wayes agreeable to his fortune nor quality ... (Wyndham 282). He wanted these powerful mens' help. Was this the way he was going to be paid for the sacrifice he had made in going to Turkey, by a "disaster... drawn wholly upon me by my absence and attendance on my office?" This was the "foulest piece of fraud and abuse that hath been acted in this latter age of the world." Surely someone should be arrested (Wyndham 282).

Eventually he calmed down, and negotiations ensued. Of course, the sticking point was the girl's paltry dowry, 1500l, which we should recall was precisely the sum our Ann would bring the younger Heneage. The second Earl said he had intended his heir to travel abroad (Cameron 229n25) and to marry him to a wealthy Miss Browne of Kent; all these plans were ruined, and he demanded an "agreement by which Elizabeth's portion should be increased to at least 5,000l, under threat of an action de filio rapto"(Wyndham 282). Well, William Windham, Elizabeth Wyndham's half-brother, her dead father's heir, came across: "from Michaelmas 1667 onwards" he gave her an allowance of 140l. a month, which was increased after Maidstone's death in 1672 to 2000l (Ischam 313).

How happy the couple were is hard to say. The Earl did not welcome them into his home, and they went to live with his wife's mother (again Mrs Elizabeth Mede Windham Chamberlayne), and her second husband. A letter, written from on December 17, 1670 by a Norwich lawyer, Robert Pepper to William Windham suggests, the young couple managed their income badly, and that in the face of adverse circumstances, Maidston was now claiming he had married Elizabeth because her half-brother, William Windham had promised him money:

The Ld. Maydstone and his train continue stil lhere and lie at Rack and Manger with poor Mr Chamberlain [the second husband], and how they can ever make him amends, I know not, he is at vast expense and charge and so like to continue for ought I can perceive ...

Pepper then warns William Windham that some of his mother's relations are plotting with Maidstone, to get the claimed bribe from him:

There are some of yr nearest Relations next yr Mother, will swear that yo did absolutely promise that in case my Ld. Maydstone would ever owne yr sister for his Wife you would give him 5000l

(Isham 313).

Nor does the story end romantically, and Heneage and Ann were among those who were ambiguously affected by its aftermath. It seems a genuine reconciliation and attempt at a career for the heir had begun when in January 1672, during the Anglo-Dutch war, father and son together volunteered for the navy. But Maidstone died accidentally when, in Ann's words, he was "kill'd by a Random shott, after the fight was over and the Fleets parted. On May 28th 1672" (MS Folger 50; Cameron 41; Buxton, A Tradition, 170). The result: two decades later, Elizabeth Wyndham, now Lady Maidstone, would cause a great deal of trouble and litigation, for when her husband died, no jointure had been set down on paper, and to quiet her the second Earl resorted to vague verbal promises, which, when he died, his fourth wife, the then dowager Countess of Winchilsea, Elizabeth Ayres Finch, would not make good on, for the excellent reason that her jointure claim (solidly in writing) came first. Lady Maidstone had also had one daughter before Maidstone went off with his father, Mariamne--and she would survive to marry Philip Herbert, and with him in 1713 challenge our Heneage to the property and title after the death of her younger brother, the posthumous son, Charles Finch, born in October 1672, four to five months after his father's death. On the other hand, between 1705 and 1706, as a now ailing and childless third Earl of Winchelsea, Charles Finch, asked his uncle, his father's younger brother, our Heneage, now his presumptive heir and his wife, our Ann, to come to live at Eastwell.

During this gap of time after 1667, the year of Maidstone's marriage (at fourteen), and beginning 1668 when Heneage turns up at Wye School to greet his returning parents with his younger brother, Thomas, until the death of Maidstone in 1672, and for perhaps a couple of further years, Heneage was spending his time either at Oxford or Cambridge studying civil law. In a letter written in 1724 to William Stukeley then a dear friend and fellow-antiquarian, the 67-year old Heneage, now fourth Earl of Winchilsea, with his tongue in his cheek regrets that he did not study medicine like Stukeley, but chose civil law when he was at university: "O! why did not I take my degree in your faculty; instead of the civil law, but I was not fated to be great" (Surtees Society 73:233; n1). Although the Finch family had, as it were, taken up residence at Grey's Inn since later Tudor times, the second Earl did not send his now oldest son (though not the heir, the baby Charles Finch was the heir) there to study Common Law which would have been far more useful to him and, if necessity required, remunerative. The second Earl would have been strongly put off by an alliance that had grown up between common law lawyers and the more republican puritans (the same individual was often both a successful litigator and Parliamentarian); the university was also the place for gentleman (Prest 22-3 210-1).

