James Finn was born in 1806 in London, where his early education was based on the study of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. He also learned some German, French, and Spanish before he came to Jerusalem in 1846. “He was a man of physical courage and became quite acquainted with leaders in which he encountered thorough his career”. Before setting foot in Palestine, James Finn had been instrumental in writing works on Jewish life in the interior of China. He also had an obsession with record keeping and kept a current description of every householder who claimed British protection within the jurisdiction of his consulate in Jerusalem . A short list of Finn’s literary works includes Stirring Times, The Jews in China, Byeways in Palestine, and Sephardim. Referred to as “his memoirs” later, these works included a complete record of their life in Jerusalem as well as James Finn’s relationship with the Jews. James Finn served as the British Consul for seventeen years, from 1846 to 1863. During that time he bought land in Taghoor, Talibiyeh, Artas, and Palestine. He also enjoyed long camping trips in all parts of the country with his family. In July 1863, the Finns found themselves in debt, losing those properties mentioned before. James Finn also lost his health later that year and left for England. In 1872, at the age of 66, James Finn was buried in the churchyard at Wimbledon.

As a child, stationed at her father’s posts in Poland and Germany, Elizabeth McCaul learned Hebrew, Yiddish, and German. She frequently utilizes this knowledge throughout the diary in her entries and comments. As an adult woman in Jerusalem, she also learned Ladino to speak to Sephardic Jews. In 1846, Elizabeth married James and traveled to Jerusalem with him where she stayed during his career as Consul. She regarded the consulate as “a divinely ordained tool for the conversion of the Jews of Palestine”. She was very involved in the work of the London Jews Society and the couple’s missionary work. While in Jerusalem she raised three children, as well as suffering the loss of infants. Elizabeth also became a writer of many literary Palestine history accounts including A Third Year in Jerusalem, Home in the Holy Land, Sunrise Over Jerusalem with other Pen and Pencil Sketches, and The Duty of Christians Towards the Children of Israel. After the death of her husband, she continued writing books as well as editing the remaining notes written by James. While superintending the education of her two sons and a daughter, she kept in contact with the Society through the United States Consul at Jerusalem, sending funds for the Relief of Distressed Jews during World War I. Elizabeth Anne Finn lived forty-eight more years after the death of James, and was also buried in Wimbledon in January 1921. (See here)

28.iii.58, 29.iii.58, 30.iii.58, 31.iii.58, 1.iv.58, 2.vi.60.