MOORE, Sir John (1620-1702), of Mincing Lane, London.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Constituency

Dates

1685

Family and Education

bap. 11 June 1620, 2nd s. of Charles Moore (d.1654) of Stretton, Derbys. and Appleby Parva, Leics. by Cicely Yates of Norton juxta Twycross, Leics. m. c.1652, Mary Maddox (d. 6 May 1690), s.p. Kntd. 13 May 1672.1

Offices Held

Member, Grocers’ Co. 1649, master 1671-2, asst. to 1687; capt. yellow regt. of militia ft. London Oct. 1660, col. 1682-7; commr. for assessment, London 1666-80, alderman 1666-7, 1671-87, Oct. 1688-d., common councilman 1667-71, sheriff 1672-3, ld. mayor 1681-2; committee E.I. Co. 1669-70, 1671-2, 1673-1701; pres. Christ’s Hosp. 1681-d.; dep. lt. London 1681-7, Oct. 1688-9, 1690-?d.; asst. R. Africa Co. 1687-9, 1700-d.2

Gent. of privy chamber 1675-85.3

Biography

Moore’s Moore’s father, who claimed descent from the Lancashire family, acquired the manor of Appleby Parva in Leicestershire in 1599. As a younger son, Moore went into trade, and became the most considerable lead merchant in London. The bulk of his business was the export of lead from Derbyshire and Yorkshire to Amsterdam and Rotterdam through Kingston-upon-Hull, and also through the East India and Levant Companies. Among his commercial associates were Robert Richbell in Southampton, James Johnson in Great Yarmouth, and Thomas Bludworth. He invested his very considerable profits in East India stock, and in shares in the New River Company. He was elected alderman of London on 27 Sept. 1666, but was discharged on 30 Apr. 1667, on payment of a fine of £520, presumably because, as a dissenter, he did not want to qualify himself under the Corporations Act. He served as a common councilman, however, in which capacity it was easier to avoid the provisions of that Act, and became a member of the committees administering the city lands, the markets, the prisons, and the Ulster plantation. He was again elected to the bench in 1671 on the nomination of Sir John Lawrence, the leader of the dissenters in the corporation, ‘apprehending him to be a person fit for their turn, ... which design was plainly to bring in such a party in the court of aldermen, favourers of the nonconformists as might be an overbalance to the loyal church party’. At first Moore duly appeared to side with the country party in the corporation: he was on the committee of the common council (3 Mar. 1673) to draw up a petition of grievances on trade, and he was one of the stewards of the Artillery Company who tried to avoid giving an entertainment to the Duke of York in October of that year. However, according to a report sent to Charles II, he had ‘behaved himself with great honesty and integrity, refusing to side with Sir John Lawrence in some things against his judgment’, and he was given a post at Court in 1675.4

In September 1681, Moore, as the next alderman below the chair, was due to be chosen lord mayor. Because he had presented an abhorring address and was retained on the lieutenancy, he was thought too favourably disposed to the Court, and for the first time in living memory there was a poll. The King, acting through Sir Leoline Jenkins, did all in his power to further Moore’s election, summoning the tradesmen that supplied the Court to vote for him, and declaring ‘that if any but Sir John Moore be chosen, he will refuse him positively, if by law he can do it’. Despite strenuous efforts on the part of Thomas Pilkington, the sheriff, to keep him out, Moore came at the top of the poll, many dissenters voting for him, and he was declared elected. By ancient custom the lord mayor could nominate one of the sheriffs for the coming year by drinking to him at the Bridgehouse feast, though recently the ceremony had been used merely to exact fines from wealthy citizens known to be unwilling to serve. Given Moore’s co-operation, however, a loyal sheriff might be chosen who would break the opposition control of the capital and put an end to ignoramus juries. Roger North wrote:

Very much depended on the character of that single citizen, Sir John Moore. He was a person very grave, and of a retired and virtuous course of life; conformable, and constant at Church, of loyal principles, and very just and honest in all his dealings; all which his very enemies could not deny. ... His being suspicious, dubious, cautelous, and not soon determined, but hesitatory at unusual occurrences in his office, made him pass for a person timidous, and of a fickle, irresolute, temper. ... He was forward in nothing, and, being sensible of his soft, unsteady elocution, inclined to silence. ... His ordinary discourse, as well as his countenance, was faint, and tended to dejection, so one would think he always desponded; and that made folks guess he had no firmness or resolution at the bottom, or at least not such as might sustain him upright under difficulties. All which made it wonderful that in so troublesome a mayoralty as he had he should carry himself with such firmness and perseverance in all the substantial points of his difficulties, as he did.

