Hastings, Lady Elizabeth

, a lady of high rank and higher virtues, the daughter of Theophilus earl of Huntingdon, was born April 19, 1682. Her mother was the daughter of sir John Lewis, of Ledstone, in the county of York. The accession of a large fortune, after the death wf her brother George earl of Huntingdon, enabled her to | afford an illustrious example of active goodness and benevolence. She fixed her principal residence at Ledstonehouse, where she became the patroness of merit, the benefactress of the indigent, and the intelligent friend and counsellor of the surrounding neighbourhood. Temperate, chaste, and simple, in her habits, she devoted her time, her fortune, and the powers of her understanding, which was of a high order, to the benefit and happiness of all around her. “Her cares,” says her biographer, “extended even to the animal creation; while over her domestics she presided with the dispositions of apparent, providing for the improvement of their minds, the decency of their behaviour, and the propriety of their manners. She would have the skill and contrivance of every artificer used in her house, employed for the ease of her servants, and that they might suffer no inconvenience or hardship. Besides providing for the order, harmony, and peace of her family, she kept great elegance in and about her house, that her poor neighbours might not fall into idleness and poverty for want of employment; and while she thus tenderly regarded the poor, she would visit those in the higher ranks, lest they should accuse her of pride or superciliousness.” Her system of benevolence was at once judicious and extensive. Her benefactions were not confined to the neighbourhood in which she lived; to many families, in various parts of the kingdom, she gave large annual allowances. To this may be added her munificence to her relations and friends, her remission of sums due to her in cases of distress or straitened circumstances, and the noble hospitality of her establishment. To one relation she allowed five hundred pounds annually, to another she presented a gift of three thousand pounds, and to a third three hundred guineas. She acted also with great liberality towards a young lady whose fortune had been injured in the Southsea scheme: yet the whole of her estates fell short of three thousand pounds a-year. In the manors of Ledstone, Ledsham, Thorpe-arche, and Colhngham, she erected charity-schools; and, for the support of them and other charities she gave, in her life-time. Collingham, Shadwell, and her estate at Burton Salmon. Sht also gave Wool for building a new church at Leeds; but, that this donation might not hurt the mother church there, she afterwards offered a farm near Leeds, of 23l. per annum, and capable of improvement, to be settled on the vicar and his | successors, provided the town would do the like; which the corporation readily agreed to, and to her ladyship’s benefaction added lands of the yearly value of 24l. for the application of which they were to be entirely answerable to her kindred This excellent lady also bequeathed at her death considerable sums for charitable and public uses; amongst which were five scholarships in Queen’s college, Oxford, for students in divinity, of 28l. a year each, to be enjoyed for five years, and, as the rents should rise, some of her scholars to be capable, in time, of having 60l. per annum, for one or two years after the first term. She died Dec. 22, 1739. She was fond of her pen, and frequently employed herself in writing; but, previous to her death, destroyed the greater part of her papers. Her fortune, beauty, and amiable qualities, procured her many solicitations to change her state; but she preferred, in a single and independent life, to be mistress 01 her actions, and the disposition of her income. 1


Barnard’s Hist. Character of Lady Eliz. Hastings, 1742, 12iuo. Gent. Map. vol. VI. and X. Tatler with notes, vol. I. p. 346, &c.