Lives of the fellows

John (Sir) Finch

b.1626 d.18 November 1682
AB Oxon(1647) AM Cantab(1649) MD Padua FRCP(1660-1) FRS(1663)

Sir John Finch, MD, was the son of Sir Heneage Finch, recorder of London, the brother of Thomas earl of Winchelsea, by his first wife, Frances, daughter of Sir Edmund Bell, of Beaupre hall, co Norfolk, knight. He was born about the year 1626, and received his early education at a school in the parish of All Saints, Oxford, kept by Mr Edward Sylvester, and when about fifteen years of age was admitted a gentleman commoner of Balliol college. In due time (22nd May, 1647) he took his degree of bachelor of arts. He left Oxford the following year, and removing to Christ’s college, Cambridge, commenced AM in 1649, when attaching himself to the study of physic, he proceeded to Padua, where he ultimately took the degree of doctor of medicine. He was appointed English consul at Padua; and, according to Wood, “was preferred by all the Italians and Greeks (though he himself much opposed it) to be syndick of the whole university, an honour no Englishman ever had before. In contemplation and memory of his excellent government, they set up his statue in marble, and the Great Duke (invited by the fame of his learning and virtues) did make him the public professor at Pisa, all princes striving who should most honour a person (so vastly above his years) so knowing and so meritorious.”

On the restoration of king Charles II, Dr Finch returned to England; and on the 1st March, 1660-1, in virtue of the following vote, was admitted an Extraordinary Fellow of the College of Physicians: “1660-1. Februarii xxvi. Ob præclara Doctoris Harvei, nobis nunquam sine honore nominandi, ejusque fratris germani Eliabi, in Collegium merita, placuit Sociis omnibus præsentibus (præterquam quatuor) Drem Joannem Finch et Drem Thomam Baines (Patavii doctorali laureâ ornatos) adaucto tantundem, in eorum gratiam, Sociorum numero, in Collegium, seu Socios Extraordinarios, adsciscere: eâ tamen lege ac conditione, ne res hæc facilè in exemplum trahatur.”

”1660-1. Martii j. Admittantur jam Socii Extraordinarii Dr Joannes Finch et Dr Baines.”

Dr Finch was presented to king Charles II by the lord chancellor, the earl of Clarendon, on the 10th June, 1661, when his Majesty, in recognition of his services abroad, conferred upon him the honour of knighthood.(1) He was declared a fellow of the Royal Society 20th May, 1663. In 1665 he proceeded to the court of the grand duke of Tuscany, as minister from the king of Great Britain; and proved himself so dexterous in that capacity, that towards the end of 1672 he was sent as ambassador to Constantinople. Sir John returned to England, and died in London on the 18th November, 1682, aged fifty-six. His body was taken to Cambridge, and interred near his bosom friend, Dr Baines, in the chapel of Christ’s college, where there is the following inscription to their joint memory.

