Elizabeth Finch, 1st Countess of Winchilsea

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Elizabeth Finch, née Heneage, 1st Countess of Winchilsea (9 July 1556 – 23 March 1634) was an English peeress.

A portrait of Elizabeth Finch, by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, c.1600

Elizabeth was the daughter and heiress of Sir Thomas Heneage, who was Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Vice-Chamberlain of the Household in the latter years of the reign of Elizabeth I. At 16 years old, she was married to Moyle Finch on 14 November 1572 and they had six children:

Her husband became a politician soon after their marriage and was knighted in 1584 and given a baronetcy in 1611. When Sir Moyle died in 1614, Elizabeth and her sons made considerable efforts to have the family's status elevated and almost nine years later, James I created her Viscountess Maidstone, with a remainder to her heirs male. In 1628, she was further elevated by Charles I as Countess of Winchilsea. On her death in 1634, her titles passed to her eldest surviving son, Sir Thomas (who had already inherited his elder brother's baronetcy in 1619).

Elizabeth and Sir Moyle are depicted in repose in a monument commemorating members of the Finch family, sculpted by Nicolas Stone c. 1630. The piece was created after Sir Moyle's death during Elizabeth's lifetime, and is now displayed at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. It was originally in the church of St Mary, Eastwell, Kent, which became a ruin in the 1950s and is now owned by the Friends of Friendless Churches.

References[edit]

Peerage of England
New creation Countess of Winchilsea
1628 – 1634
Succeeded by
Thomas Finch
Viscountess Maidstone
1623 – 1634