After many interviews with Jenkins and several with the King himself, by whom he was guided at every turn, Moore agreed to carry out the Court’s plan, safeguarding himself by getting a signed opinion from North, that he as lord mayor, and not the sheriffs, had the legal right to adjourn the common hall. At the election on 24 June, he came to a head-on clash with Pilkington, who refused to recognize his choice of (Sir) Dudley North II. When he declared the common hall adjourned he was ‘crowded and assaulted, his hat beaten off, and himself borne down by the crowd’. Though the exclusionists

bellowed and roared with unequivocal noise, not only in the City but all over England, that Sir John Moore and his sheriff North should both be hanged for their claiming to invade the rights of the citizens,

Moore remained firm, and eventually secured the return of a second loyal sheriff, Peter Rich, as well as his original nominee. When Thomas Papillon called on him to protest at his refusal to allow the liverymen to choose both sheriffs, he was rebuked by the lady mayoress, who was clearly more voluble and determined than her husband. On 16 Jan. 1683 the court of common council passed a vote of thanks to Moore for ‘his good services to the City’ during his mayoralty, which ‘so disordered’ the Whigs ‘that they know not how to behave’. He was arrested on 28 Apr. at the suit of the opposition candidates for the shrievalty, Papillon and John Dubois, and appointed to the committee of the common council to draw up a loyal address abhorring the Rye House Plot. He was given an augmentation of arms with the privilege of incorporating one of the lions of England in his coat of arms for his loyalty to the crown. Though he voted, unexpectedly, against the surrender of the London charter in October, he was reappointed alderman by royal commission after its seizure.5

Moore was returned for London to James II’s Parliament. A moderately active Member, though doubtless silent in debate, his five committees included those for encouraging woollen manufactures and amending the bankruptcy laws. He introduced a bill for continuing the imposition on coals in London for the relief of widows and orphans in the City, whose estates had been swallowed up in the debt of the city chamber. The bill was committed on 30 June, but did not pass before the prorogation. He was closeted in 1687, emerging with the conviction that James intended to impose Popery, and removed from office for opposing the address of thanks for the Declaration of Indulgence, though he told Lord Chancellor Jeffreys ‘I would serve the King as far as I lawfully might’. Moore was reinstated as alderman of London on the restoration of the charter in October 1688, though he was not afterwards active in the corporation. In March 1689 the committee of grievances of the House of Commons voted Moore ‘a betrayer of the liberties of the City of London in 1682, which thing exasperated the violent Tories so, that they put him in nomination for lord mayor’, but he was defeated by Pilkington. Moore prepared his own defence, producing copies of the city records to show that the lord mayor had the right of appointing one of the sheriffs. He was questioned repeatedly by committees of both Houses, when, Roger North commented,

it was hoped that he would be brought to name the King and Secretary Jenkins. ... But no more of that sort dropped from him than if they had squeezed a flint. He was asked who had advised him in as many forms and variations of phrase as words could be put together, to which he constantly answered the court of aldermen, and, as to advice, no other answer would he give.

Through ‘the art and skill’ of (Sir) Christopher Musgrave and (Sir) Joseph Tredenham as Roger Morrice complained, ‘there was little found out or discovered’. Pilkington and others fined as rioters and for the assault on Moore in 1682 petitioned unsuccessfully for reparation out of his estate, and Slingsby Bethel, sheriff of London 1680-1, vainly applied to the King to except Moore from the Act of Indemnity in 1690. Moore showed his loyalty to the new regime by subscribing £5,000 to a government loan, and thereafter

lived out the rest of his days as a venerable citizen, greatly esteemed and respected by everyone. He used to go about in a very plain dress, and meddled with nothing out of the way, and such as knew him always saluted him, which he kindly accepted and civilly returned, and, being acquaintance, willingly joined in discourse of different matters.

He endowed Christ’s Hospital, of which he was president, with a writing school designed by Sir Christopher Wren and opened in 1695 at a cost of £10,000, and founded the free school at Appleby, also built by Wren. He died 2 June 1702, leaving a fortune of over £80,000 to his nephews and nieces. His £25,849 worth of East India stock, a holding second only to that of Sir Josiah Child at the Revolution, was divided between two of his nephews, both London citizens. No other member of the family entered Parliament.