Lady Betty Hastings (1682–1739): godly patron

Anne Laurence
2010 Women's History Review  
Her life had chiefly for its direction two great objects, how she might exalt the glory of God and how demonstrate her own good will towards men'. 2 This characterisation of Lady Elizabeth (Betty) Hastings refers to the qualities for which she was most well known: her godliness and her charity. Richard Steele wrote of her in the Tatler, 'To love her is a liberal education', and the entry in the old Dictionary of National Biography describes her as 'philanthropist', but these epithets do little
more » ... ustice to her life. 3 Not only did she give large sums of money to charitable uses, she took a close interest in the administration of charities, in clerical appointments, and in the movement for the reformation of manners. She did so in the spirit not merely of fulfilling her duty as a Christian, but also from a strong sense of family, not just of her ancestors, but of her household of unmarried half-sisters. Discussions of philanthropy usually dwell on the donors' debit side of the balance sheet, the gifts, endowments and legacies made by wealthy individuals, rather than on the credit side, the means by which such individuals were able to accumulate and disburse funds and release lands to such purposes. Unusually, we have, through correspondence and through bank records, a reasonable idea not only of how Lady Betty acquired her fortune and property, but also of how she looked after it. While she maintained an aristocratic view of noblesse oblige, she adapted her financial affairs to the age of the financial revolution, using the newly developing banking system and taking a position in the emerging stock market. Queen's College 2 The presence of Betty Hastings's portrait in Queen's College, Oxford is testimony to her benefaction to the college, an endowment for exhibitions to the college for five boys from twelve parishes in Yorkshire, Cumberland and Westmoreland. The terms of the benefaction were extremely detailed: identifying the parishes from which the boys were to come and laying down exercises to be performed by the candidates. The ten best exercises were to be forwarded to the Provost and Fellows of the college who were then to elect the eight best candidates, from whom five finalists were to be chosen by lot, 'as leaving something to Providence'. 4 The exhibitions provided training for men intending to go into the church, and were for five years 'to take away the necessity of entering precipitately into holy orders'. The period after completing a bachelor of arts degree was to be used for theological studies (and what this involved was also specified). Exhibitioners had a considerable advantage from their awards for they became favoured candidates for the benefices which were in the gift of Lady Betty's heirs, one of which was worth £80 a year, the others of which were worth £100 or more. 5
doi:10.1080/09612021003633911 fatcat:nyx6t4kgungxvkgvkrx6lxkiue