Since the elder Heneage and Maidstone had gone to Cambridge, and since Stukeley went to Cambridge--and in his 1724 letter our Heneage by implication places himself at Cambridge but in a different faculty from Stukeley, it seems a fair assumption Heneage went to Cambridge. The center for legal studies at the time was Trinity Hall (Prest 22-3; 210-1). But this not certain; the second Earl sent his younger son, Leopold, and Charles Finch, the grandson to Oxford (Cameron 88). Oxford also offered the DCL, and on May 2, 1683 Oxford bestowed this degree on our Heneage, as well as other members of James II's entourage, including Lord Viscount Christopher Hatton whom we met earlier when his third wife, Ann's cousin, Elizabeth Haslewood Hatton, invited Ann to stay with her after James II's fall from power. But Heneage received this in an elaborate ceremony whose purpose was to make much of James II when he visited Oxford by and gilding him and the courtiers around him (Cameron 40; 1903 Reynolds xxv); thus it has always been assumed that Heneage's was one of those honorary degrees which the university used to make friends among the powerful by paying appropriate homage to birth and rank (Winstanley 79-85).

Heneage's half-joking tone in his reference to his studies also suggests that he was one of the many students who chose civil law in the later seventeenth and eighteenth centuries because it was "a soft option." Despite exacting statutory requirements, no examination was imposed, and instead of attending rigorous lectures during a six-year attendance, and a set of thorny books to study and perform set exercises from, Heneage could easily have simply resided at Cambridge or Oxford for three years (the actual practice) and return at the end of another three years to perform a watered-down exercise (dumbing down is nothing new) and be granted a degree (Winstanley 46-60).

To Heneage either Oxford or Cambridge was another Chelsea, more green and pleasant England. In Defoe's somewhat later description of Cambridge and Oxford he finds them alike in most ways, agreeable "to any Man who is a lover of Learning, or of Learn'd Men;" there are theatres, libraries, beautiful buildings; he remarks that he was also glad to see that "the Governors" of these "Schools so well understand their Office, and the governed their Duty, that here is very little Encouragement given to those Seminaries of Crime the Assemblies,"whose three principal activities are "Dancing, Gaming, Intriguing." These are not forbidden, but kept in check by curfews (Defoe, A Tour, I, 86-89; II, 417-26).

Some people, of course, would prefer to think Heneage was a diligent exemplary student, and from Trinity one could obtain a fellowship, but Heneage did not seek this. Others might prefer the dancer, gambler, and intriguer. But from what we know of his later years he resembled more the former than the latter. His successful coping with the enormous debts and complicated lawsuits he inherited in 1713, his care for his estate and that of Ann's oldest brother's son in Hampshire, his later real knowledge of the early science of archaeology; his activities as a coin-, and book-collector and love of music (e.g., Cameron 140; Reynolds xlvi-xlviii) suggest that if he didn't wear his mind out over the logic of Roman jurisprudence, he was reading and applying his considerable talents in interestingly imaginative and even scholarly directions (Piggott 56-60, 71, 90; Cameron 140; Reynolds xlvi- xlviii; Surtees Society 73: 228-51).

We do not know exactly when Heneage left university, perhaps in 1673 when he was sixteen and perhaps in 1676 when he went abroad. Sixteen to seventeen was the age a young heir was sent out on his grand tour, but Heneage was not the heir, his dead older brother's baby son, Charles, was, and the second Earl had not made up his mind to send his second son yet. Of course, a particular baby's life was not something one counted upon in the seventeenth century, and in 1673 the second Earl married for the third time, April 10, 1673 to be specific. This time he sought no exalted genealogy, but rather a mature woman who could mother Mary Seymour's younger children. He chose in fact a woman who like himself had lost two spouses to death. Catherine Wentworth (Norcliffe by birth, Lister by her second marriage) was a local widow of the middling gentry Essex family which had in the generation just before the elder Heneage been connected to the Winchilsea Finches (we recall that the elder Heneage's mother was a Cecilia Wentworth). That Catherine Wentworth was marrying up and willing to comply with the second Earl's basic need for a mother for a group of children is suggested by her handing her children by her first and second husbands over to her mother, Dame Dorothy Norcliffe (Cameron 238n17). She also proceeded to present the elder Heneage with two further children, daughters, Elizabeth born between 1675 and 1680 (she was somewhere between 10 and 14 in 1689), and Catherine who died in 1685 (I'Anson 56; Cameron 65; Reynolds xxxiv). With the arrival of Lady Maidstone, and her Mariamne and Charles Finch, shortly after the death of Maidstone himself Eastwell was a house full of children from three mothers out of one father and one son.

