- Thomas Finch was recorded in his military records
as "born in Ipswich". He was baptised on 11th July 1824
at Sproughton, Suffolk, the son of Edward Finch (1777 - 1847)
and Susanna Scribner who had married there abt. 1815.
Other children in the family were Jonathan Finch (B: 1816 )
mar 1848 to Kezia Mullett in Clerkenwell
Mdx; Martha Finch (Bap: 1819); James Finch (Bap: 1821);
Benjamin Finch (Bap: 1827)
Thomas joined the 58th Rutlandshire Regiment on 8 Jan.
1842 (Reg No2148) and his Regiment was posted to New South Wales.
They sailed for Hobart on the ship "William Jardine" on 01/07/44
arriving in Hobart on 20/11/44, from there on to Norfolk Island where
they arrived on 05/12/45 - then to Auckland on 23/12/45.
The UK government had sent the regiment to assist in
suppressing the uprisings of the Ngapuhi under Hone Heke and Kawiti in
the far north. They saw action when they attacked Kawiti's Pah at Puketutu along with other English Regiments and then joined in the
famous week long attack on Heke's Pah at Ruapekapeka (The Bats Nest) The
attacking troops only succeeded in getting into the Pa on the Sunday
whilst the warriors were at Divine Service outside the rear of the pah
Thomas after serving in other parts of the New Zealand
Wars, took his discharge from 58th Regiment at Auckland on
22/11/1853 after a 9 year period of service and settled in Howick
where the regiment had been based. The Fencibles were all ex
Imperial troops who lived in the four Fencible Settlements on the then
outskirts of Auckland. One was at Howick, the others at Onehunga,
Panmure and Otahuhu. The settlements were to be part of a line of
defence in the event of a Maori invasion from the South. The Fencibles
were paid a small wage and were permitted to work within a five mile
radius of their settlement. They were required to attend a weekly
military parade and to maintain their uniform and rifle and each
was given an acre of land and the materials to build a 2 room cottage.
Thomas married in Howick in 29 May 1854 to Jane Smythe. She had been born about 1837 in Delhi, India, the
daughter of Thomas Smythe who had been a sergeant of H.M. 17th Foot
and Jane Bouverie. Thomas, although not a Fencible, was given lot
No 75 Nelson St. Howick on January 22 1859 - this was thought
to be in recognition of his service in the Land Wars. In 1858, on
jury list for Howick, Thomas's occupation was given as ploughman and
here his first four children were born.
Thomas worked as farmer, contractor etc doing a good deal
of work for McLean and other well known colonists. In March 1855 Thomas
Finch worked for 5 days for Mr Lynch in Feb 1855 at 6/8d per day and for
2 days at 7/4d per day. On the days which he threshed, Mr Lynch
agreed to pay more - 7/6d a day He put up and fed Mr Lynch's
horses on a Sunday when he started work at 8 am and left at 7 pm
and fed and put horses away each night and morning.
At the outbreak of the Waikato war
at Penrose on 9 October 1863, he again enlisted "Thomas Finch, No.
1128; Trade farmer; age 39 years; Size 5 ft 8 inches; Married with
four children; ex-58th Regiment". He joined the Militia as a member
of Capt. Peacock's Company, shortly afterwards volunteering for active
service in the Land Transport Corps and was promoted to Sgt. He was
present at the fall of Rangiriri and the advance to Ngaruawahia. He then
transferred to the 2nd Waikato Regt. under Col. Hamilton and served
during the balance of the Waikato war until the Battle of Orakau at
which he was also present.
It was in July 1864 that Colonel
Haultain, Commander of the 2nd Waikato Regiment brought his men to a
place overlooking the Waipa River chosen by Lt. General Cameron of the
British Army as a military base and with the idea of making it the
capital of the region - this base became known as Alexandra,
named in honour of Princess Alexandra of Denmark, wife of King Edward
Vll. By the late 1860's, Alexandra had become a busy frontier town with
two hotels, a bank, bakery, saddlers shop, forge, coach builder,
pharmacy and several stores.
The Regiment was stationed at Alexandra and it was here
that Thomas took his local discharge, having decided to settle and
purchased the hotel. Dec. 1865 the Provincial Government Gazette
advised the issuing of Wholesale wine and spirit licenses - among
them, Thomas Finch, the Alexandra Hotel, Alexandra.
In 1866 the Loyal Alexandra Lodge of the
Independent Order of Odd Fellows, M.U., was opened in connection with
the Auckland district at the Alexandra Hotel, Thomas Finch,
proprietor and deputed officers from Auckland, Brother Plaice,
P.P.G.M., and Brother Steele, G.M., opened the proceedings where 39
members were admitted, and the lodge declared duly formed. They
held a ball and supper to celebrate on the next
Thursday evening at the Alexandra Hotel. A portion of H.M. 57th
band was present, by the kind permission of Colonel Logan, commanding.
