HARE, Ralph (c.1566-1623), of Stow Bardolph, Norf.

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. c.1566, s. of Richard Hare of Stow Bardolph, by Elizabeth, da. of Richard Barnes. educ. Trinity Coll. Camb, 1584; I. Temple 1584, called 1597. m. (1) Mary, da. of Sir Edward Holmeden of London, 1s; (2) Anne, da. of John Crouch of Corneybury, Herts., wid. of Robert Wynchell, painter-stainer, and of Richard Chamberlain, 1da. KB 1603.

Offices Held

Jt. clerk of the Crown (with David Waterhouse) Queen’s bench 1596, jt. coroner (with Waterhouse) and attorney, Queen’s bench 1597; bencher, I. Temple 1605; coroner, Norf. 1604, sheriff 1605-6, j.p. by 1608.


Like his uncles Hugh, John and Nicholas, Hare was an Inner Temple lawyer. In 1601 John was returned for West Looe, probably through Sir Robert Cecil’s influence with the local gentry. John Hare may have introduced his nephew to Cecil, which would explain the nephew’s return for St. Mawes.

In 1604 Hare obtained a grant of the return and execution of writs and process in Clackclose hundred, Norfolk, as well as becoming coroner, and henceforth he lived as a country gentleman. Possibly—the evidence is obscure—he inherited much of the Norfolk property of his uncle, Ralph Hare of Stow Bardolph, who died in the spring of 1601. He was certainly in possession of much of the family property in Stow Bardolph, Snetterton and elsewhere in the county. In 1620, together with his cousin Hugh, later 1st Baron Coleraine [I], he is said by John Chamberlain to have inherited £60,000 from his uncle Hugh Hare, the money-lender. He was certainly a wealthy man when he died three years later. His financial dealings are as obscure as those of some of his relatives, but presumably, or at least occasionally, he acted as a moneylender. He had business connexions, the nature of which are not apparent, with Christopher Goodwin, messenger of the court of wards, and with other members of the Goodwin family.

In 1603 Hare erected six almshouses in Stow Bardolph. He subsequently appointed his friends Thomas Fanshaw II and (Sir) Henry Spelman, and their heirs, as trustees of certain pasture lands, out of the profits of which 12d. a week was to be paid to each person living in the almshouses. Any residue was to go to the poor of the district. In his will, he also left £30 to the poor of Clackclose and £20 to those of Snetterton. By deed, dated 30 Apr. 1623, he gave to St. John’s College, Cambridge, the glebelands and impropriate rectory of Marham, Norfolk, with the advowson of the vicarage there, to be employed towards the erection of a library and the foundation of 30 exhibitions for poor scholars of the college. His son John, knighted in 1617, married the daughter of Sir Thomas Coventry, attorney-general and later lord keeper. Hare, who seems to have been on close and friendly terms with Coventry, transferred some lands to him, including the manor of Harpham, Norfolk, as part of the marriage contract.

Hare died in August 1623, and his will, made as Feb. of that year, was proved 8 July 1625. Believing himself to be ‘one of the elect’, he put his trust in Jesus Christ, hoping to ‘live in His fear, die in His favour, and afterwards live eternally with Him’. He asked to be buried at the east end of the chapel in Stow Bardolph, and commending his wife Dame Anne for her mild behaviour and gentle mind, he entrusted her to the care of his children and Sir Thomas Coventry. Eighteen months after Hare’s death she married Edward Montagu II of Boughton, Northamptonshire, 1st Baron Montagu. His many godchildren each received a piece of plate and his servants were adequately provided for. The principal legatee, his son and heir John, was appointed executor together with Spelman and Fanshawe.

Vis. Norf. (Norf. Rec. Soc. iv), 93; G. A. Carthew, Hundred of Launditch, ii. 657-8; F. Blomefield, Norf. i. 414; vii. 442 et passim; Clutterbuck, Herts. iii. 429; A. H. Smith thesis, 393; CSP Dom. 1595-7, pp. 257, 461; 1603-10, p. 101; PCC 78 Clarke, 42 Woodhall; Chamberlain Letters ed. McClure, ii. 293.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: W.J.J.