John Finch, a grocer by trade, first appears in the Wesley House archives in November 1922 when it is reported “Mr and Mrs John Finch spent a day at Wesley House. Conversations with Dr Hughes had aroused their interest in the work and from that time they showed themselves to be kind and generous friends.”
It is later recorded that the Inaugural Dinner in April 1925 was “given by Mr and Mrs John Finch in the Dining Hall.”
John Finch was appointed a Foundation Trustee in July 1931, a position he held until his death in December 1944. The minutes of the Governors on 5th November 1941 record that Mr John Finch had been instrumental in raising £110.18.3 towards the establishment of the Dr Hughes Memorial Prize.
John Finch Travelling Scholarship
In 1922 Mr Finch made over to the Trustees an investment of £400 in War Loans to start a scholarship for Wesley House students to travel for a year’s study abroad, a fund he carried on contributing to for the rest of his life, “entering, from time to time, into seven-year covenants with the Trustees for such a sum as, with the Interest from the original investment, would bring in £200 per annum”.
The first beneficiary of the scholarship was Erastus Evans who went to Marburg in 1928.
When he died, Mr Finch left a legacy of £5,000 (£225k in today’s money) which complicatedly was held by the Governors of Wesley House, whilst the earlier investment was held by the Trustees. After much planning, it was agreed that all of the income from the combined sums should be available for the Governors to award an annual scholarship of £200, with the Trustees remaining as Custodian Trustees of the whole of the fund.
Under the terms of the will, the bequest was to provide travelling scholarships to be known as "John Finch Scholarships" for candidates for the Ministry of the Methodist Church undergoing training at Wesley College as students for such Ministry or having completed their training at Wesley College not more than one year before being awarded a scholarship. Mr Finch stated in his will that "the said travelling scholarships shall be scholarships for furthering the education of the said students or past students to whom they are awarded by enlarging their vision amplifying their knowledge and extending their experience to the intent that they become the better fitted to discharge their duties as Ministers of the Methodist Church when appointed as such."
At the time of the College’s centenary £43,000 remains in the fund.
It is recorded in the minutes of the meetings of the Governors and Trustees on 2nd March 1945, that the Principal, Rev Dr Newton Flew, “went on to speak with deep feeling of the loss the Governors/Trustees had sustained since their last meeting in the death of Mr John Finch. He reviewed the foundation of the College and made special mention of those who, since our pious founder, Mr Michael Gutteridge, had assisted us by large generosities, and he placed Mr Finch in that most worthy succession. He summarised his sorrow and gratitude in the following resolution which the Governors solemnly and gratefully adopted:-
The Governors of Wesley House desire to place on record their sorrow and sense of loss in the passing of their friend and brother John Finch. Brought up as he was with few educational advantages he set himself to pay back his debt to our beloved Methodism by innumerable and most generous gifts. In all these plans he was encouraged and inspired by his wife, who died just over a year ago. But it was on Wesley House that he lavished his generosity. He had the insight to discern that a travelling scholarship would enrich the experience and widen the vision of those who might be expected, in due course, to exercise some kind of leadership in the Church. The Finch Scholarship is likely to be his enduring monument. He watched over our business with affectionate and constant care. His passing is a loss to us comparable to that of our Founder, Michael Gutteridge, or of the beloved Edmund Lamplough. We thank God for his generosity to young ministers, for his love of evangelistic work and for his deep loyalty and love to our Lord.”