Alice Finch

Alice Finch is listed as the mother of Gilbert Jellians (1624-1700) in a number of Victorian genealogies, based largely on contemporary ‘Visitations’ of the county. She was married to Gilbert Jellians (Snr) on 6 May 1623 according to the parish register of St Thomas Dudley and her only recorded son Gilbert Jellians, the younger, was baptized on 1 Oct 1624. 

Her husband Gilbert Jellians is mentioned in Elizabeth Tomlinson’s non cupative will of 1629, stating that debts to him had to be paid. This suggests that he was a confidant or servant to her and this would have brought him close to Thomas Wilmer, father of Alice’s son’s bride. Thomas Wilmer was married to Martha Sutton, daughter of Elizabeth Tomlinson and Lord Dudley.

It is also mentionned that she was the sister of Henry Finch of Dudley. The Finches are an important family in 16th and 17th century Dudley. A Thomas Finch is recorded as being Mayor of Dudley in 1634.

The whole family was presumably descended from the marriage of Henry Finch and Alice Bucher, whose marriage is recorded in St Thomas Dudley on 15 Jul 1548. Like many of the Dudley Burgers of this time they were described as nailers.

It would appear that Alice’s parents were most likely Henry Finch and Margaret Dixon, married on 16 Nov 1606. This Alice was baptised only on 25 May 1610 and that would have made her aged thirteen or fourteen on marriage. This explanation is nonetheless more likely than, her being this Alice’s Aunt, also Alice Finch, daughter of Jeffrey Finch, baptized on 10 Sep 1576 in St Edmunds. Margaret Finch (nee Dixon) her putative mother was the daughter of Oliver Dixon and is mentioned in the will of Oliver Dixon of 1632. Oliver Dixon’s will also mentions his two granddaughters by Margaret Finch, Alice and Margaret.

In 1628 a second child, Alice Jellians, is recorded as being baptized in St Thomas Dudley to Gilbert Jellians. The mother is not likely to have been born in 1576.

A number of documents in the Dudley archives and elsewhere describe the activities of Henry Finch, her putative father and her brother, Henry Finch (bap 10 Oct 1607). A Henry Finch, ironmonger, petitioned the parliamentary forces in the Civil War in about 1644 to allow the free passage of his goods to London and East Anglia. Reputedly he had over 100 employees working in what must have been specialized nail and ironware factories. Later members of the Finch family appear to have been non-conformists and baptists. Because of the very commercial activity of their enterprise it is not surprising they took the puritan and parliamentary cause in contrast to many of the other contemporary burgher families of Dudley discussed on this site, such as the Dixons.

The will of Jeffrey Finch 1616, held at the Worcester Record Office sheds little further light on Alice’s family at the time. He is probably Alice’s grandfather, according to the argument above. Although he does tantalisingly mention his own unmarried daughter Alice, who we know was baptized in 1576. He does not mention any of his other children or grandchildren apart from his ‘youngest sonne’ John Finch. Although it is convincing that Alice Finch comes from this family, where Alice is the preferred names of a daughter, it is still possible that there is another grandchild of Jeffrey Finch, called Alice Finch who is the correct one.

If Alice’s mother is indeed Margaret Dixon, it implies that when Oliver Dixon marries Frances Jellians in 1663 the bride and groom were first cousins twice removed.

Alice wife of Gilbert Jellians was buried on 13 Sep 1645 at St Thomas Dudley. Her husband was buried three weeks later on 6 Oct 1645. Dudley had just come through its first siege by parliamentary forces, before it finally fell in the following year.

Selected Sources

  • National Archives  CR 2017/C48/158 Petition of Henry Finch of Dudley, ironmonger, to the same, General of all the forces for this county and adjoining counties c1644
  • Marie B Rowlands: Masters and Men: In the West Midland Metalware Trades Before the Industrial Revolution : 1975
  • Worcester Record Office: Wills of Oliver Dixon (1632) and Jeffrey Finch (1616)