HARE, John (c.1546-1613), of the Inner Temple, Fleet Street, London and Totteridge, Herts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

b. c.1546,1 7th/8th s. of John Hare (d.1565), Mercer of London and Stow Bardolph, Norf. and Dorothy Hynde,2 bro. of Hugh† and Ralph†. educ. Clifford’s Inn; I. Temple 1571, called by 1580.3 m. (1) by 1580, Luce (bur. 9 Nov. 1601), da. of Francis Barley of Bibsworth Hall, Kimpton, Herts. 1s.;4 (2) Margaret, da. of John Crouch of Corneybury, Herts., wid. of Allen Elwyn (bur. 12 Jan. 1602), Leatherseller of St. Lawrence Jewry, London, 1s.5 d. 25/26 May 1613.6 sig. John Hare.

Offices Held

Common att., Ct. of Wards 1580-90, clerk (jt.) 1590-1604, (sole) 1604-d.;7 bencher, I. Temple 1592-d., treas. 1605-6.8

J.p. Herts. 1608-d.;9 commr. subsidy, Herts. 1608, aid Mdx. 1609;10 gov. Queen Elizabeth sch., Barnet, Herts. 1610-d.11


Hare joined three brothers at the Inner Temple in 1571, and was probably called to the bar before 1580, when his first wife’s relative, William Tooke the younger, resigned one of the attorneyships in the Court of Wards in his favour.12 Hare and his brother Hugh† were jointly appointed clerk of the Wards in 1590, but it was Hare who did the work, transforming the Court’s administration, keeping a systematic index of wardships and attempting to improve debt collection procedures. He also built a clerks’ office at the Inner Temple, which continued in use until the Court’s abolition in 1646.13 His income from this post was doubtless substantial, as he and his brother Hugh purchased five manors in the Norfolk fens from the Howard family, and also a house and 125 acres in Totteridge, Hertfordshire, which Hare made his country seat.14

Hare sat in six Elizabethan parliaments as burgess for Horsham on the interest of his brother Ralph, following whose death he was returned for West Looe, probably at the behest of Sir Robert Cecil†, his superior as master of the Wards; the latter also interceded with Lord William Howard to find him a seat at Morpeth in 1604.15 While not prominent in the Elizabethan Commons, Hare was not afraid to become involved in controversial debates: in 1589 he revived the purveyance bill, which had been vetoed in 1587. His measure was stopped in the Lords at the queen’s command, and thereafter he was one of those consulted by the Privy Council about the reform of purveyance. Moreover, in the supply debate of November 1597, Hare objected to a motion by Sir Edward Hoby, who appeared to him to be calling for annual subsidies. Cecil, however, construed this speech as outright opposition to a subsidy grant, whereupon Hare was obliged to explain himself.16

The purveyance question resurfaced on the first day of business in the 1604 session, when Sir Robert Wroth I, a participant in the debates of 1589, included the topic in the quasi-official list of reforms he tabled in the House. Hare was included on the committee to consider this motion (23 Mar.), and was one of four lawyers appointed to consider purveyance legislation a few days later (26 March).17 The resulting draft challenged the Elizabethan embargo on Household legislation, and was therefore replaced by a less contentious grievance petition, which Hare reported to the House on 27 Apr., and read to the king at an audience on the following day. Despite the Household officials’ trenchant defence of their actions, James proved amenable to an investigation, and (as in 1589) advised MPs to consult the Lords about suitable remedies. Hare reported from a joint conference on the subject on 7 May, when he was also appointed to help prepare for the next. At this second conference the Lords proposed a national composition for purveyance at an annual rate of £50,000. Hare suggested a much lower rate of £20,000 a year on 11 May, but offered a subsidy as an incentive; the question was still unresolved when he reported from the steering committee on 23 May. When Sir George More tabled a bill for a rival scheme to implement a general composition on 2 June, Hare moved that the offer of supply be raised to two subsidies. However, no consensus emerged during a lengthy debate, and the entire question was postponed until the next session.18

Hare lost no time in reviving the purveyance debate with a ‘good comely speech’ on 24 Jan. 1606, when he reprised the debates of the previous session and moved either to approach the Lords for answer to the grievances against purveyors or to proceed by bill; the House chose the latter option. Hare was the second MP named to the bill committee, and was subsequently appointed its chairman (30 Jan.; 5 February).19 The draft went much further than the composition proposals mooted in the previous session: it subjected purveyors to the jurisdiction of the Common Law, and proposed to make them liable to pay the full market price rather than the customary fixed prices which had been devalued by a century of inflation.20 It guaranteed conflict with the Lords, in which chamber Cecil, now earl of Salisbury, planned to revive the composition scheme. The reasons for Hare’s decision to cross both his superior and the Board of Greencloth remain obscure, although it is possible that he sought to distract attention from two other key issues on the parliamentary agenda during the 1605-6 session: abolition of wardship, an obvious threat to his main source of income, and the Union, an issue which aroused widespread hostility among the common lawyers in the Lower House.