The number of tickets issued were limited, yet about 130 ladies and
gentlemen were assembled on the occasion. Dancing commenced at 8 p m.,
and at 12 o'clock the company adjourned to the supper room. This had
been most profusely and tastefully laid out by the spirited proprietor;
indeed, too much praise cannot be awarded to Mr. Finch, who has spared
neither trouble nor expense to make the affair a success. The chair was
taken by Brother Place. P.P. G.M., supported by Brother Steele, G.M ;
while the vice-chair was occupied by Mr. J. D. Hill. The usual loyal
toasts having been proposed and duly honoured, The Chairman proposed "
The prosperity of the Alexandra Lodge" and said this was the toast of
the evening. It gave him great pleasure to he present at this opening.
It was' gratifying to him to find such an unusually large meeting of
members enrolling themselves, and from what he had seen there was every
indication of this becoming a large and nourishing Lodge. Be concluded,
by calling for a bumper to drink success and prosperity to the Loyal
Alexandra Lodge. Mr. W. A. Gray responded. He congratulated the settlers
of Alexandra upon the formation of this Lodge; it would tend to cement
them together, and lend a brotherly life of help and assistance. He
could not sit down without expressing thanks to those officers who had
come up from Auckland and who had shown themselves ready to advise and
assist on every occassion and it was hoped that by the wise and
judicious steps they had taken the Lodge would be established on a firm
and permanent footing. In conclusion, no one would drink more heartily
than himself success and prosperity to the Loyal Alexandra Lodge. The
other toasts were "The Ladies," and the "Surgeon to the Lodge." A vote
of thanks to the Chair closed the proceedings of the supper, and the
party then adjourned to the ball-room, where dancing was kept up with
unflagging spirit to an early hour.
Click here to see the
original glass plate image at
Auckland City Library
Thomas Finch, of Alexandra, Settler, purchased from Sarah Mason Speedy, of Waiuku, Widow, dated 24 April 1868, the Allotments 121 and 124, Parish of Ngaroto, County of Waikato.
As wife of publican Thomas
Finch, Jane's courage was truly tested (ref. Tavern in the Town)
when in 1883, it is recorded that she chased a group of "Maori religious
fanatics" under Mahuki from the Hotel's front door with her broomstick.
Another source says that this in fact was a decoy set up by the armed
constabulary, under Sub Inspector Gascoyne, who then rushed out from
hiding and arrested the marauders.
Finch's Hotel is also mentioned in the book "From
Red Coat to Jungle Green" where the famed "Jungle Fighter" Major Von
Tempsky (then an Inspector in the Armed Constabulary) wrote in a letter
to his wife "Each day I drill my men for an hour at 10.30 and later go
to Mrs Finch for lunch". This was in 1868 - shortly before he was killed
in an ambush.
In November 1870, Thomas was one of several
settlers elected Highway Trustee for the Mangapiko district
and he called a public
meeting at Alexandra to air his concern.
Jane Finch's parents were among the earliest
settlers at Alexandra but on 2nd March, 1877, Mr. Thomas
Smyth died. He had been a sergeant of H.M. 17th foot, and was aged
71 years - a man universally respected and regretted. His wife, Jane
Smythe died at Alexandra, on the 2nd July, 1886, aged 86 years and
her funeral took place at 1.30 p.m. on Sunday, the 4th.
Her obituary gives an insight into her life
"Another old and respected inhabitant has been removed from amongst us
by the decease of Mrs Jane Smyth, mother of Mrs Finch, of the Alexandra
Hotel. Mrs Smyth was an old colonist, having arrived in New South Wales
with her late husband in the year 1830, who then belonged to H.M's 17th
Regiment. In 1834 they proceeded to India, where she remained until
1846. After a short stay in England Mr Smythe volunteered into the New
Zealand Fencibles, and arrived here in 1847. The deceased lady leaves 29
descendants children, grand-children and great-grandchildren. Her
funeral took place yesterday from the residence of her son-in-law, Mr
Finch and was most numerously attended, In fact the largest one that has
occured here for many years, the whole of the inhabitants of Alexandra
and a great number from various districts being present. The Rev. Mr
Hutson, Presbyterian Minister, officiated, and read the funeral service
over the deceased, and addressed j.ui nj« turners in a most impressive
manner. Amongst those observed who followed the eniain.s to the grave
were the Ven. Archdeacon Clarke, Judge Mair, Major Jackson, Messrs
Germann, A. Scott, J. Scott, T. Kirk, E. Hope, and many other old
friends and relatives. Mrs Smythe was one of the first settlers in
Alexandra. Below - Jane Finch (nee Smythe)
Thomas Finch and wife Jane's 10
1 George Finch was born 12 Mar 1855 in Howick and
died 23 May 1933 in Paterangi Burial: 25 May 1933 Paterangi Cemetery. He
married 21 Oct 1889 in St. Saviour's Church, Alexandra
Laura Marion Wills who
was born 1871 (Her father James Wills and mother Anna Morey).
