HASTINGS, Sir Edward (d.?1603), of Leicester Abbey, Leics.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

4th s. of Francis, 2nd Earl of Huntingdon, by Catherine, da. and coh. of Henry Pole, Lord Montagu; bro. of Francis I and Sir George. educ. ?M. Temple 1562.1 m. Barbara, da. and coh. of Sir William Devereux of Merevale Abbey, Warws. wid. of Edward Cave of Ingarsby, Leics., 4s. inc. Henry 1da. Kntd. 1570.2

Offices Held

Gent. pens, c.1572-c.1578; j.p. Leics. from c.1583; steward of the honour of Leicester and town clerk 1591-7.3


Of the three younger brothers of the 3rd Earl of Huntingdon who entered the Elizabethan House of Commons, Sir Edward Hastings was politically the least conspicuous. He and another younger brother, Walter, when seen by Cardinal Pole for the first time in 1555, showed ‘such a towardness’, wrote the cardinal to their mother, his niece, ‘that I trust they will be the servants of God, to your comfort and all that loveth them’. Pole went on to remark that had ‘my Lord Chancellor’, Gardiner, lived, young Edward ‘should have had good commodity to learn with other noblemen’s children’ whom the lord chancellor brought up, since his father, the 2nd Earl, had so resolved. However, Gardiner’s death had delayed matters and young Edward was evidently kicking his heels in Pole’s household without instruction. ‘I have not yet spoken with my lord hereof’, the cardinal added, referring to the boy’s father, ‘but I will do at my next meeting’.4

In June 1560 the 2nd Earl died, leaving Hastings 20 marks a year until he was 15, and 40 marks a year thereafter until he should reach his majority. At the age of 21 he was to have the manor of South Cadbury in Somerset, valued at £27 a year, the advowson of South Cadbury church, and the manor of Kirby in Leicestershire together with the capital messuage and park there, all on an 80-year lease. In early manhood Hastings saw some military service. He was presented with £5 by the borough of Leicester in December 1569, ‘when he went against the rebels in the north’, and on 28 Aug. 1570 he was knighted at Carlisle by the Earl of Sussex. In February 1573, Sir Thomas Smith, writing to Burghley about reinforcements for the Scottish campaign, remarked that Sir Edward had approached him ‘divers times’, asking that, should his brother the 3rd Earl, as president of the council in the north, decide to send further troops across the border, he might be given command of them. ‘Your lordship knows’ added Smith, ‘his goodwill to serve’. Hastings evidently came south in time for the 1571 Parliament and seems to have received another civic gift on that occasion. He was probably nominated for Tregony by the 2nd Earl of Bedford, though it is worth noting that his brother had lands in Cornwall. During this Parliament Hastings was named to a committee concerning church attendance (19 May).5

At or about the time of his final return from the north, Hastings bought Leicester Abbey from the 3rd Earl, who had built a house on the site from monastic materials. There were difficulties about the transaction owing to the Crown’s seizure of the property in connexion with the Earl’s debts; but as ‘the said Sir Edward, by reason of the extreme sickness wherewith he bath been visited almost ever since (and at this time is in great peril of death), could not proceed in pleading his discharge and humbly craved longer time for the same’, he was given time to prepare his case and evidently succeeded in gaining possession. His bad health does not seem to have prevented him from performing a number of tasks in the county, concerned mostly with musters and recusants, and in 1586 he was asked to assist in the removal of Mary Queen of Scots from his neighbourhood to Fotheringay. He was also concerned with the borough of Leicester, intervening when he considered the corporation’s treatment of their new preacher too parsimonious. When, in 1591, the 3rd Earl made over to him the stewardship of the honour, Hastings quarrelled with the recorder, Richard Parkins. By the following year Hastings was negotiating to lease to the corporation for an annual rent of £10 his profits from the court leet, a bargain which was concluded by 1594. During the town’s plague epidemic of the winter of 1593-4, he was commended by the corporation as one of the few helpful local justices. In 1597 he must have won further respect by surrendering his stewardship so that it could be given to his brother George, now 4th Earl of Huntingdon, though he was careful to see that the town clerk’s job was not included in the package, but reserved for the corporation.6

Hastings was elected to the senior county seat in 1597, being named to committees on privileges and returns (5 Nov.), armour and weapons (8 Nov.) and monopolies (10 Nov.). He was eligible to attend the following committees by virtue of his position as knight of the shire: enclosures (5 Nov), the poor law (5, 22 Nov.), the penal laws (8 Nov.) and the subsidy (15 Nov.).7

His old hankering for the soldier’s life is reflected in his letters to Essex of January 1599, on the eve of the Earl’s embarkation for Ireland. On 16 Jan. he wrote from Merevale, his wife’s house, thanking the Earl for sending him coach horses and men, and presenting his respects, ‘seeing that it will not be my good fortune to see you before your going into Ireland’. At about the same time, he joined with his brother Francis in urging on Essex the services of an old soldier known to all three of them. ‘He has long followed the wars and was employed by you to view and train the forces in Rutlandshire’. More pathetic was his plea to the Earl to help him and his wife, the Earl’s cousin, in their difficulties. ‘I have already been forced to pawn those few jewels of my wife’s, which will not supply our personal wants. Wherefore I beseech you be a means that her Majesty may understand my poor estate and bestow something upon me in this my latter age’.8

Hardly anything is known of his last years. He was obviously still popular at Leicester, the corporation asking in 1601 that he should be made one of their subsidy commissioners, and in the following year that he should be appointed to train their military levies. Hastings was of puritan religious views. The date of his death has not been ascertained. He was alive in 1602 when the accounts of the churchwardens of St. Martin’s, Leicester, record payments for the repair of his and ‘my lady’s’ seat, and he probably died the next year.9

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: J.E.M.


  • 1. Hastings was specially adm. to the M. Temple but the only references to him concern a room allotted to him there, M.T. Mins. i. 134, 136, 138. There is no evidence that he studied law.
  • 2. Nichols, Leics. iii. 278, 608; Vis. Leics. (Harl. Soc. ii), 73.
  • 3. Lansd. 737, f. 146; Somerville, Duchy, i. 572; Leicester Recs. iii. 272, 339.
  • 4. HMC Hastings, ii. 3-4.
  • 5. PCC 8 Loftes; Leicester Recs. iii. 131, 133, 186; HMC Foljambe, 9; CSP Scot. 1571-4, p. 494; D’Ewes, 186.
  • 6. Nichols, i. 287, 404, 501; Leicester Recs. iii. passim; Lansd. 103, ff. 62 seq.; HMC Foljambe, 47; APC, xx. 85; xxvi. 56; HMC Hastings, iv. 188; HMC 8th Rep. pt. 1, 433a; CSP Dom. 1591-4, pp. 27, 173.
  • 7. D’Ewes, 552, 553, 555, 557, 561.
  • 8. HMC Hatfield, ix. 30, 44, 51, 53.
  • 9. HMC Hastings, ii. 39-40; Hungtington Lib., H.A. 5092, 5099, ex inf. Dr. Claire Cross; Nichols, i. 575; iii. 608.