MOORE, George (b. 1778), of 14 Hume Street, Dublin
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Family and Education
b. 13 Oct. 1778, 5th but 4th surv. s. of John Moore (d. 1799) of Summerhill, co. Dublin and w. Mary Anne.1 educ. Trinity, Dublin 1792, scholar 1796, BA 1797, LLD 1808; G. Inn 1798; King’s Inns 1800, called [I] 1800. m. bef. 1799, Eliza Armstrong,2 at least 2s. suc. uncle George Ogle† to Belview, Enniscorthy, co. Wexford 1814.
Dep. registrar of deeds [I] 1799-1830, registrar 1830-46; KC [I] ?1827/8.
Moore, much of whose personal life remains obscure, was the grandson of William Moore of Tinraheen, county Wexford, whose son Lorenzo (c.1741-1804), colonel of the Battle-Axe Guards, was ministerialist Member for Dungannon, 1783-90, and Ardfert, 1798-1800.3 His father John was deputy registrar of deeds in Ireland, and presumably owed his appointment to his brother-in-law George Ogle, Member for county Wexford, who was awarded the place of registrar by government in 1784 and thereafter, except on the regency and the Union, by which time he represented Dublin, was a staunch supporter of the Pitt ministry and the Protestant ascendancy. On the death in 1799 of John, whose will was proved in Dublin that year, he was succeeded as deputy registrar by George Moore, who the following year was called to the bar and began to practise. By his will of 1798 Ogle, who died in August 1814, bequeathed his Wexford estates to Moore, his executor, who apparently sold them; since he was sometimes referred to as George Ogle Moore, it may have been at this time that he took the additional name of Ogle.4 Under a reversionary grant of 1795, the position of registrar passed to the 2nd Viscount Kilwarden, former Member for Ardee, but under a separate agreement of 1806, whose legality was challenged in 1814, Moore undertook to fulfil all the duties of registrar on the payment of 1,000 guineas and the yearly sum of £500 above the usual fees to his nominal superior. The eighth report of the commission on the Irish courts of justice was critical of this arrangement, calling for the abolition of the sinecure of registrar and for the other offices to require permanent attendance. Moore, who gave oral evidence to the commission on many occasions between November 1817 and December 1819, claimed that he was present at least for a short time on most days, so justifying his fees of over £1,000 a year, but the real work was clearly done by his assistants Oliver Moore and Francis Armstrong (both presumably relations).5 Moore, who had unsuccessfully applied for patronage for his brother from the Irish secretary Robert Peel* in 1814, failed in his bid to become recorder of Dublin in 1821.6
In early 1825 and again a year later, when it was explained in the anti-Catholic press that he was a barrister specializing in ecclesiastical law and an Orangeman of his uncle’s stamp, he was considered a possible candidate for Dublin University.7 However, at the general election of 1826, when James Abercromby* described him as ‘an Orange lawyer of doubtful fame’, he was at the last minute brought forward for the city on the corporation and Protestant interest, and, with the public endorsement of George Dawson*, Peel’s brother-in-law and under-secretary at the home office, was returned with the Whig Henry Grattan II after a brief contest.8 It was more a case of his being knocked up late one night to fill an unexpected vacancy, according to the tale told by Richard Sheil*, who later described him as
a man distinguished at the Irish bar for the urbanity of his manners, set off by a sweet smile, a look of ruddy juvenility at 48, a formidable flow of tautology and a great charm and gentleness of demeanour, which rendered him an agreeable companion and endeared him to all those who mixed with him in the intercourse of private life. He was known to be a strong politician, but his aspect, intonations and his address made those who differed from him pay little regard to any acerbity in his opinions.9
At the new lord mayor’s inaugural dinner, which he made a habit of attending each year, he stated that he had been elected to help defend the Protestant constitution, 30 Sept. 1826.10
Moore made his maiden speech on the address, the first of many occasions when he took issue with his colleague on the Catholic question, 21 Nov., and brought up a petition complaining about the influence of Catholic priests, 6 Dec. 1826. He signed the anti-Catholic petition of the landed proprietors of Ireland early the following year.11 As he was frequently to do, he presented hostile petitions, including from Dublin, 2, 5 Mar. 1827, when he spoke strongly but ‘badly’, according to John Evelyn Denison*, against Catholic relief; he voted in the hostile majority next day.12 He divided for the duke of Clarence’s annuity bill, 16 Mar., and urged protection for Irish milling interests, 19 Mar. He chaired the select committee of inquiry into the allegedly forged signatures appended to the Athlone election petition, 21, 23 May, and called for publication of the Irish education commission’s evidence on Maynooth, 25 May.13 He was in the majority for the grant to improve water communications in Canada, 12 June, but in the minority against the third reading of the Coventry magistracy bill, 18 June 1827. He was praised for his parliamentary conduct, including in an address from the cutlers’ guild, that year, when he was denied his silk gown because it was mistakenly thought that this would vacate his seat; the rank of king’s counsel was apparently awarded slightly later.14
