HARE, Sir John (1603-1637), of Stow Bardolph, Norf.

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. 13 Oct 1603,1 o.s. of Sir Ralph Hare† of Stow Bardolph and his 1st w. Mary, da. of Sir Edward Holmden, alderman of London. m. settlement 18 Nov. 1620,2 Elizabeth (d.1644), da. of Sir Thomas Coventry* of Croome d’Abitot, Worcs., att.-gen. and ld. kpr., 5s. 7da. kntd. 4 Dec. 1617;3 suc. gt. uncle 1620,4 fa. 1623.5 d. 4 Nov. 1637.6 sig. John Hare.

Offices Held

Commr. game, Norf. 1622;7 j.p. Norf. and I. of Ely, Cambs. 1624-d.;8 commr. sewers, Norf. 1625-d., R. Gleane, Lincs. 1629, hundreds of Freebridge and Lynn, Norf. 1629, seabreaches Norf. 1625, oyer and terminer, Norf. and Suff. 1626-31, Cambs. Norf. and Suff. 1632-5, Norf. circ. 1636-7;9 dep. lt. Norf. 1626-d.,10 commr. Forced Loan 1626-7,11 Admty. causes 1627,12 piracy 1627,13 impressment of mariners and soldiers 1627,14 charitable uses 1627,15 1629-d.,16 freeman, King’s Lynn, Norf. 1628;17 commr. subsidy, Norf. 1628,18 inquiry, Bury St. Edmund’s canal, Suff. 1636.19


Hare belonged to an old Suffolk family, which in the sixteenth century acquired ‘extensive tracts of bleak fenland’ and ex-monastic estates around Stow Bardolph in west Norfolk.20 His great-great-uncle, Sir Nicholas Hare, served as Speaker of the Commons in 1539-40 and as master of the rolls and lord keeper to Mary. Hare’s great-uncle Nicholas†, a successful lawyer, reportedly spent £40,000 on building a substantial house at Stow Bardolph, which eventually descended to Hare’s father, Sir Ralph.21 The latter described himself in his will as one of the elect and ‘a most miserable and vile sinner’. However, his godly beliefs, which Hare is not known to have inherited, did not preclude him from acting as godfather to a member of the Catholic Bedingfield family.22

In 1620 Hare’s great-uncle, Hugh Hare†, a bencher of the Inner Temple, died without issue, leaving an enormous fortune to be divided between Hare and his cousin, Hugh, who was later ennobled as an Irish peer.23 John Chamberlain speculated that Hugh’s estate was worth over £60,000, and Hare is known from his own accounts to have received over £20,000 in cash alone.24 The death of Hare’s father in 1623 served to swell Hare’s personal fortune still further, as he inherited Stow Bardolph and all the other Hare properties. Hare was also left plate and pewter worth £520, along with 11 full kits of armour for horsemen and 13 for foot soldiers.25 The lands that Hare now possessed gave him an annual income from rents in excess of £4,000, making him one of the wealthiest members of the East Anglian gentry.26

Throughout his life Hare was an enthusiastic and hard-working local administrator. He served on his first commission (for the preservation of game) at the age of 18, and became a magistrate two years later. An active sewer commissioner and diligent deputy lieutenant, he kept a notebook detailing his activities both on the bench and in the militia.27 In 1627 he made strenuous efforts to collect the Forced Loan in full in the western division of Norfolk, and by July 1627 only £51 3s. 4d. remained unpaid out of the £1,369 that was owed.28

Hare was elected to his first Parliament in 1625, when he was returned for the Buckinghamshire borough of Aylesbury. His connection with Aylesbury is unknown, nor did he play any recorded part in the Commons. In 1626 he was elected for the Worcestershire borough of Evesham, presumably on the interest of his father-in-law, the lord keeper, Sir Thomas Coventry, whose main residence at Croome d’Abitot was about 10 miles from Evesham. This time Hare was appointed to two committees, both of which concerned Norfolk. The first measure related to the estates of Sir Henry Clere (4 May), while the second (6 May) dealt with Feltwell manor, which lay only 10 miles from Stow.29 On 23 May he was granted leave of absence until the end of the following week, but no reason was specified.30

