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 Burghers of this time they were described as nailers.

Alice would appear to be the daughter of Jeffrey Finch (bap 8 Aug 1549) and his wife Elizabeth. Alice is mentioned in the will of her father in 1616, still unmarried, and in the will of Elizabeth Finch, her mother, of 1625. Gilbert Jellians, the son-in-law is appointed sole executor in preference to any of Alice’s brothers.

An Alice Finch, daughter of Jeffrey Finch, is baptized on 10 Sep 1576 in St Edmunds but this is unlikely to be her as it would make her too old.  In 1628 a second child, Alice Jellians, is recorded as being baptized in St Thomas Dudley to Gilbert Jellians. It is more likely that she is a ‘second’ Alice born in the 1580’s.

A number of documents in the Dudley archives and elsewhere describe the activities of Henry Finch, her putative brother, or possibly Henry’s son also a Henry. 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 specialised 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. Henry was married to Margaret Dixon.

The will of Jeffrey Finch 1616, held at the Worcester Record Office sheds little further light on Alice’s family at the time.  He does not mention any of his other children or grandchildren apart from his ‘youngest sonne’ John Finch and that the name of his wife is Elizabeth. The will of Elizabeth Finch, however, provides much detail about children and grandchildren and is entirely compatible with her husband’s will. Alice’s brothers, a number of baptisms of which are missing are listed as follows – Thomas (will 1643), Richard (bap 22 Sep 1577), Joseph, Henry (bap 2 Nov 1580), Jeffrey (bap 11 Aug 1583) and John.

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 Elizabeth Finch (1625) and Jeffrey Finch (1616)