HARE, John (1546-1613), of St. Dunstan's, London and Totteridge, Herts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. 1546, yr. (7th or 8th) s. of John Hare, London mercer, of Stow Bardolph, Norf. and bro. of Hugh and Nicholas. educ. 1. Temple 1571, called. m. (1) Luce (d.160l), da. of Francis Barlee of Bibbesworth Hall, Kempton, Herts.; (2) Margaret, da. of John Crouch of Corneybury, Herts., wid. of Allen Elvine, leather-seller, at least 2s.1

Offices Held

Common attorney in ct. of wards c.1580-90, jt. clerk 1590-1604, sole Jan. 1604-d; bencher, I. Temple 1592, treasurer 1605.2


Hare became connected by his first marriage with William Tooke, auditor of the court of wards until 1588. In August 1580, Tooke’s second son, a common attorney in the court of wards, wrote to Burghley asking, on grounds of ill-health, to be replaced by Hare. Hare was granted the post, and during his term of office compiled a book of decrees in the court from 1553 to 1581. Probably it was also through the Tookes that in 1590 he and his brother Hugh, the moneylender, were granted jointly the clerkship of the court, for which they appear to have been suing through Walsingham as early as 1587. The functions of the office were, however, performed by John Hare, who showed energy and administrative zeal in the post, being responsible for numerous reforms in the running of the court, which may account for his long and bitter dispute in the 1590s with the clerk of the liveries, and, from 1604 onwards, even with Cecil himself. In 1609 he informed Cecil that there were many ill-practices in the administration, but begged not to be named as the informer of them. His death, according to H. E. Bell, ‘was probably a greater loss to the court than that of any of the Stuart masters or other officers of the court’.3

From 1572 to 1589 Hare sat as junior burgess for Horsham along with his eldest brother Nicholas, moving to the senior seat when Nicholas retired from Parliament. Like him, he no doubt owed his seat there to his brother Ralph, who had influence in the borough. In 1601, after Ralph’s death, Hare probably obtained his seat at West Looe through the influence of Sir Robert Cecil. Hare was an active MP, whose committee work, not surprisingly, was mostly of a legal nature. During his second Parliament he was appointed to the committees concerning informers (9 Dec. 1584), libellers (9 Feb. 1585), tellers and receivers (10 Mar.), malt (16 Mar.), and apprentices (23 Mar.). He was presumably the ‘Mr. Hare’ who was appointed to the two committees concerning the continuation of statutes on 17 Mar. and 20 Mar. 1587. (The references in the 1584 and 1586 Parliaments to the attorney of the court of wards have been attributed to Richard Kingsmill). In 1589, it was he who introduced (14 Feb.) the famous bill against purveyors, and next day he was appointed to its committee. On 27 Feb. he was put on the committee to discuss the Queen’s dislike of the bill. It is a mark of the growing independence of the Commons that Hare was one of four Members finally appointed to deal with the abuses, which the courtier Heneage admitted were ‘very many and foul’. Hare’s other committees in 1589 concerned a private bill for Thomas Hanford (21 Feb.), forestallers (5 Mar.), the continuation of certain statutes (20 Mar.), and urging the declaration of war against Spain (29 Mar.).

During the Parliament of 1593 he was appointed to three subsidy committees (26, 28 Feb., 1 Mar.). He also reported the progress of a private bill on 14 Mar. and served on a committee concerning the perfecting of certain statutes appointed on 28 Mar. It seems also that Hare made a speech in the 1593 Parliament which is not mentioned in the extant records of the House. In a letter to Sir Robert Cecil (dated 21 Nov. 1597), he speaks of

some out of that House, who out of old ill-affection to me will be glad to blow this coal, besides other great personages at court, for speaking my conscience in the last Parliament against their purpose.

