Phaire (Phayre), Robert (1619?–1682), soldier and regicide, was a baptist and probably the son of the Rev. Emmanuel Phaire, of Kilshannig, Co. Cork. At the outbreak of the 1641 rebellion, he possibly joined the troop of cavalry raised by William Jephson (qv). In September 1646, on the recommendation of Sir Hardress Waller (qv), he was appointed a lieutenant colonel in Richard Townshend's regiment, which was to have formed part of Lord Lisle's command in Munster. Arriving after Lisle's departure in April 1647, however, the regiment instead served under Inchiquin (qv) and, by the following October, was garrisoned at Cahir, Co. Tipperary. Phaire was imprisoned in Cappoquin castle in 1648, when he refused to support Inchiquin's truce with the confederates or his defection to the royalists. When the imprisoned officers were exchanged for Inchiquin's son, William O'Brien (qv), on 4 October 1648, Phaire went with Admiral Penn to Bristol and thence to London.
In January 1649 the death warrant for Charles I was directed to Phaire and his fellow officers, Colonels Hacker and Huncks. On the day of the king's execution he was in command of the halberdiers guarding Whitehall. In April 1649 he received the command of a Kentish regiment, selected to form part of the army of Cromwell (qv) for Ireland. Through his connections with disaffected officers in Munster, Phaire became crucially important in the conquest of the province. He was instrumental in undermining Inchiquin's position, thus helping to secure for Cromwell, at little cost, the garrisons his army needed for the winter of 1649–50. His regiment was shipped to Ireland and, in November 1649, he was sent, together with Lord Broghill (qv) and William Fenton, from Waterford to Youghal with 500 infantry. They persuaded the townspeople of Youghal to surrender and rejoin parliament, before moving on to Cork, where they were similarly successful. Throughout 1650, Phaire played an important part in reducing Munster and took part in the battle of Macroom on 10 April 1650.
He served as governor of Co. Cork (1651–4) and was also a JP. Under the Cromwellian land settlement he received substantial grants of land in counties Cork and Wexford. In 1656 it was reported that he was attending quaker meetings, though he does not appear to have become a member. He was in London in 1657, possibly seeking to arrange a marriage with Elizabeth Herbert. During the later 1650s, he became disillusioned with the Cromwellian regime and he retired from politics to his house at Rostellan, in Co. Cork, before later moving to Grange, near Ovens, in the same county.
In May 1660, the month the monarchy was restored, Phaire was arrested in Cork and, with an escort of fifty troopers, was taken to Dublin. From there he was sent to the Tower of London, where he arrived on 13 June 1660. The influence of his father-in-law, Sir Thomas Herbert, one of Charles I's most faithful attendants in January 1649, probably ensured that he escaped trial as a regicide. By December 1660, he had been paroled to Herbert's house in Westminster for a few months, where he petitioned for the release of his estate, which had been allocated to the earl of Mountrath (qv). While under restraint in London in 1662, he came into contact with, and became a disciple of, Ludovick Muggleton. Other members of his family, including his wife and daughters, Elizabeth and Mary, also became involved in this sect and he continued to maintain a correspondence with Muggleton. After two years of short paroles in England, he was permitted to return to Ireland in 1662.
In 1663 he was implicated in the abortive plot to seize Dublin castle, and he was arrested and imprisoned in Limerick, by the earl of Orrery, who suspected he was involved in a plot with Edmund Ludlow (qv). As he had not attended the meetings of the officers involved in the plot, the lord lieutenant, Ormond (qv), ordered his release on 31 July 1663. Thereafter, he retired from public life to manage his estates, particularly his ironworks at Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, which were the subject of various lawsuits. He was cured of a fever by the healer Valentine Greatrakes (qv), who had previously served in Phaire's regiment.
Phaire died at his home at Grange, Co. Cork, during the autumn of 1682 (his will, dated 13 September 1682, was proved that November); he was buried in Cork city. He married twice and had three children, Onesiphorous, Elizabeth and Mary, with his first wife, whom he married before April 1653 but whose name remains uncertain. On 16 August 1658, at St Werburgh's in Dublin, he married his second wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Herbert, attendant to Charles I (1647–9), with whom he had six children, Thomas, Alexander, Herbert, Elizabeth, Frances and Lucy.