William Finch (merchant)
William Finch (died 1613) was an English merchant in the service of the East India Company (EIC).
A native of London, Finch was agent to an expedition sent by the EIC, under Captains Hawkins and Keeling, in 1607 to treat with the Great Mogul. Hawkins and Finch landed at Surat on 24 August 1608. They were violently opposed by the Portuguese. Finch, however, obtained permission from the governor of Cambay to dispose of the goods in their vessels. Incited by the Portuguese, who seized two of the English ships, the natives refused to have dealings with the company's representatives.
During these squabbles, Finch fell ill, and Hawkins, proceeding to Agra alone, obtained favourable notice from the Emperor Jehangir. Finch recovered, and joined Hawkins at Agra on 14 April 1610. The two remained at the mogul's court for about a year and a half, Finch refusing tempting offers to attach himself permanently to the service of Jehangir. Hawkins returned to England, but Finch delayed his departure in order to make further explorations, visiting Byana and Lahore among other places.
Finch made careful observations on the commerce and natural products of the districts visited. In 1608, Finch would provide historians with evidence of the holy city of Ayodhya's profound significance for Hindus in the 17th century. According to Finch, writing in 1608, Hindus would perform bhajans and prayers inside a mosque that had been erected over the site of the previous Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Rama.
In 1612, the mogul emperor confirmed and extended the privileges he had promised to Finch and Hawkins, and the East India Company in that year set up their first little factory at Surat. He wrote many things about Burhanpur, a town in Madhya Pradesh.
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