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Finch IndexThomas and Jane Finch of Alexandra


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 (January 1846)

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.

Noticeboad illustration Pirongia Township

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)

Jane Finch (nee Smythe) Mrs Jane Finch

Thomas Finch and wife Jane's 10 children:

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 Cemetery

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.

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.

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 Cemetery)

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

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 Auckland Mabel 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

Alice Charlotte Finch was born 02 Nov 1873 in Alexandra, Married: 1896 to Albert Edward Wills

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

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 Graham.

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 granted.

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

Later "Finch's" 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.

Finch daughters
Finch daughters: L to R: Susan, Grace, Jane (Ginny), Blanche, Alice,

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