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William Hastings, 1st Baron Hastings

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Lord Hastings

Coat of Arms of Sir William Hastings, 1st Baron Hastings, KG.png
Arms of William Hastings, 1st Baron Hastings, KG
Lord Chamberlain of the Household
In office
1461 – 1483
Vacant 1470-1471
MonarchEdward IV
Preceded byThe Earl of Salisbury
Succeeded byThe Viscount Lovell
Personal details
Died13 June 1483 (date disputed)[1]
Tower of London
Spouse(s)Katherine Neville
ChildrenEdward Hastings, 2nd Baron Hastings
Sir William Hastings
Sir Richard Hastings
George Hastings
Anne Hastings, Countess of Shrewsbury
Elizabeth Hastings
MotherAlice Camoys
FatherSir Leonard Hastings
Manticore badge of William, Lord Hastings, c.1470.
Manticore badge of William, Lord Hastings, c.1470.

William Hastings, 1st Baron Hastings KG (c. 1431 – June 1483) was an English nobleman. A loyal follower of the House of York during the Wars of the Roses, he became a close friend and one of the most important courtiers of King Edward IV, whom he served as Lord Chamberlain. At the time of Edward's death he was one of the most powerful and richest men in England. He was executed following accusations of treason by Edward's brother and ultimate successor, Richard III. The date of his death is disputed; early histories argued for a hasty execution on 13 June, while Clements R. Markham argues that he was executed one week after his arrest on 20 June 1483, and after a trial.[2]


Signature of William Lord Hastings
Signature of William Lord Hastings

William Hastings, born about 1431, was the eldest son of Sir Leonard Hastings (c. 1396 – 20 October 1455), and his wife Alice Camoys, daughter of Thomas de Camoys, 1st Baron Camoys.[3][4][a] Hastings succeeded his father in service to the House of York and through this service became close to his distant cousin the future Edward IV, whom he was to serve loyally all his life. He was High Sheriff of Warwickshire and High Sheriff of Leicestershire in 1455.

He fought alongside Edward at the Battle of Mortimer's Cross and was present at the proclamation of Edward as king in London on 4 March 1461 and then when the new king secured his crown at the Battle of Towton shortly thereafter. He was knighted on the field of battle. With the establishment of the Yorkist regime, Hastings became one of the key figures in the realm, most importantly as Master of the Mint and Lord Chamberlain, an office he held for the duration of the reign and which made him one of the most important means of access to the king. He was also created Baron Hastings, a title reinforced by grants of land and office, primarily in Leicestershire and Northamptonshire. In 1462 he was invested as a Knight of the Garter. Hastings' tenure as Master of the Mint occurred during the Great Bullion Famine and the Great Slump in England.

In 1474, he was awarded royal licence to crenellate at three of his landholdings in Leicestershire; at Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Kirby Muxloe, and at Bagworth. He built extensively at Ashby, mostly making additions to the pre-existing manor house built by the de la Zouch family in the thirteenth century. His greatest achievement at Ashby was the Hastings Tower. At Kirby Muxloe Castle he began an intricate fortified house of red brick, one of the first of its kind in the county. Thanks to English Heritage, the castles at Ashby and Kirby can still be seen, but nothing survives to indicate any construction at Bagworth.

His importance in these years is recorded in a number of sources and was recognised by the greatest peer in the realm, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick. In 1462, Warwick arranged for Hastings to marry his widowed sister, Katherine Neville. (Katherine's first husband, Lord Bonville, had been killed at St Albans in 1461 and their infant daughter, Cecily, succeeded to the Bonville titles and estates.)[14][15][16]

Despite this matrimonial relationship with the Nevilles, when Warwick drove Edward IV into exile in 1470, Hastings went with Edward and accompanied the king back the following spring. Hastings raised troops for Edward in the English Midlands and served as one of the leading captains of the Yorkist forces at both Barnet and Tewkesbury.

His service, loyalty and ability, along with the fall of his Neville in-laws, made Hastings even more important during the second half of Edward IV's reign. He continued to serve as Chamberlain and was awarded the position of Chamberlain of the Exchequer in 1471, which he held until 1483. He was also appointed Lieutenant of Calais, which made him an important player in foreign affairs, and given authority over an increasingly large section of the English Midlands. At court, he was involved in two lengthy feuds with members of Queen Elizabeth Woodville's family, most notably with her son Thomas Grey, first Marquess of Dorset.


After the death of Edward IV on 9 April 1483, the Dowager Queen appointed family members to key positions and rushed to expedite the coronation of her young son Edward V as king, circumventing Richard, Duke of Gloucester, whom the late king had appointed Lord Protector. Hastings, who had long been friendly with Richard and hostile to the Woodvilles, was a key figure in checking these manoeuvres. While keeping the Woodvilles in check in London, Hastings informed Richard of their proceedings and asked him to hasten to London. Richard intercepted the young king, who was on his way to London, with his Woodville relatives. Hastings then supported Richard's formal installation as Lord Protector and collaborated with him in the royal council.

Affairs changed dramatically on 13 June 1483 during a council meeting at the Tower of London: Richard, supported by the Duke of Buckingham, accused Hastings and two other council members of having committed treason by conspiring against his life with the Woodvilles, with Hastings's mistress Jane Shore (formerly also mistress to Edward IV and possibly Dorset), acting as a go-between. While the other alleged conspirators were imprisoned, Hastings was beheaded. The timing of his execution is disputed.

