Meet the family

The Finch family, Finch Foundry, Devon

The company employed up to 25 men across the site which included blacksmiths, carpenters, wheelwrights, farriers and general workers. The main players in the Finch empire were William, his son George, his wife Rebecca and their son Albany.

William was born in 1779 in a village called Spreyton in West Devon. He worked in Tavistock Ironworks for most of his early career and this is where he purchased the equipment to start the business at Finch Foundry after the ironworks had gone into decline.

He married three times, fathering many children, four of whom were born in his latest marriage to his half-sister, Suzanna. Suzanna gave birth to their youngest child after walking to Tavistock (almost 20 miles) to sell tools, whilst heavily pregnant.  She carried the baby back only a few days later, after selling the tools she carried to market.

George was the youngest son of William and Suzanna and took over the foundry in 1882 after a series of untimely deaths in the family. He only ran the foundry for three years before mistakenly taking an overdose of laudanum, trying to cure a stubborn case of toothache.

Rebecca, George's widow, took over the business straight after the death of George and ran the business until her death in 1891. This pushed her three sons James, Albany George and Thomas Seacombe forward to work hard and make the business hit its most profitable and productive phase during the last quarter of the 19 century.

Albany George oversaw several changes in direction of the business partly due to the changing industry and partly a rise of foreign imports, until its closure in 1960. To name a few - becoming a scrap metal merchant, funeral director, timber merchant, car mechanic, coal merchant and 'importer of American goods'.