Hastings, Selina (née Shirley)

Variant last names: Hastings
Other namesLady Huntington; Countess of Huntington
Birth: August 13, 1707 in Northamptonshire, England
Death: June 17 1791 in Spa Fields, London, England
Faith:

Calvinist

Nationality:

English

Occupation:

Religious activist and philanthropist

Marital status:

Married Thomas Hastings on June 3, 1728. They had seven children, all of whom either died or became estranged from their mother as she radicalized. Thomas died in 1746, fearing that his estates would be confiscated for his and Selina's secret support of the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion.

Biography:

Selina Hastings, better known as the Countess of Huntington or Lady Huntington, was an evangelical English aristocrat and one of the many George Whitefield devotees to meet with Nathaniel Whitaker and Samson Occom during their fundraising tour of Great Britain (1765-1768). Moor’s Indian Charity School was, for a brief time, among the objects of Lady Huntington’s charity. Lady Huntington first discovered evangelism in 1739, when she converted to Methodism. By 1744, she had embraced Calvinism instead and become a devotee of George Whitefield—such a prominent one, in fact, that he bequeathed his Bethesda orphanage to her (she did not prove to be a successful steward: the deputy she appointed was so disliked that the locals burned Bethesda down, and the property was confiscated after the Revolution). Lady Huntington was known for promoting evangelism among the aristocracy, providing dissenters with opportunities for ministerial education, establishing chapels, and mollifying the Church of England’s attitude towards dissenters. When Lady Huntington finally seceded from the Church of England in 1782, she opened Lady Huntington’s Connexion, an organization that ordained evangelical ministers and sent them out as itinerant preachers. However, her controversial efforts caught up with her. She became increasingly paranoid during the last decades of her life (the 1770s and 1780s), and died in debt.

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Sources:

Brooks, Joanna. The Collected Writings of Samson Occom, Mohegan: Leadership and Literacy in Eighteenth-Century Native America. Oxford 2006. Love, Deloss. Samson Occom and the Christian Indians of New England. Pilgrim Press 1899. Richardson, Leon. An Indian Preacher in England. Hanover: Dartmouth College Press 1933. Schlenther, Boyd Stanley. “Hastings, Selina, countess of Huntingdon (1707-1791). In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2004. Online Edition. Accessed 5/2/2014.