Moore, Arthur (DNB00)

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MOORE, ARTHUR (1666?–1730), economist and politician, said to have been born in Monaghan, Ireland, about 1666, was either the son of the gaoler or of the publican at the prison gate. He was brought up, according to some authorities, as a groom, but Burnet says that he rose ‘from being a footman without any education.’ He studied trade questions, made money rapidly, and in 1695 was returned to parliament for the borough of Grimsby, Lincolnshire. At the election of February 1700-1 general bribery prevailed in that constituency, and although Moore petitioned against the members that were returned he did not claim the seat, and bribery was proved in his interest. With the exception of that short parliament he represented the borough from 1695 to 1715, and he was again elected on a by-vacancy in February 1720-1. In October 1722 he petitioned for the seat, but withdrew his claim next month. He had a house in Grimsby, and was high steward of the borough from 1714 to 1730 (George Oliver, Great Grimsby, 1825, p. 121).

Moore's name appears in 1702 among the managers of the ‘united trade to the East Indies.’ He was a director of the South Sea Company, and was appointed comptroller of the army accounts in 1704. It was reported on 15 April 1701 that he was about to be added to the Prince of Denmark’s council on admiralty affairs. On 30 Sept. 1710, ‘to the great surprise of many wealthy citizens, he was made one of the lords commissioners of trade and plantations (Boyer, p. 476); he held this post during the remainder of the reign. During the last years of Queen Anne he showed great ability in parliament, and was deemed ‘capable of the highest parts of business.' In January 1712, on the Earl of Strafford objecting to Prior as third British plenipotentiary in charge of commercial affairs, the lord privy seal was appointed, who, ‘not being versed in those matters, was obliged to direct himself by the lights he received from Mr. Arthur Moore’ (ib. p. 556). His brother Thomas Moore was made paymaster of the land forces abroad in August 1713. Moore mediated between Harley and St. John in their quarrels, but at last threw in his lot with the latter, and would have filled the office of chancellor of exchequer in the administration which Bolingbroke contemplated. In after years he supported Walpole.

The articles of the treaties with France and Spain (1712) which related to commerce were mainly drawn up by Moore. He was wholly responsible for the eighth and ninth clauses of the 'Treaty of Commerce' which stipulated for a reciprocal tariff between England and France, and he was the most frequent speaker throughout the debates (Tindal, Rapin, iv. 320; Chandler, Debates, v. 4, 11; Wentworth Papers, passim). The treaty, which was the most important approach to free trade before that of Pitt in 1786, raised a storm of angry criticism. St. John wrote to the Duke of Shrewsbury on 25 Jan. 1712-13: 'Never poor proposition was so bandied about as this of using each other reciprocally, ut amicissima gens, has been. The French were in the right to perplex it, because they had a mind to evade it; but surely we from the first should have stuck to that plain article, which is contained in the papers drawn by Mr. Moore' (Correspondence, ii. 207-9). The articles were eventually cancelled, but Moore's vigorous defence of the principles involved in them marked him out for subsequent attack by the irate whigs of the city.

In 1714 it was alleged that Moore, among others, was an interested party in the Assiento contract. His views on the articles of the treaty were certainly very unpalatable to the merchant class, and especially to the South Sea Company, and they had to be largely modified before they won acceptance. On 10 June a committee was appointed by the directors of the South Sea Company to investigate certain charges made against Moore, the most specific being that he had superseded a certain Captain Johnson for conscientiously refusing to take on board his ship sixty tons of goods, to be sent to the West Indies on a private account. The practice of clandestine private trading was by no means unusual at the time. Moore insisted on his complete innocence; but apprehensive that, should a breach of trust be made out against him, he would forfeit all the South Sea stock in his possession, he with great prudence transferred it on the following day (11 June), a proceeding which was generally looked upon as a plain indication that he was not altogether innocent (cf. Boyer, Queen Anne, p. 666). Speaker Onslow, his neighbour in Surrey, who knew him well, goes so far as to apply to him the words, 'Vendidit hic auro patriam.' In July 1714 he was censured by the South Sea Company, of which he had been a director, for being privy to a clandestine trade to the prejudice of the corporation; and he was declared incapable of further employment by the company, to the great wrath of Bolingbroke (ib. pp. 710, 712). The charges against Moore, however, must be carefully discounted in view of the great hostility with which he was regarded, on account of his advanced views, by the bulk of the trading classes (see Treasury Papers, clxxviii. 19).

Moore bought much property in Surrey, including the chief mansion at Fetcham and the advowson of that benefice, the estate of Randalls in Leatherhead, and the farm of Polesden in Great Bookham, but 'his profusion consumed all.' He died on 4 May 1730, 'broken in all respects but in his parts and spirit,' and was buried at Fetcham. A description of his house, which was designed by Tallmen and ornamented by Laguerre, is given in 'Notes and Queries,' 4th ser. ix. 307.

Moore married at St. Bride's, London, on 17 March 1691-2, Susanna, eldest daughter of Dr. Edward Browne (1644-1708) [q. v.], and granddaughter of Sir Thomas Browne [q. v.], by whom he had two daughters, who died in early infancy. His wife was baptised at St. Bride's 4 Sept. 1673, died 23 Feb. 1694-5, and was buried at St. Bride's on 2 March, but the body appears to have been removed to Northfleet in Kent, where a monument was erected to her memory. He married at Westminster Abbey, on 4 Nov. 1696, his second wife, Theophila Smythe of Epsom, daughter and heiress of William Smythe of the Inner Temple, paymaster of the band of pensioners, by Lady Elizabeth, eldest daughter of George, first earl of Berkeley. She was then aged about 20, and she lived until 1739. By this union there were three sons and three daughters. The best known was the third son, James Moore, who assumed the name of Smythe [see Smythe, James Moore].

Moore's figure was disadvantageous, but his manner was 'equal almost to any rank.' His talk was 'a history of the age,' for he was of great experience in business as well as in current affairs, and he knew everybody. The satires and pamphlets of the day often allude to his varied career. He appears to have been on familiar terms with Davenant and with Gregory King. Pope refers to him in the 'Prologue to the Satires,' and Gay, in the lines on Pope's return from Troy, speaks of his 'gravity.'

[Burnet's Hist. of his own Time, ed. 1823, vi. 137, 151-2; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. xi. 157, 177, 197, 2nd ser. v. 8, vi. 13; Chester's Westminster Abbey, p. 34; Sir Thomas Browne's Works, 1836, i. p. ex, pedigree No. 3; Harrop's Bolingbroke, pp. 149, 204-6, 245; Wentworth Papers, pp. 394-405; Luttrell's Brief Hist. Relation, v. 414, 434, vi. 617; Hist. MSS. Comm. llth Rep. App. v. p. 315, 12th Rep. App. ii. p. 410; Rawlinson MS. A. 289 ff. 134, 202, 207, C. 367 f. 96; Add. MS. 22851, ff. 56, 58; Oldfield's Representative Hist.iv. 149-53; Manning and Bray's Surrey, i. 482-3, ii. 671, 689-91; Somerville's Hist, of Great Britain under Queen Anne, pp. 562-3; information most kindly supplied by W. A. S. Hewins, esq., of Oxford.]

W. P. C.