Finley, Samuel

honorific(s): Reverend
Other names: President
Birth: 1715 in Armagh, Ireland
Death: July 17, 1766 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Princeton University (College of New Jersey)


"Log College" Neshaminy, Pennsylvania (a school for ministers)






Presbyterian Minister and head of academy in Nottingham, Pennsylvania; President of College of New Jersey (Princeton University)

  • Ireland (from 1715 to 1734-09)
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (from 1734-09 to 1742)
  • Nottingham, Pennsylvania (from 1744 to 1761)
  • New Haven, Connecticut (from 1761 to 1766-07)
Marital status

Married Sarah Hall on September 26, 1744.


Samuel Finley was a Scottish colonist in Ireland who came to North America with his parents at the age of 19. He is best known for his work as a Presbyterian minister and as the fifth president of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). Finley spent his early life as a Presbyterian minister in Pennsylvania preaching in the vigorous style of the Great Awakening. While there, he also headed an academy which gained respect among the academic community. In recognition for this work, Finley was given an honorary degree by the University of Glasgow. This interest in academia led Finley to become one of the original trustees of the College of New Jersey, of which he was named president in 1761. Finley died five years later at the age of 51.


The Trustees of Princeton University, "The Presidents of Princeton University." Last modified October 21, 2010. Accessed April 25, 2013. ; Rosalie Ann, . Find A Grave, "Rev Samuel Finley." Last modified April 25, 2011. Accessed April 25, 2013. ; Webb, Alfred John. A Compendium of Irish Biography. Ireland: M.H. Gill & Son, 1878. ; Leitch, Alexander. A Princeton Companion. Princeton University Press, 1978. (accessed April 25, 2013).

Further reading

Information about the gravesite of Samuel Finley can be found at;page=gr&GRid=68888447

General note

Finley is frequently referred to simply as the "president of New Jersey College." A letter from Nathaniel Whitaker to Moses Peck indicates that Mr. Kirtland planned to attend the College of New Jersey and that Kirtland's connections with Finley would help to ensure his matriculation.