Sketch LVIII


Titus Finch, The Old Soldier Preacher


In the year 1626 Charles I., finding that he had a refractory and unmanageable parliament on his hands, resolved to dissolve it. The speaker, John Finch, arose to announce the king’s command, when two members thrust him back into his chair and held him there while the house proceeded with the business in hand. This John Finch was a loyalist and espoused the king’s cause; and from that time down to the present, the Finches have been staunch supporters of the royal cause in all emergencies. And in the new land, the family offshoots have been not less renowned for their fidelity to the British Crown.

The subject of this sketch is the old pulpit veteran of Vittoria, known far and near as Elder Finch.

Titus Finch was a soldier in the British army, and came with his regiment to America to fight for old King George III., in the war of American Independence. During the transit of his regiment, a married comrade and himself were stricken down with fever. The comrade died, and the lonely widow turned her attention to the sick couch of Mr. Finch. So diligent was she in her care of the patient that a mutual feeling of affection was engendered between them, which culminated in their marriage. Mr. Finch was a very religious soldier. He never entered an engagement without having first invoked the Divine blessing on the undertaking. He was in General Clinton’s army when the war closed, and was relieved from service at Halifax; and although permitted to draw upon the commissariat for a year, he at once sought for employment of some kind. Hearing of a back settlement where he might probably find work, he went thither, and securing a small vacant cabin commenced housekeeping.[1] The settlers were nearly all Baptists, and Mr. Finch was soon one among them in their religious work. His zeal won him many friends, who advised him to turn his attention to preaching the Gospel. He was ordained soon after, and thenceforward devoted his life’s work to the ministry.

He came to Long Point in 1798, and settled on land near Vittoria, erecting his log cabin on the bank of Young’s Creek.[2]

There were not many Baptists in the new settlement, but before six years had passed away he succeeded in organizing a Baptist church. This was in 1804, and it is said to be the first Baptist church organized in Upper Canada—except it be the old Beamsville church which was organized during that same year. Elder Finch was an indefatigable worker. For years he received nothing but a black suit of clothes, annually, for his labors in ministering to the spiritual welfare of his little flock. So great was his zeal in the good work that a small sum was raised on two different occasions to send him out through the forest on local missionary tours; first, in the direction of Woodstock; and, afterward, in the direction of Aylmer. He preached in Vittoria over a quarter of a century, and left a record behind him which any preacher of the gospel might be pardoned for envying.

During the war of 1812, General Brock called a meeting at the house of William Culver, near St. John’s Church, south of Simcoe, on his way up country. At that meeting it is said that 173 volunteered for service—among whom were John and Hugh McCall and Titus Finch,[3] the Elder’s eldest son. Titus was taken sick soon after and was unable to go. This caused the Elder no little anxiety, as he was afraid it might be attributed to cowardice. George, a younger son, only sixteen, perceiving his father’s discomforture, declared that he would go in his brothers place. The Elder gave his consent, and the boy in due time reported at headquarters. When the general came to him, as he passed down the line of new recruits, he halted and asked George how old he was. The boy told him, after which the General remarked that he was too young, and that he was afraid his mother would be crying after him. George informed the General that his brother was ill; that he came as a substitute, and that he had his parents’ permission. He was allowed to pass, and during the campaign, which resulted in the capture of the territory of Michigan, he won a gold medal, and wore it in after years, as some of the old people now living will remember. George Finch was the last survivor of this squad of volunteers. The boat that carried them up the lake was owned by John McCall, and had a cannon on board.

