Australian Dictionary of Biography

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: Use double quotes to search for a phrase

Moore, Robert Henry (1872–1964)

by Colin Holden

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000

Robert Henry Moore (1872-1964), Anglican clergyman, was born on 8 June 1872 at Mullingar, County Westmeath, Ireland, son of Joseph Henry Moore, civil engineer, and his wife Elizabeth Jane, née King. Robert's grandfathers were Church of Ireland clergymen. He was educated at Drogheda Grammar School and at Trinity College, Dublin (B.A., 1894; M.A., 1911), where he went on to read theology. Made deacon on 14 June 1896 and ordained priest on 13 June 1897, he served at St Luke's Church, Belfast, in a densely populated parish.

In 1897 Moore responded to an appeal by Bishop Riley for additional clergy to minister to Western Australia's goldrush population. He reached Fremantle in the Oruba on 1 June 1898 and held appointments at Kanowna (1898-99), Mount Morgans (1899-1901), Boulder (1901-05) and Northam (1905-10). Although he retained his strong brogue, he adapted rapidly to his new surroundings and introduced liturgical practices characteristic of the Oxford Movement. He supported the idea of a goldfields diocese, and promoted the building of churches and the creation of larger parish structures. On ecclesiastical issues, he aligned himself with such clergymen as Bishop F. W. Goldsmith who pressed for greater autonomy for the Church of England in Australia. At the Chapel of the Cross, Bishop's House, Perth, on 8 May 1901 he had married Jane Josephine Watterson (d.1916).

Recognition of Moore's energy and leadership came in 1910 when he was appointed a canon of St George's Cathedral, Perth, and in 1911 when he was assigned as priest to St John's Church, Fremantle. Commissioned chaplain, Australian Imperial Force, on 23 November 1917, he served with the 3rd Light Horse Brigade in the Middle East in 1918-19; after he was discharged from the A.I.F. he returned to Fremantle. At St George's Cathedral on 14 September 1921 he married Margaret, the 31-year-old daughter of Archbishop Riley. Archdeacon of Northam and rural dean in 1921-29, Moore was elected dean of Perth in October 1929, under Archbishop Le Fanu.

Moore maintained the cathedral's position as Western Australia's leading Anglican church. He favoured the reservation of the sacrament and wore a biretta, but did not transform St George's into an overtly Anglo-Catholic centre. Due to his efforts, a freestanding altar (west of the roodscreen) was set up and used for a regular liturgy centred on young people; another innovation was the monthly broadcast of a sung Eucharist. Financial constraints imposed during the Depression and lack of support-staff thwarted his intention of creating a large-scale ministry to the working class. As Western Australia's representative on the Anglican and Eastern Churches Association, he encouraged relations with the Greek community and invited Orthodox prelates to the cathedral on special occasions.

In 1947 Moore resigned as dean. He played an active role in the development of the parish of Scarborough as its rector (1947-54), remaining stubborn and intellectually vigorous, and championing the position of modern biblical criticism in debates over evolution. Reports of post-revolutionary society in China fascinated him. Survived by his wife, and their daughter and two sons, and by the daughter and elder son of his first marriage, he died on 20 February 1964 at Subiaco and was buried in Fremantle cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • F. Alexander (ed), Four Bishops and Their See, Perth, Western Australia 1857-1957 (Perth, 1957)
  • J. Tonkin (ed), Religion and Society in Western Australia (Perth, 1987)
  • C. Holden, Ritualist on a Tricycle (Perth, 1997)
  • Western Mail (Perth), 26 Nov, 3 Dec 1910, 18 Feb 1911
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 2 Nov 1929, 12 June 1961
  • Sunday Times (Perth), 2 June 1963
  • West Australian, 8 June 1963, 22 Feb 1964
  • Anglican Church of Australia, Western Australia records, 1834-1990, MN614 3568A/24/7 (State Library of Western Australia)
  • Moore papers, 1872-1964, MN129 (State Library of Western Australia).

Citation details

Colin Holden, 'Moore, Robert Henry (1872–1964)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.online.anu.edu.au/biography/moore-robert-henry-11158/text19877, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 5 December 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000

View the front pages for Volume 15

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2020