Hare’s intentions were quickly challenged by Sir Robert Johnson, another of Salisbury’s associates, who tabled a bill to reform abuses while preserving the purveyors’ discounted prices, but this was ignored. On 11 Feb., when the king advised the Commons to drop Hare’s bill and open negotiations with the Lords for a composition, Hare sprang to his feet and persuaded the House to proceed by bill and conference concurrently. He reported his bill two days later, and at a conference with the Lords on the following day he launched a blistering attack, comparing purveyors to the biblical plague of frogs, and calling for a revival of ancient purveyance statutes.21 Although Salisbury, who replied on behalf of the Lords, accepted the substance of the Commons’ complaints against purveyors, he was clearly alarmed by the vehemence of Hare’s rhetoric, warning ‘that the Lords did not expect any to speak as the tribunes of the people’. Hare excused himself on the grounds that he was merely acting as messenger, but gave further offence by declining to leave the rough copy of his bill with the Lords. Later that afternoon, Speaker Phelips sent Salisbury an apology for ‘the most undiscreet behaviour of an unconsiderate [sic] firebrand’, and claimed that Hare had exceeded the brief he had been given by the House to lay the bill aside until the Lords came up with a proposal for composition.22 Salisbury made a formal complaint about Hare at the next joint conference on 19 Feb., but Hare was immediately cleared of any misconduct, a decision which was communicated to the Lords at a conference on 27 February.23

Undaunted by this controversy, Hare took charge of preparations for the conference of 19 Feb., at which the Commons presented detailed grievances about the excesses of purveyors.24 Salisbury used the occasion to make it clear that the Lords would not accept the Commons’ bill, but six days later Hare reported that the Commons’ committee had rejected composition because the purveyors’ claim to pre-emption was unenforceable at law. Speaker Phelips managed to prevent the composition proposals being voted down by neglecting to hold a vote, but was unable to halt the progress of Hare’s bill, which the House was almost unanimous in deciding to have reported immediately. Hare, however, had not yet perfected his draft, and therefore did not bring it in until the following morning. The Lords subsequently obtained a further conference, at which Salisbury again refused to accept Hare’s bill.25 The Commons debated the issue at length on 5-7 Mar., during which time Hare attempted to break the impasse by suggesting that ‘some other requital might be offered to His Majesty’. This led some of his colleagues to offer to increase the two subsidies already granted by the House. After the failure of a royal attempt to reach a compromise, the Privy Council decided to explore this possibility.26 Consequently, following the third reading of the purveyance bill on 18 Mar., the Commons voted to increase supply, although the initial motion passed only by the narrowest possible margin: 140 votes to 139.27 The way now seemed clear for Hare’s bill to proceed, but on 11 Apr. the Lords buried it under a mountain of objections at another conference, whose proceedings Hare reported the following day. On 14 Apr. he was ordered to help search for precedents for use against the Lords, but at a conference the following day the judges refused to be swayed and Hare’s bill was subsequently left to sleep.28

As an official of the Court of Wards, Hare could hardly have avoided involvement in the parliamentary debates on wardship. On 16 May 1604 he was one those who successfully pressed for the rejection of a motion to link composition for wardship with that for purveyance, and was named to a committee to draft a petition on the subject. Six days later he was named to attend a conference with the Lords on wardship. At about the same time, however, he apparently petitioned Cecil on behalf of the Wards’ officials, claiming that the abolition of wardship and related dues would lose the Crown £120,000 a year, far more than the Commons could be expected to offer as composition. This petition may have played a significant role in persuading Cecil to reject the composition proposals on 26 May.29 On 15 Feb. 1610 Salisbury, now lord treasurer, revived the offer to compound for both wardship and purveyance as part of the Great Contract. Hare played no recorded part in the extensive debates which ensued, but Salisbury commended his efforts on 19 July; he may have drafted a wardship bill which proposed to introduce a temporary rate on freehold lands to buy out the interests of the officers of the court.30