Moore, who was in receipt of the newly appointed Wellington ministry’s circular requesting its supporters’ attendance in January 1828 and was considered a possible substitute on the intended finance committee the following month, continued to be active on constituency business and in overseeing minor legislation that session.15 He raised concerns about the growing population of Ireland in relation to the Subletting Act, 19 Feb., the Kildare Place Society, 28 Feb., and economic distress, 5 June. He voted against repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb. Lord Anglesey, the lord lieutenant, considered him almost certain to succeed if he stood for the recordership of Dublin, but he lost to Frederick Shaw* at the election in March, when he blamed the Irish government for using its influence against him.16 Having denied that the treaty of Limerick conferred any greater rights on Catholics, 6 Mar., and damned the Catholic Association as ‘an independent Catholic republic in the very heart of a Protestant constitution’, 25 Apr., he spoke at length against relief as a dangerous infringement of the constitution which would prove no panacea for Ireland’s ills, 8 May, and voted in this sense, 12 May. He divided against inquiry into chancery administration, 24 Apr., and reduction of the salary of the lieutenant-general of the ordnance, 4 July. He took no part in the passage of the Irish registry of deeds bill, which was introduced on the basis of the commission’s findings, 27 Mar., and attracted some criticisms of his office, 26 June; it received royal assent on 15 July and provided for the restructuring of the registry’s organization on Kilwarden’s eventual departure.17 He called for Protestants to be active in defence of their interests at the Dublin dinner in his honour, 14 Aug., and, as well as serving on the management committee of the Brunswick Club of Ireland that year, he proposed the formation of a branch in Trinity College, 28 Oct., and chaired the meeting which approved the establishment of another for the city, 10 Dec.18 On 26 Dec. 1828 he informed Wellington of his constituents’ doubts about the authenticity of many of the signatures on the Protestants’ declaration in favour of the Catholics.19
Listed by Planta, the patronage secretary, among those ‘opposed to the principle’ of the emancipation bill, he denounced ministers’ capitulation in the face of what he believed was the Brunswick majority in Ireland, 5 Feb. 1829. He reiterated his long-standing objections to granting Catholic claims, 9, 10, 12 Feb., and thereafter either brought up or supported numerous adverse petitions. On 3 Mar., when he questioned the signatures on the sympathetic Irish Protestant petition, Lord Howick* privately recorded that he was ‘very violent and very tiresome’; on 13 Mar., when he presented the hostile petitions of the corporation and inhabitants of Dublin, he was ridiculed by Doherty, the Irish solicitor-general, who complained that ‘night after night, has my honourable and learned friend dinned into my ears the words 1688; 1688 has been his everlasting cry ... for 1688 forms the beginning, middle and termination of [his] every speech’.20 He condemned emancipation as ‘an utter subversion of the fundamental principle of the Protestantism of the British constitution’, 6 Mar., when, as throughout that month, he divided against it, and he expressed his dread at the Catholic hegemony that would quickly and ruthlessly be established in its wake on bringing up the monster Irish Protestants’ petition, 17 Mar. He voted for excluding Catholics from Parliament, 23 Mar., when he suggested alterations to the oaths, and the following day unsuccessfully moved to prevent Catholics being appointed governors of overseas colonies. On 26 Mar., when he tried to have the franchise bill extended to include freeholder boroughs like Dublin and to exclude Protestant 40s. freeholders from its provisions, he divided in the minority (of 16-112) for his own amendment to raise the voting qualification from £10 to £20. He seconded (and was a minority teller for) the wrecking amendment against the third reading of the emancipation bill, 30 Mar., when he entered his solemn protest against it. He voted against allowing Daniel O’Connell to take his seat unimpeded, 18 May, and the Maynooth grant, 22 May. Moore, who sought treasury approval for a bill to increase employment in Ireland that session, was rebuffed in an application for government patronage in June 1829, but was well received in Dublin for his exertions in the causes of Protestantism and relief from distress.21 His name found no place in the list compiled by Sir Richard Vyvyan*, the Ultra leader, later that year.
