Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hare, Nicholas

HARE, Sir NICHOLAS (d. 1557), judge, was eldest son of John Hare of Homersfield, Suffolk, by Elizabeth Fortescue, his wife. His family was an ancient one, and traced its descent for twelve generations. Hare read for a time at Cambridge, probably at Gonville Hall, and afterwards became a member of the Inner Temple, where he was autumn reader in 1532, and of which he was subsequently a bencher, and one of the governors from 1538 until his death. He was Imighted on 18 Oct. 1537, and appointed one of the masters of requests the same year. He was returned to parliament for Downton, Wiltshire, in 1529. In 1530 he was retained on behalf of Wolsey in the proceedings against him under the statute of præmunire, 16 Ric. II. He was in the commission of the peace for Norfolk in 1532, and in the commission of sewers for the same county in 1534 and 1535, and is mentioned as recorder of Norwich in 1536. He also held the office of chief justice of the counties of Chester and Flint from 1540 to 1545, when he was succeeded by Sir Robert Townshend. He represented Norfolk in the parliament of 1539-40, of which he was speaker, though absent part of the time, having been committed to the Tower for having advised Sir John Skelton how by his will to evade the statute of uses, 27 Hen. VIII, c. 10, which was adjudged an offence against the royal prerogative cognisable in the Star-chamber. He was, however, released in Easter term 1540, and making humble submission was readmitted to his office. His speech to the throne on the dissolution (26 July 1540), in which he compared the English constitution to the microcosm, 'in which the king was the head, the peers the body, and the commons the rest of the machine,' is a curious piece of crude political philosophy mixed with adulation. It was received by the king with a 'gracious nod.' His name occurs in a commission, dated 29 Sept. 1540, to investigate a case of embezzlement of plate and ornaments from the shrine of St. David in Wales. In the parliament of 1544-5 he sat for Lancaster. He was principally concerned in the passing of the Treason Act of 1551-2, 5 and 6 Ed. VI,. c. 11, which fixed a limitation of three months within which prosecutions for oral treason were to be instituted, and required two witnesses in all cases. He was reappointed one of the masters of requests in 1552, and was created master of the rolls on 18 Sept. 1553. As such he sat in the commission which tried Sir Nicholas Throckmorton for the offence of imagining the queen's death in April 1554. The prisoner mortally offended him by stating that it was from him he had learnt to mislike the Spanish match. To show his zeal Hare peremptorily refused to examine one of Throckmorton's witnesses, and to permit the statute 1 Ed. VI, c. 12, repealing all statutes of treason except 26 Ed. Ill, to be read at his instance. Throckmorton was acquitted. In January 1555 Hare sat on a commission for the trial of certain conjurors charged with endeavouring the death of the queen by unlawful arts. On 13 Nov. of the same year he was appointed sole commissioner to execute the office of lord chancellor, vacant by the death of Bishop Gardiner, until the appointment of his successor (Archbishop Heath). He received a license the same year to maintain forty retainers. He was on the commission of the peace for Middlesex.

He died in Chancery Lane on 31 Oct. 1557, and was buried in the Temple Church. The inscription on his tomb may be seen in Cooper's 'Athenæ Cantabrigienses,' i. 172. At his death he held the lands of the dissolved convents of Marham in Norfolk and Bruisyard in Suffolk, the manor of Westhall, Suffolk, the hundred and half of Clackclose (which comprised Stow Bardolph) and the manor of Strumpshaw in Norfolk, and the manor of Tottenham in Hertfordshire. By his wife Catherine, daughter of Sir John Bassingbourne of Woodhall, Hertfordshire, who died on 22 Nov. 1557, he had three sons, Michael, Robert [q. v.], and William, all of whom died without issue. His estates therefore passed to the descendants of his brother John, a mercer of London, one of whose grandsons, Hugh (1606?-1667) [q. v.], was created Lord Coleraine in the peerage of Ireland on 3 Aug. 1625. The title is now extinct. Another grandson, Ralph Hare of Stow Bardolph, Norfolk, was created a baronet in 1641. The title became extinct in 1764, but was revived in 1818 in favour of a nephew of the last baronet, Thomas Legh, who took the name of Hare and was grandfather of the present Sir George Hare.

[Wotton's Baronetage, ii. 209; Dugdale's Orig. p. 164; Chron. Ser. p. 89; Metcalfe's Book of Knights; Lists of Members of Parliament (Official Keturn of); Willis's Not. Parl. iii. 112; Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Hen. VIII, vol. iv. pt. iii. 2928, v. 704, vii. 596, viii. 49, xi. 659; Wriothesley's Chron. i. 116, ii. 101; Lansd. MS. 125, if. 91, 105; Ormerod's Cheshire, ed. Helsby, i. 65; Parl. Hist. i. 546-7 (the dates are incorrectly given); Lords' Journ. i. 161; Proceedings and Ordinances of the Privy Council, vii. 46; Strype's Mem. (fol.) vol. ii. pt. i. p. 319, vol. iii. pt. i. p. 219; Cobbett's State Trials, i. 887; Archæologia, xviii. 181; Rymer's Fœdera (Sanderson), xv. 426; Blomefield's Norfolk, ed. Parkin, vii. 256, 269, 316, 375, 441; Oldfield and Dyson's Tottenham, pp. 30-1. There are also biographies of Hare in Manning's Lives of the Speakers and Foss's Judges of Eneland.]

J. M. R.