Robert Ware (23 October 1639 – 7 April 1697)[1] was a historian and forger of historical documents, which he applied to Protestant polemics.[2]

Ware was born in Dublin, the son of historian Sir James Ware. Nothing is known of his education, and he was likely educated by his father in London.[3] On his father's death in 1666, he inherited a large collection of historical manuscripts, which he eventually sold to Henry Hyde, 2nd Earl of Clarendon in 1686.[4] While the manuscripts were in his possession, he added a large number of fabricated documents to them. This put him at odds with Roman Catholic interests in Ireland, and he went into exile in England during the reign of King James II of England.[3]

On 24 December 1666, Robert married Elizabeth, the daughter of his cousin Sir Henry Piers, 1st Baronet. He died in 1697 (1696 old style), survived by one son.[3]

Ware's invented documents misled historians of the Protestant Reformation for centuries afterwards; Thomas Edward Bridgett finally exposed him in 1890, but it was not until the 20th century that historians were able to sort out the implications of his findings.[5]


  1. ^ Burke, John (1838). A genealogical and heraldic history of the commoners of Great Britain and Ireland. 4. London: Colburn. p. 498.
  2. ^ MacCulloch, Diarmaid (June 2011). "Foxes, firebrands, and forgery: Robert Ware's pollution of reformation history". The Historical Journal. 54 (2): 307–346. doi:10.1017/S0018246X10000580. ISSN 1469-5103.
  3. ^ a b c Bergin, John (2009). "Ware, Robert". Dictionary of Irish Biography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  4. ^ O'Sullivan, William (1997). "A finding list of Sir James Ware's manuscripts". Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Section C. 97 (2): 69–99. ISSN 0035-8991. JSTOR 25516189.
  5. ^ MacCulloch, Diarmaid (2016). "Forging reformation history: A cautionary tale". All things made new: the Reformation and its legacy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 321–258. ISBN 978-0-19-061681-6.