The letter does not disclose either the subject of the speech or the date on which it was made. Hare wrote the letter in an attempt to restore himself to Cecil’s favour, after a speech made by him in the House concerning the subsidy (probably on 15 Nov. 1597):

I grieve that by my late speech in Parliament you have conceived mislike of me. ... Your honour seemeth persuaded that I did deny that any aid at all should be given to her Majesty. This thing was far from my thought, albeit I did wish satisfaction to her Majesty otherwise. It may please you to remember that after divers opinions given, Sir Edward Hoby, whose speech first moved me to speak, said he thought three subsidies and six fifteens too little and rather advised some yearly payment to be made during her Majesty’s life, or, at the least, four subsidies and eight fifteens, and therewith that the gentlemen in all countries should specially bear it. The diversity of these opinions and the seeking of these new and further payments made me think of the course taken the last Parliament that when we had in like sort then travailed and concluded amongst ourselves to grant two subsidies and four fifteens, their lordships above took it unkindly that we did not first in a matter of so great purport confer with them, wherewith, notwithstanding our former resolution, they drew us to three subsidies and six fifteens, whereby also we lost part of our thanks. The fear of like course at this time made me mislike to assent unto any certain payment until their lordships were first conferred with, lest our conclusion should bring like effect to the former, and your honour, I doubt not, remembreth this was plainly opened by me in the last part of my speech. Besides, the continuance of the people’s great love was a chief thing I aimed at and spake of, the impeachment whereof I feared if this new course should take place respecting the many payments and charges otherwise in the country. This was the worst I spake or meant. My speech touching the small hospitality of the nobles in all countries was in truth free of all unreverent thoughts, and was wholly to show that the gentry thereby, amongst many other things, did by their housekeeping abide the greater charge, and consequently deserve greater favour.

He was appointed to a committee concerning poor relief on 22 Nov. 1597, but interestingly enough there is no record of his being named to the subsidy committee for this Parliament. In the next, of 1601, he spoke on a point of procedure (18 Dec.) and was appointed to committees concerning privilege (31 Oct.) and the payment of tithes in the city of Norwich (27 Nov.). Hare continued his ‘undiscreet behaviour’ in the Parliament of 1604, when the Speaker referred to him as ‘an unconsiderate firebrand’.4In his later years, Hare seems to have given some time to the affairs of Hertfordshire, where he owned the manor of Totteridge. In April 1610 he was granted £20 for the repair of the road between Highgate and Barnet. In his will, made on 16 Dec. 1612, Hare asked for burial in the Temple church in the same grave as his first wife, ‘in decent manner’, but ‘without foolish pomp’. Among his bequests were £10 to the poor of Totteridge, £5 to those of St. Dunstan’s parish, ‘where my London house is’, and £100 to ‘my pretty godson, John Hare’, son of Sir Ralph Hare. He left a gold ring apiece to his clerks in the office of the clerk of the court of wards, except the four living with him, who were to have £10 each; and he asked his eldest son Nicholas to allow the clerks to continue in their posts. To his nephew Hugh Audley, and to Richard Chamberlain ‘my honest clerk and friend’, who had held the reversion of the clerk’s office since 1604 and understood its duties, he left £20 apiece, asking them to help his son in his responsibilities. The house and farm at Totteridge he left to his bailiff Richard Hare, for life, and he gave his wife a life interest in his London house with a £100 annuity, entrusting her with the upbringing of their little son, and appointing her joint executrix with his own brother Hugh.5

Hare died 8 June 1613. His widow married Henry Montagu, later 1st Earl of Manchester. The clerkship of the court of wards passed to his son Nicholas, who held it until 1618.6

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: J.E.M.


  • 1. PCC 5 Morrison, 66 Capell; Clutterbuck, Herts. iii. 429, 454; Vis Esex (Harl. Soc. xiii), 2; Chauncy, Herts. ii. 2; G. A. Carthew, Hundred of Launditch, ii. 657-8.
  • 2. Cal. I. T. Recs. i. 366, 379; Masters of Bench I. Temple, 18; H. E. Bell, Ct. of Wards and Liveries, 26-27, 90.
  • 3. Vis. Essex; Vis. Herts. (Harl. Soc. xxii), 167; PCC 5 Chayre; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 672; Bell, 26-28; Lansd. 54, f. 160.
  • 4. D’Ewes, 337, 353, 368, 372, 416, 417, 432, 433, 436, 440, 443, 448, 449, 454, 474, 478, 481, 500, 511, 561, 622, 654; HMC Hatfield, vii. 489; Townshend, Hist. Colls. 19, 23, 27, 74, 309; CSP Dom. 1603-10, pp. 289, 292.
  • 5. CSP Dom. 1603-10, pp. 152, 604; Bell, 28-29 et passim; J. Hurstfield, Queen’s Wards, 228-9, 284; PCC 66 Capell.
  • 6. C142/343/181; Bell, 28; CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 520.