Hastings, Frank Abney (DNB00)
|←Hastings, Francis Rawdon-||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 25
Hastings, Frank Abney
|Hastings, George (1488?-1545)→|
HASTINGS, FRANK ABNEY (1794–1828), naval commander in the Greek war of independence, was younger son of Lieutenant-general Sir Charles Hastings, bart., an illegitimate son of Francis Hastings, earl of Huntingdon. He entered the navy when about eleven years old, and was present at Trafalgar on board the Neptune. During his fifteen years of service he visited every quarter of the globe, and was finally sent to the West Indies in command of the Kangaroo for the purpose of surveying. On coming into the harbour of Port Royal, Jamaica, he is reported to have brought his ship to anchor in an unseamanlike way. The flag-captain of the admiral's ship insulted him so grossly in consequence that Hastings sent him a challenge. The admiral on the station reported the circumstance to the home authorities, and Hastings was dismissed the service. A spirited letter to Lord Melville produced no effect, and Hastings resolved to take service under some foreign power. He resided for a time in France to acquire the language, and sailed from Marseilles on 12 March 1822, with the view of joining the Greeks. He reached Hydra on 3 April, and was well received by the brothers Jakomaki and Manoli Tombazes, then in command of the Greek fleet. On 3 May 1822 this fleet, which was poorly manned, sailed from Hydra with Hastings on board the Themistocles as volunteer. The value of his services was soon evident, and among other things he built a furnace on board his ship for heating shot. He first became popular among the Greek sailors by saving the corvette of Tombazes off Cape Baba, to the north of Mitylene, which had accidentally got within range of the Turkish fire. When the naval campaign was concluded, Hastings joined the troops engaged in the siege of Nauplia, and assisted in the defence of the little port of Burdzi, which was held by the Greeks. The town fell into their hands on 12 Dec. 1822. About this time Hastings raised a company of fifty men, whom he armed and equipped at his own expense. During part of 1823 he served in Crete as commander of the artillery, but was compelled to quit the island in the autumn of that year in consequence of a violent fever.
In the latter part of 1824 Hastings went to England to purchase a steamer, which was to be armed under his direction. In March 1825 the Karteria came to Greece and was put under his command. This steamer, the first seen in Greece, was armed with 68-pounders, and could throw red-hot shells and shot. Her crew consisted of Englishmen, Swedes, and Greeks. In February 1827 Hastings co-operated with Thomas Gordon (1788–1841) [q. v.], and made an attempt to relieve Athens, which was besieged by the Turkish commander Reshid, by steaming into the Piræus and shelling the enemy's camp. His attack was successful, but the city was afterwards forced to capitulate to the Turks on 5 June. Hastings interrupted the Turkish communication between Volo and Oropus, and captured several of their vessels. At Tricheri he destroyed a Turkish man-of-war, but in this encounter the Karteria suffered severely, and was obliged to go to Poros for repairs. On 29 Sept. 1827 Hastings destroyed the Turkish fleet in the bay of Salona. Ibrahim Pasha, who was at Navarino, resolved to take instant vengeance upon him, but the allied admirals kept his fleet closely blockaded there. On 20 Oct. 1827 it was annihilated at the great battle of Navarino.
On 29 Dec. 1827 Hastings took Vasiladi, the key to the fortifications of Mesolonghi. He released the prisoners whom he captured together with the Turkish governor (Finlay, ii. 187). Capodistrias now arrived in Greece as president, and Hastings, disgusted with the negligent conduct of the war, proposed to resign. But in May 1828 he was induced to resume active operations in command of a small squadron in western Greece. On the 25th of that month he was wounded in an attack on Anatolikon, and amputation of the left arm became necessary. He sailed for Zante in search of a competent surgeon, but tetanus set in before the Karteria could enter the port. On 1 June 1828 he expired on board the vessel in the harbour of Zante. His funeral oration was pronounced by Tricoupi, the future historian of the war. Finlay speaks of him as the best foreign officer who embarked in the Greek cause, and declares that he was the only foreigner in whose character and deeds there were the elements of true greatness.[Finlay's History of Greece, ed. Tozer, vols. vi. vii. 1877; Tricoupi's Ἱστορία τῆς Ἑλληνικής Ἐπαναστάσεως, 1853; Blackwood's Magazine, October 1845.]