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Royal Naval Biography/Moore, Graham


SIR GRAHAM MOORE,

Vice-Admiral of the Blue; Knight Commander of the most honorable Military Order of the Bath, and of the Portuguese Order of the Tower and Sword; and Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean.

This officer is the third son of Dr. Moore, a respectable Physician, and an author of some celebrity, by Miss Simpson, daughter of Professor Simpson of Glasgow University, and a brother of the gallant Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore, who fell at the battle of Corunna, Jan. 16, 1809[1]. He entered the naval service at an early age; was a Lieutenant in 1790; and at the commencement of the war with the French republic, commanded the Bonetta sloop, at Newfoundland, from whence he proceeded to the West Indies. His promotion to the rank of Post-Captain took place April 2, 1794, in which year we find him commanding the Syren, of 32 guns, in the North Sea.

On the 9th May, 1795, Captain Moore assisted at the capture of ten vessels laden with ship timber and naval stores, escorted by an armed brig and a lugger; this convoy had sought protection under a battery, the fire of which Avas soon silenced by the British, but not before the Syren had had 2 men killed and 2 wounded[2].

Captain Moore’s next appointment was to the Melampus, of 42 guns and 267 men, stationed off the French coast. On the 13th Nov. 1796, he drove on shore, and destroyed, at the entrance of Barfleur harbour, l’Etonnant corvette, of 18 guns; and the same day, in company with the Childers sloop, captured l’Etna, afterwards the Cormorant, of 20 guns. Early in the following year, the Melampus formed part of the squadron sent to escort the Princess of Wirtemberg from Harwich to Cuxhaven.

On the 23d. Jan. 1798, Captain Moore, being on a cruize. to the westward, fell in with, and after a short, but close action, captured la Volage French corvette, of 22 guns and 195 men, 4 of whom were killed and 8 wounded. The Melampus had 2 mortally, and 3 severely wounded. The prize, though a national ship, had been lent to, and fitted out by, the merchants of Nantz. Her commander and officers belonged to the republican marine.

On the day succeeding the action between Sir John B. Warren and M. Bompart, off the coast of Ireland, in which the Melampus had but 1 man wounded, Captain Moore was ordered by the Commodore to proceed to St. John’s Bay, in search of a French frigate which had been seen standing in there on the preceding night. At 10h 30’ P.M. he discovered two sail, and after an hour’s chase closed with the nearest, which sustained the Melampus’s fire for 20 minutes, without offering the least resistance, and then surrendered. She proved to be la Resolue, of 40 guns and 500 men, (including troops embarked on board her for the purpose of joining the rebels in Ireland,) 10 of whom were killed, and several wounded. Her companion, the Immortalité, of 42 guns, was afterwards taken by the Fisgard. On the 15th April, 1799, Captain Moore captured le Papillon French privateer, a fine vessel, mounting 10 long nines, and 4 brass 36-pounder carronades, with a complement of 123 men. Three days afterwards he chased le Nantois, a private ship of war, of 14 guns and 150 men, which overset, and all on board perished. In the succeeding year, the Melampus was ordered to the West Indies, where she continued during the remainder of the war[3].

Soon after the renewal of hostilities against France, in 1803, Captain Moore obtained the command of the Indefatigable, of 46 guns, in which ship he was for some time employed on Channel service.

In the month of Sept. 1804, government having received information that orders had been given for arming the Spanish navy, and that the French General Bournonville had received permission to march through Spain towards Ferrol with 1,500 sailors and artillery-men, for the purpose of manning the ships lying at that port, the British Minister at Madrid was instructed to remonstrate with the Spanish government; to require the immediate recall of all orders for the equipment of any maritime force; and in the event of not receiving a satisfactory answer, to leave that capital without delay. At the same time orders were given to prevent any Spanish ships of war from entering into or sailing from Ferrol, and to detain all vessels having specie on board.

