MOORE, Thomas (1618-95), of Hawkchurch, Dorset and Spargrove, Som.
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Family and Education
b. 14 Apr. 1618, 1st s. of Thomas Moore of Taunton Priory, Som. and Heytesbury, Wilts. by Rachel, da. of Sir John Wyndham of Orchard Wyndham, Som. educ. Wadham, Oxf. 1634; L. Inn 1635. m. (1) c.1651, Bridget, da. of Sir Thomas Trenchard† of Wolveton, Dorset, s.p.; (2) bef. 1658, Elizabeth, da. of Sir John Bampfield† of Poltimore, Devon, 3s. d.v.p. 7da. suc. fa. 1626.2
Commr. for subsidy, Wilts. 1641, assessment, Wilts. 1643, Dorset and Wilts. 1644-8, Dorset Aug. 1660-3, sequestration, Wilts. 1643, defence 1644; j.p. Som. 1646-8, Feb. 1688-9, Dorset 1647-8, 1655-6, Mar. 1660-?74, June 1688-9; commr. for militia, Dorset 1648, Mar. 1660, scandalous ministers 1654, sheriff 1671-2; freeman, Lyme Regis 1679; dep. lt. Dorset and Som. May-Oct. 1688.3
Moore’s family, of Somerset origin, became exceedingly prosperous in the second half of the 16th century, acquiring estates in Dorset and Wiltshire as well as their native county, all of which eventually came to him. Sir Jasper Moore, Member for Malmesbury in 1580, enjoyed a bad reputation in Heytesbury as an oppressive landlord, and neither he nor any other member of the family entered the House again before the Short Parliament. Two of Moore’s aunts married Dorset recusants, but he seems to have been a steady Puritan himself, ‘notable for the gentleness and moderation of his habits, and his genuine old-fashioned piety and uprightness’, if his epitaph is to be believed. A Parliamentarian in the Civil War, he seems to have virtually withdrawn from public life after Pride’s Purge, but he resumed his seat in the final session of the Long Parliament. Having sold the manor of Heytesbury, though some of the purchase money was probably still outstanding, he may have lacked confidence in his electoral prospects at Heytesbury in 1660. Accordingly he also stood for Lyme Regis, some ten miles from his seat at Hawkchurch, and was returned for both constituencies. Presumably he opted for Heytesbury in the mistaken belief that, with Henry Henley, who had married his second wife’s aunt, he could control the by-election at Lyme; while at Heytesbury the unpopularity of his family was such that only 13 years later his father’s memorial was ‘cast out of the chancel’. Moore was marked by Lord Wharton (for whose son he was later to find a tutor, a dissenting schoolmaster), as a friend. He served on five committees in the Convention, none being of particular political significance.4
Although Moore remained on the commission of the peace till at least 1674, this was probably an oversight; he never attended sessions, and was known as ‘the greatest upholder of illegal meetings’ in Dorset. As sheriff he secured the release of his wife’s uncle Francis Bampfield and his fellow-conventiclers without bail, to which they had conscientious objections. Both his residences were licensed for Presbyterian worship in 1672. Misled by his local popularity in and around Lyme, he accepted Shaftesbury’s invitation to oppose the court candidate, Lord Digby (John Digby), at the county by-election in 1675. The bishop of Bristol remarked that Moore’s dissenting principles were as evident as Digby’s loyalty, and Moore was routed by over three to one.5
Moore was returned for Lyme in the second and third Exclusion Parliaments, replacing the Tory Sir George Strode. There is no record of his activities but he must have voted for exclusion, for his hostility to the Government was declared to be well-known. When Henry Cornish visited the west country in 1683, allegedly with the design of improving the Whig interest at Hindon, Moore was among his hosts. But in 1688 Moore was added to the lieutenancy and the commission in Somerset and Dorset, presumably after satisfying the regulators over his attitude to the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws. After the Revolution he took no further part in public life. He died on 6 Aug. 1695, and was buried at Hawkchurch. On the partition of his estates by his four sons-in-law, Hawkchurch went to