Member Biography

Robert Hare Sr.


Portrait: “Robert Hare with Daughter” Courtesy of Brandywine River Museum of Art.

Sessions Office Position District Party
1794-1795       1 Federalist
1795-1796     Speaker 1 Federalist
1796-1797     Speaker 1 Federalist
1797-1798     Speaker 1 Federalist
1798-1799     Speaker 1 Federalist

COUNTIES: Delaware, Philadelphia  


01/28/1752 - 03/08/1811

Robert Hare, Sr. (Federalist1) Delaware, Philadelphia City and Philadelphia Counties 1794-1799

Early Life:

Robert Hare, Sr., born January 28, 1752, Woolwich, County Kent, England; son of Richard and Martha Harford Hare; emigrated to America, arrived, Philadelphia, June 4, 1773; merchant, brewer; married, Margaret Willing, 1775, children, Robert Hare, Jr., Charles Willing Hare, Richard Hare, Martha Hare, adopted son, John Hare Powel; organized, the First Troop, Philadelphia Cavalry; fled, Virginia, 1777-1778; returned, Philadelphia, 1778; delegate, State Constitutional Convention, 1789; appointed subscription commissioner, Schuylkill and Susquehanna Navigation Company, 1791; elected, Federalist, Pennsylvania State House of Representatives, 1791-1793; elected, Federalist, Pennsylvania State Senate, 1794-1799, Speaker of the Pennsylvania State Senate, 1795-1799; trustee, University of Pennsylvania, 1791-1805; died, March 8, 1811, Germantown, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania; interment, Christ Church Burial Ground, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania.  

Early Career:

Making a difficult decision to support the cause for independence, Hare heavily weighed the ramifications of declaring war on his parents and eight brothers, and sisters in England - two, who served in the British military. As British General Howe occupied Philadelphia, 1777-1778, fled to Virginia, where he sought refuge with his sister-in-law’s husband, Colonel William Byrd.  

Professional titles; business ownership; board memberships; local government; club memberships:

Member, Manufacturing Society, Hand-in-Hand Fire Company. Elected, trustee, College and Academy of Philadelphia, 1789, then after the 1791 union of the College and the University of the State of Pennsylvania, elected by the College to serve as a trustee, University of Pennsylvania, 1791-1805.

Pennsylvania Politics: 

Delegate, State Constitutional Convention, 1789.

Elected, Federalist, Pennsylvania State House of Representatives, Philadelphia County, 1791-1793.

Elected, Federalist, Pennsylvania State Senate, 1st district, Delaware, Philadelphia City and Philadelphia Counties, 1794-1799; Speaker of the Pennsylvania State Senate, 1795-1799; cast an April 14, 1795, tie-breaking vote on passage of the Senate’s Philadelphia Health Bill, placing heavy immigration restrictions on Germans, through the auspices of the Philadelphia Health Office.

On 2 January 1795, a Committee of Investigation reported to the Senate that, in their opinion, “the elections of Senators held in the counties of Washington, Allegheny, Westmoreland, and Fayette counties, during the late insurrection, [The so called “Whiskey Rebellion”] were not constitutional, and therefore not valid. The followng day, the Senate voted on a strict party line vote to expel John Moore, William Todd, Thomas Stokely, and Absalom Baird from Senate and called for new elections to be held. The newly certified Senators took their seats in mid- February. Todd, Stokley, and Baird were returned to the seats previously vacated. Moore was replaced by Presly Carr Lane

Session 1796, changes appeared, senate rules, among those, recommended an alteration allowing the Speaker to vote on all ballots, rather than as tiebreaker only. The Speaker continued to hold the final vote and obtained the privilege of voicing reasons for casting yea or nay. If the Speaker represented the tying vote, the bill was lost or reconsidered. During the same session, supported a bill allowing aliens to own land in Pennsylvania, an act supported by a narrow vote of primarily Eastern Federalists representing Philadelphia speculators. The matter evolved into major conflict between Western Pennsylvanians and the Holland Land Company.

Supported the Alien and Sedition Act, 1798 Naturalization Act (placing stringent general election restrictions on new immigrants), district voting, rather than at-large, for congressional candidates. Resisted requests to reform the debtors’ prison law, bankruptcy reform; April 4, 1799, opposed moving the state capital to Lancaster- a measure defeated.

Pennsylvania House of Representatives Biography:

Not currently available. 


Like his father, he specialized in brewing porter, and is credited with being the first person to brew the drink in America.

Wife, Margaret Willing, daughter of banker and trans-Atlantic trader Charles Willing. Through marriage, became a brother-in-law to Samuel Powel, William Bingham, and Colonel William Byrd, establishing extended family ties to the Shippen family and the Society Hill aristocracy. 

Three prominent children: eminent chemist Robert Hare, Jr., (professor of chemistry, University of Pennsylvania medical school, 1818-1848) attorney Charles Willing Hare, Pennsylvania State Senator John Hare Powel - the latter, an adopted son of Samuel Powel’s widow.

Pennsylvania State Senator John Hare Powel Federalist (F1) 1827-1828, National Republican (NR1) 1828-1830. 

John Hare Powel  - Pennsylvania Senate Library (


Cox, Harold. "Senate Members H"Wilkes University Election Statistics Project. Wilkes University.

Cox, Harold. Senate1790-1869 ( University Election Statistics Project. Wilkes University.

A New Nation Votes (

Robert Hare (

Edgar Fahs Smith, The Life of Robert Hare: An American Chemist, 1781-1858 (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1917), 3. Colonial Families of Philadelphia, edited. John W. Jordan, volume. II (New York: The Lewis Publishing Co., 1911), pages 973-974; Leach, North American, June 28, 1908.

Robert Hare (1752-1811) - Find a Grave Memorial