On the 5th of the following month, Captain Moore, who had been detached from the Channel fleet to cruize for the treasure-ships then expected from South America, being off Cape St. Mary, in company with the Medusa, Amphion, and Lively frigates, discovered four sail, which formed the line of battle a-head on the approach of the British squadron, and continued to steer for Cadiz, the van ship carrying a broad pendant, and the one next her a Rear-Admiral’s flag. The Medusa being the headmost of the British frigates, her commander (the present Sir John Gore) placed her on the weatherbeam of the Commodore; Captain Moore took a similar position along-side of the Rear-Admiral, the Amphion and Lively each taking an opponent in the same manner, as they came up. After hailing to make them shorten sail, without effect, the Indefatigable fired a shot across the Rear-Admiral’s hawse, on which he shortened sail, and Captain Moore sent a Lieutenant to inform him, that he had orders to detain his squadron, and earnestly wished to execute them without bloodshed. An unsatisfactory answer being returned, a close engagement ensued, when in less than ten minutes la Mercedes, the Spanish Admiral’s second astern, blew up alongside the Amphion, with a tremendous explosion, and all on board perished, with the exception of 40 persons, who were taken up by the boats of her antagonist. In half an hour more, two others struck; and the fourth, having in vain attempted to escape, was captured before sunset. The loss of the British on this occasion was very trifling; but that of the Spaniards was 20 killed and 80 wounded, besides 240 lives lost by the explosion. It was a peculiarly affecting circumstance, that in the ship which blew up, was the lady and eight children of a native of South-America, who with one of his sons, had gone before the action on board another ship, from which he was a melancholy spectator of the dreadful catastrophe.

The lading of the captured vessels was of immense value in gold and silver bullion, and rich merchandize, the destination of which for the service of France, was the reason assigned for their detention, without a previous declaration of war, which was not published till Jan. 24, 1805, six weeks after that of the Spanish government against England.

We next find Captain Moore employed as commander of a squadron sent to escort the royal family of Portugal, from Lisbon to Brazil; on which occasion he was directed by Sir W. Sidney Smith, under whose command he had been for some time serving off the Tagus, to hoist a broad pendant after passing Madeira, in order to give him greater weight and consequence in the performance of the important and unusually delicate duties confided to him[4].

The British squadron, consisting of the Marlborough 74, (to which ship Captain Moore had been appointed in the preceding summer,) London 98, and Monarch and Bedford, 74’s, with 8 Portuguese ships of the line, four frigates, two brigs, and a schooner, accompanied by a large fleet of merchant vessels, reached Rio Janeiro in safety on the 7th Mar. 1808, after a passage of 14 weeks. Previous to his return from thence, our officer was invested by the Prince Regent with the insignia of the Order of the Tower and Sword, revived by H.R.H. immediately on his arrival at Brazil, to celebrate his departure from Lisbon.

In the Autumn of 1809, the Marlborough formed part of the force employed under Sir Richard Strachan at Flushing; and at the close of the same year, when it was deemed necessary to evacuate the island of Walcheren, Captain Moore was charged with the destruction of the basin, arsenal, and sea defences of that place[5]. On the 1st Aug. 1811, he obtained the command of the Royal Sovereign yacht, which had become vacant by the general promotion that took place at that period; and in Jan. 1812, was appointed to the Chatham, a new 74, in which ship he continued till Aug. 12th following, when he was advanced to the rank of Rear-Admiral, and soon after hoisted his flag as Commander-in-Chief in the Baltic. He subsequently served as Captain of the Channel fleet, under Viscount Keith.

Our officer was nominated a K.C.B. Jan. 2, 1815; in the Spring of 1816, he succeeded Lord Henry Paulet at the Board of Admiralty, where he remained till the demise of Sir Thomas F. Freemantle, and then resigned his seat for the purpose of assuming the command in the Mediterranean, for which station he sailed in the Rochefort, of 80 guns, on the 11th Aug. 1820. His promotion to the rank of Vice-Admiral took place Aug. 12th, in the preceding year.

Sir Graham Moore married, March 9, 1812, Dora, daughter of the late Thomas Eden, of Wimbledon, Esq., and niece of William, first Lord Auckland.



  1. The body of Sir John Moore, agreeably to his uniform wish, to be buried near the spot where he might fall, was deposited, without a coffin, in a grave hastily dug by some soldiers, on the ramparts of Corunna; but some months afterwards, the Spanish Marquis de la Romana ordered it to be taken up and interred in the citadel, in a manner worthy the admiration and esteem in which the professional and private character of this distinguished General had been held by all who knew him.
  2. See p. 287.
  3. In addition to the captures already mentioned, Captain Moore, whilst commanding the Melampus, appears to have taken the following privateers; Le Rayon, 6 guns, 54 men; le Mercure, 16 guns, 103 men; a Spanish felucca, 1 gun, 35 men; and assisted at the capture of la Belliqueux, of 18 guns, and 120 men.

    See p. 290.

  4. See p. 320.
  5. See p. 290.