Penn People

Robert Hare

1752 - 1811

Penn Connection

  • Trustee 1789-1805

Robert Hare was born in 1752, the third son of well-to-do English parents. His father was a brewer in London who specialized in a new kind of drink known as “porter.” In 1773, with a gift of £1500 from his father, Robert emigrated to America.

Soon after arriving in Philadelphia, Hare established himself as a brewer. Like his father, he specialized in porter, and is credited with being the first person to brew the drink in America. Hare married into the Willing family, and through this connection and his previous friendship with William Allen, he was catapulted into the city’s social elite.

After the American Revolution Hare was elected a member of the state Constitutional Convention of 1789. He was an ardent proponent of a single supreme executive and an upper legislative house to represent the “better sort.” In the 1790s Hare served as a representative in the state’s lower house, and as a state senator, eventually sitting as speaker of the Senate. He died at his home in Germantown in 1811 and is buried in Christ Church burial ground.

Hare was elected a trustee of the College and Academy of Philadelphia in 1789, and then after the 1791 union of the College and the University of the State of Pennsylvania, he was elected by the College to serve as a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania. He served on this board of trustees until 1805. His son Robert Hare (1781-1858) held the position of professor of chemistry in the University of Pennsylvania’s medical school from 1818 to 1848.