George Henry Moore (politician)

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George Henry Moore
George Henry Moore (1810-1870) (Cropped).jpg
Born (1810-03-01)1 March 1810
County Mayo, Ireland
Died 19 April 1870(1870-04-19) (aged 60)
Moore Hall, County Mayo, Ireland
Resting place Kiltoom, Moore Hall, County Mayo.
Residence Moore Hall, County Mayo
Nationality Irish
Alma mater Oscott College
Known for Politician, landowner, activist
Children George Augustus
Maurice George
Parent(s) George Moore and Louisa Browne
Relatives John Moore (uncle)

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 Province of Connacht in the short lived Irish Republic proclaimed by General Humbert upon his arrival in Ireland.[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, in the first of these purchases using his purse of £10,000 from his major win as a steeplechase rider in the Chester Cup; cows were given to many and much grain was imported in bulk, and he encouraged tenants to grow alternative crops to the potato. Mayo was one of the counties worst ravaged by starvation and illness, but 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, County 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." At a meeting in Partry, 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, at Ballintubber and Partry both areas full of destitute people, who benefited from his donations. By the end of the famine Moore, and like-minded landowners, were broken. 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 brilliant hunter and horse racer, "noted for his well trained stud of hunters... of reckless courage with which he rode them around Galway". He set up a series of wagers at race meetings including the Grand National, Tuam and Ballinrobe. His winnings, offset by betting against his own horses, netted him around £3,000,000 by today's reckoning, and these funds helped feed his tenants. He rode Tinderbox in the 1845 Grand National falling at the 10th. His 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). 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, Moore sent £1,000 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 Ballagh (named for Fág an bealach, the traditional war cry the Wild Geese brought with the émigré Gaelic aristocrats to armies across Europe); Faugh a Ballagh was an ex-army steed of the Royal Irish Fusiliers, with whom Moore wagered heavily.

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 stone walls. The race was talked about for years after. 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.

Moore also helped in the organisation the construction of a monastery on Lough Mask near Tourmakeady beneath Tournasala Mountain with the co-operation of Archbishop MacHale and the local firebrand of Ballinrobe, the Rev Peter Conway.

In his youth Moore had been a worry to his parents least of all because of his gambling and 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. Moore Hall was a teetotal manor, so drinking was off limits as the Moore family never partook of alcohol. As was the custom of the time with young beaux, Moore challenged two men in his youth to duels. Both reportedly declined.

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 the Fenians Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa, and John O'Connor Power, the representative for Connacht on the Supreme Council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood. With the support of the local Fenians, in a New Departure, Moore was elected Member for Mayo in 1868. He supported Gladstone's Land Bill. Before his sudden death he placed a notice before the House of Commons 'of his intention to move a resolution on the state of Ireland under the government established by the Union. There can be little doubt that this was to have been the signal for a new campaign for a home government for Ireland'.[6]

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


  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. ^ Terence de Vere White, The Road of Excess, 1946, p.239.


 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
With: Charles Bingham, Lord Bingham
Succeeded by
George Ekins Browne
Charles Bingham, Lord Bingham