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Selina Hastings (1707-91)

Selina Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon,  was born in Staunton Harold, Leicestershire, daughter of the second Earl Ferrers.

In 1728 she married Theophilus Hastings, Earl of Huntingdon, and moved to the Hastings family seat at Donnington Park in Leicestershire.

Spiritually inclined from her childhood, she was converted in 1739 under the influence of her sister-in-law Lady Margaret Hastings.

The Countess became a member of the Fetter Lane Society and after her husband's death in 1746 her commitment to the work of the revival deepened. A close friend of the Wesleys and George Whitefield, she adopted the theology of the Calvinistic Methodists in about 1748.

The Countess made extensive use of her right of appointing her own chaplains to assist evangelical clergymen and from 1761 she sponsored the building of several chapels which eventually formed the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion. She also founded a college at Trevecka in Wales for the training of preachers.

In 1779 she effectively broke with the Church of England by licensing her chapels under the Toleration Act and insisting that her chaplains become dissenting clergy. After her death on 17 June 1791, the Connexion was maintained by a trust appointed in her will.

Source: Encyclopedia of World Methodism (1974), Wesley family papers (MARC) and Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, edited by Donald Lewis (1995)

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