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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Warren Hastings and Frank Churchill

I have just read the following interesting account of the early life of Warren Hastings in the book by Gideon Polya which I cited a few months ago when I wrote a series of posts about Warren Hastings vis a vis Phila & Eliza Hancock:

"Hastings (1732-1818) came from an old landed family dating back to William the Conqueror. His mother died giving birth to him at Churchill and his father disappeared after leaving Warren and his sister Anne in care of a village foster mother Mary Ellis. The father, Penyston Hastings, a clergyman, remarried two further times, firstly to the daughter of a tradesman and then to a lady in Barbados, where he died. The grandfather, Penyston Hastings, was the rector of Daylesford. The family home Daylesford had been sold by Warren's greatgrandfather in 1715, and it was subsequently demolished. His childhood was spent in his grandfather's home in the care of his aunt Elizabeth Hastings and he was aware of the Daylesford lands that he dreamed in his youth might one day return to him..."

I had previously noted the striking resonances between Hastings and Colonel Brandon, but had never realized that there is a great deal of resonance as well between Hastings and Frank Churchill.

First, Churchill is the name of the village where Hastings was born.

Second, each one's mother died when he was very young.

Third, each one's biological father survived but did not raise him, and instead and fourth, left him to be raised by his aunt.

Fifth each had a great estate in his family history which he eventually became owner of.

And perhaps a sixth is to be found in the following seemingly trivial description of Frank Churchill's itinerary upon his first return to Highbury, which may be a veiled description of Hastings's very early childhood foster mother, and also of his strong lifelong nostalgia for Daylesford:

"Some of the objects of his curiosity spoke very amiable feelings. He begged to be shewn the house which his father had lived in so long, and which had been the home of his father's father; and on recollecting that an old woman who had nursed him was still living, walked in quest of her cottage from one end of the street to the other..."


Cheers, ARNIE

P.S.: You can search in this blog to read any or all of my previous posts about Warren Hastings.

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