Laura died 1943 and is buried with George at Paterangi
2 Annie Finch was born 22 Jan 1857 in Howick and
died 11 Mar 1932 in Paeroa. She married 08 Jul 1874 in St
Saviours Church, Alexandra. John Napier Miller was born in 1846 in
Otorohanga He died 26 Apr 1928 in Paeroa.
3 Elizabeth Finch was born 21
Aug 1859 in Howick and died 16 Aug 1908 in Hamilton. She
married 3 Jan 1878 at Te Awamutu to Thomas Kirk who was born 1850 in England. He died 25 Jun 1914 at Christchurch.
4 Susan Mary Finch was born 31 Dec
1862 in Howick Died: 19 Jan 1956 in Auckland Burial: 20 Jan 1956 Purewa
Cemetery. Married: 16 Apr 1883 in Ngaroto farm, Alexandra to
John Cresswell Grierson
(bap: 30 Jan 1857 in Sale Moor, Cheshire, U K Father John Grierson;
Mother Martha Cresswell; d: 05 Feb 1933 in Auckland Bur. Purewa
5 Jane Alexandra Finch was born
21 Jan 1866 in Alexandra and died 27 May 1924 in Awatea Road,
Auckland and cremated Waikumete Cemetery. She married 08 May 1889
in Alexandra (now Pirongia) at brides home, Finch's Hotel to William Morris
Newsham who was born: 18 Aug 1847 in New Plymouth (Father: Thomas
Newsham Mother: Mary Louisa Lethbridge) He died: 30 Jan 1921 in Thames
Burial: 01 Feb 1921 Shortland Cemetery, Thames
6 Thomas Finch was born 22 Aug
1868 in Alexandra and died 06 Jun 1910 in Te Awamutu Burial: 08 Jun 1910
Pirongia Cemetery. He married 1896 in
Annie BOWDEN who was born 07 Jul 1867 in Otahuhu, Auckland (Father:
Charles Augustus Bowden Mother: Harriet Norsworthy) Mabel died 16 Jul 1957 at Te Awamutu
7 Alice Charlotte Finch was born
02 Nov 1873 in Alexandra, Married: 1896 to Albert Edward Wills
8 Ada Blanche Finch Born: 03 Feb
1878 in Alexandra Died: 17 Jul 1962 Married: 1900 to
Percy Robert Colebrook
Born: 18 Sep 1871 Died: 02 Jun 1955 in Parnell, Auckland
9 Grace Finch was born 10 Sep 1880
in Alexandra and married 8th May 1906 to Peter William Barlow
10 Charles Edward Finch Born: 21
Oct 1871 in Pirongia Died: 1951 in Purtararu Married: 1903
to Alice Maude
Finch daughters - Left to Right: Susan, Blanche, Alice, Grace, Jane
A hotel has been on the corner of Crozier and Franklin Streets, ever since Alexandra was founded. As with all hotels it has had a succession of proprietors and been rebuilt several times (1892, 1930). The name Alexandra was given in 1870, but it has been known as Finch's Hotel.
At this corner in 1881, Tawhiao accompanied by Wahanui (Maniopoto) with over 500 followers, met with Majors Gilbert Mair and Jackson. He with 80 of his men laid down their arms with a statement that it meant peace for all time between the Maori and European .. . an act of dignity which ended the Waikato conflict.
In 1882 Thomas Gresham made a forcible appeal
at the annual MANGAPIKO Licensing Meeting on behalf
of publican's Thomas Finch and Matthias Asmuss (licensee of
the other hotel, the Royal) and requested license
fees be reduced from £20 to £15 for the ensuing year as trade
of the place of late having greatly fallen oft, although duties had
considerably increased. The application was
Reports of the Native Affairs Committee, 1888.
No. 29.—Petition of Thomas Finch.
Petitioner prays for payment of £45 4s., being the balance of his account rendered to the Native Department for food and lodging supplied to Tawhiao and other Natives in 1881 and 1882 by order of Major Mair.
I am directed to report as follows: That the account rendered by Mr. Finch to the Government, and certified as correct by Major Mair (£36 16s. 6d.), be paid, and that the Government be requested to place the amount on the supplementary estimates.
14th June, 1888
Waikato Regiments, 1863-1867
Hotel ("The Alexandra") was leased out and about 1890 a fire burned
it down . A new single story
hotel, the "Pirongia Tavern was built on the same site. Alexandra changed
its name to Pirongia at the turn of the Century.
Thomas Finch died 2nd August 1892 and his obituary records his life and passing.
data used in this site copyright - ©
Finch daughters: L to R: Susan, Grace, Jane (Ginny), Blanche, Alice,