Sir Thomas Heneage (1533-1595) served as Vice Chamberlain to Queen Elizabeth I. His daughter, Elizabeth Heneage (1556-1632/1633), married Moyle Finch (?-1614) who was created a baronet in 1611. After Sir Moyle's death Elizabeth and her sons made considerable efforts to have the family's status elevated. On July 8, 1623 Elizabeth was created a peeress as Viscountess Maidstone. She was further elevated to Countess of Winchilsea on July 12, 1628; the titles devolving upon her male heirs.
Elizabeth Heneage's youngest son Sir Heneage Finch (bef. 1606-1631) became Speaker of the House of Commons (1626-1631). His son Heneage (1621-1682), served as Lord Chancellor and was created Earl of Nottingham in 1681 just a year before his death. The Earl's eldest son Daniel Finch (1647-1730) succeeded him as the 2nd earl, whilst his fourth son Heneage Finch (1649-1719) was created Earl of Aylesford in 1714.
Elizabeth Heneage's eldest son Thomas (?-1639), became the 2nd Earl of Winchilsea (sometimes listed as the 1st Earl). His son, Heneage Finch, 3rd Earl of Winchilsea, outlived his own son William Finch, Viscount Maidstone (c.1656-1672) and he was succeeded by his grandson, the Viscount's son, Charles. When Charles died without issue of his own, he was succeeded as the 5th earl by his uncle Heneage (1673-1726). He was the husband of the poet Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea (1661-1720). Upon the 5th earl's death without issue the title passed to his half-brother John Finch.
John Finch, 6th Earl of Winchilsea died in 1729, without leaving a son to claim the tile and the earldoms of Winchilsea and Nottingham became united under his cousin 2nd Earl of Nottingham who became the Daniel Finch, 7th Earl of Winchilsea. The 7th earl's eldest son Daniel succeeded his father to both titles in 1730 but died without issue in 1769. The title passed to George Finch (1752-1826), the son of the 8th earl's brother William (1731-1766). The 9th earl died in 1826 without issue and his cousin George William Finch-Hatton succeeded to the titles, the additional surname of Hatton having been assumed by his father out of respect for the family of his grandmother Anne Hatton, wife of the 7th Earl and daughter of Christopher Hatton, Viscount Hatton (1632—1706).
The 10th Earl of Winchilsea is famous for his duel with the Duke of Wellington, who was Prime Minister at the time. The duel, which was over the issue of Catholic emancipation and an alleged insulting remark made by the Earl, took place at Battersea fields on March 21 1829. Both men deliberately aimed wide.
The 11th Earl died on June 9 1887 outliving his son George William Heneage Finch-Hatton, Viscount Maidstone (1852-1879), and the title passed to his half brother Murray (1851-1898). When he died leaving only daughters his brother Henry (1852-1927) succeeded him.
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2 Earls of Nottingham (1681)
3 Earls of Winchilsea and Nottingham
Earls of Winchilsea (1628)
Earls of Nottingham (1681)
Earls of Winchilsea and Nottingham
The current heir to the title is Tobias Joshua Stormont Finch-Hatton, Viscount Maidstone (born June 21 1998)