Peale, James - portrait of Dr Robert Hare

This miniature portrait is signed "I P 180?". This was the monogram used by James Peale (1749-1831). The sitter is identified on the reverse as Dr Hare.

He is Dr Robert Hare (1781-1858) who was born in Philadelphia and was Professor of Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania from 1819-1847, where he became Professor Emeritus. Robert Hare married Harriet Clark (1782->1860) on Sep 9, 1811. Harriet was born in Rhode Island.

In 1839 Hare was the first ever winner of the Rumford Prize for his invention of the oxy-hydrogen blowpipe. Although it was founded in 1796, the first prize was not given until 1839, as the American Academy of Arts and Sciences could not find anyone who, in their judgement, deserved the award. The prize was not awarded again until 1862 and has only ever been awarded to 62 people between 1796 and 2008. Thomas Alva Edison was awarded the prize in 1895.

In the 1850 census Hare is recorded as living in the Middle Ward of Philadelphia with his wife Harriet, aged 60, and three servants, all from Ireland, probably emigrating as a result of the potato famine. One can speculate that either Robert Hare or his wife may have had a lisp, or the enumerator was hard of hearing, as in the census Harriet is recorded as "Highat"!

Robert Hare had died before the 1860 census, so Harriet was living as a widow in the 9th Ward of Philadelphia with two female companions and four servants. This time she gave her age as 78 which corresponds with 1782 and seems more likely than 1790. However, there was still a problem with recording her name as in the 1860 census she is recorded as Harriet C Hire, instead of Harriet C Hare.

Shown here is the title page of a text book written by Dr Hare for his students. It is entitled "A Compendium of the Course of Chemical Instruction in the Medical Department of the University of Pennsylvania". This is the third edition which was published in 1836 and runs to over 500 pages. The book has many engravings and, initially, must have been an expensive publication to produce. This particular copy still has the label from the original seller, "J G Auner, Bookseller, No. 343 Market St, Philadelphia" although the title page shows J G Auner at 331 Market St. It is inscribed with the name of the original owner W Poyntell Johnston. He has been identified as William Poyntell Johnston, (23 Sep 1811 - 26 Feb 1856) who matriculated in 1835 and died in Philadelphia. He was the son of Alexander Washington Johnston and Mary Poyntell.

Also shown here is a University of Pennsylvania, Medical Department, advertisement for an Introductory Lecture by Dr Hare on Chemistry to be given on Tuesday, Nov 6, 1821. This appeared in Poulson's Daily Advertiser for Monday, Nov 5, 1821.

Hare was responsible for several inventions and also investigated mediums, see Mediums and Channelers where it is commented that Hare pronounced as genuine, the very famous 19C medium Daniel Dunglas Home (1833-1886) who was consulted by a number of prominent people, including Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Mark Twain, and Tolstoy. In 1855 he also wrote a book called "Experimental Investigation of the Spirit Manifestation".

Robert Hare had several children, including Robert Hertford Hare (1812-?) who married Caroline Fleming on 28 Aug 1845 at New Bedford CT. Caroline was the daughter of Charles Henry Fleming (1792-<1834) and Mary Rotch (1793-?), who were married in 1822. However it appears Charles Henry Fleming died before 1834, as there is a record of Mary Rotch Fleming marrying the educator and author George Barrell Emerson on Nov 12, 1834.

Robert Hare Jr and Caroline Hare can be found in the 1870 census for Philadelphia, with their two daughters, Mary 23 and Harriet 22, where Robert Hertford Hare was a lawyer with assets in 1870 of $50,000.

A biography of Dr Robert Hare was written in 1917 by Edgar Fahs Smith. 837

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