Hastings


Select Hastings Surname Genealogy

Hastings as a town in Sussex was first recorded in the Saxon cartulary of 790.  The place may have been named after Hasten, a raiding Viking in the area.  It is possible that some of his followers settled at Hastings and the name was a corruption of Hasten Ingges (Hasten's people).

Hastings of course became famous in 1066 when the Normans under William the Conqueror defeated the English army at the Battle of Hastings.  The Hastings name was adopted by Robert de Hastings, subsequent port reeve of the town who was steward to William the Conqueror
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EnglandThe Hastings family which began with Robert de Hastings in Hastings was a powerful and influential family in medieval and Tudor times.  From about 1100 they made their home at Ashill near Swaffham in Norfolk.  Hugh de Hastings devised the Hastings coat of arms around 1130; and his son William was Steward to Henry II. 

The Leicestershire Line.  The Hastings family moved from Norfolk to Leicestershire in the early 14th century.  In 1461 William Hastings was raised to the peerage as the 1st Baron Hastings and was granted the following year the castle of Ashby-de-la-Zouch in NW Leicestershire.  This became the family’s principal residence. 

Baron Hastings fell out with Richard III and was executed in 1483.  However, his family was to reach the pinnacle of its fortunes in 1529, when William’s grandson, George Hastings, was created the 1st Earl of Huntingdon.  But massive debts accumulated by the 3rd Earl who died in 1595 subsequently triggered their long-term decline. 


Since that time the family has had in fact a checkered history: 
  • Fernandino Hastings saw his family seat, Ashby-de-la-Zouch castle, destroyed by Cromwell’s troops in 1646 during the English Civil War.
  • Francis Rawdon Hastings fought in the American and French Revolutionary Wars and went on to be Governor General of India from 1813 to 1823.
  • his son George Rawdon Hastings caused public furor when he denounced the young Queen Victoria and her courtiers in 1839 for insulting his unmarried sister, Lady Flora Hastings, by implying that she was pregnant.
  • while a generation later Henry Rawdon Hastings blew the family’s considerable fortune on horse racing.  He died in 1868, aged just twenty six.
On the death of Reginald Rawdon Hastings in 1926, the Hastings Manuscripts, the family accounts which extended from the 12th to the 19th centuries, were sold to American buyers. 

Other Lines
.  John Hastings of this family had inherited Abergavenny castle in Monmouthshire through his mother in 1273.  His son Laurence was created Earl of Pembroke in 1339.  However, the line died out fifty years later.  There followed a dispute between two claimants to the title.  But the final view was that this line had ended in 1389. 

A Hastings family had come into possession of Daylesford manor in Worcestershire (now Gloucestershire) in 1275 and was to remain there until 1709.  A descendant Warren Hastings, who made a fortune in India, repurchased the estate in 1788. 

A Hastings line started in Oxfordshire with the birth of James Hastings in Chipping Norton, close by Daylesford, in 1726.  He became a wine merchant in London.  His son James entered the church and was rector at Martley in Worcestershire for sixty one years, from 1795 to 1856.  A later Rev. James Hastings spent fifty three years at the parish, from 1891 to 1944.

The earlier Rev. James lived to be a hundred and was the father of three remarkable sons: 
  • Thomas and Francis Hastings who both entered the Royal Navy, the former rising to Admiral and the latter to Rear Admiral.  Thomas became renowned for his expertise in gunnery.  
  • and Charles Hastings, a medical surgeon who founded the British Medical Association in 1832.  
A later Hastings line began with Stephen and Elizabeth Hastings at Walworth in London in the 1880’s.  Their son Basil Hastings was a playwright of some repute; their grandson Macdonald Hastings a distinguished journalist and war correspondent; and their great grandson Sir Max Hastings in his time a foreign correspondent for the BBC and editor-in-chief of the Daily Telegraph and Evening Standard.

Scotland
.  The Hastings name was taken to Scotland under William the Lion in the latter part of the 12th century.  These Norman Hastings were once claimants to the Scottish throne.  The largest Hastings numbers today are in Dumfries on the Scottish borders.  But the name there, as with the Hastings at Morton Thornhill, was probably a corruption of the Scottish Hairstains or Hairstones. 


Ireland
.  Hastings in Ireland may be either English/Scottish or Irish in origin.

English/Scottish Hastings can be found in Northern Ireland, particularly in county Down.  They were Presbyterian churchwardens in Downpatrick from the 1730’s.  A Hastings mausoleum dates there from the 1820’s.  Billy Hastings, born in Belfast, is the proprietor of the Hastings Hotels Group, the largest in Northern Ireland.

The Irish Hastings has appeared on the west coast, primarily in Mayo and Clare.  Hastings here was an anglicization of the Gaelic O’hOistin, descendant of Oistin (the Gaelic form of Augustine). 


America.  Thomas Hastings
departed Ipswich on The Elizabeth for New England in 1634.  He and his second wife Margaret settled in Watertown, Massachusetts.  They were the forebears of a large number of Hastings descendants in America.  An early account of their line was given in Lydia Hastings’ 1866 book The Hastings Memorial. 

Among their descendants were: 
  • Seth Hastings, US Congressman for Massachusetts from 1801 to 1807.
  • Thomas Hastings, composer of the hymn Rock of Ages in 1831.
  • Lansford Hastings, an Oregon pioneer of the 1840’s who wrote The Emigrants’ Guide to Oregon and California to encourage Americans to move west.  
  • Thomas N. Hastings, a member of the New Hampshire Senate in the late 1800’s and friend to Thomas Edison. 
  • and Reed Hastings, a co-founder of Netflix in 1997.
John Hastings arrived in Henrico county, Virginia from London sometime in the 1690’s.  His descendants migrated to North Carolina and later to Henry county, Tennessee.  Another North Carolina Hastings line was to be found in Bedford county, Tennessee.  There was as well an early 19th century Hasting in Tennessee, Joseph Hasting or Haston who had acquired land in White county in 1808.

Irish.  Many Hastings came from Ireland. 
John Hastings came to Ohio in the early 1800’s and became a US Congressman there in the 1840’s.  James and Thomas Hastings, probably Scots Irish, arrived in America from Fermanagh around the year 1820, James settling in Jefferson county, Ohio and Thomas in Washington county, Pennsylvania. 

Australia
.  Irish Hastings also came to Australia.  Daniel Hastings and his wife Catherine arrived from Limerick on the Bussorah Merchant in 1850.  They made their home in Richmond, Victoria.

Select Hastings Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:


Select Hastings Names

Robert de Hastings was a steward to William the Conqueror in 1066, port reeve to the town of Hastings, and forebear of the Hastings line.
Henry Hastings
was a key political player in the Tudor courts of Edward VI, Mary, and Elizabeth in the mid-16th century.
Warren Hastings
 was the first de facto Governor General of India, from 1772 to 1785. He was later accused of corruption in his position, but acquitted.
Sir Max Hastings
 is a British author and journalist.  He has been a foreign correspondent for the BBC and editor-in-chief of the Daily Telegraph and Evening Standard.

Select Hastings Today
  • 7,000 in the UK (most numerous in London)
  • 9,000 in America (most numerous in California) 
  • 6,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

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