Peter FINK’s German Forebears

Kiedrich, near Frankfurt

The following information has been taken from a handwritten family tree from Anton Fink (a cousin of Peter Fink) and follows the single line from our Peter back to his Great Great Great Great Grandfather Peter Fink born around 1670.

Peter Fink (born circa 1670)
Peter Fink (born circa 1692) – m. Maria Cunigunde
Christian Fink (b. circa 1721, dec 16 Feb 1805) m. Helene Frank
Johann Peter Fink (b. 4 Sep 1759, dec 25 Mar 1829) m. Theresia Busch
Valentin Fink (b. 10 Apr 1789, dec 23 Oct 1874) m. Dorothea Kempernich
Peter Fink (b. 19 Jan 1828 dec 22 Jun 1913) m. Elizabeth Wash

Anton FINK’s letter to New Zealand – 24th August 1960

The following letter was translated by Barbara Fitzpatrick from a copy of the original written in 1960 by Anton Fink to Raymond Fink in New Zealand (the family is descended from Peter’s son William). We are most grateful to Raymond and family for sharing this information with us. Barbara’s German friend Irene very kindly translated parts that we were unable to read or transcribe as they were in historical German.

Fink Family History in Kiedrich and surrounding area

Behind the little town of Zetville on the Rhine, a little sideways is situated the village of Kiedrich, in a pleasant depression. Near at hand you can see upwards on a high cliff the ruin of the castle Scarfenstein, erected by the Archbishop from Mainz at the end of the 12th century.The castle was besieged in 1301 by King Albrecht. He marched off without success and the castle fell to ruins in the 17th century. Today the only things preserved are the tower and parts of the masonry. The whole hill under the ruin is now planted with vines. The wine harvest is renowned for its value.

Kiedrich itself sits in the mist of vine yards away is an old pilgrim place. There are two churches: Valentin Church and Michaels Chapel. The latter was erected in 1440 in the best Gothic style and pass for one of the famous Gothic buildings on the middle-Rhine.

Kiedrich was first historically mentioned in the year 940. Today it is still a very popular village. Its popularity is based on its famous wine, the old works of art, especially in the two wonderful old churches (St Valentin since 1310 with an organ 600 years old a masterpiece and representative of generations by organ constructors – one of the organ pipes is dated from 1313) and on the nonrecurring choral-song in a particular air.

The eldest part of Kiedrich is the neighbourhood of the old castle Scarfenstein. The population of Kiedrich were predominately wine growers but also and especially in followers of the knighthood Scarfenstein workmen, for example armourers.

It is especially interesting that Kiedrich owes the restoration of the churches with the works of art and also the considerable charity of the English Baronet Sir John Sutton, born 18th October 1820 at Sudbrooke Holme, Lincolnshire. He was related to the family of the Viscount of Canterbury and the Ducal house of Rutland. He was very rich and religious, an eminent connoisseur and often lived in Kiedrich. From 1869 until his death in 1873 he lived their permanently. His portrait is on the church window.

I give you some little drawings (in photo album) with motifs from Kiedrich from my sketchbook and also some press cuttings with a totality-view. The old home with the bay window is the paternal roof of my grandmother Helena Schuler. Though it is not proved I should like to say that our family immigrated a long time ago from downwards of the Rhine to Ertville (now part of Elzass on the river Rhine) Here was the family owner of the house Drei Kreuz (three cross) (in photo album). In consequence of death and a quarrel with the heirs the family lost the property. The winners had the consequence of law-costs and no possibility to keep the house and he should be the ancestor of our family in Kiedrich. This was the story told by my Grandfather, Anton Fink (1813-1889). I do not know what is reality and what is not and I pass no opinion on the matter, but it appears to me that there is often at least some truth in it.

My father Johann Fink (1856 – 1912) born in Kiedrich, was very diligent for investigation of the family- history. The name Fink (English Finch) was attributed our ancestors. It is the name of the little bird and conformity with the apprehension of an expert, it is probable that one of our ancestors were a bird catcher, a bird fancier or a man that was joyful, like a bird.

The investigations of my father were made more difficult because the parish registers in Germany were destroyed in the war 1618-1648. My father had looked over all attainable proofs (an old register of all inhabitants from Kiedrich on the Town Hall there from the end of the 17th century and also the parish registers in the beginning of the 18th century).There is named for the first time in the year 1693, Peter Fink. In 1693 he was already in some employment of the municipality (government) and in 1708 he was mayor. It is to suppose therefore this Fink was not a newcomer in Kiedrich and the Finks are domiciled (lived) there since the middle ages at least.

This Peter Fink was an armourer (like all the Finks the trade was hereditary from father to the eldest son) and in 1700 owner of ‘Peter Finks grind mill’ at the side of his house and smithy. This mill was still in possession of my father Johann Fink (1856 – 1912) and was after rebuilding sold. Here is the press cutting Rheinische Volkszeitung No 82 from 1.7.1894.“I present well established modern the last of the medieval grind mills the Finks grind mill in Kiedrich. This mill is demonstrable in possession of the family since the 17th century just so, was the trade, earlier as armourers later as toolsmiths hereditary in this family mill until now. In this trade where the family are well known as efficient tradesmen”This Peter Fink – his birthday unknown – had a brother Johannes.

Peter’s oldest son had also the name Peter (his birthday likewise unknown). He was married with a Maria Kunnigunde and had four sons and six daughters. (Now look at the family tree). I have a letter from your great grandfather William dated 30.9.1946.