Moore, who missed the opening of the session through illness, was named to the select committee on the East India Company’s affairs, 9 Feb. 1830 (and again, 4 Feb. 1831).22 He voted against transferring East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 11 Feb., and the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb., but for the Ultra Lord Blandford’s motion for parliamentary reform, 18 Feb. On 16 Feb. he obtained leave for his Dublin improvement bill, which was given royal assent, 17 June. He spoke in defence of the Irish church, 4, 16 Mar., 27 Apr., one of the many times when he differed with O’Connell in the chamber. He divided against Jewish emancipation, 5 Apr., 17 May. After objecting to higher taxes on Irish tobacco, 11 May, he complained of the terrible distress prevalent in Dublin while opposing the motion to abolish the Irish lord lieutenancy that day. He spoke and voted for repeal of the Irish coal duties, 13 May, and for the rest of the session devoted most of his parliamentary energies to presenting and endorsing his constituents’ petitions against the increased Irish stamp and spirit duties, on which topic he attended meetings of the Irish Members.23 He divided against the Galway franchise bill, 25 May, for the grant for South American missions and against the abolition of the death penalty for forgery, 7 June, and reducing judges’ salaries, 7 July 1830.
Having succeeded Kilwarden, who had died on 22 May 1830, as Irish registrar of deeds, presumably during the dissolution that summer in order to avoid the necessity of a by-election, Moore was attacked for being a placeman who was given leave to make occasional opposition sallies but was otherwise required to toe the administration line, for example on the unpopular tax increases.24 He had the blessing of government and at least gained credit for his constant parliamentary activity at the general election, when he and Shaw defeated the Whig Grattan in a hard-fought contest.25 He was listed by ministers among their ‘friends’, but was absent from the division on the civil list that led to their resignation, 15 Nov. He agreed with O’Connell for extension of the Insolvent Debtors Act to Ireland, 5 Nov., but opposed him in strongly criticizing agitation for repeal of the Union, 19 Nov. 1830. He attended a Dublin meeting to provide relief from distress for the poor, 5 Feb. 1831, and the following month a former fellow of Trinity published a ‘Letter to George Moore’ against parliamentary reform.26 He was granted a month’s leave on account of ill health, 16 Feb. He voted against the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar., and on the 24th called the Irish bill ‘illegal, unconstitutional, immoral and inequitable, and not a measure of restoration, but of destruction’. He complained that house assessments were inadequate in Ireland and that a £10 householder qualification would lead to almost universal suffrage in Dublin, 25 Mar., and he presented and endorsed Dublin common council’s petition against reform, especially as an invasion of freeman rights, 29 Mar. He divided for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, which precipitated a dissolution, 19 Apr. 1831.