Elder Finch drew six hundred acres of land from the Government, part of which was Lot 19, in the 4th concession, where he settled. He had five sons—Thomas, Jerry, William, Titus and George; and three daughters—the eldest of whom married into the Fuller family, and settled in Oxford. Nancy, the second daughter, married Luke Teeple, and settled at Vittoria; and Dancy, the youngest daughter, married John Edwards, and settled in Lobo.[4] Elder Finch died in 1821, in his 79th year.[5]

Thomas, eldest son of elder Finch, married Hannah Culver, of Yarmouth, and settled in Oxford. He had three sons—David, William and Henry; and three daughters—Martha Ann, Louisa and Jane. The sons are all dead.[6]

Jerry, second son of elder Finch, settled in Oxford County, where he raised a family.[7]

William, third son of Elder Finch, married Hannah Barrett and settled on the homestead. He had six sons—Titus, James, Butler, William, John and Henry; and three daughters—Rebecca Ann, Gertrude and Luwinda. Of this family, Titus married Elizabeth Glover, and settled at Forestville. He had one daughter, Tamson, who married James Thompson. James married Sarah Ann, daughter of Elder Olney,[8] and settled at Forestville. He had two daughters—Harriet and Ellena. Butler married Lavinia Raymond, and settled at Forestville. He had one son, Frank. William married Mary Jane Mabee, and settled on Lot 9, 5th concession of Charlotteville. At present he owns and occupies the old Finch home, and the old homestead of his wife’s father. He has two daughters—Marilla and Emma. John married the widow of his brother Butler, and settled on the old homestead. He had three daughters—Clara, Minnie and Grace. Henry married Matilda Simonds, and settled in Vittoria.[9] He had one son, William. Rebecca Ann married John Boupry, and settled in Simcoe.[10] She had four sons—Alexander, John, James and William; and one daughter, Helen. Gertrude married Duncan Walsh, and settled on the old Walsh homestead. She had two sons—William and Aquila; and one daughter, Priscilla. Luwinda married Owen Falls, and settled in Simcoe. She had three sons—William, Frank and Harvey; and four daughters—Catherine, Helen, Anna and Mary.

Titus, fourth son of Elder Finch, married into the Drake family, and settled near Forestville. Subsequently he settled in Oxford County.[11]

George, youngest son of Elder Finch, married Nancy Rockefeller, and settled in Oxford County on land drawn from the Government.[12]

[1] This is a fanciful story. During the American Revolution, Elder Titus Finch joined the Prince of Wales American Regiment, a provincial corps commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Gabriel deVerber according to the pay lists. Also serving in this Regiment was Lieutenant Joseph Ryerson who settled later in Charlotteville Township, Norfolk County. This being a Loyalist Corps led to a questioning of whether Titus Finch came directly from England or had a colonial background. Descendants of John Finch of Connecticut by Claude B. Thummel, Compiler, 1965 with updates by Ralph D. Finch to 1983 provided the following for Titus Finch: “born 1752, New Haven, Conn., son of Daniel and Jerusha (Bartholomew) Finch. Died April 12, 1834, age 78 years; interred Vittoria Baptist Church Cemetery, Vittoria, Norfolk Co., Ontario, Canada. Married Nancy Ann ________, born 1757; died Sept. 14, 1825, age 68 years; interred Vittoria Baptist Church Cem., Vittoria,” It then traced Titus’ ancestry back through New England. The research continues. Titus Finch apparently went with his regiment on the Elizabeth in the “Fall Fleet” during the 1783 Exodus of New York to New Brunswick and settled at Nashwaak, York County. Source: Esther Clark Wright, The Loyalists of New Brunswick, p.p., (Wolfville, NS:1955), p. 86, 281.

[2] The year of settlement in Norfolk is given as 1799 in “Six Vittoria Couples” in London Township Pioneers by Frederick T. Rosser (Mika Publishing, 1975), but neither date has yet been proven. On May 17, 1802, Finch was given a grant of Lot 19, Concession 4, Charlotteville Twp. on the west side of present Vittoria.