It was around the time of the birth of his third wife's first child that the elder Heneage sent the younger abroad. Between nineteen and twenty (1676-7) Heneage toured France and Italy (Henning II: 324). Throughout the younger Heneage's life, the elder see-sawed between regarding the younger and treating him as his probable heir and regarding him as an "extra" son who had to be provided for somehow, but from whom not that much reciprocal sacrifice was to be expected, particularly in the shape of requiring marriage to a wife with money or land or big connections. A tour would be useful whether Heneage inherited or not, for the central aim of such trips was to train a young man in the subtleties of diplomacy and court etiquette--before he showed up to the court he was to become a member of and rise in to train him to know how to make his way through artificial and often treacherous minefields. The adolescent boy--in the younger Heneage's case, young man--was to meet and mingle with cosmopolitan societies of all types, and the best (Stoye 1-10). Sending the younger Heneage abroad also got him out of the house; Lady Maidstone was, as we shall see, despite the reluctant nature of her welcome into Eastwell, not a woman who felt she must therefore brook any rivals to her son.

The younger Heneage's French itinerary is quickly sketched, for by the 1660's and 1670's just about everyone chose among a small number of similar routes: first the wind had to blow you from Dover or Rye to Calais or Dieppe. Sir John Finch, the younger Heneage's father's cousin (the Earl of Nottingham's younger brother, or fifth son to the Recorder Sir Heneage Finch) took the typical route about twenty years earlier, the only difference being Sir John Finch stayed to make his home in Italy (Stoye 158-59). He was one of many who wrote of the price and difficulty of the crossing: it was 13s.4d. for passage and as to entering Dieppe, "the haven is a safe road when you are in it but by many circuits you come into the port;" Evelyn tells us in 1664 one Dr Downes was carried ashore on the back of sailor (Stoye 17-8, 284). If you were headed for the Netherlands, you went along the coast northwards, to Dunkirk, up to Ostend, and then down into modern-day Belgium and Bruges; headed for Paris, as most were, you went from Dieppe west and north to Abbeville on the Somme, and then down along the Somme, hit Amiens, and then took horse south and so to Paris; or you took horse from Dieppe immediately to Rouen and then by river along the cities of the Seine Valley, to hit St Germaine and Versailles and so to Paris.

The point was Paris. There were the academies (e.g., the Hotel de Pluvinel in the Rue St. Honore) set up for the sons of English gentlemen in which horseback riding was the "manly" center of a program which included dancing, drawing, and, as Stoye puts it, "elementary mathematics ... as a decent prelude to the science of fortification and the practice of siege-warfare." There was the French court, though as Heneage told Ann, as she suggests it in her harsh fable on the grand tour, extant documents and diaries show the young "foolish rat" was more often confounded by a

....... swearing, staring, bullying Thing,
That tore his Throat, and blustered with his Wings,
Was but some paltry Dunghill, Craven Cock

(1713 Misc 129)

That is, bullying duels and quarrels than he was educated by the brilliant conversation in elegant society (Stoye 35-43).

The route further south into Italy took in Orleans and the "garden" (as one diarist has it) of the Loire valley, down to Lyons. Castles, buildings, antiquities, France was in fact a kind of museum of military fortifications. Amiens, Abbeville, Calais were fortresses; south of Paris the Huguenot cities maintained good garrisons and walled cities; the sense of a city as a stronghold impressed many diarists; they wrote of the danger of being locked out or in somewhere after nightfall. All this would have garnered Heneage's attention, as he was soon to spend a decade as a sort of soldier, and in one of Ann's most delightful poems, "An Invitation to Dafnis" (copied out in Heneage's hand), in which Ann as Ardelia urges him as her Daphnis to leave his books and join her in the fields, we find Heneage not only absorbed by his arduous illumination of manuscripts, but by a study of bastions, battle strategy, and the Netherlands to which he perhaps did go (apparently many travellers went, but neglected to keep records as the Netherlands was not thought "to count" in the way France and Italy "counted"):

Rich colours, on the Vellum, cease to lay,
When ev'ry lawne, much nobler can display,
When on the dz'ling poppy, may be seen,
A glowing red, exceeding your Carmine;
And for the blew, that o're the Sea is borne,
A brighter rises in our Standing Corn.
Come then, my Dafnis, and the fields survey.
And throo' the groves, with your Ardelia stray.
Come, and lett Sanson's World, no more engage,
Altho' he gives a Kingdom in a page ...
Nor plead that you're immur'd, and cannot yeild,
That mighty Bastions keep you from the feild,
Think not tho' lodg'd in Mons, or in Namur,
You're from my dangerous attacks secure ...

(Folger 42)

Of course the young traveller was supposed also to learn about ways of the world different from his own, industry, farming, local customs. Letters of introduction would place him among interesting people; the young man would perhaps best recall his hours on a horse followed by hours rivers (the Garonne was another route) until he neared Italy in the heart of Roman France, where I am sure Heneage was delighted to stop, guidebook in hand (there were many popular maps and guidebooks for all France)--here Montpellier was a popular attraction because of its government and university and many apothecary shops; one went to Nimes for antiquities. It is relevant for Heneage's experience to recall that many of the diarists on France seem to have been Kentish men among whom were not only some of Heneage's relatives, but his neighbors and his father's followers. Well, then on to Avignon and so to Marseilles and its port attractions before embarking for Italy (Stoye 44-5, 79-80).

