I On Myself Can Live

Colonel Heneage Finch (Continued)

The lifestyle and significance of a few years spent this way for someone of the younger Heneage's temperament is no where better captured than in Edward Gibbon's diary of his two and one-half years in the local Hampshire militia. The Big Man (Lieutenant-Colonel) in charge of Gibbon's specific battalion was Sir Thomas Worsley; Gibbon was made a captain. Entries from his record for the year 1761 will give us a good feel for Heneage's life while on duty:

the novelty of the thing, of which for some time I was so fond to think of as going into the army, our field-days, our dinners abroad, and the drinking and late hours we got into, prevented any serious reflections. From the day we marched ... I had hardly a moment I could call my own, almost continually in motion; if I was fixed for a day, it was in the guard-room, a barrack, or an inn. Our disputes consumed the little time I had left ... The Deal duty lost me part of February; although I was at home part of March, and all April, yet electioneering is no friend to the muses. May, indeed, though dissipated by our sea parties, was pretty quiet; but June was absolutely lost, upon the march, at Alton, and settling ourselves in camp

(Gibbon 107-8)

Gibbon does say the period of his life in which he had regularly to perform "the duties of an active profession" were useful to him: he learned a great deal about human nature, about the leading men in his county and in the nation at large, about what various offices really comprise, about England's civil and military systems, and especially "the rudiments of the langue, and science of tactics, which opened a new field of study and observation." He tells how in his intervals at home or of quiet in camp he "diligently read and meditated" ancient military books. Heneage did too. When Ardelia has to urge her Daphnis to "come away" to the fields, her problem is that he is fully absorbed in his perusal of Nicholas and Guillaume Sanson's Description de tout l'Univers, and the progress of the sieges at Mons and Namur by Lousis XIV's military engineer, Sebastien Le Prestre, Marquis de Vausbon; that is, in the early 1700's, he is still recurring to and vicariously reliving a life he apparently enjoyed and thrived upon during most of the 1670's.

By 1678 the elder Heneage had promoted his son to Colonel, and felt it was time to place him even higher and more strategically. He wanted him to be one of his Deputies; and for this office he had to apply to the king. On August 1, 1678, he wrote Sir J. Williamson:

By the bearer, my son Heneage, who is one of my colonels of foot in this county, I desire you to speak to his Majesty that he will be pleased to make him also one of my deputy lieutenants. I hope his Majesty will not quite forget me, but give me some occasion abroad or at home to serve him, and I hope I shall not want your kindness in putting him in mind of me as occasion may require.

On August 10th, Williamson sent the elder Earl the following notice: "Approbation by the King of the Hon. Heneage Finch to be one of the deputy lieutenants for Kent" (McGovern 231-2, n10).

A deputy-lieutenant was a nominal office; while again and again one finds them with combining responsibility for arming and training and organizing numbers of trained bands, and for the efficient administration of law in certain jurisdictions, they served the will of the Lieutenant of the County. There were to be at least twenty, and they had by law to be a peer of the realm, or an heir-apparent to such a peer, and to have a yearly income of not less than 200l.

It is of interest that in the later phase of Heneage's career in the local militia he moved to Canterbury, for in 1680 he registered as a freeman there. This move may have been related to his father's fourth marriage. (Yes, yet once again.) We must assume Catherine Wentworth Finch died in the later 1670's, for by 1680 the now sexagenarian Henage was again seeking a wife; this time he chose a much younger wealthy London heiress, Elizabeth Ayres Finch--she was twenty to the younger Heneage's twenty-four on the day of her marrriage to the elder. They were married October 29, 1681; and the breeding of heirs began again. Their first son, John Finch, was born in the following year; two further girls, Cecily and Ann, who both died ummarried, soon followed (I'Anson 56). And so too did the ugly jealousy begin between the now older Lady Maidstone and her son, the presumptive heir, and the now much younger dowager fourth Countess of Winchilsea, a bitter rivalry which first saw the light of the courtroom after upon the Earl's death in 1689. The house was again not a place for the second son of a second long-dead wife.

There were, of course, other motives for moving semi- permanently from Eastwell to Canterbury. It was the biggest most important city in the county; flourishing businesses, important politicking, beautiful churches and mysterious antiquities, it had it all, just the place for the Lord Lieutenant to fix his grown son who might yet be the heir (Hasted IV). Here was the county jail. Here were held the assizes and general elections (Henning I:276-9). Defoe waxes enthusiastic about the place, and wants us to know that, contrary to any other opinions, "the great Wealth and Encrease of the City of Canterbury, is from the suprizing Encrease of the Hop-Grounds all round the place." There are "near Six Thousand Acres of Grand so planted, within a very few Miles of the City;" here we leave "the poor Chalky Downs and deep Foggy MArshes of northern Kent for "wholesome rich Soil, the well wooded, and well-water'd Plain on the Banks of the Medway" (Defoe I, 114-5). He mentions a secondary house of the Winchilsea branch of the Finches (Ashford), and concludes that this part of Kent is

"a very agreeable Palce to live in, and where a Man of Letters, and of Manners, will always find suitable Society, both to Divert and Improve himself; so that here is, what is not often found, namely a Town of very great Business and Trade, and yet full of Gentry, Mirth, and of good Company...

