Hastings, Hans Francis (DNB00)

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HASTINGS, HANS FRANCIS, eleventh Earl of Huntingdon (1779–1828), fourth and only surviving son of George Hastings, lieutenant-colonel in the 3rd regiment of foot-guards, by his wife Sarah, daughter of Colonel Thomas Hodges, was born in London on 14 Aug. 1779. He was educated at Repton School (1787–90), and afterwards at John Bettesworth's academy at Chelsea. Early in 1793 he commenced his naval career under Sir John Borlase Warren, then captain of the Flora. He took part in the action off Cancale Bay in April 1794, and in the following year was wounded in the Quiberon expedition. After serving six years with Warren, he was appointed acting lieutenant in the Sylph brig, and subsequently received his commission as second lieutenant of the Racoon. Early in 1800 he was appointed first lieutenant of the Thisbe, in which ship he accompanied the expedition to Egypt. He was afterwards appointed second lieutenant of l'Aigle, and on the breaking out of the war in 1803 was sent to Weymouth Roads to impress seamen for the navy. While engaged on this duty the party under his command was attacked by a mob, and in the conflict which ensued seventeen of his men were wounded, and three of their assailants were killed. Upon landing at Weymouth he was seized, and committed by the mayor, on the charge of murder, to Dorchester gaol. After a confinement of six weeks, he was removed by habeas corpus to Westminster, when he was bailed out by his relative, Lord Moira [see Hastings, Francis Rawdon-], and was subsequently acquitted at the Dorchester summer assizes. From l'Aigle Hastings was removed to the Diamond, and he afterwards served as second lieutenant on the Audacious, and as flag-lieutenant on the Hibernia. On his refusal to go out to the West Indies, where two of his brothers had died, he was appointed acting ordnance barrackmaster in the Isle of Wight, and in 1808 was promoted to the post of ordnance storekeeper in Enniskillen, where he lived for more than nine years.

When Francis, tenth earl of Huntingdon, died in October 1789, the earldom of Huntingdon became dormant, while the ancient baronies of Hastings, &c., devolved upon his elder sister, Lady Elizabeth Hastings, the third wife of John Rawdon, first earl of Moira. Though Theophilus Henry Hastings, the eccentric rector of East and West Leake, Nottinghamshire, the uncle of Hans Francis Hastings, assumed the title of Earl of Huntingdon, to which he was entitled by his descent from Francis, the second earl [q.v.] , he never took any steps to prove his right. Upon the death of his uncle in April 1804, Hastings made some attempt to investigate his claim to the earldom, but was soon compelled to abandon it for want of money. In July 1817 his friend Henry Nugent Bell [q. v.] took the case up, and it was mainly owing to his exertions that the attorney-general, Sir Samuel Shepherd, reported on 29 Oct. 1818, that Hastings had ‘sufficiently proved his right to the title of Earl of Huntingdon.’ A writ of summons was accordingly issued to him in January 1819, and on the 14th of that month he took his seat in the House of Lords (Journals of the House of Lords, lii. 9), where he does not appear to have taken any part in the debates. Though successful in his claim to the earldom, he failed to recover the Leicestershire estates, which had formerly gone with the title. On 7 March 1821 he obtained the rank of commander and the command of the Chanticleer. While cruising in the Mediterranean he was appointed governor of Dominica (13 Dec. 1821), on 28 March in the following year took the oaths of office (London Gazette, 1822, pt. i. p. 533). In 1824, in consequence of a misunderstanding with the other authorities in the island, Huntingdon resigned his post, and returned home. He was promoted to the rank of post-captain on 29 May 1824, and on 14 Aug. following was appointed to the command of the Valorous. Illness compelled him to relinquish his command in the West Indies. Returning to England in May 1828, he died at Green Park, Youghal, on 9 Dec. 1828, aged 49, and was succeeded in the earldom by his eldest son, Francis Theophilus Henry Hastings. He married first, on 12 May 1803, at St. Anne's, Soho, Frances, third daughter of the Rev. Richard Chaloner Cobbe, rector of Great Marlow, Buckinghamshire, by whom he had ten children, including George Fowler Hastings [q. v.] She died on 31 March 1820, and on 28 Sept. following he married secondly Eliza Mary, eldest daughter of Joseph Bettesworth of Ryde in the Isle of Wight, and widow of Alexander Thistlethwayte of Hampshire, by whom he had no children. His widow survived him, and married, for the third time, on 26 April 1838, Colonel Sir Thomas Noel Harris, K.H., and died at Boulogne on 9 Nov. 1846. Engravings by C. Warren after portraits of Huntingdon, and of his first wife by S. W. Lethbridge, will be found in Bell's ‘Huntingdon Peerage.’

[H. N. Bell's Huntingdon Peerage, 1820; Gent. Mag. 1829, pt. i. pp. 269–72, 1847, pt. i. 110; Doyle's Official Baronage, 1886, ii. 243; Burke's Peerage, 1889, pp. 743, 744; Notes and Queries, 5th ser. xii. 69, 234, 278, 475, 6th ser. i. 66; Navy Lists.]

G. F. R. B.