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Moore, James (1807–1895)

by Charles Francis

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974

James Moore (1807-1895), lawyer, pastoralist and banker, was born in January 1807 in Dublin, son of George Moore, Q.C., LL.D., of Kilbride, County Wicklow, and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of James Armstrong. In 1826-31 his father represented Dublin City in parliament and was a descendant of Garrett, first Viscount Moore of Drogheda, whose ancestry traced from the union of John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford. At 16 James entered Trinity College, Dublin (LL.M., 1827; B.A., 1828; M.A., 1832). For twelve years he studied and travelled extensively in Europe, on his last trips accompanied by his friends, Redmond Barry and W. F. Stawell. In 1840 Moore was admitted to the English Bar but did not practise and later that year migrated to Melbourne. He bought land on the St Kilda Esplanade and in partnership with C. J. Griffith took up Glenmore station near Melton. In 1842 Moore married Harriet Maria, daughter of Dr John Watton who had arrived at Melbourne in 1839 and practised medicine before taking up Mount Rouse station. The marriage was blessed with five sons and eight daughters.

From the first Moore was enthusiastic at prospects in the colony and his letters home encouraged many Irish contemporaries including Stawell to migrate to Port Phillip. In 1843 Moore, Griffith and Molesworth Greene went overland on horseback to Portland Bay to study the pastoral possibilities of the Western District. In June 1848 Moore sold his interest in Glenmore to Greene and in 1849 acquired Barjarg station near Benalla. Like many early colonists he was troubled by the vast changes after gold was discovered but, believing that the solution lay in religion rather than politics, he returned to Britain in 1853. He studied arts and theology at Caius College, Cambridge (M.A., 1854), but difficulties with some of the Thirty-nine Articles induced him not to be ordained. In 1856 he returned to Victoria where he developed Warrenbayne near Wangaratta and other stations. By 1863 he had sold them all and made his home in Lonsdale Street, Melbourne.

In 1864 Moore acquired a farm at Moonee Ponds, Melbourne. He sat regularly as a justice of the peace, served on the committee of the Melbourne Hospital, was prominent in the Anglican community and assisted many charitable institutions. In 1867 he became comptroller of the Melbourne Savings Bank. Despite lack of experience in this field his appointment proved fortunate. A strong believer in hard work and thrift, his conservatism in lending lost him some popularity but the policies he helped to promote increased public confidence in the bank and kept it aloof from the rise and collapse of the hysterical land boom. Numerous branches of the bank were opened in Melbourne suburbs and it became one of the world's great savings banks. When Moore retired in 1892 savings deposits with the bank amounted to almost £3,750,000. He died on 6 October 1895 at Richmond and was buried in the old Melbourne cemetery.

Although a conservative Anglo-Irish patrician and perhaps too conscious of his aristocratic ancestry, Moore was learned, high principled, deeply religious and kind. Many descendants live in Melbourne; a plaque depicting him late in life and papers are held by the family.

Select Bibliography

  • T. F. Bride (ed), Letters from Victorian Pioneers (Melb, 1898)
  • M. F. E. Stawell, My Recollections (Lond, 1911)
  • T. Craddock and M. Cavanough, 125 Years: The Story of the State Savings Bank of Victoria (Melb, 1967)
  • Argus (Melbourne), 7 Oct 1895.

Citation details

Charles Francis, 'Moore, James (1807–1895)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/moore-james-4232/text6827, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 23 August 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974

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