MOORE, Francis (1559-1621), of East Ilsley and South Fawley, Berks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. 1559, o. and posth. s. of Edward Moore, yeoman, by Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Hall of Tilehurst. educ. Reading g.s.; St. John’s, Oxf. 1574; New Inn; M. Temple 1580, called 1587. m. Anne, da. of William Twitty of Boreham, Essex, 3s. 2da. suc. fa. at birth. Kntd. 1617.1

Offices Held

Counsel and under-steward to Oxf. Univ.; counsel to city of London by 1593; Autumn reader, M. Temple 1607; serjeant-at-law 1614.2

J.p.q. Berks. from c.1592, custos rot. from 1615.


As Moore made his way in the law, the sons of several of the leading Berkshire gentry entered his chambers at the Middle Temple, and Robert Knollys, son of Francis Knollys of Reading and grandson of Sir Francis Knollys treasurer of the Household, was admitted to the inn at his special request. Amongst those for whom he acted as counsel were Anne, Lady Dacre, sister to Lord Buckhurst, lord treasurer and chancellor of Oxford university, and Sir John Smith, the soldier committed to the Tower in 1596 for attempting to start a rebellion in Essex. Though Moore supported a bill for the stricter enforcement of church attendance in 1601, he had associations with Catholic sympathizers including the great Berkshire family of Englefield, and his daughter Elizabeth became a recusant. Perhaps the Englefield connexion played some part in securing Moore his seat at Boroughbridge, for Sir Edward Fitton, the senior burgess, was the uncle of Francis Englefield. At Reading, where his mother had been born and he himself had been at school, he may have needed no help, though he perhaps enjoyed the patronage of the high steward, the 2nd Earl of Essex, nephew of Francis Knollys of Reading.3

Moore was not conspicuously active in his first Parliament of 1589. He was appointed to committees concerning returns (10 Feb.), a private bill (21 Feb.), Exchequer reform (20 Mar.), almshouses in Lambourn, Berkshire (22 Mar.) and a declaration of war with Spain (29 Mar.). In 1593 he was not an MP, but he appeared at the bar of the House on 21 Mar. as counsel for the city of London supporting the exclusion of aliens from the English retail trade.

D’Ewes represents Moore as being one of the first to launch the great attack on monopolies on 7 Nov. 1597. He was appointed to the committee on 10 Nov. and reported the proceedings of a committee considering the form of the reply to the Queen’s message on monopolies on 14 Dec. On 8 Nov. he moved to repeal the statute concerning unnecessary armour and weapons, and was named to the committee appointed the same day. The bill for the town of Wantage was committed to him on 10 Nov. and on 12 Nov. he urged the punishment of Ludlow for an irregular return. After reporting one committee concerned with forestallers and regrators on 14 Nov., he was put in charge of a further committee on the subject on 16 Nov. which he reported on 18 Nov. His committee work during the 1597-8 Parliament comprised a high proportion of legal and private bills but also included topics such as ecclesiastical grievances (14 Nov.), abuses in Oxford and Cambridge colleges (19 Nov.), the export of sheepskins (26 Nov.) and the suppression of ‘lewd and wandering persons pretending to be soldiers and mariners’(20 Dec.). On 16 Jan. 1598 he was one of those appointed to consider the 31 objections raised by the Lords to the Commons’ bill concerning the increase of people for the defence of the realm.

His first speech in the 1601 Parliament contained some controversial ideas on the subsidy (9 Nov.). He moved that

that which was done might be completely done and the subsidy gathered by commission and not by the old roll — for peradventure some were dead, others fallen to poverty, others richer and so ought to be enhanced etc. And withal he said the granting of this subsidy seemed to be the alpha and omega of this Parliament.

On 20 Nov. he renewed his agitation over monopolies:

Mr. Speaker, I know the Queen’s prerogative is a thing curious to be dealt withal, yet all grievances are not comparable. I cannot utter with my tongue or conceive with my heart, the great grievances that the town and country for which I served, suffereth by some of these monopolies: it bringeth the general profit into a private hand, and the end of all is beggary and bondage to the subjects ... there is no act of hers that hath been or is more derogatory to her own Majesty, more odious to the subject, more dangerous to the commonwealth than the granting of these monopolies.

However, Moore seems to have lacked the courage necessary to defend his views under pressure, for on 25 Nov. he addressed the House in very different terms:

I must confess, Mr. Speaker, I moved the House both the last Parliament and this touching this point [monopolies]; but I never meant (and I hope this House thinketh so) to set limits and bounds to the prerogative royal.