The summary execution of the popular Hastings was controversial among contemporaries and has been interpreted differently by historians and other authors. The traditional account, harking back to authors of the Tudor period, including William Shakespeare, considered the conspiracy charge invented and merely a convenient excuse to remove Hastings, who was known for his loyalty to the dead king and his heirs, as while he remained alive he would have been too formidable an obstacle to Richard's own plans to seize the throne.[17] Others have been more open to the possibility of such a conspiracy and that Richard merely reacted to secure his position.[18]

Despite the accusations of treason, Richard did not issue an attainder against Hastings and his family. Hence, his wife and sons were allowed to inherit his lands and properties. Hastings was buried in the north aisle of St George's Chapel, Windsor, next to Edward IV.[19]

In literature

He is portrayed in two of Shakespeare's plays: Henry VI, Part 3 and Richard III.


Hastings married, before 6 February 1462,[19] Katherine Neville, sister of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, known as "Warwick the Kingmaker," and widow of William Bonville, 6th Baron Harington, slain at the Battle of Wakefield on 30 December 1460, by whom he had had four sons and two daughters:[14][15][16]


  1. ^ Sir Leonard Hastings (c.1396 – 20 October 1455) was a member of the English gentry who moved his seat to Leicestershire from Yorkshire where the family had long been established. His wife was Alice Camoys, daughter of Thomas de Camoys, 1st Baron Camoys, and his first wife, Elizabeth Louches, the daughter and heiress of William Louches.[3][4] Sir Leonard Hastings had three other sons and three daughters:[4][5][6]
  1. '^ By Clements R. Markham, Richard III, p. 214 to 216.
  2. '^ Clements R. Markham Richard III, pp. 214-216.
  3. ^ a b Richardson I 2011, pp. 398–9.
  4. ^ a b c Richardson II 2011, pp. 369–71.
  5. ^ Richardson IV 2011, pp. 306–7.
  6. ^ Acheson 1992, p. 234.
  7. ^ a b c d Richardson II 2011, p. 369.
  8. ^ Richardson IV 2011, pp. 307–8.
  9. ^ Burke 1831, p. 562.
  10. ^ Cokayne 1959, p. 447.
  11. ^ Cokayne 1959, p. 668.
  12. ^ Nicolas 1836, p. 421.
  13. ^ Richardson II 2011, p. 370.
  14. ^ a b Horrox 2004.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g Richardson II 2011, p. 371.
  16. ^ a b Nicolas 1826, pp. 368–75.
  17. ^ For instance, Alison Weir, The Princes in the Tower, London: Random House, 1992.
  18. ^ For instance, Paul Murray Kendall, Richard III.
  19. ^ a b Cokayne 1926, p. 373.
  20. ^ Richardson II 2011, pp. 371–2.
  21. ^ Cokayne 1926, p. 374.
  22. ^ Nicolas 1826, p. 373.


  • Acheson, Eric (1992). A Gentry Community; Leicestershire in the Fifteenth Century, c.1422-c.1485. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 6 October 2013.
  • Burke, John (1831). A General and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerages of England, Ireland and Scotland, Extinct, Dormant and in Abeyance. London: Henry Colburn. Retrieved 6 October 2013.
  • Cokayne, George Edward (1926). The Complete Peerage, edited by Vicary Gibbs. VI. London: St. Catherine Press.
  • Cokayne, George Edward (1959). The Complete Peerage, edited by Geoffrey H. White. XII, Part II. London: St. Catherine Press.
  • Horrox, Rosemary (2004). "Hastings, William, first Baron Hastings (c.1430–1483)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/12588. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  • Nicolas, Nicholas Harris (1826). Testamenta Vetusta. I. London: Nicholas and Son. pp. 368–75. Retrieved 6 October 2013.
  • Nicolas, Nicholas Harris (1836). Testamenta Vetusta. II. London: Nicholas and Son. p. 421. Retrieved 7 October 2013.
  • Richardson, Douglas (2011). Everingham, Kimball G. (ed.). Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families. I (2nd ed.). Salt Lake City. ISBN 1-4499-6637-3.
  • Richardson, Douglas (2011). Everingham, Kimball G. (ed.). Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families. II (2nd ed.). Salt Lake City. ISBN 1-4499-6638-1.
  • Richardson, Douglas (2011). Everingham, Kimball G. (ed.). Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families. IV (2nd ed.). Salt Lake City. ISBN 1-4609-9270-9.

Further reading

  • Carpenter, Christine. The Wars of the Roses (Cambridge, 1997)
  • Craig, John (1953). The Mint: A History of the London Mint from A.D. 287 to 1948. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. pp. 88–95. ASIN B0000CIHG7.
  • Dunham, William Huse. Lord Hastings' indentured retainers, 1461–1483 (New Haven, 1955)
  • Hancock, Peter A. – Richard III and the Murder in the Tower (2009)
  • Horrox, Rosemary. Richard III : a study of service (Cambridge, 1989)
  • Kendall, Paul Murray, Richard III, London, Allen & Unwin (1955)
  • Ross, Charles. Edward IV (Berkeley, 1974)
  • Ross, Charles. Richard III (1981)
  • Seward, Desmond. A Brief History of the Wars of the Roses (Robinson, 1995)
  • Wolffe, B.P. (1 October 1974). "When and why did Hastings lose his head?". The English Historical Review. 89 (353): 835–844. doi:10.1093/ehr/LXXXIX.CCCLIII.835. JSTOR 566401.
Peerage of England
New title Baron Hastings
Succeeded by
Edward Hastings
Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Salisbury
Lord Chamberlain
Vacant Lord Chamberlain
Succeeded by
The Viscount Lovell
Preceded by
Sir Richard Tonstall
Master of the Mint
Succeeded by
Robert Brackenbury

This page was last edited on 7 February 2020, at 16:30
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