Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hastings, Henry (1551-1650)

HASTINGS, HENRY (1551–1650), eccentric sportsman, was second son of George, fourth earl of Huntingdon. He married Dorothy, second daughter and coheiress of Sir Francis Willoughby (the builder of Wollaton, Nottinghamshire). She died on 15 Dec. 1638, and through her he acquired Woodlands Park, near Horton, Dorsetshire, together with other remains of the old estate of the Filiols, where he continually resided. Some give him a second wife, Mrs. Jane Langton, but she is not mentioned in his epitaph. In 1645 his estate at Woodlands, valued in 1641 at 300l. per annum, was sequestered, owing to his attachment to the king, but he afterwards compounded for it by the sum of 500l. He died on 15 Oct. 1650, all but a centenarian, and with his wife and their son, Sir George Hastings, who died in 1657, was buried in the Hastings aisle in the belfry of the old church of Horton.

Hastings was the typical country squire of the time. He was of low stature, but strong and well knit, ‘well-natured, but soon angry.’ He always dressed in green, and keeping all sorts of hounds and hawks, devoted himself daily to the chase. His hall was hung with sporting trophies, while favourite dogs and cats occupied every warm or sunny corner. His table was cheaply but abundantly provided from his farms and fishponds, and his hospitality was extreme, but he never himself exceeded, or permitted others to exceed. The pulpit of a neighbouring chapel, long disused for purposes of devotion, formed his larder, and therein, as the safest place, was always to be found a venison pasty or the like. Some features of his character may have been worked up by Addison into his portraits of Sir Roger de Coverley and Will Wimble. A singular account was written of him by Sir A. Ashley Cooper, first earl of Shaftesbury, and was inscribed on a portrait of him at Lord Shaftesbury's seat, Winterbourne St. Giles. Many other amusing details of his domestic economy may be found in Shaftesbury's character, which was first printed in Dr. Leonard Howard's ‘Collection of Letters and State Papers,’ 1753; it was reprinted in the ‘Connoisseur,’ No. 81, 14 Aug. 1755 (Christie, Life of Shaftesbury, i. 25). Dr. Drake (who printed it in Hone's ‘Everyday Book,’ ii. 1624) has omitted some disparaging remarks which Shaftesbury added. Shaftesbury lived near Hastings's residence, and, as a firm adherent of the parliamentary cause, was perhaps prejudiced against the sportsman's character. Woodlands passed into the hands of the Roys, and was subsequently added to Lord Shaftesbury's estate.

The portrait belonging to Lord Shaftesbury was engraved by Bretherton, and may be seen in Hutchins's ‘Dorsetshire.’

[Hutchins's Dorset, 1815, ii. 510, 512; Gent. Mag. 1754, xxiv. 160 (copied from Hutchins); Notes and Queries, 4th ser. x. 470.]

M. G. W.