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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Moore, David (1824–1898)

by Suzanne G. Mellor

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

David Moore (1824-1898), businessman, was born on 4 February 1824 in Sydney, son of Captain Joseph Moore and his wife Ann, née Bailey. Captain Moore was merchant partner in W. Walker & Co. which was interested mainly in whaling. After schooling David entered the office of Walker & Co. and won distinction as a shrewd businessman. In 1851 he moved to Port Phillip where his reputation from Sydney aided his quick acceptance in mercantile circles. In 1853 he set up in Flinders Lane and in 1855-59 in Bourke Street. He was a founding member of the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce in 1851, a general committee member from 1855 and president in 1857-58, 1873-75 and 1878-79.

At the first Legislative Assembly elections in 1856 Moore was asked to stand for one of the five seats in the Melbourne constituency. All factions supported him because it was important 'that the commercial interests of this young but important city should be represented in the New Parliament', and he was the Chamber of Commerce candidate. Surprisingly he topped the poll. A staunch free trader, he was allied with other liberal-mercantile members like J. McCulloch and J. Service and was a member in 1856-58 of the 'Responsible Reformers' faction with G. S. Evans, Robert McDougall, A. Michie, J. McCulloch and G. S. Horne who were holding the balance of power. With these men and three others Moore voted to overthrow both the first Haines and O'Shanassy governments.

On 29 April 1857 Moore was appointed president of the Board of Land and Works in the second Haines government. He introduced the Haines land bill in May and in June moved the second reading, maintaining that no new provisions were needed for the sale of agricultural land since that already released was often left unused. Like many others he argued that removal of the squatters was impractical but insisted that they should pay more heavily for their privilege of leasing. The vociferous opposition to the bill centred around the Land Convention constituted in July. Genuine land reformers like Service and R. Heales rejected some of the convention's extreme policies and forced amendments providing cheap rentals for farming land, but the bill was rejected by the Legislative Council in September. By early 1858 when the Haines 'party' fell into disarray, Moore, Michie and McCulloch returned to their private affairs, disillusioned by the chaos to which they themselves had contributed. Moore was remembered later as one of the 'old venerables' but no politician. His last public duty was service on the royal commission on the Public Works Department of 1873.

Financially Moore was successful, acquiring large pastoral properties in New South Wales and Victoria. He was a local director of the Bank of New South Wales for forty-two years and served on the London board when he visited England in 1860-61. He was also chairman of the Southern Insurance Co. and had been a director of the Victoria Sugar Co., later merged with the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Ltd, in which he also held big interests. A firm Anglican, he was warden of Christ Church, St Kilda, for twenty years. He died on 11 July 1898, survived by his wife Isabella, née Barass, four daughters and a son Charles, who for years was associated with the family business.

Select Bibliography

  • G. Serle, The Golden Age (Melb, 1963)
  • Argus (Melbourne), 12 July 1898
  • G. R. Quaife, The Nature of Political Conflict in Victoria 1856-57 (M.A. thesis, University of Melbourne, 1964).

Citation details

Suzanne G. Mellor, 'Moore, David (1824–1898)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 29 October 2020.

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

View the front pages for Volume 5

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