He proposed a motion to thank the Queen for her promise to deal with monopolies, and to crave pardon for ‘divers speeches ... made extravagantly in this House, which doubtless have been told her Majesty, and perhaps all ill-conceived of by her’. He was appointed to the conference with the Lords on monopolies on 11 Dec. He was an active speaker on the topic of Members’ liberties and privileges during this Parliament. On 19 Nov. he questioned whether a Member’s servant was entitled to privilege if his master had not yet attended the Parliament or taken the oaths, owing to illness or some other mishap. In general, however, he was a keen defender of parliamentary privilege, urging strong disciplinary measures to be taken against offenders (20 Nov.) and describing an incident when his own servant was ‘well beaten’ (28 Nov.). Moore spoke on the subject of church attendance on 20 Nov.:

... I think the bill intendeth ... only to punish those with the penalty of one shilling which though they be well addicted yet they be negligent. For my own part I do so much desire the furtherance and good success of this bill or any of the like nature, that he that doth not the like, I would he had neither heart to think nor tongue to speak.

He considered the bill for the abolition of gavelkind in Kent ‘a very idle and frivolous bill, and injurious’, giving as one of his reasons on 10 Dec.:

... if the father commit a felony and be hanged, the son shall not lose his inheritance because the custom is, ‘the father to the bough, the son to the plough’ ...

Moore introduced two bills into the House, the first confirming grants of land to and by the Queen (11 Nov.), the second concerning hospitals (2 Dec.). He asked that the bill concerning the continuation of certain statutes be read on 7 Dec., and reported the subsequent committee on 14 Dec. As counsel to the London corporation of vintners he proposed a proviso (10 Dec.) to the bill for the abolition of alehouses. His committee work included the following topics: the order of business (3 Nov.), alehouses (7 Nov.), the town of Rochdale, Lancashire (11 Nov.), the abbreviation of the Michaelmas law term (11 Nov.), the confirmation of grants and letters patent (12 Nov., reported by him 18 Nov.); reported Lords conference (15 Dec.), clothworkers (18 Nov.), Exchequer reform (21 Nov.) and the abuses of the clerk of the market (2 Dec.). On the last day of the 1601 Parliament (19 Dec.), as the House ‘sat quietly one talking with another’, the question arose of the plight of serving women with illegitimate children. The view was put forward that no relief should be offered to the mother, but that penury should be the reward of ‘her own sin and her own impiety’. Francis Moore disagreed:

both in charity and by law they both [mother and child] ought to be relieved, by the express words of the statutes.4

Although he had not then been a reader, he was admitted as an associate to the bench of the Middle Temple in November 1603 at the desire of the lord chancellor, (Sir) Thomas Egerton I, who in 1589 sat for Reading, and of (Sir) John Popham, lord chief justice. On his death on 21 Sept. 1621, he left £1,500 to each of his two daughters as marriage portions. His law reports (King’s bench, 1512-1621) and readings on the statute of charitable uses have enjoyed a high reputation; the former were edited by Sir Geoffrey Palmer, Moore’s son-in-law, and commended in a preface by Sir Matthew Hale, who married Moore’s grand-daughter.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Authors: Alan Harding / M.A.P.


  • 1. DNB; Bodl. Wills Berks. 8, f. 134; Vis. Berks. (Harl. Soc. lvi), 246; VCH Berks. iii. 127; iv. 119, 176.
  • 2. D’Ewes, 505-6; M.T. Recs. ii. 586.
  • 3. Bodl. Wills Berks. 8, f. 134; PCC 98 Dale; M.T. Recs. i. 325, 375; ii. 482, 550; Lansd. 77, f. 71; 86, f. 164; APC, xxvi. 207; Townshend, Hist. Colls. 228; VCH Berks. iii. 330; see also BLOUNT, Richard I.
  • 4. D’Ewes, 430, 436, 450, 451, 454, 505, 506, 553, 554, 555, 556, 557, 558, 559, 562, 563, 564, 571, 572, 573, 575, 581, 583, 592, 624, 629, 632, 634, 635, 642, 644, 645, 647, 650, 653-4, 662, 663, 665, 670, 676, 679, 684, 686, 687; Bull. IHR, xii. 11; Townshend, 19, 103, 104, 109, 114, 115, 121, 203, 207, 222, 225, 228, 229, 233, 252, 260, 290, 303, 304, 308, 313, 323, 334.
  • 5. M.T. Recs. ii. 441; C142/392/111; PCC 98 Dale.