He told:“Back in the 1890’s my brother Peter returned to England from Australia. He then mentioned he saw there a large publishing firm of the name of Fink in Melbourne. I spoke of this to my father and he told me that his father’s eldest brother sold the family home at Kiedrich/Nassau to his father and emigrated to Australia and became evidently one of the pioneers in New South Wales for there are the Fink Mountains and also the Fink river. Our name used to be spelt with an ‘e’ at the end” That won’t go down with me. I suppose he must have laboured under a mistake. My grandfather Anton Fink (1813-1889) has never told of an emigrated uncle apart from the circumstance that his father Valentine Fink (1789-1874) had only sisters but not a brother as far as I know and the proof dispose. Johann Peter Fink (1757-1829), his father sold the family home in Kiedrich 1832 to an inhabitant named Christoph Post and from Post took later possession of the house a family Brickmann.

Valentin Fink- father from Peter Fink, London, had 1829 bought another house at Kiedrich and inhabited this until 1854. He moved 1854 into a house near the church, his hither existing home was now in the possession of my grandfather Anton Fink (1889-1912) possession of my father Johann Fink and from 1912-1919 where my sister Anna and myself owners.

We have 1932 sold this house. Buyer of the house of my great grandfather near the church was the above-mentioned Baronet Sutton. He presented the estate to the church. Valentin Fink (1789-1874) had only sisters.

And now some other things. The Fink’s formerly armourers were later tool smiths. Christian Fink (1721-1805) was already a tool smith. But Johann Peter Fink (1757-1829) was obliged to forge a guillotine blade for the execution of the robber-chief “Schinderhannes” and his band in the year 1803 in Mainz. This blade is existing still in Mainz. Here is a cutting out from a book, “History of the notorious robber chief Johannes Brueckler, named “Schinderhannes” and his band. By Carl Rauchhaupt 1899:Schinderhannes was beheaded because he had wanted this. He shouted out: “I am executed Mr. President, I am executed Mr. Pre…. Then the hatchet crossed his neck. The hatchet was especially made for the execution from the armourer Peter Fink from Kiedrich. The hatchet is still on display at the Grossherzoglichen Staatsanwaltschaft (Justice building in the office of the public prosecutor) in Mainz resting in a case lined in red velvet. Behind the guillotine was a leather bag without floor/bottom through where the heads fell into a lower room. So when the robber put his head over the hole he was afraid and raised his head again to move away from it, this was the exact moment when the hatchet came down. The hatchet was 80 pounds, which is 40 kilograms in weight.(see picture in photo album of the displayed blade)All tools made by the Fink’s had this sign – (see picture in photo album of the mark) The hatchet is not marked; this presumably is because Johann Peter Fink this work was made very unwillingly by order of the French occupation forces.

My father told me that your great-grandfather Peter was a student of a training college, but he had no disposition to study theologian. He was then an ex-serviceman in the Crimean war (1853-1856) came to England and married. One of his sons Johann Walter – came to Germany and there to his Aunt Theresa Rath at Camp (Rhine). My father has seen the child around 1890 in Camp. He discovered that the child had not enjoyed an easy life in Camp. He had therefore the intention to give him a situation in the postal affairs at Frankfurt but he was not willing. He was then a waterman and drowned nearly 19 years on 5th July 1896 in the Rhine. He is buried at Camp.

I became acquainted with some old Fink’s in the early years and I remember Valentin Fink (1819-1912), his brother Franz and also his sister Margarethe. They died well in advance years. With pleasure I can say all the members of our family have performed their obligations. They had had troubles and trials but also success. It was not richness but they were all well off. I know my grandfather Anton Fink (1813-1889) has made with pleasure money transactions. He had at Kiedrich the nickname “Pope”, why, I don’t know. He was very stern and a little headstrong and nicknames in Kiedrich are very usual and not an insult.

His brother Franz was married to Charlotte Weritz? and this was a sister from my grandmother of the motherly side. He had two sons: Anton, who died in early years, and Valentin. Valentin had one son and four daughters. The son Konrad did not outlive the war 1914/18 and the daughters are married. Franz was a very joyous man and especially a passionate storyteller, but his son Valentin was very irritable and already my father met with this cousin with caution.

After the death of my father and of my grand uncle Valentin (1819-1912) we had no connection, though it was a relationship in dual capacity. Valentin, also brother of my grandfather was a bachelor, very hard of hearing, but ever glad. Margarethe Reitz (nee Fink) I have seen only sitting on a chair with a book in her hand. She was a bookworm and 50 years widowed. Every visitor was welcomed with jubilation.

Besides your great grandfather Peter Fink our ancestors have not made great journeys. Their life rolled off in a bound sphere and therefore it is not much to tell. They had their house and family, their work, respectively their vineyards and proportional a quiet life.

The disturber of the peace came later… But I am sure the politicians have already made blunders in the last century and also the war 1914/18 was avoidable. My father Johann Fink (1856-1912) was born at Kiedrich but lived since 1889 at Frankfurt. He had the desire to live his old age in Kiedrich, his death 1912 made this impossible, but he is buried there.

I am sorry not to have photographs or other portraits of our ancestors, but I have copies of some actual signatures (in photo album)

I am the last of our family in Germany named Fink. But the family lived and increased God thanks in the lucky New Zealand. I hope it would be very nice and interesting for your children in after years to be aware that all especially if everyone completed with a short biography and a photograph. I hope you can decode my scribbling and I wish you all in New Zealand good luck and well being forever.Frankfurt (Main) 24.8.1960

Anton & Margareth in NZ 1960’s
Blade made by Anton Fink – 1870’s
Anton being awarding a medal
Anton’s sketch 3
Anton’s Sketch
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