George Henry Moore (politician)

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For other people named George Moore, see George Moore (disambiguation).

George Henry Moore (1 March 1810 – 19 April 1870) was an Irish politician who served as Member of Parliament (MP) for Mayo in the Parliament of the United Kingdom.[1] He was one of the founders of the Catholic Defence Association and a leader of the Independent Irish Party. He was also father of the writer George A. Moore and the politician Maurice George Moore. Their ancestral home, Moore Hall was burned down in 1923 by the anti-Treaty IRA during the Irish Civil War.

Public life[edit]

His uncle John Moore had been appointed President of the short lived Republic of Connacht in the 1798 rebellion by General Humbert at Castlebar.[2]

The Independent Irish party was damaged by weak leaders and by the lack of support its received from the Roman Catholic Church. Charles Gavan Duffy left in despair and went to Australia. Frederick Lucas proved an ineffective leader, while his successor, George Henry Moore, its new leader, having got elected in his Mayo constituency through clerical help, was defeated by clerical opposition at the 1857 general election.[3]

The party split over an internal row over its oath, and faded into oblivion. Members of the group participated in the meeting of MPs in 1859, which agreed to support the Second Palmerston Government and which is often regarded as the formal foundation of the Liberal Party.

Moore contested aggressively against John Sadleir and William Keogh, former allies and friends whom he disowned, in elections upon many occasions, in various constituencies wherever they presented themselves, and at some expense after the two abandoned their principles and party to take British Government positions within the Irish administration.[4]

During the Irish potato famine Moore purchased livestock for his tenants; cows were given to many and much grain was imported in bulk, and he encouraged tenants to grow alternative crops to the potato. None of his tenants starved, nor were any evicted. Full remission for any tenant paying £5 per year and 75% remission for those paying under £10 per annum were ordered.

In June 1847, a vessel the Martha Washington was requisitioned by Moore, the Marquess of Sligo and Sir Robert Lynch-Blosse. The ship was laden with 1,000 tonnes of flour in New Orleans and discharged at Westport Mayo, the cargo distributed among their tenants at a combined loss of £4819.0.6d. As the famine got worse Moore gave grazing lands to the people and placed others directly under his care on his own estate at Moore Hall.

Speaking out in parliament for the Irish in the famine, Moore declared that "disaster followed every scheme that Lord Trevelyan originated." Also at a meeting in Partry, again against the advice of his mother, he denounced angrily the idea that "a few wandering fanatics and vagabond emissaries" from England could "extinguish" the Catholic Church with Indian meal and soup, during the food for conversion schemes that followed in the footsteps of the famine.[5]

He was chairman of two famine relief committees, one at Ballintubber and secondly, at Partry both areas full of destitute people, who benefited from his donations.

By the end of the famine Moore, and like-minded landowners, were broke. Bankruptcy followed, but Moore was able to buy back large tracts of his land. He had fought two scurrilous libels against The Times regarding the treatment of tenants and his character.

Moore was a keen hunter and horse racer, "noted for his well trained stud of hunters... of reckless courage with which he rode them around Galway".[6] Known as Dog Moore, after his well known horse Wolfdog he set up a series of wagers at race meetings including the Grand National, Tuam and Ballinrobe. His winnings, offset against betting against his own horses, netted him around £3,000,000 by today's reckoning and these funds helped greatly feed his tenantry. He rode Tinderbox in the 1845 Grand National falling at the 10th.

His own brother Augustus, with whom he recklessly hunted, was killed at the 1845 Aintree Grand National while riding Mickey Free the sire of Fenian (winner of the Belmont stakes in 1869), and this was said to be the turning point in George's life whereby George gave himself completely to the benefit of the people of his estates.

His other famous steeds were Coranna winner of the Chester Cup in 1846 whose portrait still hangs in the church at Carnacon; after winning with Coranna, George sent £1000 to his tenantry for famine relief-Croaghpatrick was the winner of the Stewards Cup at Goodwood in 1861. A more unusual horse was Faugh a Ballaghan ex-army steed of the Royal Irish Fusiliers with whom Moore wagered heavily with. A rather wretched looking mule with knock knees, it was able to clear high walls with little effort from a dawdling run up much to the amazement of everyone who witnessed it.

His own greatest personal feat as a jockey was to win the New Melton stakes at Cahir. On land owned by the Marquis of Waterford at Ronscar Moore won on a shelly looking customer the bay gelding, Anonymous. This was said to be one of the greatest races ever run in Ireland, and the jumps included high and tall stone walls. The race was talked about for years after. Both this horse and The Don, another steeplechaser were killed soon after; the former at Worcester racecourse in March 1843 and the latter at the Kings County (Offaly) races, with Moore riding this time, in his familiar blue birdseye jacket. Again Moore swore not to have anything to do with horseracing again after the death of these two beloved mounts, but the promise never held.

Moore also helped in the organisation the construction of a monastery on Lough Mask near Tourmakeady beneath the mountain Tournasala with the cooperation of Archbishop MacHale and the local firebrand of Ballinrobe, the Reverend Peter Conway.

In his youth George had been a worry to his parents least of all because of his gambling habits, and a failure to conclude a formal private education, preferring to pursue an alternative education in billiards at which he became expert, and all the fun that the cities of Bath and London had to offer a young Georgian-era male. However Moore Hall was a teetotal manor, so drinking at least, was off limits as the Moore family never partook of alcohol.

He was a writer of very frank open letters to friends of his mother, and his enemies, of which he gathered many, owing to high temperament, both men and women, including his mother's lady friends, telling them exactly what he thought. In his youth he had travelled the Arab World including Syria.

Moore attempted at least to challenge to a duelling at least two men in his youth; local landowner Joe Mór Mac Dhonnaill of Doo or Dubh Castle, for insulting George Moore senior, and O'Gorman Mahon who later became a parliamentary member with the Irish party and the oldest member of the house in his day. Both perhaps wisely declined, though the latter later fought in Latin America.

Moore was a member of the Fenian Brotherhood but was a strong advocate of friendship with the Orange Lodge. Among visitors to Moorehall in Mayo were O'Donovan Rossa and John O'Connor Power, the representative for Connacht on the Supreme Council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood.

He died on 19 April 1870, at Moore Hall;[3] he was succeeded by his brother-in-law, George Ekins Browne.

His oration was read by the Land League priest, Father Lavelle, and his coffin borne to Carnacon Church by 16 of his tenants; the poor came from all over Mayo to the funeral mass. The interment took place at Kiltoom.


  1. ^ Leigh Rayment's House of Commons pages: M
  2. ^ An Irish Gentleman-George Henry Moore: Maurice George Moore no existing copyright
  3. ^ a b O'Donoghue 1886.
  4. ^ Moore
  5. ^ Hansard
  6. ^ * An Irish Gentleman-George Henry Moore: Maurice George Moore no existing copyright


 O'Donoghue, David James (1886). "Moore, George Henry". In Stephen, Leslie. Dictionary of National Biography 8. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Robert Dillon Browne
Joseph Myles McDonnell
Member of Parliament for Mayo
With: Robert Dillon Browne 1847–1850
George Gore Ousley Higgins 1850–1857
Roger Palmer 1857
Succeeded by
Lord John Browne
Roger Palmer
Preceded by
Lord John Browne
Roger Palmer
Member of Parliament for Mayo
1868 – 1870
With: Charles Bingham, Lord Bingham
Succeeded by
George Ekins Browne
Charles Bingham, Lord Bingham