What are concerned with here is the title of the Baron Hastings, Hastinges or Hastynges, which was created in 1295, disappeared in 1389 only to be revived in 1841, and not with any other title of a similar name. Such as the titles of Baron Hastings of Inchmahome (created 1299), Baron Hastings of Hastings (created 1461), Baron Hastings of Welles and Willoughby (created in 1482), Baron Hastings of Hungerford (also created in 1482) and finally that of Baron Hastings of Loughborough (created 1558). Which is not to mention the Michael John Hastings who holds a life peerage as the Baron Hastings of Scarisbrick created in 2005. (Also see note below.)

1. The Hastinges of Ashill

The first member of the family to appear in the historical record was a Henry de Hastinges of Ashill in Norfolk who married Ada, the fourth daughter of David Canmore, Earl of Huntingdon who was himself the younger brother of William the Lion. His son, also named Henry, became a supporter of Simon de Montfort and was a leader of the baronial army at the battle of Lewes in 1264 but was captured after the defeat at the battle of Evesham in the following year. He was subsequently named in the Dictum of Kenilworth as being one of those former rebels required to pay the penalty of seven years purchase in order to regain his estates.

This Henry married Joan, sister and coheir of George de Cauntelo, through which the Hastings family inherited the marcher lordship of Abergavenny, and it was their son John who later emerged as one of the main competitors for the crown of Scotland in 1290 based on his descent from his grandmother Ada. It was this John who was summoned to Parliament by writ dated 24th June 1295 and therefore (according to later doctrine) is held to have become the Lord or Baron Hastings. The 1st Baron was twice married, firstly to Isabella, daughter of William de Valence, 1st Earl of Pembroke, and secondly to Isabel, daughter of Hugh Despenser, Earl of Winchester, and at his death on the 10th February 1313 was succeeded by the eldest surviving son of his first marriage who was also named John.

The 2nd Baron fought at the battle of Bannockburn in 1314 and later died on the 20th January 1325, being succeeded by his son Laurence, The 3rd Baron was subsequently recognised as the Earl of Pembroke on the 13th February 1339 by virtue of his descent from the aforementioned Isabel de Valence. The Hastings title remained united with that of Pembroke until John Hastings, 3rd Earl of Pembroke died without issue on the 30th December 1389 as a result of injuries incurred whilst practising for a tournament.

2. The Hastings of Elsing

The closest male relative of the 5th Baron and 3rd Earl of Pembroke was his cousin John Hastings of Elsing, who was the son of Hugh Hastings, a younger son by the 1st Baron's second marriage. He never claimed to be the Baron Hastings and died without sons in 1393. However a dispute did arise between Hugh Hastings, the nephew and heir male of the previously mentioned John, and Reynold Grey, 3rd Baron Grey of Ruthin over who had the right to bear the name and arms of Hastings. Both were descended from the 1st Baron Hastings, although in the Baron Grey's case he was descended from a daughter of the 1st Baron's first wife, as opposed to Hugh Hastings who was descended from the offspring of 1st Baron's second marriage.

As was the practice at the time, the dispute was referred to the Court of Chivalry, and although Hugh Hastings died before any decision was reached on the matter his brother and heir Edward Hastings pursued the claim. However in 1410 the Court decided in favour of Grey, thereby expressing its preference for the heir of the sister of the whole blood over the heir of the brother of the half blood. Edward subsequently refused to pay his rival's costs and as a result was imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1413 and again at the Marshalsea in 1417, and was probably still in prison when he died on the 6th January 1438.

The Baron Grey subsequently styled himself the ‘Lord Hastynges’ in a petition to Parliament in 1425 and his son Edmund Grey, who succeeded him as the 4th Baron Grey of Ruthin and was later created the Earl of Kent in 1465, was also styled as ‘Baron and Lord of Hastinges’ in various confirmations of his Earldom issued in both 1484 and 1486.

3. The de jure Barons

Historically speaking therefore, the title of Baron Hastings became extinct in 1389. It was however later held that the title should have passed into the hands of the aforementioned John Hastings of Elsing and subsequently passed into the hands of his male heirs, giving rise to a succession of ten Barons Hastings. As The Complete Peerage puts it; "none of the ten persons who here have to be designated de jure Lords Hastings were conscious of possessing a Lordship of Parliament". Nevertheless the law now deems these ten individuals to have been in possession of just such a valuable right which continued until the death without issue of John Hastings, the de jure 15th Baron Hastings at which point the title (as was later determined) fell into abeyance between the Baron's sisters, Anne who married a William Browne and Elizabeth the wife of Hamon Le Strange of Hunstanton in Norfolk.