[3] Thomas Henry Finch was born on August 13, 1784 according to his gravestone in Lobo Baptist Church Cemetery, Lobo Township, Middlesex County, and so was Elder Finch’s oldest son. During the War of 1812, Thomas served in Duncan McCall’s Company of the Norfolk Militia, listed in the muster Rolls. The next son William Finch was born on January 21, 1787 according to his gravestone in Vittoria Baptist Church Cemetery, Charlotteville Township. During the War of 1812, he served in Daniel McCall’s Company. Jeremiah, born on January 14, 1791 according to his family Bible, was the third son and served in William Gordon’s Detachment. George, born c. 1791 according to the 1852 Census of Houghton Township and his gravestone in Alton Jacksonburg Cemetery, Houghton Twp., Norfolk Co., was the fourth son and he served in Captain James Mitchell’s Company during the War of 1812. Titus Jr., born c. 1793 recorded in the 1852 Census of Charlotteville Twp., was the youngest. The oldest daughter Nancy was born on July 29, 1795 according to her gravestone in Vittoria Baptist Church Cemetery., The second daughter Rebecca was born about 1797 and married Ira Fuller according to her 1852 Census record at West Zorra Twp., Oxford Co. The third daughter Prudence whom Owen calls “Dancy” was born on December 14, 1802, according to her gravestone in Lobo Baptist Cemetery, Lobo Twp., Middlesex Co.

[4] The oldest daughter in the Titus Finch family was Nancy who was born on July 29 1795. She married Luke Teeple and lived out her life near Vittoria in Charlotteville Twp. She and her husband were buried in Vittoria Baptist Church Cemetery. Their children are named in the chapter on the Teeple family. Titus’ daughter Rebecca married Ira Fuller and was aged 54 in the 1852 Census of East Zorra Twp., Oxford Co. Descendant genealogist David Fuller provided considerable information on this family. Their oldest child Horace born c. 1821 lived with his parents on the homestead and never married. Next in the family was Prudence Fuller, born on April 9, 1823 who married James Karn and lived at Beachville, Oxford Co. Titus Fuller born on January 11, 1826 married Barbara Karn. David Fuller born c. 1831 married first Lucy Thornton and second Elizabeth ______. Merritt Fuller born c. 1831 married Mary Karn. James Fuller, born c. 1835, died on 14 Dec 1861. Jerome Fuller born c. 1841 married first Alexandra McLeod and second Janet McDonald. Julianne Fuller born c. 1845 married William H. Hill. The third daughter of the first Rev. Titus Finch, Prudence Finch (whom Owen called “Dancy”) was born on 14 Dec 1802 according to her gravestone. She married John Henry Edwards and both were buried in First Lobo Baptist Cemetery, Lobo Twp., Middlesex Co. Family historian Dave Edwards has researched the following family for this couple: Jeremiah Edwards born 1823 married Sarah Alway; Henry Edwards born January 1, 1827 married Rachel Harrison; John Watts Edwards born May 1829 married Nancy McMurphy; Richard M. Edwards born 1831 married Margaret Bishop; Prudence Ann Edwards born 24 Sep 1839, died 1 Apr 1841; Harriet Newell Edwards born 1843 married David Smith; Samuel Drake Edwards born c. 1845 married Sarah Fisher.

[5] The gravestone of Elder Titus Finch in Vittoria Baptist Church Cemetery states that he died on September 14, 1824 aged 78 years however it seems to have been erected by a descendant long afterwards. In fact, Reverend Finch lived for nearly a decade later. During the 1820’s, many of his children moved to Middlesex County, Ontario and he moved there too continuing his ministry. His will dated 24 Feb 1834 named his children. The register pages in the family Bible of his son Jeremiah state that he died on 12 Apr 1834.

