Catholic Encyclopedia – Venerable John Finch

Article

A martyr, born about 1548; died 20 April, 1584. He was a yeoman of Eccleston, Lancashire, and a member of a well-known old Catholic family, but he appears to have been brought up in schism. When he was twenty years old he went to London where he spent nearly a year with some cousins at Inner Temple. While there he was forcibly struck by the contrast between Protestantism and Catholicism in practice and determined to lead a Catholic life. Failing to find advancement in London he returned to Lancashire where he was reconciled to Catholic Church. He then married and settled down, his house becoming a centre of missionary work, he himself harbouring priests and aiding them in every way, besides acting as catechist. His zeal drew on him the hostility of the authorities, and at Christmas, 1581, he was entrapped into bringing a priest, George Ostliffe, to a place where both were apprehended. It was given out that Finch, having betrayed the priest and other Catholics, had taken refuge with the Earl of Derby, but in fact, he was kept in the earl’s house as a prisoner, sometimes tortured and sometimes bribed in order to pervert him and induce him to give information. This failing, he was removed to the Fleet prison at Manchester and afterwards to the House of Correction. When he refused to go to the Protestant church he was dragged there by the feet, his head beating on the stones. For many months he lay in a damp dungeon, ill-fed and ill-treated, desiring always that he might be brought to trial and martyrdom. After three years’ imprisonment, he was sent to be tried at Lancaster. There he was brought to trial with three priests on 18 April 1584. He was found guilty and, 20 April, having spent the night in converting some condemned felons, he suffered with Venerable James Bell at Lancaster. The cause of his beatification with those of the other English Martyrs was introduced by decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, 4 December 1886.

MLA Citation

  • Edwin Burton. “Venerable John Finch”. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1914. Saints.SQPN.com. 20 April 2012. Web. 29 December 2014. <http://saints.sqpn.com/catholic-encyclopedia-venerable-john-finch/>