ROBERT DE HASTINGS
Robert, Steward to William of Normandy, accompanied the expedition to England, and was rewarded with the Lordship of Fillongley, Co. Warwick. He received also the appointment of Portgrave of Hastings, and thence arose a surname, which his illustrious descendants rendered renowned in the cabinet and in the field. Robert's successor, Walter de Hastings, became steward to Henry I., as owner of the manor of Ashills, co. Norfolk, which he held on condition of taking charge of the naperie (table linen) at the Coronation. His descendant, Henry de Hastings, Baron Hastings, married Ada, daughter of David, Earl of Huntingdon, and was father of the bold defender of Kenilworth Castle, Henry, Lord Hastings, whose grand- son, John Hastings, seneschal of Aquitaine, was one of the aspirants to the Scottish throne, A.D. 1290, in right of his great grandmother, Ada, who was niece to William the Lion. This potent noble wedded for his first wife, Isabel, sister and co-heir of Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, and had by her a son John, ancestor of the Earls of Pembroke, whose last representative, John Hastings, third Earl, was accidentally slain in a tournament, by Sir John St. John, at Woodstock, in 1389. The superstition of the period attributed the untimely fate of the youthful Earl to a divine judgment upon the family, in regard that Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke his ancestor, was one of those who passed sentence of death upon Thomas Plantagenet, Earl of Lancaster, at Pontefract: for, it was observed, that subsequently to that judgment, not one of the Earls of Pembroke saw his father, nor any father of them took delight in seeing his children.
From the second marriage of John de Hastings, the competitor for the throne, of Scotland, derived the Lord Hastings of Gressing Hall. One great branch of the family still exists, that represented in the male line, by the EARL OF HUNTINGDON. It springs from Thomas, a younger son of William de Hastings, steward to Henry II., grandson of Walter de Hastings, Lord of Fillingley, steward to Henry I.; and was first ennobled in the person of the celebrated Sir Wiam Hastings, created Baron Hastings of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, by King Edward IV., in 1461. His lordship, who was one of the most powerful persons in the kingdom, erected at Ashby, a magnificent castle, which continued to be for two hundred years the residence of his descendants, and was afterwards remarkable as the temporary prison of Mary, Queen of Scots. He fell a victim, eventually, to the Protector Gloucester, and was beheaded in the Tower, A.D. 1483. Of his Lordship, Fuller Says - "The reder needeth not my dim candle to direct him to this illustrious person, whom King Edward IV., or rather Edward Plantagenet (because more in human than in his royal capacity) so delighted in, that he made him his Lord Chamberlain, Baron Hastings of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, &c." The first Earl of Huntingdon was this nobleman's grandson, George, who attended Henry VIII. to Therouenne and Tournay, and was rewarded with an earl's coronet. His son, the second Earl, formed a brilliant alliance, marrying Katberine, daughter and co-heir of Henry Pole Lord Moutagu, and grandaughter of Margaret, Countess of Salisbury, daughter and sole heir of George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence, brother of Edward IV. By this high-born lady he had six sons and five daughters: of the youngest of the latter, the beautiful Lady Mary Hastings, the following circumstance is related :- "John Vassilivich, Great Duke and Emperor of Russia, having a desire to marry an English lady, was told of the Lady Mary Hastings, who being of the blood royal, be began to affect, whereupon making his desires known to Queen Elizabeth, who did well approve thereof, he sent over Theodore Pissemskoie, a nobleman of great account, his ambassador, who, in the name of his master, offered great advantage to the Queen in the event of the marriage. The Queen hereupon caused the lady to be attended with divers ladies and young noblemen, that so the ambassador might have a sight of her, which was accomplished in York House Garden, near Charing Cross. There, was the envoy brought into her presence, and casting down his countenance, fell prostrate before her, then rising back with his face still towards her, (the lady with the rest admiring at his strange salutation), he said, by his interpreter, 'it sufficed him to behold the angelic presence of her who, he hoped, would be his master's spouse and empress!'" The alliance did not, however, take place, and the lady died unmarried.
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