Henry Hastings, 5th Earl of Huntingdon

Henry Hastings, 5th Earl of Huntingdon

Henry Hastings, 5th Earl of Huntingdon (1586 – November 14, 1643) was a prominent English nobleman and literary patron in England during the first half of the seventeenth century. He was the first and only son of Francis Hastings, Baron Hastings and Lady Sarah Harrington. Henry was a great great great grandson of Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury.

Henry Hastings was educated at Gray's Inn. In 1595, Henry's father, Francis, died, and Hastings was next to succeed his grandfather, George Hastings, 4th Earl of Huntingdon, which on December 31, 1604, he did. In 1607, at the age of 21, Hastings commanded forces in the suppression of the Midlands Revolt. [McMullan, pp. 37-40.] Throughout his maturity the 5th Earl served in a wide range of offices in the counties of Leicestershire, Lancashire, and Rutland, including Lord Lieutenant of Leicester and Rutland, 1614–42. He was also a member of the Virginia Company.


On January 15, 1601, he married Lady Elizabeth Stanley (1588–1633), the third and youngest daughter of Ferdinando Stanley, 5th Earl of Derby and Lady Alice Spencer. His wife was a great-great-granddaughter of Mary Tudor, Duchess of Suffolk. She, at one time, was third-in-line to succeed to the throne of England. However, she and her two older sisters were passed over for James VI of Scotland.

They maintained their country seat at Ashby-de-la-Zouch in Leicestershire and had five children:

*Lady Alice Hastings (d. 1667), married Sir Gervase Clifton of Clifton Hall. No issue.
*Lady Elizabeth Hastings, married Sir Hugh Calveley of Lea. No issue.
*Ferdinando Hastings, 6th Earl of Huntington (1608–55), married Lady Lucy Davies (the poet Lucy Hastings). Had issue.
*Henry Hastings, 1st Baron Loughborough (1610–66), died unmarried and without issue.
*Lady Mary Hastings (1612–60), married Sir John Gerrard. Had issue.


Though a recognized leader of the Puritan movement and a critic of the policies of the House of Stuart, Hastings was also a patron of stage drama, comparable to his contemporaries the Earls of Pembroke—William Herbert, 3rd Earl and Philip Herbert, 4th Earl. Hastings was known as the most important aristocratic patron of the playwrights Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher. (Hastings and Beaumont were distant cousins.) Hastings patronized other dramatists of the era as well, including John Marston.

Upon his death in 1643, Henry Hastings was succeeded by his eldest son, Ferdinando Hastings, as 6th Earl.



* Doyle, James William Edmund. "The Official Baronage of England." London, Longmans, Green, 1886.
* Finkelpearl, Philip J. "Court and Country Politics in the Plays of Beaumont and Fletcher." Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 1990.
* McMullan, Gordon. "The Politics of Unease in the Plays of John Fletcher." Amherst, MA, University of Massachusetts Press, 1994.

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