(Defoe, I, 115).

Canterbury was also in this period an antiquarian's paradise. To the modern travel-writer and professional archeaologist Canterbury (Roman name Duroverum) and Rochester (Durobrivae) are "binary stars in [their] and the historian's heaven (Church 15-7, 22-3, 26, 224ff.)-- though it must be admitted Defoe is not so keen on this aspect of Canterbury, remarking that "the place look[s] like a general Ruin a little Recovered," and can only console himself with the thought that these ruins bring tourists like himself since one seems simply to trip over Celtic, Saxon, and Roman remains everywhere (Defoe, I 116-9). Heneage's later choice of Godmersham and some of his recorded actions at Wye College, and his and Ann's visit to Somerset suggest that well before he made a little stir by finding antiquities and way before he became a firm patron to William Stukeley the desire to dig and discover pre-Roman and Roman remains helped to motivate him to decide to live here or visit there. And thus it was with Canterbury.

Two years though he had left Canterbury and his father's comfortable aegis. In 1682 he was made Captain in the Coldstream guards in London (McGovern 28); it should perhaps be noted here for the modern reader whose notions of the Coldstream Guards derive from photographs of tourists at Buckingham Palace and perhaps a sly poem in Winnie-the-Pooh:

They're changing guards at Buckingham Palace
Christopher Robin went down with Alice
Alice is marrying one of the guard.
'A Soldier's life is terrible hard,'
                     Says Alice.

(Milne 4),

What based in London these regiments in the seventeenth century were real soldiers who actually fought (and more than occasionally); they also provided a serious guard for the royal palaces. They were body or household guard troops, and in a way more like an organized army than the local militias as they were controlled by officers of the nation- state and salaried. The specific division of guards to which Heneage was promoted were formed from a New Model regiment of Foot Guards commanded by Monk; the army with which Monk restored the monarch crossed the Tweed into England at the village of Coldstream, and his Troops nicknamed the Coldstreamers (EB XII, 656-8).

On the other hand, their days did not resemble and they were not made up of the same class of people as we find among modern soldiers or tourist attractions at Buckingham Palace. Like the local militia, they were mostly noblemen and gentry or hangers-on, and their military function was easily forgotten in the court milieu. For example, Heneage was also by 1682 Captain of the King's Halberdiers; a Halberdier is a purely decorative function; you stand there in knee britches and hold a halberd; that's a fancy spear (it has an axe on it). Perhaps to the modern reader to end up a courtier-cavalier at age 25 after all his years of varied education does not seem exactly a plum; it might seem bathetic; but we must recall that in the seventeenth century there was no Wall Street, no industrial world to join; it was at court that fortunate young men (as well as women) could really garner a fortune; all Heneage's years had in fact led towards this goal, and Heneage had at last got a place on his own.

Before we place him at court beside Ann--in May 1682 Ann Kingsmill joined Mary's circle in St James's Palace, and now Colonel Finch is stationed outside--we might pause just a moment to consider how kind Fortune had been to Heneage, and as yet his luck held, particularly in comparison to Ann. His education had prepared him for worldly and non-worldly personal success at (as his era understood it) the top. When he came to court, the kind of minefields to be crossed can only have been what he had been expecting and experiencing all these years at public school, on tour, as a politicking soldier. It was not so with Ann. She had not expected what she found, had not really imagined it, and her nature and moral ideas were such that she was shocked, which led to her coping badly, which itself produced a profound dismay, and upon her marriage to Heneage, a retreat from public life.

It is now 1683, Heneage is a groom in the Duke of York's bedchamber, Ann a Maid of Honor to this Duke's Duchess. His position was comparable to that of maid of honor, both functions on the circumference of rather than in the royal circle. Again, the Duke's gentlemen (like the Duchess's ladies) of the bedchamber were the royal person's real intimates. These people were paid hefty salaries (1000l. a year all found), and slept in the king's room, lying by his bed; they waited on him in his most private moments. The salaries of the Grooms of the bedchamber are not listed; there were seventeen in 1677, and they are listed with the pages of the bed-chamber (Chamberlayne I, 154-5). Again the function is mostly decorative; I doubt the second Earl's son attended to the horses.

As noted earlier, Heneage was front-stage on May 22, 1682 when at Oxford, he and the man who was to be Ann's cousin's husband, Lord Viscount Christopher Hatton, were awarded D.C.L.'s. While by 1687 Cambridge at least was taking action to prevent the wholesale give-away of honorary degrees (Winstanley 79-83), that day's elaborate ceremony was a kind of apotheosis to many such ceremonies ostentatiously welcoming James back from Scotland as the rightful heir to the throne of England. Cameron thinks Ann was there and must have been impressed (Cameron 41, 46; Reynolds xxv; Strickland IX: 106-9). If she was as naive when she first came to court as she says, she probably was.

