HASTINGS, Theophilus (1696-1746)

HASTINGS, Theophilus (1696–1746)

suc. half-bro. 22 Feb. 1705 (a minor) as 9th earl of HUNTINGDON

First sat 20 Mar. 1723; last sat 31 Jan. 1744

b. 12 Nov. 1696, 2nd surv. s. of Theophilus Hastings, 7th earl of Huntingdon, being 1st s. with his 2nd w. Frances (d.1723), da. of Francis Leveson Fowler of Harnage Grange, Salop; half-bro. of George Hastings, 8th earl of Huntingdon. educ. Christ Church, Oxf. matric. 10 Oct. 1712. m. 3 June 1728, Selina (1707-91), da. and coh. of Washington Shirley, 2nd Earl Ferrers, 4s. (2 d.v.p.), 3da. (1 d.v.p.). d. 13 Oct. 1746; admon. 4 Nov. 1746 to wid.1

Gov. Foundling Hospital 1739-d.2

Associated with: Donington Park, Leics.;3 Chelsea Farm, Chelsea;4 The Grove, Enfield Chase, Mdx. (from 1731);5 no. 2 Savile Row, Westminster (1735-40);6 no. 12 Downing St., Westminster (from 1744).7

Likeness: mezzotint by John Faber, aft. Sir G. Kneller, 1733, NPG D30852.

Theophilus Hastings was the younger half-brother of George Hastings, who had become 8th earl of Huntingdon at their father’s death in May 1701. The 8th earl had bestowed his Yorkshire estates centred on Ledstone on his sister, Lady Elizabeth Hastings, and it was at Ledstone Hall that Lady Elizabeth supervised the upbringing and education of her half-brother Theophilus and his five surviving siblings. He inherited the Huntingdon title, and its principal estates in Leicestershire and Derbyshire, upon the death on 22 Feb. 1705 of his unmarried and childless half-brother.

A minor of eight years old when he inherited the title, the 9th earl of Huntingdon did not reach his majority until late 1717 and did not take his seat in the House until 20 Mar. 1723. From that time to his last sitting on 31 Jan. 1744 he came to only 168 meetings of the House. He did not play an active role in public life and held no local or national offices. Henry St John, Viscount Bolingbroke, was one of many contemporaries who regretted Huntingdon’s refusal to participate in public life, as he made clear in the epitaph he composed for his friend’s memorial in the church of Ashby-de-la-Zouch:

Capable of excelling in every form of public life, He chose to appear in none. His mind fraught with knowledge, His heart elevated with sentiments of unaffected patriotism, He looked down from higher ground on the low level of a futile and corrupt generation. Despairing to do national good, He mingled as little as his rank permitted in national affairs.8


  • 1 TNA, PROB 6/122, f. 238v.
  • 2 History of the Foundling Hospital, 345; HMC Hastings, iii. 22-23.
  • 3 HMC Hastings, iii. 38, 44.
  • 4 Lysons, Environs of London, ii. 91.
  • 5 HMC Hastings, iii. 19, 43, 61, 64.
  • 6 Survey of London, xxxii. 566-72; Nicholas and Wray, History of the Foundling Hospital, 345.
  • 7 Survey of London, xiv. 154-9; HMC Hastings, iii. 41-42.
  • 8 HMC Hastings, iii. vi-vii; TNA, PRO 30/24/28.