For the radical William Carpenter, Moore was ‘intolerant in religion and illiberal in politics’, while Sheil, who emphasized the contrast between his ‘mild manners and violent opinions’, commented that ‘it was pleasant to see him in the House of Commons delivering himself of the most ferocious conceptions in the gentlest and most simpering fashion: he was happily called Sir Forcible Feeble’.27 He offered again as an anti-reformer at the general election of 1831, when Anglesey, the reinstated lord lieutenant, advised the prime minister that he ‘has a very lucrative office, during pleasure, and if he stands and acts against the government (which he will certainly do) ... surely he ought to be removed’.28 He came fourth, behind two reformers and Shaw, for whom he plumped, in the bitter contest that ensued, after which he blamed his defeat on the improper influence wielded by the Irish government.29 He refused either to contribute to the cost of the subsequent election petition or, once the election had been voided, to enter again, as Wellington had wished.30 Perhaps, as was suspected, he had decided not to endanger his official position by antagonizing ministers, but in any case he retired by issuing a face saving address, 12 Aug., and received votes of thanks for his services from the merchants’ guild and the corporation. He proposed his replacement Lord Ingestre at the by-election that month and presided at the dinner for him and Shaw after their victory over another pair of reformers. He attended the grand meeting of Protestants in Dublin in December 1831 and continued to be active in their cause.31 He voted for Thomas Lefroy* and Shaw in the Dublin university election of 1832 and for the like-minded high Tory candidates in the city contest that year and at the following two general elections.32
A bill to amend the 1828 Irish Registry of Deeds Act was introduced by Charles Jephson, Member for Mallow, on 21 July 1831 and got as far as the report stage before the prorogation that autumn.33 It was reintroduced, 2 Feb. 1832, by Jephson, who again oversaw its preliminary stages. On 3 Apr., when he explained that, by a treasury blunder, warrants had been issued for the registrar’s salary to be both £1,200 and £1,500, he justified the higher figure as what Moore had been led to expect and as due recompense for his now obligatory attendance at the office, but Sheil carried an amendment in favour of substituting the lower figure by 23-21. Against the opposition of Sheil and Hume, Lefroy, who had the support of Shaw and ministers, secured the recommittal of the bill by 69-62 in order to reverse this decision, but once in committee Jephson acquiesced in Hume’s call for a select committee on the confusion over the two warrants and this was agreed by 91-25. Jephson reported from the select committee, 10 July, but, at the insistence of the radicals, the bill was again sent back to the second reading committee, from which, after further debates on 24 and 25 July, the amended bill was finally reported on the 26th. Given royal assent on 4 Aug. 1832, the new Act confirmed the salary of £1,500 but also explicitly incapacitated the registrar from being in Parliament.34 Hinting at his political friendship, which he said had been cut short by his opponents’ having inserted a clause to prevent him sitting, in January 1835 Moore unsuccessfully requested Peel, now prime minister, to appoint one of his sons as assistant registrar.35 In July 1843 his own application, on the basis of his long practice in the ecclesiastical courts, for the vacant position of judge of the Irish prerogative court met with a similarly curt negative.36 O’Connell noted in August 1846 that Moore, ‘who has been no less than 48 years at the head of the office, seems much disposed to devote the rest of his life to ease and a more southern climate’, but was willing for O’Connell’s son Morgan O’Connell†, the deputy registrar, to succeed him provided he was granted a full pension. Although no legislative measure was proceeded with to this effect, the arrangement was apparently facilitated that year and Moore duly retired.37 His date of death, which possibly took place abroad, has not been traced. Of his two known sons, William Ogle Moore (1799-1874) was consecutively dean of Cashel and Clogher, and James (b. 1807) was a barrister, who emigrated to Melbourne, Australia in 1840.38
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Stephen Farrell
- 1. King's Inns Admission Pprs. ed. E. Keane, P.B. Phair and T.U. Sadleir, 347.
- 2. Ibid. (sub James Moore).
- 3. Hist. Irish Parl. v. 302.
- 4. Ibid. v. 392, 394; DNB sub Ogle; Index to Prerogative Wills of Ireland ed. Sir A. Vicars, 334.
