HASTINGS, Sir Henry (c.1577-c.1641), of Long Clawson; later of Humberstone, Leics.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press

Family and Education

b. c.1577,1 1st s. of Sir Edward Hastings† of Leicester Abbey, Leics. and Barbara, da. and coh. of Sir William Devereux† of Merevale, Warws., wid. of Edward Cave of Ingarsby, Leics. educ. Emmanuel, Camb. 1592. m. Mabel (bur. 6 Oct. 1618), da. of Anthony Faunt of Foston, Leics., 4s. 5da. suc. fa. 1603;2 kntd. 23 Apr. or 11 May 1603.3 d. by 29 Mar. 1641.4

Offices Held

J.p. Leics. 1604-d.;5 commr. inquiry, lands of Gunpowder plotters, Leics. 1606,6 oyer and terminer, Midland rising 1607;7 collector fifteenths (jt.), Leics. 1607,8 sheriff 1607-8;9 commr. subsidy, Leics. 1608, 1621-2, 1624, Leicester, 1621-2, 1624,10 aid, Leics. 1609;11 dep. lt. Leics. 1609-?1625;12 commr. inquiry, estate of Newark hospital, Leics. 1616,13 sewers, Lincs. 1618, Lincs., Rutland, Northants. 1623, Leics. and Notts. 1625, 1629,14 survey Leicester forest, Leics. 1626,15 Forced Loan, Leics. and Leicester 1627,16 knighthood fines, Leics. 1630-2.17


Hastings was born into a junior branch of the dominant Leicestershire family in this period. His father was the fourth son of the 2nd earl of Huntingdon and sat for the county in 1597.18 Hastings owed his prominence in Leicestershire affairs to the fact that for most of this period he was the only adult male member of his family, aside from the earls themselves, who was both resident in the county and undoubtedly Protestant. Indeed, his sympathy with puritanism led him, in early 1605, to subscribe to a letter from members of the Leicestershire gentry to James I’s chief minister, Viscount Cranborne (Robert Cecil†), in favour of the godly ministers of their county who had refused to subscribe to the 1604 Canons.19 Hastings should be distinguished from his cousin and namesake, Sir Henry Hastings of Braunston (d.1649), who was an open Catholic and may have been the ‘great son of Leicestershire’ accused during the 1614 Parliament of helping to raise funds for the English seminary at St. Omer.20

Hastings inherited Leicester Abbey, just north of Leicester, from his father in 1603. He probably resided there from at least 1605 until 1613, when he sold it to the 1st earl of Devonshire (Sir William Cavendish†), although during his wife’s lifetime he continued to live near Leicester. After her death in 1618 he moved to Long Clawson, five miles north of Melton Mowbray in north-east Leicestershire. At around this time he also acquired the reversion of Humberstone, a property consisting of a couple of manors two-and-a-half miles north-east of Leicester.21

In late 1603 Hastings applied to the corporation of Leicester to become their recorder, but was rebuffed.22 It was probably Hastings, rather than his cousin, who was challenged to a duel by Sir John Grey* in 1610. There was a longstanding power struggle between the Hastings and Grey families for control of Leicestershire, and, according to Sir Ralph Winwood*, Grey accused Hastings of having insulted him at a meeting in the county, and of telling the 5th earl of Huntingdon that he hated the Hastings family ‘to the child which did sleep in the cradle’. The two protagonists travelled to the Netherlands to fight in May of that year, but bloodshed seems to have been averted.23 Nevertheless, there was a flurry of Star Chamber suits between Hastings and members of the Grey faction. Hastings was accused of committing various abuses as a justice of the peace, including protecting one of his servants who had been accused of murder and of unfairly assessing the subsidy and Leicestershire’s composition for purveyance. Hastings in turn brought suits against his enemies, who included members of his wife’s family, accusing them of riot at the Leicestershire sessions.24

In 1620 Hastings was nominated by the earl of Huntingdon, together with Huntingdon’s brother, (Sir) George Hastings*, to represent Leicestershire in the third Jacobean Parliament, and was returned unopposed. Granted leave on 13 Mar. 1621 ‘to give evidence against divers felons at the assizes at Leicester’, he had returned by 21 Apr., when he undertook to produce warrants issued by the licensers of alehouses and was named to the committee of inquiry. His only other committee appointment, on 30 Apr., was for the bill to prevent the holding of secret inquisitions. On 11 May, in the debate concerning the petition of the borough of Northampton against the anti-puritan chancellor of the diocese of Peterborough, Dr. John Lambe, Hastings complained that Lambe had persecuted some of the parishioners of Higham Ferrers in Northamptonshire for attending sermons in neighbouring parishes.25 He played no recorded part in the winter sitting.