Hare did not express an opinion on any of the detailed legislative proposals for the Union laid before the House in the 1606-7 session, but he was clearly hostile to the project in principle. He was named to the committee to consider Bishop Thornborough’s riposte to the Commons’ objections to the change of name (1 June 1604), and in early December 1606, when Sir William Maurice* called for a bill to change the royal title to king of Great Britain Hare responded ‘with a bitter word against our neighbours, calling them the beggarly Scots, for which he is in danger to be shrewdly hunted’; no such rebuke appears to have been forthcoming.31 Six months later, during the debate on the king’s request for a speedy decision on the Union bills then under consideration, Hare, to the annoyance of many, attempted to divert the House into a futile debate on freedom of speech.32

Hare showed less interest in other major issues in Parliament. He made no recorded contribution to the impositions’ debates, although on 14 May 1610 he chaired a tumultuous session of the grievances committee about the Speaker’s right to deliver the king’s command to cease discussion of this issue.33 He was hardly any more active in the area of recusancy legislation. Named to the committee for the bill tabled on the day the Gunpowder Plot was discovered (6 Nov. 1605) and that for a further draft on 27 Mar. 1606, he was also included on a committee appointed to confer with the Lords on the subject (3 Feb. 1606).34 His involvement in ecclesiastical affairs was confined to nominations to attend two joint conferences (10 Apr. 1606; 5 July 1610) and the committee for the episcopal leases bill (25 Apr. 1610), a measure usually regarded as puritan in nature.35 The only item of moral legislation with which Hare can be connected was the bill to restrict tippling, which he recommended should be made a probationer at its third reading on 5 June 1604; it was probably for this reason that he was included on the committee at the bill’s second reading in the next session (11 Feb. 1606).36

Like most of the active lawyers in the House, Hare was named to several dozen miscellaneous bill committees. How far he was interested in any of these bills is a matter for conjecture, as the mere fact of a nomination is not necessarily significant, but in some cases at least Hare is known to have played an active role. He reported bills to naturalize the London brewer James Desmaistres (30 Apr. 1606) and to drain the Norfolk fens (19 Apr. 1610), an area where he and other members of his family held substantial estates. On 11 May 1610 he also moved to reinforce the committee for the highways’ bill, in which he may have been interested because the Great North Road lay close to his Hertfordshire estate. He spoke at the third reading of the bill to allow Trinity College, Cambridge and Sir Thomas Monson* to exchange lands, apparently in support of the measure.37 He may also have taken an interest in the bills to confirm the title to Cheshunt vicarage, Hertfordshire (12 Dec. 1606) and the exchange of Theobalds for Hatfield House (30 May 1607), both of which measures were introduced for Salisbury’s benefit.38

Surprisingly, Hare’s outspoken stance on purveyance did not affect his career, although he can have had little expectation of further preferment during James’s reign; nor can he have won many friends at Court with his remarks about the Scots: in January 1610 the king bitterly recalled that Hare’s speech on purveyance at the conference of 14 Feb. 1606 had ‘entered into a foolish comparison, as if the times before me were golden, and these times iron’. Salisbury, who could doubtless have secured his subordinate’s dismissal on real or imagined charges had he so desired, probably reprieved Hare because of his key role in the administration of the Court of Wards. James, in one of his more fanciful outbursts, speculated that there had been some collusion between the two men at the purveyance conference of 14 Feb. 1606, claiming that Salisbury had ‘gently remembered rather than checked’ Hare for his ill-judged remarks.39

Hare attended his last meeting of the Inner Temple bench on 11 Oct. 1612.40 In his will of 16 Dec. his wife secured an annuity of £100 and a life interest in his London house. He also left small sums to his under-clerks, and asked his deputies Hugh Audley and Richard Chamberlain to assist his son Nicholas in executing the office after his death.41 Early in 1613 he settled the estates that he and his brother Hugh had purchased jointly, assigning his main estates to his wife during her widowhood, to pay off his debts and raise his children. The reversion went to his brother Hugh for life, then to his sons Nicholas and Hugh.42

Hare died on 26 May 1613. His eldest son, Nicholas died without heirs in 1618, whereupon the clerkship of the Wards passed to Audley and Chamberlain, who, after a brief dispute with Hare’s widow, retained the use of Hare’s office in the Temple.43 Hare’s heir apparently died abroad, but his second son Hugh inherited £30,000 when his uncle (also named Hugh) died in March 1620, and secured possession of the family estates a few weeks later, when his mother married Lord Chief Justice Sir Henry Montagu*.44 He bought an Irish peerage in 1625, and his son Henry, 2nd Baron Coleraine, became the next member of the family to sit in Parliament, representing Old Sarum in the second Exclusion Parliament of 1679.45