4. The Astley family

The Astleys were descended from a Thomas de Astley of Astley in Warwickshire, who like Henry de Hastinges was also present at the battle of Evesham, although in Thomas's case it was a more traumatic experience as he was amongst the casualties that day. His eldest son was subsequently created the Baron Astley, although that title later petered out in the fourteenth century, when strangely enough the heiress of the last Baron Astley married the aforementioned Reynold Grey, 3rd Baron Grey of Ruthin. Another branch of the family distinguished themselves during the English Civil War and received the title of Baron Astley of Reading which again became extinct in 1668.

Yet another branch of the Astley family as represented by one Jacob Astley who was created a baronet on the 25th June 1660 and it was his descendant Jacob Astley, 6th Baronet, former High Sheriff of Norfolk and the Liberal Member of Parliament for West Norfolk from 1832 to 1837, who put forward a claim to the title of Baron Hastings. We should note that this Jacob Astley was not a descendant in blood of any previous holder of either of the Astley baronies and was therefore in no position to claim either of those titles. He was however a descendant of the aforementioned Elizabeth, daughter of the Hugh Hastings who was the 14th de jure baron. As noted above, Elizabeth Hastings married Hamon Le Strange of Hunstanton in Norfolk, whose great-grandson became a baronet in 1629. The male line of Le Strange ended with the death without issue of Roger Le Strange, the 7th and last baronet in 1762, leaving as one of his coheirs Lucy, a daughter of the 6th Le Strange Baronet, who in 1721 married Jacob Astley, 3rd Baronet, and was therefore the great-grandmother of the 6th Ashley Baronet.

The Committee for Priviliges of the House of Lords now took a quite different view of matters than had the Court of Chivalry back in 1410 and concluded that the Hastings barony should have passed into the hands of the aforementioned John Hastings of Elsing in 1389. As a result of this decision Jacob Astley was summoned to Parliament by writ on the 18th May 1841 as the Baron Hastings, being regarded as the 16th of his line, despite the fact that it had been over five centuries since the last Baron Hastings had sat in the House of Lords.

The 16th Baron died on the 27th December 1859 and was followed by his son Jacob Henry who died without issue on the 8th March 1871, and was succeeded by his younger brother Delaval Loftus, who was a clergyman in the Church of England and the Rector of Little Snoring in Norfolk. The 18th Baron died some eighteen months later on the 28th September 1872, leaving the title to his son Bernard Edward who died unmarried on the 22nd December 1875, when the title duly passed to his younger brother George Manners. The 20th Baron was a Major in the Royal Artillery and a Steward of the Jockey Club and died on the 18th September 1904, being succeeded by his eldest son Albert Edward, who was twice mentioned in despatches during World War I, later became a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Home Guard during World War II before his death on the 18th January 1956.

He was followed by his son Edward Delaval Henry, the 22nd Baron. A Government Whip between 1961 and 1962, he was the Joint Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of Housing and Local Government from 1962 until 1964. Since that time he has kept himself busy as the Governor of both the British Institute Florence (1959–1997) and the Royal Ballet (1971–1993), and as President of the British Epilepsy Association (1965–1993), whilst he became a Grand Officer in the Italian Order of Merit in 1968 thanks to his efforts on behalf of the Italian People Flood Appeal in the years 1966 to 1967. The 22nd Baron died on the 25th April 2007 and was suceeded by Delaval Thomas Harold who is the 23rd Baron Hastings and also a baronet. His eldest son and heir apparent to the title is one Jacob Addison Astley.

A note on the Hastings baronies

Technically speaking the holders of the titles of Baron Hastings of Inchmahome (created 1299), Baron Hastings of Hastings (created 1461), and Baron Hastings of Hungerford (created in 1482) were all created the 'Baron Hastings'; the additional geographic designation simply being appended in order to distinguish one from the other. Purists would insist that the additional geographic designation should be placed in parentheses as for example as the 'Baron Hastings (of Inchmahome)'. But then again, technically speaking the 1295 creation was really that of the Baron Hastinges and would likely be known as such where it not for the fact that the current holders of the title insist on using the modern spelling of the placename.


THE BARONS HASTINGS

HASTINGS

The de jure barons

Title subsequently deemed to have been in abeyance from 1542 until 1841.

ASTLEY


SOURCES

  • George Edward Cokayne, Vicary Gibbs, et al, The Complete Peerage (St Catherine's Press, 1910-1959)
  • The entry for HASTINGS from Burke's Peerage and Baronetage 107th Edition
  • J.E. Powell and K. Wallis, The House of Lords in the Middle Ages, (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1968)
  • The 1911 Encyclopedia Brittanica entry for HASTINGS/li>
  • Charles Arnold Baker The Companion to British History (Longcross Press, 1996)
  • Stirnet Genealogy at http://www.stirnet.com/HTML/genie/genfam.htm

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