From 1630 on the trip through Italy had a route so conventionalized it dictated the seasons during which people spent time at this or that city. Most travellers did not enter Italy through the dangerous pass of Mount Cenis, but in the late autumn sailed first to Genoa, then on to Florence (where in 1670 Sir John Finch was Charles II's official representative), then Rome for a few weeks, down south to Naples during Lent, then back up to Rome again for Easter and finally Venice at Ascensiontide. Summer you spent in Milan and then on through the Simplon pass to Geneva, and were done. Serious students of medicine went for months and more to Padua "to observe dissections, visit hositals, and collect specimens medical and botanical" (Stoye 159). By 1670 the sense of strangeness Englishmen experienced in this most Catholic of countries had dissipated at least somewhat, and the police state tactics which terrified some Elizabethans no longer in evidence (Stoye 120-1). Here it was not a matter of academies opened for English consumption, but academies rooted in a local aristocratic culture; again the scientific enthusiasm which one such society aroused in Sir John Finch led hi to petition Charles II to form a "properly constituted 'experimental society" on the model of the Florentine Accademia del Cimento which, he said, flourished in part because of the Grand Duke's patronage (Stoye 158). Many English travellers were deeply impressed by the real virtuosity of Italian musical performances, and a Robert Bargrave wrote some of the earliest serious descriptions of music after experiencing recitals at Siena and the opera at Venice (Stoye 152-5). Heneage's willingness late in life to climb attic stairs in company with other aristocratic friends to hear the finest musicians in London play the gamba, harpiscoord and small organ in a sort of make-shift concert- hall must be our commemoration of this aspect of his trip (Lang 122)

For unlike his cousin, Sir John Finch, Heneage left no diary. We don't know which books he sent home; what concerts he heard. We cannot be sure how well he spoke or understood French or Italian, though Mary of Modena's preference to have him in her train of followers suggests he had imbibed something of the aristocratic Italian milieu, and Ann's time spent learning Italian herself and translating Tasso and his time spent copying her texts out was a continuation of the journey. We don't even know who his companions were. No-one went alone (it was not that safe), and the point was not solitude in nature but to make contacts in the hope of preferment in England (Stoye 108). We can say that Heneage did not make these contacts, for upon his return he did not head for St James's or any other place of his own of someone else's making which resulted from his tour, but fell back upon his father's control of Kent's network of places. He was not to emerge at St. James through his European but through his experiences in the militia in Kent.

In the autumn of 1669 the second Earl had resumed his office of Lord Lieutenant of Kent; he had again become partly through his own local network of allegiances stemming from his activities during the Interregnum and his position as a great landowning Earl, the king's man running the place (Twysden Lieutenancy Papers 28). In 1677 when Heneage returned from his tour the second Earl determined to place his now fully-polished gentleman-scholar of a son in the local political network of Kent, and according Heneage next turns up in official records in 1678 as a Colonel in the local foot militia of his home county, Kent. So from 1677 until 1682, when the younger Heneage Finch was appointed Captain of the Coldstream Guards, he alternated between stints among the trained bands of his local militia (under the control of local landed gentry until 1757), stints politicking for offices, for votes for preferred candidates and friends (i.e., again it was a case of hoping for the right connections to be used later), and stints of a typical gentleman-squire's leisure activities. In the later seventeenth century the lord and deputy lieutenants of a county had the right annually to collect or bring together ("to muster") groups of local able-bodied young men, to sort them into "bands," to train and to exercise them at the charge of the county. There was an annual two-week training period (rather like the contemporary two-week training of the American Reserve Army), which was irregularly bolstered by monthly or sometimes bi-weekly forays into parts of the county. These groups were officered by the landowners of the county and their relatives, could be used as an instrument for defense outside the county (as famously Cromwell used them at Worcester), but were really meant to preserve internal order in the county and to enforce the ballot and even to electioneer. The members were subject to discipline by means of statutes which were supposed to be enforced by local magistrates. But discipline was very lax, and these militia were not in any way a standing army of paid professional soldiers; they were selectively-chosen groups supported by this or that landowner. They could be "embodied" for a national or local crisis; that is, brought to a camp, trained as far as time and equipment permitted, kept active somehow or other while they went to perform an immedidate task, and, when the need was no more, disbanded. Typically Heneage would not be in the field; he would be in a tavern or inn somewhere in Kent (Machiavelli, xii-xv, xxvi-xxviii, 28, 211; Trevelyan, 16-8, 99-100, 128-9, 167-8, 502; 1911 EB, XII, 420-1; XVIII, 449-51).

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