Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hastings, Francis (1514?-1561)

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HASTINGS, FRANCIS, second Earl of Huntingdon (1514?–1561), was eldest son of George Hastings, first earl [q. v.], by his wife Anne, daughter of Henry Stafford, duke of Buckingham, and widow of Sir Walter Herbert. On 3 Nov. 1529 he was summoned to parliament as a baron of the realm under the title of Lord Hastings, his father having been created Earl of Huntingdon the same day. On 3 Oct. 1530 he was appointed steward of the monastery of Laund, of St. Mary's Abbey, Coventry, and (with Sir Richard Sacheverell) of St. Mary's Church, Leicester. In 1538 he presented Henry VIII with a curiously worked glass. He was made a knight of the Bath on 29 May 1533; succeeded his father as second Earl of Huntingdon, 24 March 1544–5, and carried St. Edward's staff at Edward VI's coronation, 20 Feb. 1546–7, taking a prominent part in the jousts which followed the ceremony.

Huntingdon quickly threw in his lot with the Earl of Warwick (afterwards Duke of Northumberland) against the protector, Somerset. In 1549 he was busily engaged in repressing disturbances in Rutland and Leicestershire (cf. his letter to Shrewsbury in Lodge, Illustrations, i. 134); conducted Somerset to the Tower, 13 Oct. 1549; and was installed K.G. 13 Oct. Appointed lieutenant-general and chief captain of the army and fleet for service abroad on 26 Dec. 1549, Huntingdon conducted English reinforcements to France, where the struggle for the possession of Boulogne was in progress. A letter from him, dated 14 Nov., appealing for men to the mayor of Leicester, is extant in the corporation's archives (cf. Hist. MSS. Comm. Rep. No. 8, 4256). He bitterly complained of the ill equipment of his troops and want of money, and his energetic personal efforts failed to retain Boulogne. When the Duke of Northumberland obtained full power in 1550, Huntingdon was made a privy councillor, 4 Sept. 1550, and was permitted to maintain an escort of fifty retainers. He took part in the reception accorded to the regent of Scotland on her visit to London in November 1551, and was present at Somerset's trial in December. He accompanied Edward VI on his progress in May 1552, and in the following June, while he was attending Northumberland on his way to the north, Northumberland recommended the king to bestow on Huntingdon the vast estates in Leicestershire forfeited by John Beaumont [q. v.], master of the rolls. Huntingdon acquired the property, but released to Beaumont's widow the manor of Grace Dieu in 1553. As if to strengthen the alliance between Northumberland and himself, he married his heir, Henry, to Northumberland's daughter Katherine, 21 May 1553, on the same day as Lady Jane Grey married Lord Guildford Dudley.

Before Edward VI's death Huntingdon signed the engagement of the council to maintain Lady Jane Grey's succession to the crown. On the king's death he joined Northumberland in declaring for Lady Jane; was with his leader at Cambridge on 19 July 1553, and was seized and taken to the Tower of London, by order of Queen Mary, a day or two later. He was released before the following January, when he was sent down into Leicestershire, of which he was lord-lieutenant, in pursuit of Lady Jane's father, Henry Grey, duke of Suffolk [q. v.], who had risen anew in revolt. Huntingdon brought Suffolk a prisoner from Coventry to the Tower on 10 Feb. 1554. He attended the execution of Sir Thomas Wyatt 11 April 1554, but at the same date seems to have opposed the re-enactment of the old penal laws against heresy. He was undoubtedly friendly with Cardinal Pole, whose niece was his wife; but, although apparently pliable in religious matters, was inclined to protestantism at heart. He made several New-year's gifts to the queen, but did not obtain any high political office. He was appointed captain of the vanguard forces in London 20 May 1558, and under Elizabeth he was made master of the hart-hounds 24 June 1559. He died at his house at Ashby-de-la-Zouch 20 June 1561, and was buried in Ashby Church, where an elaborate monument was erected to his memory.

Huntingdon married Catherine, eldest daughter of Henry Pole, lord Montacute, and niece of Cardinal Pole, whose will she administered. Her great-grandfather, George, duke of Clarence, was brother to Edward IV, and, as one of the last survivors of the direct descendants of the Yorkist house, she transmitted to her eldest son Henry a claim to succeed Elizabeth on the throne, which he and his father freely asserted. Lands were granted her by Elizabeth in 1569 and 1571. She died 23 Sept. 1576, and was buried beside her husband. By her Huntingdon had six sons and five daughters. Henry the eldest and Francis the fifth son are separately noticed. The youngest daughter, Mary, was, in May 1583, solicited in marriage, in his master's behalf, by an ambassador from Ivan (Vassilovitch) I, czar of Russia, and the proposal was formally made in the presence of Queen Elizabeth at a large assembly in the gardens of York House, London. Lady Mary, who rejected the offer, was nicknamed by her friends ‘Empress of Moscovia,’ and died unmarried (cf. Horsey, Travels, ed. E. A. Bond, for Hakluyt Soc. 1856, p. 196, and preface).

According to the letter of I. Matalius Metellus prefixed to Osorio's ‘De Rebus Emmanvelis, Lusitaniæ Regis’ (Cologne, 1586, p. 3 b), Huntingdon, by the desire of his uncle-in-law, Cardinal Pole, translated into English Osorio's works, ‘De Nobilitate’ and ‘De Gloria,’ during Mary's reign. Metellus speaks of the earl ‘adolescens natalium splendore et corporis animique dotibus perquam insignis.’ Huntingdon's translations were not published, and are apparently lost. William Blandie [q. v.], who translated Osorio's ‘De Nobilitate’ (1574), made no mention of them.

[H. N. Bell's Huntingdon Peerage Case (1820), pp. 47–61; Dugdale's Baronage, i. 588; Nichols's Lit. Remains of Edward VI (Roxburghe Club); Doyle's Peerage; Froude's Hist. v. and vi.; Nichols's Leicestershire; Chron. of Queen Jane and Queen Mary (Camd. Soc.); Machyn's Diary (Camd. Soc.), p. 37; Wriothesley's Diary, ii. 91; Tanner's Bibl. Brit.]

S. L. L.