Hastings, Frank Abney (17941828), naval officer in the Greek service, was the younger son of Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Hastings, baronet, an illegitimate son of Francis Hastings, earl of Huntingdon. He entered the navy when about eleven years old, and was present at Trafalgar on board the Neptune. During his fifteen years of service he visited every quarter of the globe, and was finally sent to the West Indies, in command of the Kangaroo, for surveying. Entering Port Royal harbour, Jamaica, he reportedly brought his ship to anchor in an unseamanlike way. The flag captain of the admiral's ship consequently so insulted him that (once on half pay) Hastings challenged him to a duel. The admiral reported this, and Hastings was dismissed from the service in 1820. He resolved to take service under a foreign power. After living in France to learn the language he sailed from Marseilles on 12 March 1822 to join the Greeks. He reached Hydra on 3 April, and was welcomed by the brothers Jakomaki and Manoli Tombazes, then commanding the Greek fleet. On 3 May 1822 this fleet, which was poorly manned, sailed from Hydra with Hastings on the Themistocles as volunteer. The value of his services was soon evident, and he built a furnace on board for heating shot. He first became popular among the Greek sailors by saving the Tombazes' corvette off Cape Baba, north of Mitylene, which had accidentally got within range of Turkish guns. When the naval campaign ended, Hastings joined the siege of Nauplia, and assisted in the defence of the little Greek-held port of Burdzi. He raised a company of fifty men, armed and equipped at his own expense. During part of 1823 he served in Crete as commander of the artillery, but left the island in the autumn because of a violent fever.
Hastings recommended the construction of armed steam vessels to give the Greeks command of the sea, and in the latter part of 1824 he went to England to purchase steamers which were to be armed under his direction. In May 1826 the Karteria departed for Greece and was put under his command. This steamer, the first seen in Greece, was armed with 68-pound guns, firing shells and red-hot shot. Her crew consisted of Englishmen, Swedes, and Greeks. After a troubled passage she arrived in September. In February 1827 Hastings co-operated with Thomas Gordon (17881841), and attempted to relieve Athens, then besieged by the Turkish commander Reshid, by steaming into Piraeus and shelling the enemy's camp. His attack was successful, but the city was forced to capitulate to the Turks on 5 June. Hastings interrupted Turkish communications between Volo and Oropus, and captured several vessels. At Tricheri he destroyed a Turkish man-of-war, but the Karteria suffered severely, and was obliged to go to Poros for repairs. On 29 September 1827 Hastings destroyed Turkish ships, in the Bay of Salona. Ibrahim Pasha, who was at Navarino, prepared to attack him, but the allied fleets closely blockaded his fleet and on 20 October 1827 annihilated it at the battle of Navarino.
On 29 December 1827 Hastings took Vasiladi, the key to the fortifications of Missolonghi. He released the prisoners he captured, together with the Turkish governor. Kapodistrias arrived in Greece as president, and Hastings, disgusted with the negligent conduct of the war, proposed to resign. In 1828 Hastings's pamphlet Memoir on the Use of Shells, Hot-Shot and Carcass Shells from Ships' Artillery was published in London. In May 1828 he resumed active operations in command of a small squadron in western Greece. On the 25th he was wounded in an attack on Anatolikon, and amputation of his left arm was believed necessary. He sailed for Zante in search of a competent surgeon, but tetanus set in and, on 1 June 1828 he died on board the Karteria in Zante harbour. Hastings's service in the Greek cause demonstrated both technical expertise and strategic vision. George Finlay, his friend and the historian of the war, described him as the best foreign officer who embarked in the Greek cause, and the only foreigner in whose character and deeds there were the elements of true greatness.
W. R. Morfill, rev. Andrew Lambert
W. St Clair, That Greece might still be free (1972) · G. Finlay, History of the Greek revolution, 2 vols. (1861) · D. Dakin, British and American philhellenes during the War of Greek Independence, 18211833 (1955) · D. K. Brown, Before the ironclad (1990) · C. M. Woodhouse, The battle of Navarino (1965) · G. Finlay, Biographical sketch of Frank Abney Hastings, Blackwood, 58 (1845), 496520
BL, letters to J. C. Hobhouse, Add. MSS 3646136464
British School at Athens, corresp., journals, and papers
NA Scot., letters to Thomas Cochrane, tenth earl of Dundonald
engraving, repro. in St Clair, That Greece might still be free, p. 295