In June 1623, Hastings, together with Richard Knightley* and others, attended a debate between two Anglican ministers and two Jesuit priests at the house of Sir Humphrey Lynde* in London.26 The following year Hastings was re-elected to the last Jacobean Parliament, but left no trace on its records. In 1625 Huntingdon nominated his teenage heir, Ferdinando, Lord Hastings, for Leicestershire, but the following year he decided that Ferdinando should concentrate on his studies and Hastings was re-elected. There appears to have been no contest; but he was immediately arrested for debt by the sheriff after the latter failed to persuade Hastings ‘to disclaim his election’. Hastings seems to have had some difficulty in extricating himself, for on 26 Feb. his colleague Francis Staresmore complained to the earl of Huntingdon that he had been left to represent the county single-handed in the opening weeks of the second Caroline Parliament.27

Hastings succeeded in taking his seat by 25 Mar. 1626, when he was the first Member appointed to consider a bill for the better suppression of unlicensed alehouse-keepers. Later that same day his petition against the sheriff was read. On 26 Apr. the issue was referred to a committee, from which Edward Littleton II reported on 3 May. The committee found in Hastings’ favour, but because the sheriff was young they recommended that he should only be admonished and made to pay Hastings’ costs. The report was approved the following day, when the sheriff acknowledged his guilt on his knees before the House. Hastings played no further role in the proceedings of the Commons, and was among those absent with leave at the call of the House on 2 June.28

In September 1627 Hastings was reported to be too infirm to conduct public business and there is no evidence that he sought re-election to Parliament the following year.29 In 1634 the reversion to Humberstone fell in, and he was living there by Easter of the following year. In February 1637 he initiated an unsuccessful suit in the local archdeaconry court to have the monument that had been erected to the previous owner of the property removed from a private chapel in the parish church. He drew up his will on 18 June 1640. The only bequest was an annuity of £10 to pay for the education of a grandson. He died before 29 Mar. 1641, when the will was proved. In 1819 his descendant was summoned to the lords as 12th earl of Huntingdon on the extinction of the senior line, but none sat in the Commons.30

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Paula Watson / Ben Coates


  • 1. Date of birth calculated from date of admiss. to Emmanuel, Camb.
  • 2. Nichols, County of Leicester, iii. 218; H.N. Bell, Huntingdon Peerage, 173-5, 350; Al. Cant.
  • 3. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 102, 105.
  • 4. Leics. RO, 1641/no. 2
  • 5. Add. 38139, f. 137v; C66/2859.
  • 6. C181/1, f. 130v.
  • 7. C181/2, f. 35.
  • 8. SP46/62, f. 1.
  • 9. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 75.
  • 10. SP14/31/1; C212/22/20-1; 23.
  • 11. SP14/43/107.
  • 12. R. Cust, ‘Honour, Rhetoric and Political culture: the Earl of Huntingdon and his enemies’, Political Culture and Cultural Pols. in Early Modern Eng. ed. S.D. Amussen and M.A. Kishlansky, 88; HEHL, HAM53/6, ff. 75, 90v; T. Cogswell, Home Divisions, 43.
  • 13. HMC 8th Rep. pt. 1 (1881), p. 418.
  • 14. C181/2, f. 330; 181/3, ff. 99, 162; 181/4, f. 23v.
  • 15. Cal. of Docquets of Ld. Kpr. Coventry ed. J. Broadway, R. Cust and S.K. Roberts (L. and I. Soc. spec. ser. xxxiv-vii), 29.
  • 16. C193/12/2, ff. 28v, 86v.
  • 17. E178/7154, f. 147; E178/5404, f. 12.
  • 18. HP Commons, 1558-1603, ii. 269-70.
  • 19. HMC Hatfield, xvii. 8-9.
  • 20. Cogswell, 69; Procs. 1614 (Commons), 185; Nichols, iv. 637.
  • 21. P. Courtney, ‘Lord’s Place’, Trans. Leics. Arch. Soc. lxxiv. 40; B. Burch, ‘Hastings v Thistlethwaite’, Ibid. lviii. 37, 44, 49; VCH Leics. iv. 439-40, 452.
  • 22. Leics. RO, BR2/18/8/405.
  • 23. Cogswell, 80; Winwood’s Memorials ed. E. Sawyer, iii. 175; HMC De L’Isle and Dudley, iv. 204-5; HMC Buccleuch, i. 99.
  • 24. STAC 8/54/13; 8/178/2; 8/242/19.
  • 25. CJ, i. 551a, 586a, 586b, 597a; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, ii. 60; Oxford DNB sub Lambe, Sir John.
  • 26. D. Featley, Romish Fisher Caught and Held in his Owne Net (1624), p. 46; Oxford DNB sub Featley, Daniel.
  • 27. Procs. 1626, ii. 369; iv. 263, 318.
  • 28. Procs. 1626, ii. 366, 367, 369; iii. 72, 142, 145, 155, 163, 346.
  • 29. CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 331.
  • 30. Burch, 37, 41, 48, 53-54; Leics. RO, 1641/no. 2; Bell, 173.