Back to Armenia – more Finnis stories

To understand the next chapter in the story of the Finnis descendants, we must go back to the wife of Henry Blosse Lynch, Rosa. She had a sister, Khatoon.

Khatoon’s marriage was rather less controversial than that of her sister. She married  a merchant called Yusuf Constantine and had a son, Lazar and a daughter, Miriam. The family lived in Baghdad and when Khatoon’s husband died, she and her children moved in with her sister and brother-in-law, Robert Taylor,  in the same city. Shortly afterwards she was introduced to John Vesey Parnell (later 2nd Lord Congleton) who was on a largely unsuccessful missionary trip from England on behalf of the Plymouth Brethren. He did, however, manage to convert Khatoon and their marriage followed shortly afterwards, on 21 May 1833.  They were both widowed (Parnell’s wife had died on the journey out), so it seems that the niceties of an extended courtship were dispensed with.

They travelled back to England with the ten-year-old Lazar and his four-year-old sister Miriam

Parnell succeeded as Lord Congleton in 1842 when his father hanged himself. He and Khatoon, who lived in Great Cumberland Place in London, had no children of their own. Lord Congelton was frequently away from home, preaching and baptising adult believers all over England. Khatoon died in 1865.

At this point, we return to Hythe. Lazar, who became a civil engineer,  married Elizabeth Ann Finnis of Hythe grand-daughter of Robert Finnis, upholsterer, in 1861.  They must have met in London through Elizabeth’s half-Armenian cousins. The  bride was given away by her uncle, Thomas Quested Finnis, who gave a splendid wedding breakfast and ball for the couple at his home in Wanstead. The couple lived with Lazar’s mother for a while, but later in Cambridge Terrace, just around the corner.  It was a short marriage as he died only five years later on 8 April 1866.  He had made his will only weeks earlier, leaving a thousand pounds to his step-father who was the sole executor (perhaps in repayment of a loan) and the rest to his wife. Elizabeth Ann, a childless widow, moved back to Hythe to live with her maiden aunt Sarah Finnis and after her death rented a house in Arthur Villas in Stade Street. AHe lived there with a paid companion, Charlotte Lane, dying in 1913, still a widow and was buried in the Finnis family vault at St Leonard’s church, its last occupant. She had only stocks and shares left to bequeath and these went to a niece she had never met, daughter of her half-brother John Elphicke Castle, who had emigrated to Canada in the 1850s.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Ann’s cousin, Thomas Kerr Lynch, had married Harriet Taylor, the daughter of Robert Taylor and Rosa.  Their son, Henry Finnis Blosse Lynch (HFB, to distinguish him from all the other Henrys) continued the exploration of the Middle East started by his father and uncles.

Born on 18 April 1862, HFB was educated at Eton, the University of Heidelberg and Trinity College, Cambridge. As a child, he was surrounded by Armenian relatives: his grandmother, Rosa and her sister Khatoon, who lived nearby; Khatoon’s son, Lazar and his sister Miriam; his uncle Stephen’s wife, Hosanna.  His father and uncles travelled to and from across continents, to Armenia, Persia and Mesopotamia. His uncle Henry, together with his wife Caroline, HFB’s aunt, visited from Paris.

After Cambridge, he studied law and was called to the Bar in 1887, but seems never to have practised as a barrister, instead joining the family firm of Lynch Brothers, becoming company’s chairman in 1896. He had been admitted as a freeman of the Worshipful Company of Bowyers of the City of London in 1888 – evidently the name of Finnis still had some influence there.

HFB Lynch

Business took him to the Middle East, but he was still attracted by Armenia and in 1893-4 and again in 1898 made extended visits to the country where he travelled extensively, sometimes in the company of a Blosse Lynch cousin, yet another Henry. Together they climbed Mount Ararat. The result of his travels was a two-volume book, Armenia: Travel and Studies. illustrated with his own photographs and published in 1901.

Mount Ararat, 

HFB then turned his attention to politics . In 1906-1910 he was the Liberal MP for Ripon in Yorkshire but lost the seat to Edward Wood, later Lord Halifax.  He then contested the constituency of Gloucester but lost to the Conservative candidate by three votes and apparently decided to retire from politics. He lived latterly in Wardington House near Banbury, but died, ‘suddenly’ on 24 November 1913 at Calais. He is buried at Kensal Green.

Wardington House, now a nursing home

His only sibling, Eva, meanwhile, had married twice, the first time disastrously. At only twenty, she had accepted the proposal of John Charlton Kinchant, a captain in the 11th Hussars, who told her and her father that his only debt was £100 owed to his tailor. During the honeymoon in Paris, he admitted that in fact he had gambling debts amounting to over £12,000, which his new father-in-law paid off to avert disgrace. Kinchant was also obsessively jealous and often beat his wife, who understandably petitioned for a judicial separation after seven years of misery.

She was granted a divorce at the end of 1889 and in 1913 married the French Naval Attache to London, Commander (later Comte)  Rothiacob. They eventually retired to St Raphael on the French Riviera, where Eva died  on 19 December 1943 and where she is buried.