[6] Thomas Henry Finch lived many years in Norfolk before leaving. According to the Abstracts of Deeds Register of Charlotteville Twp., he purchased from his father land in Lot 11, Concession 4 in 1806 then Lot 19, Concession 3 in 1809. He was recorded in the Charlotteville Assessments from 1810 to 1815 and during the War of 1812 was listed in the nominal rolls of Captain Duncan McCall’s regiment of the Norfolk County Militia. His last mention in Norfolk was at the London District Court in 1818. At that point he was said to have moved to Aylmer, Elgin County which at that time was a part of Middlesex County. He settled at Komoka in present Middlesex Co. between 1842 and 1852. In addition to the children mentioned by Owen, The Commemorative and Biographical Record of the County of Lambton, Ontario by J. H. Beers, p. 501-502, mentioned his eldest daughter Selinda , wife of Richard Edwards and a son Thomas who lived at Aylmer. However, diligent research to date has not uncovered the existence of such a Thomas.

[7] Jeremiah Finch’s family Bible has survived with a family register. This confirmed the date of death for his father Titus Finch of April 12, 1834. It gave Jeremiah’s birth date as January 14, 1791 and those for his children as Daniel May 29, 1812, David W. August 22, 1813, Ann Maria February 28, 1815, Amanda February 22, 1817, George March 14, 1819, Marilla December 1, 1820, Emily December 26, 1822, Sanford August 8, 1824, Matilda December 25, 1827, John January 17, 1830 and Irena January 2, 1835. The family lived in Oxford County for a time then moved to Lobo Twp., Middlesex Co. where Jeremiah was listed in the 1842 and subsequent censuses. He was buried in the First Lobo Baptist Cemetery.

[8] According to the report of the marriage in The Globe newspaper, Sarah Ann Olney was a niece of Elder Olney.

[9] This surname was actually Simons.

[10] This surname was actually Beaupre.

[11] Titus Finch Jr. born c. 1793, married Leah Drake (daughter of William and Hannah (Montross) Drake) according to Montross: A Family History by John and Eva Wilson. They lived at Charlotteville Twp. as late as the 1861 Census so would have moved to Oxford County in his old age. His family is not entirely known at this time. A possible son may have been Jeremiah Finch born on November 22, 1819 who was a school teacher in Charlotteville Twp. at the time of the 1852 Census. Son Chancy C. Finch born in Apr 1822 married Mary E. Wetmore according to their gravestone in North Glanford Cemetery, Glanford Twp., Wentworth Co. The next son Peter, born c. 1824, and his family were living with his father in the 1861 Census. According to the Talbot District Marriage register, he married Mary McCall on June 14, 1847. In the same register a possible sister Rebecca married Barnabus Fralick on 15 Apr 1845 and they then lived in Houghton Twp., recorded in the 1852 Census. The Norfolk County Marriage Register states that C. William Finch, born c. 1834 was a son of Titus and Leah. He married on May 5, 1861, Elizabeth Williams. A Vital Registration of Marriage for Mary Finch, born c. 1838 stated her to be a daughter of Titus and Leah. She married Joseph Sweetman at Barrie, Ont. on June 25, 1877 (VR9936/77)

[12] George Finch died on June 27, 1863 aged 73 years according to his gravestone in Alton/Jacksonburg Cemetery, Houghton Twp. This would make him older than his brother Titus. George’s first wife, the mother of his older children, died by c. 1838. His second wife Catherine Nock, born c. 1792, died on 27 May 1872 and was buried beside him. They lived on Lot 2, Concession 4, Houghton Township, Norfolk County, recorded in the 1852 and 1861 Censuses and do not seem to have lived in Oxford County.  George had a daughter named Jerusha, born c. 1819 who married on November 21, 1836, Thomas Goodland (London District Marriage Register). George’s son Thomas G., born c. 1822 married first Mary Ann Shaw then on  September 20, 1851, Catharine Buchner (Talbot District Marriage Register). In the same record George Finch Jr., born c. 1828 married on May 31, 1858 Catherine Farr. Also in that register, Valinda Finch born c. 1835 married Joseph Conner on May 23, 1878. The Haldimand County Marriage Register identified Edward Finch as another son of George and Catherine. He married Phoebe Starnaman on November 21, 1861.