- 5. PP (1820), viii. 423-9, 442, 470, 479-83, 498-535, 593, 595; R.B. McDowell, Irish Administration, 280.
- 6. Add. 40235, f. 25; Dublin Evening Post, 4 Jan. 1821.
- 7. Dublin Evening Post, 1 Feb. 1825; Dublin Evening Mail, 29 Mar., 7 Apr. 1826; Add. 40319, ff. 167, 171.
- 8. Dublin Evening Post, 8, 10, 13 June; Brougham mss, Abercromby to Brougham, 12 July 1826; Add. 40387, f. 98.
- 9. R.L. Sheil, Sketches of Irish Bar (1854), ii. 357-8; New Monthly Mag. (1831), ii. 1-2.
- 10. Dublin Evening Mail, 2 Oct. 1826.
- 11. Add. 40392, f. 5.
- 12. The Times, 3, 6 Mar.; Nottingham Univ. Lib. Ossington mss acc. 636, Denison diary, 5-6 Mar. 1827.
- 13. PP (1826-7), iv. 1095-1101; The Times, 26 May 1827.
- 14. Dublin Evening Mail, 29 June, 20 July, 17 Oct. 1827; Add. 40394, f. 152.
- 15. NLI mss 8148 (xvii); Add. 40395, f. 221.
- 16. PRO NI, Anglesey mss D619/31F, pp. 20-23; Dublin Evening Post, 20, 22 Mar. 1828.
- 17. CJ, lxxxiii. 208, 480, 535.
- 18. Dublin Evening Post, 16, 26 Aug.; Dublin Evening Mail, 29 Oct., 10 Dec. 1828.
- 19. Wellington mss WP1/972/41.
- 20. Grey mss, Howick jnl.
- 21. Wellington mss WP1/1004/37; NAI, Leveson Gower letter bks. M736, Leveson Gower to Moore, 4 June; Warder, 25 Apr.; Dublin Evening Post, 26 Sept., 1 Oct. 1829.
- 22. Dublin Evening Post, 13 Feb. 1830.
- 23. Ibid. 8 May, 1 June 1830.
- 24. Warder, 24 Apr., 26 June, 3, 7, 17 July, 20 Nov.; Freeman's Jnl. 27 July, 3 Aug. 1830.
- 25. Add. 40327, f. 194; Dublin Evening Post, 6, 13, 22 July, 5, 12, 14 Aug. 1830.
- 26. Dublin Evening Post, 8 Feb.; Dublin Evening Mail, 21 Mar. 1831.
- 27. [W. Carpenter], People's Bk. (1831), 327; Sheil, ii. 357; New Monthly Mag. (1831), ii. 1-2.
- 28. Dublin Evening Post, 28 Apr.; Dublin Evening Mail, 29 Apr., 2 May 1831; Anglesey mss 28C, pp. 106-8.
- 29. Dublin Evening Post, 7, 21 May 1831.
- 30. NLI, Farnham mss 18611 (2), Lefroy to Farnham, 9 Aug.; Wellington mss, Holmes to Arbuthnot, 9 Aug. 1831.
- 31. Dublin Evening Post, 11, 20 Aug.; Dublin Evening Mail, 12, 15, 17, 26 Aug., 12 Dec. 1831.
- 32. Dublin Univ. Pollbook (1832), 20; Dublin Pollbook (1837), 132.
- 33. CJ, lxxxvi. 683, 889.
- 34. Ibid. lxxxvii. 67, 153, 246, 261, 265, 481, 519-20, 526, 532, 555; PP (1831-2), xviii. 751; McDowell, 280-1.
- 35. Add. 40412, f. 36, 40.
- 36. Add. 40531, f. 389; NLI mss 8148 (xviii).
- 37. O'Connell Corresp. viii. 3258.
- 38. Clergy of Dublin and Glendalough, 904; ex inf. Mrs M.B. Wickham of Dunsborough, Western Australia.