It was not until 1628 that Hare came in for a Norfolk seat. He was chosen at King’s Lynn, a borough which he often visited in his capacity as a sewer commissioner and deputy-lieutenant. Moreover, his residence at Stow Bardolph was only seven miles south of the town. The corporation perhaps considered that the son-in-law of the lord keeper would be well placed to safeguard their interests, and in the following year Hare received a hogshead of ‘good sack’.31 Although elected on 25 Feb. 1628, Hare did not take the freeman’s oath in Lynn until 1 Mar., by which time the corporation had sealed the election indenture.32 He was named to only one committee, a joint conference with the Lords to present a general petition to the king for a fast (21 March).33 From his lodgings at Ely House, London, Hare wrote to his friend and fellow deputy lieutenant, Framlingham Gawdy*, with news of the Parliament:

Sir, this Parliament produces as yet nothing, save only the privilege of the subjects by raising of loans by commission, and imprisoning their persons for not lending the same. This has taken up the whole dispute hitherto, and as yet is not resolved of by the House. We have all need to pray for the happy success of this Parliament and, to that end and others of state, we have petitioned a day for fasting and prayer, which is granted so by the king.

Hare also enclosed a book listing the names of all the Commons’ Members and explained that a petition sent by Gawdy’s neighbour had not been approved by lord keeper Coventry, though Hare himself had signed it.34 On 27 May Hare was again granted leave of absence for unspecified reasons.35

On 20 Dec. 1635 Hare drafted his will, in which he named his father-in-law, Lord Coventry, as his executor. Most of his estate was to descend to his eldest son, Ralph, who was still a minor, but his five younger sons were all settled with manors of their own and marriage portions amounting to £17,200 were provided for his seven daughters. Hare requested that Coventry hold the wardships of his children until Ralph had attained his majority. Gold rings worth £2 each were given to many people, including Sir Roger Townshend*, Sir Hamon L’Estrange*, Sir Henry Spelman*, Sir Robert Bell*, Sir Henry Bedingfield*, (Sir) Edmund Moundeford*, Lord Montagu, William Doughty* and Thomas Gurlyn*. Hare ordered that every year the accounts of the estate, once certified as accurate, were to be kept in the Norwich corporation’s safe, for which favour the city was to receive a gilt cup worth £20. Hare then concluded his will: ‘I shut up my worldly business giving thanks to God for the large measure of his bounty bestowed upon me in this life’.36 At his death in November 1637, Hare had £1,880 19s. 9d. in cash in an iron chest and was owed £1,230, of which £200 was due from Sir Hamon L’ Estrange.37 Hare was buried in the chapel of Stow Bardolph church. His eldest son was created a baronet in 1641, represented Norfolk in 1654 and 1656 and sat for King’s Lynn and Norfolk after the Restoration.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Chris Kyle


  • 1. C142/407/89.
  • 2. Norf. RO, Hare 2342; Hare 2290.
  • 3. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 170.
  • 4. Norf. RO, Hare 5608.
  • 5. Ibid. Hare 5564; F. Blomefield, Hist. Norf. vii. 442.
  • 6. C142/559/150.
  • 7. CSP Dom. 1619-23, p. 403.
  • 8. C231/4, f. 172.
  • 9. C181/3, ff. 189v, 205, 250v, 257v; 181/4, ff. 20, 22, 60, 69v, 99, 109v, 119, 147, 165, 196v; 181/5, ff. 46v, 72v; C231/5, f. 16.
  • 10. SP16/33/26; W. Rye, Norf. State Pprs. 6.
  • 11. Rye, 48; T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 144.
  • 12. HCA 1/32/1, f. 4v.
  • 13. C181/3, f. 236v.
  • 14. Rye, 85.
  • 15. Blomefield, vi. 204.
  • 16. C192/1, unfol.
  • 17. Norf. RO (King’s Lynn), KL/C7/9, f. 282.
  • 18. Norf. RO, Hare 6366, p. 144.
  • 19. PC2/45, p. 435.
  • 20. A.H. Smith, County and Court, 54.
  • 21. Blomefield, vii. 441-2.
  • 22. Norf. RO, Hare 5625.
  • 23. Norf. RO, Hare 5608.
  • 24. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 293; Norf. RO, Hare 5609.
  • 25. Norf. RO, Hare 5626.
  • 26. Ibid. Hare 6367/2.
  • 27. Rye, passim; Norf. RO, Hare 5121, 5139.
  • 28. R. Cust, Forced Loan, 138-9.
  • 29. Procs. 1626, iii. 155, 180.
  • 30. Ibid. 311.
  • 31. Norf. RO (King’s Lynn), KL/C7/8, ff. 304v.
  • 32. Ibid. ff. 281v-2.
  • 33. CD 1628, ii. 42
  • 34. Procs. 1628, vi. 204.
  • 35. CD 1628, iii. 623.
  • 36. Norf. RO, Hare 5633.
  • 37. Ibid. Hare 5634.