Sir Henry Hastings, 3rd Earl of Huntingdon, was born in 1535 in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire to Francis Hastings and his wife Catherine Pole.
Hastings grew up in companionship with the future King Edward VI where they were tutored Richard Cox, John Cheke and Jean Belmain. The tutors provided the boys with an education in humanism, language and history. In 1548 Hastings briefly attended Queen’s College, Cambridge.
On 21st May 1553 Hastings was married to Katherine Dudley, daughter of the Duke of Northumberland, John Dudley. This marriage was arranged through their father’s who were political allies. It was an alliance that would draw Hastings into a family that would be remembered forever.
With the young King Edward VI dying he named his cousin Lady Jane Grey his heir, going against his father’s final act of succession. Lady Jane Grey was also John Dudley’s daughter in law via his son Guildford. Lady Jane’s reign only lasted nine days when Edward’s sister, Mary, claimed the throne.
Hastings backed his father in law in his attempt to keep Jane on the throne and keep the country out of the hands of the Catholic Mary. Dudley and his supporters, including Hastings, found themselves imprisoned in the Tower of London. Hastings was freed after swearing loyalty to Mary and her reign.
With Hastings free he entered into the service of Cardinal Reginald Pole and followed him around the continent to Flanders, Calais and London. They also escorted Philip II of Spain from Spain to England for his marriage to Mary.
When Elizabeth ascended the throne in 1558 Hastings and his family were welcomed into her court and gained their loyalty. Hastings was in attendance at Elizabeth’s first parliament and during his time at court he witnessed the readings of the Acts of Supremacy and Uniformity. Elizabeth also named Hastings as a Knight of the Bath. Hastings inherited the title of 3rd Earl of Huntingdon when his father died on 25th January 1560.
Hastings family name would come in to question once again in 1562 when Elizabeth contracted smallpox. Hastings was named as a potential rival heir, through his ancestor George Plantagenet and was favoured by the Protestants and those who were enemies of Mary Queen of Scots. Although he convinced Elizabeth of his loyalty she was sceptical in employing him.
Although Elizabeth no longer had full trust in Hastings, she still used him in important missions. In 1569 he helped George Talbot in escorting Mary Queen of Scots from Wingfield Manor to Tutbury. Hastings would later act as one of the judges in her trial in 1586.
In 1570 Hastings was inducted into the Knight of the Garter and through this in 1572 Hastings was appointed president of the Council of the North where he helped protect Enland’s borders from Scotland.
Whilst in Newcastle in November 1595 Hastings fell ill with a fever and died on 14th December 1595. Elizabeth spent time comforting Hastings wife. As they were childless Hastings had named his nephew Francis as his heir. Hastings was buried on 26th April 1596 at St Helen’s Church, Ashby-de-la-Zouch alongside his nephew, Francis, who died three days after Hastings.