Effare Marmor.
Cuja sunt hæc duo quæ sustentas Capita?
Duorum amicissimorum quibus Cor erat unum, unaq. Anima;
D. JOHANNIS FINCHII et D. THOMÆ BAINESII,
Equitum Auratorum,
Virorum omnimodâ sapientiâ, Aristotelicâ, Platonicâ, Hippocraticâ,
rerumque adeo gerendarum peritiâ planè summorum,
atque hisce nominibus, et ob præclarum immortalis Amicitiæ
exemplum,
sub amantissimi tutoris Henrici Mori auspiciis,
hoc ipso in Collegio initæ,
per totum Terrarum orbem celebratissimorum;
hi mores, hæc studia, hic successus, Genus verò
si quæris et necessitudines,
horum alter D. Heneagii Finchii Equitis Aurati Filius erat,
Heneagii verò Finchii Comitis Nottinghamiensis Frater,
non magis Juris quam Justiciæ Consulti,
Regiæ Majestati a Consiliis Secretioribus, summique
Angliæ Cancellarii,
viri prudentissimi, religiosissimi,
eloquentissimi, integerrimi,
Principi, Patriæ, atque Ecclesiæ Anglicanæ charissimi,
ingeniosâ, numerosâ, prosperâq. prole, præ cæteris
mortalibus felicissimi:
Alter D. Johannis Finchii, viri omni laude majoris,
amicus intimus,
perpetuusq. per triginta plus minos annos
fortunarum et consiliorum particeps,
longarumq. inter exteras nationes itinerationum
indivulsus comes:
Hic igitur peregrè apud Turcas vitâ functus
est, nec prius tamen quàm alter
a Serenissimo Rege Angliæ per decennium Legatus
præclarè suo functus est munere,
tunc demum dilectissimus Bainesius suam et amici
Finchii simul animam Byzantii efflavit
die v. Septembris, H. III. P.M., A.D. MDCLXXX. æt. suæ LIX.
Quid igitur fecerit alterum hoc corpus animâ cassum rogas?
Ruit: sed in amplexus alterius, indoluit, ingemuit,
ubertim flevit,
totum in lachrymas, nisi nescio quæ utriq. animæ
relliquiæ cohibuissent, defluxurum;
nec tamen totus dolori sic indulsit nobilissimus
Finchius,
quin ipsi quæ incumberent solerter gesserit
confeceritq. negotia,
et postquam ad Amici pollincturam quæ spectarent
curaverat,
visceraq. telluri Byzantinæ, addito marmore, eleganter
à se pièq. inscripto commiserat,
cunctas res suas sedulò paraverat ad reditum in
optatam patriam,
corpus etiam defuncti amici a Constantinopoli usque
(triste, sed pium officium) per longos maris tractus,
novam subinde salo è lachrymis suis admiscens salsedinem,
ad sacellum hoc deduxit,
ubi funebri ipsum oratione adhibitâ mœstisque sed
dulcisonis threnodiis,
in hypogæum tandem sub proximâ areâ situm,
commune utriq. paratum hospitium, solenniter
honorificèque condidit.
Hæc pia Finchius officia defuncto amico præstitit,
porroq. cum eo in usus pios
quater mille libras Anglicanas huic Christi Collegio
donavit,
ad duos Socios totidemq. Scholares in Collegio alendos,
et ad augendum libris quinquagenis reditum
Magistri annuum;
cui rei ministrandæ ritèq. finiundæ Londini
dum incumberet,
paucos post menses in morbum incidit, febriq. ac pleuritide
maximè verò Amici Bainesii desiderio adfectus et afflictus,
inter lacrymas, luctus, et amplexus charissimorum
dieum obiit,
speq. beatæ immortalitatis plenus, piè ac placidè in
Domino obdormivit
Die xviii. Novemb. H.II. P. M. A.D. MDCLXXXII. et. suæ LVI.
Londinoq. huc delatus, ab illustrissimo D. Domino Finchio
Heneagii Comitis Nottinghamiensis Filio primogenito
aliisq. ejus filiis, ac necessariis comitantibus
eodem in hoc Sepulchro, quo ejus amicissimus heic conditus
jacet:
ut studia, fortunas, consilia, imò animas vivi qui
miscuerant
iidem suos defuncti sacros tandem miscerent cineres.

William Munk

[(1) On the 26th June, 1661, in virtue of a grace passed the year before, Sir John Finch and his friend Dr Baines were created doctors of medicine at Cambridge. The entry in the register of the university is so honorable to them both that it ought not to be omitted. “Cum vir eximie nobilis Johannes Finch, eques auratus et Pisæ, magni ducis Hetruriæ professor publicus, et dignissimus etiam vir Thomas Baynes, duodecim abhinc annis admissi fuerint apud nos Cantabrigienses ad gradum magisterii in artibas et postea in exteras regiones profecti, diuque apud Patavinos commorati, non sine summo eorum applausu, et Anglicani nominis honore gradum doctoratûs in medicina ibidem adepti sint; in patriam demum reversis superiori anno iisdem gratia concessa est, ut hic apud nos admitterentur ad eundem gradum, statum et honorem, quibus apud Patavinos prius insigniti fuerant. At vero cum ipsimet in personis propriis ob importuna negotia, quibus impliciti et detenti sunt adesse non possint: Placet itaque vobis, ut vir nobilis Johannes Finch admissionem suam recipiat ad dictum gradum sub persona Doctoris Carr in medicinâ doctoris; - et Thomas Baynes suam itidem sub persona Johannis Gostlin inceptoris in medicina; et ut eorum stet eisdem pro completis gradu et forma.”]

(Volume I, page 298)

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