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Simon Healy


  • 1. H. Chauncy, Historical Antiq. Herts. ii. 3.
  • 2. C142/141/30.
  • 3. I. Temple database of admiss.
  • 4. CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 672; Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiii), 2; Temple Church (Harl. Soc. reg. n.s. i), 132; GL, ms 10342, f. 193b; PROB 11/122, f. 3.
  • 5. R. Clutterbuck, Herts. iii. 429; PROB 11/99, ff. 164-5; 11/122, f. 3; St. Lawrence Jewry (Harl. Soc. reg. lxx), 131.
  • 6. C142/343/181. Chauncy, ii. 3 gives the date of Hare’s death as 8 Kalend[ae] June, i.e. 25 May.
  • 7. CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 672; H.E. Bell, Ct. of Wards, 26-7.
  • 8. CITR, i. 379; ii. 12.
  • 9. Cal. Assize Recs. Herts. Indictments Jas. I ed. J.S. Cockburn, 51, 112.
  • 10. SP14/31/1; 14/43/107.
  • 11. C.L. Tripp, Queen Elizabeth’s G.S. Barnet, 235.
  • 12. VCH Herts. (Harl. Soc. xxii), 99; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 672; Bell, 24.
  • 13. Bell, 26, 59 n. 2, 64-5, 82, 172; WARD 9/348; CITR, i. 366; ii. 115.
  • 14. C142/343/181.
  • 15. H.V. Jones ‘Jnl. of Levinus Munck’, EHR, lxviii, 250.
  • 16. D. Dean, Lawmaking and Soc. in Late Elizabethan Eng. 80-3; P. Croft, ‘Parl. Purveyance and the City of London’, PH, iv. 9-10; HMC Hatfield, vii. 489.
  • 17. CJ, i. 151a, 153b.
  • 18. Ibid. 187-8, 190-3, 202a, 207a 211b, 973-5, 978a, 984-5; Croft, 13-19. Croft errs in stating that a further motion of 29 June was made by Hare; it was moved by [?Lawrence] Hyde: CJ, i. 249a.
  • 19. Bowyer Diary, 6; CJ, i. 259a, 261b, 264a.
  • 20. Croft, 23-4; E. Lindquist, ‘Bills against Purveyors’, PH, iv. 35-41; Wilbraham Jnl. ed. H.M. Scott (Cam. Misc. x), 76.
  • 21. Bowyer Diary, 17, 32-4, 39-41; CJ, i. 267b; Croft, 24-5.
  • 22. Bowyer Diary, 38-9, n. 3, 41-2, 46; CJ, i. 269a.
  • 23. CJ, i. 272a, 273, 275b; Bowyer Diary, 47-8, 50-3.
  • 24. CJ, i. 270.
  • 25. Ibid. 274; Bowyer Diary, 53-5; Croft, 25-6.
  • 26. CJ, i. 278-9; Bowyer Diary, 62; HMC Hatfield, xviii. 69; Croft, 26-7.
  • 27. Croft, 27-9; CJ, i. 283b, 286; Bowyer Diary, 77.
  • 28. CJ, i. 297b, 298a; Bowyer Diary, 120-3; Wilbraham Jnl. 83-6; Croft, 29-30.
  • 29. CJ, i. 211b, 222b, 230b, 973; R.C. Munden, ‘King, Commons and Reform, 1603-4’, in Faction and Parl. ed. K. Sharpe, 61-2; P. Croft, ‘Wardship in the Parl. of 1604’, PH, ii. 42-5, 47 n. 15.
  • 30. CJ, i. 393b; Procs. 1610 ed. E.R. Foster, ii. 288; Bell, 145.
  • 31. CJ, i. 230a; Munden, 62; Carleton to Chamberlain ed. M. Lee, 93-4.
  • 32. CJ, i. 1042b; Bowyer Diary, 377; W. Notestein, House of Commons, 1604-10, pp. 249-52.
  • 33. Procs. 1610, ii. 86-92.
  • 34. CJ, i. 257a, 263a, 290b.
  • 35. Ibid. 296b, 421a, 446b.
  • 36. Ibid. 266b, 986a.
  • 37. Ibid. 302b, 419a, 427a, 988a; CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 604.
  • 38. CJ, i. 330a, 377a.
  • 39. Bowyer Diary, 38 n. 3, 39-40; Procs. 1610, i. 278; ‘Yelverton’s Narrative’, Archaeologia, xv. 46.
  • 40. CITR, ii. 68.
  • 41. PROB 11/122, ff. 2v-3.
  • 42. C142/343/181.
  • 43. Bell, 28-9, 172; Carleton to Chamberlain, 168; CITR, ii. 113.
  • 44. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 293.
  • 45. CP (Coleraine); HP Commons 1660-90 (Henry Hare).