1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hatton, Sir Christopher
HATTON, SIR CHRISTOPHER (1540–1591), lord chancellor of England and favourite of Queen Elizabeth, was a son of William Hatton (d. 1546) of Holdenby, Northamptonshire, and was educated at St Mary Hall, Oxford. A handsome and accomplished man, being especially distinguished for his elegant dancing, he soon attracted the notice of Queen Elizabeth, became one of her gentlemen pensioners in 1564, and captain of her bodyguard in 1572. He received numerous estates and many positions of trust and profit from the queen, and suspicion was not slow to assert that he was Elizabeth’s lover, a charge which was definitely made by Mary queen of Scots in 1584. Hatton, who was probably innocent in this matter, had been made vice-chamberlain of the royal household and a member of the privy council in 1578, and had been a member of parliament since 1571, first representing the borough of Higham Ferrers and afterwards the county of Northampton. In 1578 he was knighted, and was now regarded as the queen’s spokesman in the House of Commons, being an active agent in the prosecutions of John Stubbs and William Parry. He was one of those who were appointed to arrange a marriage between Elizabeth and Francis, duke of Alençon, in 1581; was a member of the court which tried Anthony Babington in 1586; and was one of the commissioners who found Mary queen of Scots guilty. He besought Elizabeth not to marry the French prince; and according to one account repeatedly assured Mary that he would fetch her to London if the English queen died. Whether or no this story be true, Hatton’s loyalty was not questioned; and he was the foremost figure in that striking scene in the House of Commons in December 1584, when four hundred kneeling members repeated after him a prayer for Elizabeth’s safety. Having been the constant recipient of substantial marks of the queen’s favour, he vigorously denounced Mary Stuart in parliament, and advised William Davison to forward the warrant for her execution to Fotheringay. In the same year (1587) Hatton was made lord chancellor, and although he had no great knowledge of the law, he appears to have acted with sound sense and good judgment in his new position. He is said to have been a Roman Catholic in all but name, yet he treated religious questions in a moderate and tolerant way. He died in London on the 20th of November 1591, and was buried in St Paul’s cathedral. Although mention has been made of a secret marriage, Hatton appears to have remained single, and his large and valuable estates descended to his nephew, Sir William Newport, who took the name of Hatton. Sir Christopher was a knight of the Garter and chancellor of the university of Oxford. Elizabeth frequently showed her affection for her favourite in an extravagant and ostentatious manner. She called him her mouton, and forced the bishop of Ely to give him the freehold of Ely Place, Holborn, which became his residence, his name being perpetuated in the neighbouring Hatton Garden. Hatton is reported to have been a very mean man, but he patronized men of letters, and among his friends was Edmund Spenser. He wrote the fourth act of a tragedy, Tancred and Gismund, and his death occasioned several panegyrics in both prose and verse.
When Hatton’s nephew, Sir William Hatton, died without sons in 1597, his estates passed to a kinsman, another Sir Christopher Hatton (d. 1619), whose son and successor, Christopher (c. 1605–1670), was elected a member of the Long Parliament in 1640, and during the Civil War was a partisan of Charles I. In 1643 he was created Baron Hatton of Kirby; and, acting as comptroller of the royal household, he represented the king during the negotiations at Uxbridge in 1645. Later he lived for some years in France, and after the Restoration was made a privy councillor and governor of Guernsey. He died at Kirby on the 4th of July 1670, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. By his wife Elizabeth (d. 1672), daughter of Sir Charles Montagu of Boughton, he had two sons and three daughters. His eldest son Christopher (1632–1706), succeeded his father as Baron Hatton and also as governor of Guernsey in 1670. In 1683 he was created Viscount Hatton of Grendon. He was married three times, and left two sons: William (1690–1760), who succeeded to his father’s titles and estates, and Henry Charles (c. 1700–1762), who enjoyed the same dignities for a short time after his brother’s death. When Henry Charles died, the titles became extinct, and the family is now represented by the Finch-Hattons, earls of Winchilsea and Nottingham, whose ancestor, Daniel Finch, 2nd earl of Nottingham, married Anne (d. 1743), daughter of the 1st Viscount Hatton.
See Sir N. H. Nicolas, Life and Times of Sir Christopher Hatton (London, 1847); and Correspondence of the Family of Hatton, being chiefly Letters addressed to Christopher, first Viscount Hatton, 1601–1704, edited with introduction by E. M. Thompson (London, 1878).