Henry Hastings, 5th Earl of Huntingdon

Henry Hastings, 5th Earl of Huntingdon (24 April 1586 – 14 November 1643), was a prominent English nobleman and literary patron in England during the first half of the seventeenth century.

The Earl of Huntingdon.


He was born at Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire, the one of three sons of Francis Hastings, Baron Hastings, and Lady Sarah Harington. 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 31 December 1604, he did. In 1607, at the age of 21, Hastings commanded forces in the suppression of the Midland Revolt.[1] 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.

The Earls of Huntingdon were traditionally patrons of the town of Leicester and involved in its governance. However Huntingdon became involved in a law suit and in 1606 the town did not send him a customary New Year's gift. The Earl was offended, and in 1607 the townspeople sent his wife a gift of a horse to try to patch things up. The Earl, still offended, asked the Countess to refuse the horse, and the rift continued for a year.[2]


On 15 January 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 castle in Leicestershire and together had four children:[3][4]


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.


  1. ^ McMullan, pp. 37-40.
  2. ^ Courtney Erin Thomas, If I Lose Mine Honour I Lose Myself (Toronto, 2017), pp. 182-4.
  3. ^ Collins, Arthur. The peerage of England, Volume 1 (Google eBook), page 60. The Peerage of England
  4. ^ a b c d e Lundy, Darryl, Charles Mosley, Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 107th edition, volume 2, page 2005., retrieved 8 December 2010


  • 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.

Further readingEdit

Political offices
Title last held by
The Earl of Huntingdon
Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire
jointly with Lord Hastings 1638–1643

Succeeded by
The Earl of Huntingdon
Preceded by
Sir Henry Beaumont
Custos Rotulorum of Leicestershire
Preceded by
The Lord Harington of Exton
Lord Lieutenant of Rutland
jointly with Lord Hastings 1638–1643

Peerage of England
Preceded by
George Hastings
Earl of Huntingdon
Succeeded by
Ferdinando Hastings
Baron Hastings
(descended by acceleration)