Finch-Hatton History

A collection of miscellaneous historical information about the Finch-Hatton family:
  • The Earls of Winchilsea lists some of the important figures in the Finch Hatton family. Richard Conniff's book The Natural History of the Rich says that
    Likewise, the British earldom of Winchilsea and Nottingham was created through bribery; the family motto to this day is the rather defensive "Nil conscire sibi", or "Conscious of no evil".
  • The main claim to fame of George William Finch-Hatton (Harold's father) was that in 1829 he was challenged to a duel by the Duke of Wellington. The Duke, then Prime Minister, had passed the Catholic Emancipation Bill, granting almost full civil rights to Catholics, and G. W. Finch-Hatton, Earl of Winchilsea and Nottingham and a hardline Protestant, accused the Duke of having "treacherously plotted the destruction of the Protestant constitution". The Duke challenged Finch-Hatton to a duel. On the signal to fire, Finch-Hatton reportedly froze, and the Duke fired wide, upon which Finch-Hatton also fired into the air. Finch-Hatton later tendered a written apology to the duke. (Fans of the TV comedy series 'Blackadder' may recall an episode in which the Duke of Wellington fights a duel with Blackadder)
  • Henry Stormont Finch-Hatton (Harold's brother, with whom he lived in Australia) was one of the first group of Europeans to climb nearby Mt. Dalrymple, which at over 4000 feet is one of the highest mountains in Queensland. After an initial attempt in 1877 failed, a second attempt was successful on May 5, 1878. (Accounts differ as to the names of the other participants in these climbs.) Henry climbed the mountain on three more occasions. Henry became the Earl of Winchilsea and Nottingham in 1898 upon the death of his older half-brother.
  • Henry Finch-Hatton was also the father of Denys Finch Hatton, the dashing aristocrat and hunter made famous in Karen Blixen's book Out of Africa, and in the movie of the same name where he was played by Robert Redford. Denys was famous for enjoying the finer things of life while hunting (champagne and crystal wine glasses, porcelain plates, Mozart on gramophone, etc.).
  • From about 1850 to 1910, there was a thriving transatlantic trade in which rich American heiresses married into the British aristocracy (a transaction in which the ladies gained social status, while the men and their often cash-strapped peerages gained money). Jennie Churchill is perhaps the most famous example, but there were about 100 such marriages. The phenomenon is examined in a fascinating book, To Marry an English Lord. One of the last of these marriages was the 1910 marriage between Guy Finch-Hatton (Viscount Maidstone) and Margaretta Drexel, daughter of banking magnate Anthony Drexel. Guy was the oldest son of Henry Finch-Hatton, and older brother of Denys.
  • The small township of Finch Hatton, about 65 kilometres west of Mackay, was named after the Finch-Hatton brothers. Originally named Hatton, in 1906 it was briefly renamed Pelion to avoid confusion with a Hattonvale, but after protest from residents was quickly renamed Finch Hatton.


Jim Foley || Email me Email