Hans Hastings, 12th Earl of Huntingdon

Hans Hastings, 12th Earl of Huntingdon

Post Captain Hans Francis Hastings, 12th Earl of Huntingdon (14 August 1779 – 9 December 1828) was a British Royal Navy officer.

Hastings, the fourth and only surviving son of George Hastings (1734/5–1802) and his wife, Sarah (daughter of Sir Richard Fowler, Bt) was born in London. He was educated at Repton School, Derbyshire, from 1787 to 1790 and at John Bettesworth's academy at Chelsea, from 1790 to 1793. Early in 1793, he began his naval career under Sir John Borlase Warren, Bt, then captain of the "Flora". During the Seven Years' War, he took part in the action off Cancale Bay, Brittany, in April 1794, and in the following year was wounded in the Battle of Quiberon Bay. After having served six years with Warren, he was appointed acting lieutenant in the brig "Sylph", and subsequently received his commission as second lieutenant of the "Racoon". Early in 1800, he was appointed first lieutenant of the "Thisbe", in which he accompanied the Expedition to Egypt. He was afterwards appointed second lieutenant of the "Aigle". On 12 May 1803, at St Anne's, Soho, he married Frances (1780/81–1820), third daughter of the Revd Richard Chaloner Cobbe, rector of Great Marlow, Buckinghamshire; they had ten children, including George Fowler Hastings.

At the outbreak of war in 1803, Hastings was sent to Weymouth Roads to impress seamen. His party was attacked by protesters, and seventeen of his men were wounded and three of their assailants killed. Upon landing at Weymouth, he was seized and committed by the mayor, on the charge of murder, to Dorchester gaol. After six weeks in prison, he was removed by habeas corpus to Westminster, when he was bailed out by his relative, Lord Moira, and was subsequently acquitted at the Dorchester summer assizes. From the "Aigle", Hastings joined the "Diamond", and afterwards served as second lieutenant on the "Audacious", and as flag lieutenant on the "Hibernia". On his refusal to go out to the West Indies, where two of his brothers had died, he was appointed acting ordnance barrackmaster in the Isle of Wight, and in 1808 was promoted to the post of ordnance storekeeper in Enniskillen, where he lived for more than nine years.

When the 10th Earl died in October 1789, the earldom of Huntingdon became dormant, while the ancient baronies of Hastings devolved upon his elder sister, the Dowager Countess of Moira, third wife and widow of John Rawdon, 1st Earl of Moira. Although Revd. Theophilus Henry Hastings (the uncle of Hans) assumed the title of Earl of Huntingdon, to which he was entitled by his descent from the 2nd Earl, he never took any steps to prove his right. Upon the death of his uncle in April 1804, Hastings made some attempt to investigate his claim to the earldom, but was soon compelled to abandon it for want of money. In July 1817, his friend, Henry Nugent Bell, took up the case, and it was mainly owing to his exertions that the Attorney General, Sir Samuel Shepherd, reported on 29 October 1818 that Hastings had "sufficiently proved his right to the title of Earl of Huntingdon". On 14 January 1819, he took his seat in the House of Lords, where, as a Tory, he does not appear to have taken any part in the debates. Though successful in his claim to the earldom, he failed to recover the Leicestershire estates, which formerly went with the title. On 28 September 1820, he married his second wife, Eliza Mary Thistlethwayte, "née" Bettesworth (c.1780-1846), eldest daughter of Joseph Bettesworth of Ryde, Isle of Wight, and widow of Alexander Thistlethwayte of Hampshire; they had no children.

On 7 March 1821, Huntingdon obtained the rank of commander and the command of the "Chanticleer". While cruising in the Mediterranean, he was appointed Governor of Dominica on 13 December 1821, and took the oaths of office on 28 March 1822. In 1824, because of a misunderstanding with the other authorities on the island, he resigned and returned home. He was promoted to post captain on 29 May 1824, and on 14 August, was appointed to command the "Valorous". Illness compelled him to relinquish his command in the West Indies. He returned to England in May 1828 and died at Green Park, Youghal, County Cork on 9 December of that year, aged 49. He was succeeded in the earldom by his eldest son, Francis Theophilus Henry Hastings. On 26 April 1838, his widow married her third husband, Colonel Sir Thomas Noel Harris; she died at Boulogne.



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