The Family of William Hare
Rowberrow & Shipham,
Somerst, England

by Jeffrey L. Thomas


To date our earliest identifiable Hares ancestor is one William Hare, who first appears in the parish registers of St. Leonard's, Shipham, and St. Michael's, Rowberrow (Somerset), in early 1730. Assuming that William was a bachelor at the time of his first marriage, it seems likely that he would have been born between 1705 and 1710, however I have been unable to find any records of his birth. Entries from St. Leonard's tell us that William buried his wife Mary and baptized his son John on the same day, 5 Feb 1729/30, and mention that William was from "Rowborough.". (Interestingly, John's baptism was also recorded in the registers for Rowberrow.) The Hares family does not appear again in the records of St. Leonard's until the year 1759. Instead, we have to look to Rowberrow for a continuation of family entries for William Hare. Family tradition tells us that, following the death of his first wife, William remarried a woman named Elizabeth, and their children were all baptized at St. Michael's, Rowberrow. Some researchers claim that his second wife's name was Elizabeth Phippen, however I have not yet been able to confirm this. What we do know is that the baptism records of William and Elizabeth's children begin appearing in the registers of St. Michael's in 1731, and continue until early 1750. Afterwards, the Hares family all but disappears from Rowberrow's records and the family begins reappearing in the records of St. Leonard's. Thus it appears that, while William and family lived in Rowberrow, his children eventually moved to neighboring Shipham, a process that began in the late 1750s. At the same time the family name changes from "Hare" to the more familiar "Hares."

As an interesting side note, there is an intriguing entry in the registers for St. Leonard's, where we learn that on 30 April 1702, "William Hair" of the parish of Churchill married Mary Tripp in Shipham. Although it is tempting to think that this William may have been the father of the William mentioned above, he fails to appear again in the registers of Shipham, and, unfortunately, the registers for St. Michael's don't begin until 1723. The children of William (1702) would likely have been baptized prior to 1723.

Below you will find a summary of William's family, taken from the records of St. Michael's, Rowberrow. Researchers should note that the names and dates have been taken from copies of the actual parish books as opposed to transcribed records or the LDS IGI. I have also created a page for the family as they appear in the records of St. Leonard's, Shipham, which can be viewed by selecting this link.


  Christened Where Comments
William Hare & 1st wife Mary     Mary Hare was buried 5 Feb 1729/30, Shipham
John Hare 5 Feb 1729/30 Shipham likely the John Hare who married Mary Fear 3 Feb 1760, Shipham, children baptized Shipham
William Hare & 2nd wife Elizabeth      
Mary Hare 5 Oct 1731 Rowberrow possibly the Mary Hare who married James Wilkins ca. 1752
Joseph Hare 1 Mar 1732/33 Rowberrow this Joseph likely died as in infant. Joseph 1738/39 ultimately survived
Joseph Hare 1 Mar 1733/34 Rowberrow this Joseph too likely died as in infant. Joseph 1738/39 ultimately survived
William Hare 5 Jan 1734/35 Rowberrow Likely the William Hare who married Sarah Hele (Heal) 23 Apr 1759, Shipham
Jane Hare 14 Aug 1737 Rowberrow this Jane likely died as an infant and was succeeded by Jane 1740
Joseph Hare 1 Jan 1738/39 Rowberrow likely the Joseph Hare who married Mary, children baptized Shipham
Jane Hare 19 Sept 1740 Rowberrow likely the Jane Hare who married William Stephens, 1 Oct 1759, Shipham, children baptized Shipham
James Hare 29 May 1742 Rowberrow  
Jacob Hare 25 Feb 1744/45 Rowberrow likely the Jacob Hare who married Diana Lovell, 23 Aug 1775, Shipham, children baptized Shipham
Paul Hare 9 Nov 1750 Rowberrow  


The three entries below are from the records of St. Leonard's. The Sarah Hare who was buried 14 Jan 1771 is likely the Sarah Heal who was the wife of William Hare (1734/35). The William Hare who was buried 25 Jan 1772, could be either William Jr. or Sr. The same is true for the William Hare buried at Rowberrow 26 Jan 1773.

  • 14 Jan 1771: Sarah Hare w/o William buried, Shipham
  • 25 Jan 1772: William Hare buried, Shipham
  • 26 Jan 1773: William Hare? buried, Rowberrow


    Further notes on the children of William Hare & their families

    John and Mary Hare(s): There are two baptism entries in the registers of Shipham for the children of John and Mary Hare(s); son George, baptized in 1763 and son James baptized in 1764. This is likely the same John Hare who was the son of William & Mary Hare, who was baptized 5 Feb 1729/30.

    William and Sarah Hare(s): Parish records from St. Michael's, Rowberrow, indicate that William Hare married Sarah Hele (Heal), 23 Apr 1759. The couple appears only once in the records Shipham where the baptism entry for their daughter Elizabeth was recorded on 9 Sept 1759. The registers for St. Leonard's also record that a Sarah, wife of William Hares was buried in the church cemetery on 14 Jan 1771, and that William Hare was buried on 25 Jan 1772. It is not clear if the William mentioned here is William Sr. or Jr.

    Joseph and Mary Hares: Parish records from St. Leonard's indicate that a Joseph and Mary Hares began having their children baptized at the church in 1763. We have baptism entries for five of their children, the last being son Simon who was baptized in 1780. On 27 July 1800 "Mary Hares wife of Joseph Hares was buried" in the church cemetery, and it is possible that this is the same Mary Hares mentioned here. The registers do not mention Joseph's death or burial.

    William Stephens and Jane Hare(s): Jane Hare married William Stephens 1 Oct 1759, her marriage record noting that Jane was a minor at the time. The IGI lists two daughters named Jane born to William and Elizabeth, one baptized in 1737 and the other in 1740. Beginning in 1760, William and Jane's children begin appearing in the baptism records for St. Leonard's. So far I have identified five of their children, the surname is spelled either "Stephens" or "Stevens" in the records.

    Jacob and Diana Hares: Jacob Hares makes his first appearance in the parish records of St. Leonard's in 1775, where we learn that he married a Diana Lovell in August of that year. Their (first?) child Jacob was baptized in November of 1778, and five additional children were baptized over the next two decades, although it appears only four lived to maturity. Jacob and Diana had two daughters named Fanny, and it appears that both died in early childhood. According to burial records from St. Leonard's, a 77 year old Jacob Hares was buried in the church cemetery 21 Nov 1819, a date that would seem to fit nicely with a date of birth of 1744/45. As such, there is little doubt that the Jacob Hares buried in 1819 is the same Jacob who was born in 1744/45 and married Diana Lovell in 1785.


  • Below: recent photographs of the parish church of St. Michael's, Rowberrow, taken May 2006.






    History of Shipham Parish, from The Heart of Mendip, by Francis A. Knight
    Samuel Hares: the next generation
    Return to the Hares family web site
    Return to the Thomas family web site

    Web site copyright 2006 by Jeffrey L. Thomas, with all rights reserved