A Masonic charlatan, or fraud, who flourished at the end of the preceding and the beginning of the nineteenth century. Finch was a tailor in Canterbury, who, having been expelled for some misconduct by the Grand Lodge, commenced a system of practical Freemasonry on his own account, and opened a Lodge in his house, where he undertook to initiate candidates and to give instructions in Freemasonry. He published a great number of pamphlets, many of them in a cipher of his own, which he pretended were for the instruction of the Fraternity. Among the books published by him are: A Masonic Treatise, with an Elucidation on the Religious and Moral Beauties of Freemasonry, etc.; printed at Canterbury in 1802. The Lectures, Laws, and Ceremonies of the Holy Arch Degree of Freemasonry, etc., Lambeth, 181. The Origin of Freemasons, etc.; London, 1816. Finch found many dupes, and made a great deal of money. But having on one occasion been sued bar an engraver named Smith, for money due for printing his plates, Finch pleaded an offset of money due by Smith for initiation and instruction in Freemasonry. Smith brought the brand Secretary and other distinguished Freemasons into court, who testified that Finch was an impostor. In consequence of this exposure, Finch lost credit with the community, and, sinking into obscurity, died sometime after, in abject poverty.
As it is impossible to read Finch's Treatises without a knowledge of the cipher employed by him, the following key will be found useful. We owe it to the researches of Brother H. C. Levander (Freemasons Magazine and Review, 1859, page 490). In the first part of the book the cipher used is formed by reversing the alphabet, writing z for a, by for b, etc. The cipher used the title-page differs somewhat from this, as will be seen from the following:
FOR THE TITLE-PAGE Cipher. a,b,c,d,e,f,g,h,i,j,k,l,m,n,o,p,q,r,s,t,u,v,w,x,y,z, Key. b, d, f, h, j. l, n, p, r, t, v, x, z, y, w, u, s, q, o, m, k, i, g, e, c, a.
FOR THE FIRST PART Cipher. a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q, r, t, u, v, w, x, y, z. Key. z, y, x, v., v, u, t, s, r, q, p, o, n, m, l, k, j, i, h f, e, d, c, b, a.
In the second part of the work, a totally different svstem is employed. The words may be deciphered by taking the last letter, then the first, then the last but one, then the second, and so on. Two or three words are also often run into one; for example erectemhdrdoh, is he ordered them. The nine digits, the Arabic numerals, 1 to 9, represent certain words of frequent recurrence, a repetition of the same digit denoting the plural; thus stands for Lodge; 11, for Lodges; 3, Fellow Craft; 33, Fellow Crafts, etc.
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