Henry Finch of Dudley, died 1573

Henry Finch was born in Dudley about 1525 and was probably a younger son of Hugh Finch. Henry is named as one of  a number of burghers of Dudley who by 1562 had leases of ‘Our Lady’s Lands’, which made him and his heirs one of the original feoffees of Dudley Grammar School.

Henry Finch married Alice Bucher on 5 Jul 1548 in St Thomas, Dudley and he was able to exploit the growing prosperity of the early economy emerging in the town of Dudley at the time. A succession of profligate Lord Dudley’s in the castle that dominated the late medieval town greatly assisted the slow breakup of the baronial as well as the ecclesiastical wealth.

His will of 1573 shows that he had two surviving sons Jeffrey and Richard and four daughters, the eldest of which was Alice. Richard died young, but Jeffrey was to go on and father a number of sons who continued to prosper in early seventeenth century Dudley. Jeffrey was also the father of Alice Finch, Henry’s granddaughter, who was later to marry Gilbert Jellians in 1623. Gilbert Jellians was directly connected to Elizabeth Tomlinson, the mistress of the fifth Baron.

Interestingly, Henry’s will reveals a very long list of debtors, some 38 of them all owing him money. Although some of them may have owed him for rent or farm produce, a number mentioned are paying for ‘cooles’. i.e coal.  This is a strong indication that Henry’s lands were rich in coal and he was running a successful business extracting, transporting and selling it to blacksmiths and the community of ‘nailers’ that were rapidly emerging in nearby Sedgley and Nether Gornal. Both Lord Dudley, the fourth baron, and his late uncle Jeffrey Dudley (d 1571) are listed amongst those owing Henry money.

The total sums owed to Henry were considerable and one suspects a large monetary advance from his father in 1544. He owned burgage land that fronted the High street in Dudley, a second house that he was able to leave to his second son Richard. The inventory to his will shows he must have farmed lands growing crops and keeping small numbers of horses, pigs, sheep and cattle.

He was buried in St Thomas Dudley on 9 Apr 1573.


  • Will of Henry Finch, Probate 22 May 1573, Worcester Record Office
  • Admon of Hugh Finch, 1544, Worcester Record Office
  • Will of Jeffrey Finch, Probate 12 Oct 1615, Worcester Record Office
  • George Griffith: The free schools of Worcestershire, and their fulfilment, 1852
  • Edward Chitham: The Story of Dudley, History Press, 2014
  • Parish Register Transcripts of St Thomas’ and St Edmunds, Dudley, BMSGH, 1944
  • Other feoffees (and their heirs) of Dudley Grammar school discussed on this site are Gilbert Jellians and Oliver Shaw. In 1538 the break up of lands held by Halesowen Abbey and Dudley Priory went first to Sir John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland and cousin to the third Baron. But on Dudley’s execution in 1553 for his involvement in the promotion of Lady Jane Grey, they reverted first to the fourth Baron in 1555 before being broken up and sold further. A large portion of the lands in and around Dudley, known as ‘Our Lady’s Lands’, were earmarked to finance the Grammar school in 1562 with favourable rents negotiated by prominent burghers. Henry was evidently one of those able to prosper from this sequence of events (1538-1562)