Robert Hare ca.1530-1611

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Robert HARE ca.1530-1611

Biographical Note

Son of Sir Nicholas Hare, Master of the Rolls. Matriculated at Gonville Hall, Cambridge 1545, but did not graduate; admitted to the Inner Temple, 1548. Probably travelled on the continent around 1550, and in the 1560s. In the service of William Paulet, Marquis of Winchester by 1558, on whose nomination he became clerk of the pells in 1560. MP for Dunwich 1563. He resigned from public office around 1570, possibly for religious reasons (he was a Roman Catholic whose name appears on various lists of recusants), and thereafter became much occupied with antiquarian interests. He made an important collection of transcripts of historical documents relating to Cambridge (presented to the University in 1590). Although he was acquainted with most of the other well-known historical scholars of the time like Arthur Agarde and John Stow, he was not a member of the Society of Antiquaries.


Hare amassed a library of at least 50 medieval manuscripts and at least 100 printed books. Acquisition dates show that he was collecting throughout his lifetime, from the mid 16th century into the early 17th. The manuscripts are miscellaneous in both subject matter and provenance and Andrew Watson detected “no signs of … pattern [but rather] of an interest in acquiring the manuscripts for their own sake”. The printed books, mostly 16th-century imprints from the second half of the century with a sprinkling of earlier material, cover a typical range of subjects and are particularly focused on theology and history. His will gave directions for his printed books to be sold, with the proceeds divided among his servants, but he seems to have disposed of much of his collection before his death. He gave many manuscripts and printed books to Trinity Hall, Cambridge in or after 1604, where the largest concentration of Hare books remains today, but over 20 manuscripts and numerous printed books from his collection survive in various other libraries. Examples (outside Trinity Hall): Cambridge UL MS, Syn.8.56.13, Pet.A.4.8; BL MS Lansdowne 390, MS Egerton 826, 698.d.1; Bodleian MS Laud Misc.684, 4to.Z.74.Jur.

Characteristic Markings

Typically inscribed his books “Roberti Hare” or “Liber Roberti Hare”, sometimes adding a date or source of acquisition.