Anne Finch was born in southern England to Sir William and Anne (Haslewood) Kingsmill, whose families were landed gentry with royal connections. Both parents died before Anne was three, and she and two siblings lived, at various times, with a stepfather, uncle, and grandmother. Unusual for the time, Sir William in his will set aside money for the support and education not only of his son and heir but also of his daughters. Young Anne thus had a substantive education in English poetry and drama, and also in the classics and foreign languages. She benefited, too, from living in London with her paternal grandmother, a wealthy, strong-willed woman (who twice brought Chancery suits in behalf of Anne and her sister).
In 1683, at age twenty-one, Anne joined the household of the duchess of York (Mary of Modena, Italian second wife of the duke of York, heir to the throne) and the next year wed Colonel Heneage Finch, a soldier who was part of the duke of York’s retinue. By all accounts, this was a happy and loving marriage. Her husband through the decades actively supported her writing, requesting that she write poems for him, editing and transcribing them, and compiling manuscripts for private circulation.
In 1685, when the duke of York became King James II, the couple remained part of the court circle, but when James was deposed three years later, Colonel Finch stayed loyal to the Stuart cause and refused to swear allegiance to the new monarchs,...
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