Finn, James°

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FINN, JAMES ° (1806–1872), English philo-Semite, served as British consul in Jerusalem from 1845 to 1862. A pioneer for the resettlement of the Jews in Ereẓ Israel, Finn was a devoted friend of the Jews and often protected them from the Ottoman authorities. He was also active in promoting the idea of laborand agricultural development, and even invested funds in experiments to help organize his projects. After some time he went bankrupt. At the same time Finn engaged in missionary activities and tried to settle some Jewish converts to Christianity in the village of Artas (the biblical En-Etam) near Bethlehem, but this project was abandoned in 1864. When his appointment as consul ended, the leaders of the Jerusalem Jewish community and others addressed messages of appreciation and admiration to the British Government and to Finn himself for his services to the Jewish population. In assisting the Jews of Jerusalem, he had sometimes overlooked the instructions of his superiors and it has been suggested that this precipitated the end of his service in Ereẓ Israel.

After his death, his wife, Elizabeth Anne (née McCaul, 1825–1921), edited and published his book Stirring Times (1878), which contains detailed descriptions of the situation of the Jews in Ereẓ Israel at that time. Finn was also a pioneerin bringing to the knowledge of the Western world the Jews of *Kai Feng in his two works Jews of China (1849) and The Orphan Colony of the Jews of China (1872). Apart from this he wrote a superficial work on the Sephardim (1841). His wife assisted him in all his activities on behalf of the Jewish population of Ereẓ Israel. She wrote three books on Ereẓ Israel as well as memoirs on her life in Ereẓ Israel, under the title of Reminiscences of Mrs. Finn (1929), published posthumously.


A.M. Hyamson, British Consulate in Jerusalem … 1838–1914, 2 vols. (1939–47), index; I. Ben-Zvi, She'ar Yashuv, 1 (1966), 212, 520, 524; idem, Meḥkarim u-Mekorot (1966), 165; Ben-Zvi, Ereẓ Yisrael, 364, 409–10; A. Yaari, Zikhronot Ereẓ Yisrael, 1 (1947), 162–3, 175–8; M. Ish-Shalom, Masei Noẓerim le-Ereẓ Yisrael (1965), 44, 626–71. add. bibliography: odnb online for Elizabeth Finn; H.L. and W.D. Rubinstein, Philo-Semitism: Admiration and Support in the English-Speaking World for Jews, 1840–1939 (1999), 159–60; B.-Z. Abrahams, "James Finn: Her Britannic Majesty's Counsel at Jerusalem Between 1846 and 1860," in: jhset, 27 (1978–80), 40–50.

[Abraham David]