36 free quilt blocks, one a week with a guide to Jane Austen's England and posts about the people in her life.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Block 18: Indian Star for Warren Hastings

Block 18: Indian Star for Warren Hastings by Bettina Havig

Warren Hastings 1732-1818 ( Print after a Joshua Reynolds painting)

Warren Hastings enjoyed a place in the family circle, a spot familiar in Jane Austen’s England, but curious to us. He was either Cousin Eliza Hancock’s natural father and/or her godfather and patron. We have very little evidence other than one item of gossip that he and Jane’s Aunt Philadelphia had an affair and none that he was father to her only child.

Indian Star by Georgann Eglinski

There is much evidence he was Eliza’s patron, giving her a fortune of £10,000 and assisting her and Philadelphia in their social contacts in India, France and England. Eliza named her only child Hastings, a gesture often made to honor a patron or win future benevolence.

An Indian view of Warren Hastings

Indian Star by Becky Brown

Some historians believe Warren Hastings also assisted Jane’s brothers Frank and Charles in their impressive Navy careers.  He certainly had the influence needed to obtain promotions for young friends. He had been Governor-General of India when Jane was born and in 1814 became a Privy Councillor, that is, member of a private group advising the Regent towards the end of the Napoleonic Wars.  

First edition of Pride and Prejudice

Hastings was a fan of Pride and Prejudice, as Jane enthused to Cassandra in 1813:
“And Mr. Hastings! I am quite delighted with what such a man writes about it. Henry sent him the books…”

Warren Hastings with his second wife, the Baroness Imhoff and a servant.

Hastings was either a friend of  Jane’s father George or of her mother's family the Leighs (perhaps both). As a young man Hastings joined the East India Company as a clerk. In India, he married Mary Elliott Buchanan who died in Calcutta after their second child Elizabeth was born in 1761. The widower sent his older son George to England for the conventional education and chose George and Cassandra Austen to act as foster parents at Oxford, where the child died.

Indian Star by Becky Brown
Becky cut the 4 center squares from the same
fabric and rotated the figure to get a kaleidoscopic detail
in the center.

Hastings’s political trial was a major event 
In late Georgian England

Hasting's career had its ups and downs, financial and political. Two years after returning from India he was charged with corruption in his governance for the East India Company. It was not hard to find evidence of corruption but blaming Hastings for the pervasive colonial attitude was a political move. The trial went on for seven years until 1795, when he was acquitted.

James Gillray showed Warren Hastings
weighted down by his fortune.

To remember Warren Hastings and the East India Company: Indian Star---given that name by the Kansas City Star in 1937.  The name refers to Native Americans but we’re recalling the time when the British viewed their colonies simply as the East Indies and the West Indies.

BlockBase #2155

Cutting a 12” Block

A – Cut 8 squares 3-1/2”.

B – Cut 1 square 7-1/4”. Cut into 4 triangles with 2 diagonal cuts. 

You need 4 triangles.

 C- Cut 4 squares 2-7/8”. UPDATE: That is 3-7/8"  Cut each in half with a diagonal cut to make 2 triangles.

 You need 8 triangles.

The Hastings relationship to the Hancocks and the Austens fascinates us Janeites. You can find all sorts of speculation on the web.

Read Sydney C. Grier’s 1905 biography online in The Letters of Warren Hastings to his Wife:


  1. Thanks for this block and the story. Could you please double check the measurements for the "C" triangles? I'm having difficulty.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Warren Hastings' daughter Eliza was actually the author of the Jane Austen novels, as I show in my book "Jane Austen - a New Revelation". Given her parentage she could not publish under her own name.