Hastings, Theophilus (DNB00)

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HASTINGS, THEOPHILUS, seventh Earl of Huntingdon (1650–1701), born at Donington Park, Leicestershire, on 10 Dec. 1650, was the fourth but only surviving son of Ferdinando, sixth earl of Huntingdon, by Lucy, daughter of Sir John Davies, knt. (1569-1626)[q. v.], of Englefield, Berkshire. He succeeded his father to the earldom on 13 Feb. 1656, and took his seat in the House of Lords by his proxy, the Duke of York, on 15 Feb. 1673. In May 1672 he joined the French army as a volunteer. On his return he became custos rotulorum of Warwickshire in 1675, an office which he held until February 1680, and he acted as high steward of Leicester from 29 Feb. 1677 until 8 April 1689. At this time Huntingdon acted with Anthony Ashley Cooper, first earl of Shaftesbury; in December 1678 he was chairman of a committee on the Children of Popish Recusants Bill (Hist. MSS. Comm. 11th Rep. App. pt. ii. p. 74); and on 2 May 1679 was one of the peers who signed the protest against a bill for the better discovery of popish recusants, on the ground that it might press hardly on dissenters (Protests of the Lords, i. 61). In February 1630 be was left out of the list of magistrates for Derby and Leicester; on 7 Jan. 1681 he was among those who protested against the motion for not committing Chief-justice Scroggs, and on 26 March against the non-impeachment of Edward Fitzharris (ib.pp.64, 65). At a lord mayor's dinner in December 1679 he insisted on proposing the health of the disgraced Duke of Monmouth, and had in consequence an unseemly altercation with Lord-chief-justice Scroggs (Hatton Correspondence, Camd. Soc, i. 208-10). Charles II, suspecting him of holding treasonable correspondence with Monmouth, forbade him the court, but by October 1681 Huntingdon was Received into favour again (Luttrell, Relation of State Affairs, 1857, i. 138), was promoted to the captaincy of the band of gentlemen pensioners on 1 Feb. 1683 (in which he continued until 23 Dec. 1688),and on the 23rd of the same month was admitted to the privy council. At the death of Charles II, 6 Feb. 1685, Huntingdon was one of the peers who signed the order at Whitehall for proclaiming James II. The same year, as the lineal descendant of the Beauchamps, earls of Warwick, be preferred his claim to the honour of carrying the third sword and of being pantler at the coronation (Bell, Huntingdon Peerage, 2nd edit., pp. 138-43). He was continued in all his offices and became in addition colonel of a regiment of foot (20 June 1685 to 28 Nov. 1688), warden and chief justice in eyre of the royal forests south of Trent (16' Jan. 1686 to 23 Dec. 1688), a commissioner for ecclesiastical causes (12 Jan. 1687 to 5 Oct. 1688), lord-lieutenant of Leicestershire (4 Aug. 1687 to 23 Dec 1688). lord-lieutenant of Derbyshire (2 Dec. 1687 to 23 Dec 1688), and recorder of Leicester (13 Sept. 1688). He was also made groom of the stole and gentleman of the bedchamber to George, prince of Denmark, in December 1687 (Luttrell, i.425). At the end of November 1688 Huntingdon attempted, it is said, to poison the Earl of Bath at Plymouth and seize upon the citadel for James II. He was imprisoned for a time with all the officers of his regiment save Captain Viscount Hatton and excepted from the Act of Indemnity in July 1689 (ib. i. 480, 554; Hatton Correspondence, ii. 117). Huntingdon was one of the managers of the conference with the commons in February 1689. From this time he was consistently tory, and joined in protests against affirming the acts of Convention parliament on 8 April 1690, and against the act of attainder of Sir John Fenwick, 23 Dec. 1696. When the descent from La Hogue was expected in May 1692, his house was searched. He had had time to burn his papers and secrete his arms, but his stables were found to be filled with horses. This circumstance was thought sufficient to justify the privy council in sending him to the Tower on 3 May (Luttrell, ii. 441, 443; Hatton Correspondence, ii. 176), and he did not obtain his liberty until the following 17 Aug. (Luttrell, ii. 543, 619). He refused to sign the association in favour of William III in March 1696 (ib. iv. 34), and protested against the Act of Settlement (Burnet, History of his own Time, ii. 271). Huntingdon died in Charles Street, St. James's, London, on 30 May 1701.

He married first, on 19 Feb. 1672, Elizabeth, eldest daughter and coheiress of Sir John Lewis, knt. and bart., of Ledstone, Yorkshire, and by her, who died in 1680 (ib. i. 494), he had two sons and six daughters; and secondly, on 8 May 1690, Frances, daughter and sole heiress of Frances Leveson Fowler, of Harnage Grange, Shropshire, and widow of Thomas Needham, sixth viscount Kilmorey, by whom he had two sons and five daughters. She died on 26 Dec. 1723, having remarried Michael de Ligondes of Auvergne in France, knight of Malta, and colonel of horse in the French service (Chester, Registers of Westminster Abbey, p. 30).

Of Huntingdon there is a fine mezzotint by R. Williams from a portrait by Sir Godfrey Kneller, dated 1687. He was succeeded by his son George Hastings (1679–1705).

[Authorities quoted; Rogers's Protests of the Lords, i. 56, 61, 64, 65, 97, 100, 108, 128; Doyle's Official Baronage, ii. 240; Collins's Peerage (Brydges), vi. 660–3.]

G. G.