Let us pause here to picture them on a more average day or evening, crowded together towards the back of a room at St. James's. By 1685 the long-waisted stiff corset with a deep V-curve in front had returned; this thrust a women's breasts into prominence; neckerchiefs vanished. Ann also would have worn the brand-new high heel (adopted for the first time) which tilted her forward. I am afraid the result (as many paintings of the English court from this period show) that the upper portion of Ann's breast and perhaps her nipples were exposed (Hollander 106-10). The studied negligence of ringlets, and a profusion of cloth with transparent lawn tucked in here and there, the arm bare to the elbow added to the erotic effect (Hollander 106-110). A positive revolution had occurred in men's dress when Charles II had taken to wearing, as Pepys wrote, a "long cassocke close to the body, of black cloth, and pinked with white silke under it, and a coat over it, and the legs ruffled with bland riband like a pigeon's leg." While the effect of this first adherence to a kind of coat with a vest underneath may seem more natural or at any rate closer to the dress of men in the last two centuries than the elaborate garments of the Jacobean period, Charles II donned a periwig too. Men had to shave their heads close to put one on, and one hears of "night-caps" at home to hide and give the poor bare head some relief from the weight (Lavar 113-22). Thus attired, thus informally standing at attention were Heneage Finch and Ann Kingsmill drawn to one another.

Heneage did forge a few long-lasting friendships. Thomas Tufton, sixth Earl of Thanet whose seat Hothfield House was a couple of miles away from Eastwell (Cameron 83, 231n5; Reynolds xxxvi), was another of James's Grooms of the Bedchamber at this time. Two years later, in 1684 when Thomas's older brother died, he took over the position and therefore responsibilities of the heir, and thus left court to marry; he and his wife, Catherine Cavendish welcomed Heneage and Ann to Hothfield House after 1689; the closeness would extend to the second generation; Ann cherished the Tufton's older daughters, Selena and Ann; in his diary Heneage looks upon the birth of their third daughter, Isabella, as of equal significance to him as the birth of his good friend Algernon Seymour, Earl of Hertford, and Hertford's daughter by Francis Thynne Seymour, little Lady Betty (MS F-H 283, unpaginated 55, of these three much more later)

There is one poem by Ann which specifically names and describes two other even lesser well-known people Heneage was close to. It was, as its title tells us, "Occasion'd By the Death of Collonel Baggot, who had been Groom of the Bedchamber to King James, together with Collonel Finch (now Earl of Winchilsea), & Captain Lloyd &c." Colonel Richard Baggot was Captain of Duke of York's regiment 1672, Major in 1683, and, a Colonel by 1687. He was not then a friend from Kent out of the Finch network, but someone Heneage was personally drawn to. If this Richard Baggot is the man of the same name who became a Groom of the Bedchamber for James II's son James Edward in 1702, Ann's poem was written after 1702 and before August 1712. Of Captain Lloyd it is only know that he was a Groom of the Bedchamber to the Duke of York; on the 17th unnumbered sheet of his diary Heneage recorded Lloyd's death in his diary as follows: "On a January 4th died his worthy old friend and brother of the Bed Chamber David Lloyd" (Cameron 46-7; MS F-H 282, 17). Ann's poem tells us death alone ended this triangular friendship; she pictures Heneage and Lloyd at Baggot's bedside; she declares Baggot's life a success; his was the victory of a decent man who was not be disloyal to the Stuarts even if he suffered for his loyalty:

... up to Heaven his parting Soul they yeild
And hail the triumph of the well-faught-field
Not Victory when numbers give Successe
Not heaps of Coin, extorted with Distresse
Not honour in large Pattent long enclos'd
Not pamper'd Ease on down of Swans repos'd
Not power intrench'd beond the reach of fear
Not swelling praise to the vain-glorious Ear
Not Absoloms' porportion or his face
(The short delusions of our Mortal Race)
Are worth a Wish whilst Virtues last Reward
Includes all good and only claimes Regard
Our end determins all, and on the end
The past and future equally depend
Then Fame's Secure if any be our share
And Heaven's th'Asylum from a Life of Care

(MS Wellesley 124)

The poem also tells us how Ann regarded Heneage's sacrifice, and was of course, written for his eyes, to praise and to comfort him.

No history of haggling over dowry and jointure proceeds the "blessed" day, May 14, 1684 (Heneage's word for it some thirty-nine years later, MS F-H 283, unpaginated 33) when Ann and Heneage journeyed from St. James's to "the Chapple of St. James in ye parish of St. Martin in ye ffields after" and got married. Reynolds noticed and made much of Ann's "fib" about her age. She claimed eighteen, when she was 23 to Heneage's 27 (xxv). This is not remarkable; what is, is the lack of relatives and contractual negotiations. The elder Heneage's second son by his second wife had like his first neglected to consult the old man, and Ann's family had nothing to do with this match. And the young couple were not fourteen, not drunk, and not manipulated into it. For this era for two young upper class adults, one aristocratic, the other middling gentry to go off on their own--no relatives in sight--is more than faintly astonishing. They cannot have hoped to escape the family nexus of their society; a lot has been said against the "cash" nexus; when the family network was in charge, life was no freer. They did not escape it because they could not. But they did get away with marrying for love, and they did so because he was a second son and she a third child, an orphaned daughter. They soon reaped the disadvantages of their great good luck.

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