The New International Encyclopædia/Huntingdon, Selina Hastings

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HUNTINGDON, Selina Hastings, Countess of (1707-91). One of the most influential promoters of the early Methodist movement. She was the second of three daughters of Washington Shirley, second Earl Ferrers, and was born at Stanton-Harold, Leicestershire, August 24, 1707. She married, in 1728, Theophilus, ninth Earl of Huntingdon. She adopted the principles of the Methodists, much to the dismay of her friends, and gave her life with increasing zeal as the years went on to the interests of the new sect, introducing its ideas into aristocratic circles, to which its other adherents had no access. She was an intimate friend of both Wesleys, of Whitefield, and of many other clergymen prominent in her time. She became a widow in 1746. In the dispute between the Wesleys and Whitefield she sided with the latter, and assumed a leadership among his followers, who came to be known as ‘The Countess of Huntingdon's Connection.’ For the education of ministers she established and maintained a college at Trevecca, in Wales (removed, in 1792, to Cheshunt, Hertfordshire), and built, or became possessed of, numerous chapels in different parts of the country, the principal one being at Bath. She likewise expended large sums in the support of young men trained to itinerant preaching, as well as in private charity. She died in London, June 17, 1791. By her will she created a trust bequeathing her chapels to four persons for their care and management after her death. The number of these chapels was then sixty-four, of which about half still survive. Consult The Life and Times of Selina, Countess of Huntingdon (London, 1839-40).