Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Moore, George Henry

MOORE, GEORGE HENRY (1811–1870), Irish politician, son of George Moore of Moore Hall, co. Mayo, by his wife, grand-daughter of John Browne, first earl of Altamont, was born at Moore Hall in 1811. The family was catholic, and had been long settled in Mayo. He entered Oscott College, Birmingham, about 1817, and became one of the editors of the 'Oscotian,' a magazine published at the college, contributing in 1826 poems of much promise to it and to the 'Dublin and London Magazine.' In 1827 he entered Christ's College, Cambridge, but does not appear to have graduated. In 1847 he was elected M.P. for his native county. His brilliant oratorical gifts soon brought him to the front, and he became one of the leaders of the tenant-right movement, initiated by Frederick Lucas [q. v.] and Charles (now Sir Charles) Gavan Duffy. He was acknowledged to be the best orator of his party. In 1852 he was again returned for Mayo. The 'great betrayal ' by Sadleir and Keogh, the departure of Gavan Duffy for Australia in 1855, and the death of Frederick Lucas, left him at the head of the tenant-right movement in parliament, and, according to A. M. Sullivan, 'assuredly if genius, courage, and devotion could have repaired what perfidy had destroyed, that gifted son of Mayo had retrieved all' (New Ireland, 1878, p. 248). In 1857 he was again elected, but was unseated on the ground of clerical intimidation. He was offered other constituencies, but, soured by disappointment and disheartened at the state of Irish representation, he remained out of parliament till 1868, when he was once more elected for Mayo without opposition. He died suddenly on 19 April 1870 at Moore Hall, and was buried in the mausoleum attached to his mansion. He married in 1851 Mary, daughter of Maurice Blake, J.P., of Ballinafad, co. Mayo, by whom he left a family. George Moore, novelist and art critic, is his son.

Moore was highly esteemed personally. Sir C. Gavan Duffy says he possessed 'a fine intellect, which was highly cultivated, and rhetorical gifts little inferior to those which had made Sheil a parliamentary personage. . . . Among men whom he esteemed and who were his intellectual peers he was a charming companion, frank, cordial, and winning. . . . With a powerful party behind him he would have uttered speeches almost as full of high passion and as glittering with brilliant conceits as Grattan's' (League of North and South, 1886, pp. 135, 227-8). It was proposed after his death to collect and publish his letters and speeches, and the work was announced as in preparation, but it was never published. His writings and speeches have a distinct literary flavour. A portrait of him appeared in the 'Nation' of 8 Aug. 1868.

[Freeman's Journal, 21 April 1870; Nation, 23 April 1870; other authorities cited in text.]

D. J. O'D.