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George Fletcher Moore George Fletcher Moore i(A36709 works by) (a.k.a. G. F. Moore; G.)
Born: Established: 10 Dec 1798 Tyrone (County),
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Northern Ireland,
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United Kingdom (UK),
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Western Europe, Europe,
; Died: Ceased: 30 Dec 1886 Kensington, London,
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England,
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United Kingdom (UK),
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Western Europe, Europe,

Gender: Male
Arrived in Australia: 30 Oct 1830 Departed from Australia: 1852
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BiographyHistory

Diarist, poet, lawyer, legislator, explorer and farmer, Moore was a pioneer white settler of the Swan River colony, Western Australia.

In his introduction to The Millendon Memoirs (2006), J. M. R. Cameron describes Moore as '[a] keen observer and natural story teller, [who] occupied a central place in the [Swan River] colony as a leading landowner, lawyer and legislator who was active in the social and religious life of the community, and who was widely regarded as an explorer and friend to local Aboriginal people.' (ix)

Moore landed at Fremantle, Western Australia, 30 October 1830 eventually acquiring '24,000 acres of land in fee simple, as well as several allotments in towns.' (Moore, vi.) His principal home and land on the Upper Swan he initially called Hermitage and then Millendon, after the indigenous name for the area.

Before leaving his home in Dublin, Ireland, Moore promised that he would keep his family 'fully informed by each available opportunity ... of every incident and circumstance of my position and life ...' (Moore, v.) Due to the infrequency of shipping, Moore 'turned to keeping a near daily account which could be prepared quickly for sending whenever a ship was about to sail ...' (Cameron, viii). His letters and diary became a 'vivid ... record of [his] many and multi-layered activities as well as those of his servants ...in an isolated part of the world in the 1830s' (Cameron, ix). Moore writes of the voyage out to Western Australia, the struggling Swan River colony, labour problems, food shortages and inflated prices. He includes descriptions of the land, weather, flora and fauna and of the language and way of life of the indigenous people and his interactions with them. He also recounts his observations of and relationships with his fellow settlers.

Moore probably wrote poetry before he left for Western Australia. Writing on 26 January 1832 from the colony he mentions a 'book' in which he wrote, but that he has lost both the book and the 'wonted fire'. (Cameron, 90) Moore worked alongside his servants on his land in the upper Swan Valley and his position and limited time may have turned his creativity to his letters home and to non-fiction pieces, in the form of correspondence, to the Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal. He wrote under the pseudonyms M., G., F. and 'Philaleth'.

Some poetry was published in the Perth Gazette and in the Swan River Guardian. In September 1831 he attended Governor Stirling's first ball, writing a song, 'Western Australia for Me', for the occasion and singing it during the evening. This song was widely circulated to England in the letters of other settlers.

His social and legal position in society and the absence of family led Moore to use his letters home as his confidante. They read almost as a stream of consciousness, as if he is speaking directly to a loved one. He sometimes regrets what he has written, 'How come I to write such bitter & ungrateful looking remarks? I should remember that I am 'writing' & cannot recall the words easily after the feeling which called them into life has passed away.' (28 January 1832) (Cameron, 92) In a later letter he remarks 'I deceive myself into the belief that I am speaking to you.' (4 April 1832) (Cameron, 106) '...remember it is only to my letters ... that I can unburthen my griefs ... [My letters] are imaginary representatives of you ... the letter is the safety valve...' (27 June 1832) (Cameron, 120).

Many settlers left the colony in the first years but Moore was confident the colony would prosper. He joined the Agricultural Society, formed in July 1831, and farmed as well as carried out his various civic duties. He was appointed a commissioner of the Civil Court in Perth, Western Australia, in 1832 and then Advocate General in 1834. He acted in the position of Colonial Secretary and was a director of the Western Australian Bank.

Moore was interested in exploration and especially in the possible existence of an inland sea. William Curry, Jun. and Company published, in Dublin, Ireland, Moore's Evidences of an Inland Sea Collected from the Natives of the Swan River Settlement (1837). This work was republished in a facsimile edition in 2008 by Hesperian Press.

Moore was very interested in the indigenous people of the Swan River and surrounding areas and published articles and correspondence on his observations of their language and culture in the Perth Gazette. He was able to communicate in the language of the indigenous people of the Swan Valley and became an important mediator between them and the white colonists. He understood that there was an established body of Aboriginal law and that the Aboriginal occupants of the land had prior rights and required conciliation and compensation. However he maintained that settlers' property needed protection. His official writing on these subjects, amongst others, are contained in Records of the Colonial Office, Commonwealth and Foreign and Commonwealth Offices, Empire Marketing Board, and Related Bodies (held at the National Archives, Kew, United Kingdom).

Moore left the colony on 6 March 1841 for England and Ireland returning in 1843. He departed the Swan River for what was to be the last time in 1852. Alfred H. Chate in his biographical entry for Moore in the Australian Dictionary of Biography recounts that while on leave in 1852 Moore 'discovered [at the Colonial Office in London] a misunderstanding over his absentee pay and coolness towards his application for an extension of leave'. He resigned and never returned to the colony.

According to Chate, the rest of Moore's life was curtailed by the chronic illness of his wife - Chate quotes Moore 'I fear my chance of seeing Millendon again is feeble and remote'. After his wife's death he lived in London, writing in the 1880s: 'Even in this great city I am almost alone, in my eighty-fifth year'.

Extracts from Moore's journals and letters were published during his lifetime. His journals and letters, excepting his journal of the voyage out to Western Australia, including many of his illustrations are collected in The Millendon Memoirs: George Fletcher Moore's Western Australian Diaries and Letters, 1830-1841 (2006) edited by J. M. R. Cameron.

Sources: Alfred H. Chate, 'Moore, George Fletcher (1798 - 1886)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, Melbourne University Press (1967): 252-253.

George Fletcher Moore, 'Preface: Introductory and Explanatory' Diary of Ten Years Eventful Life of an Early Settler in Western Australia; and, Also a Descriptive Vocabulary of the Language of the Aborigines (1884): v-vi.

J. M. R. Cameron, 'Introduction' The Millendon Memoirs: Geroge Fletcher Moore's Western Australian Diaries and Letters, 1830-1841 (2006): viii-ix.

Most Referenced Works

Notes

  • Papers held in the State Library of Western Australia, Battye Library MN 109, MN 564 and MN 761.
  • See also the full Australian Dictionary of Biography Online entry for Moore, George Fletcher (1798 - 1886).
  • Moore's poetry is indexed separately.
  • Moore mentions in a letter, 4 September 1834, that he thinks 'of calling this place [his grant on the upper Swan] "Millendon" being the native name of it.' (Cameron, 346)
  • Correspondence on the customs of the Indigenous people of the Swan River area is published in the Perth Gazette (12 May 1838): 76. Moore published correspondence on the kily (Moore refutes the name boomerang) and its reception in Ireland in the Perth Gazette (25 August 1838): 136. A report, provided to the Gazette by Moore, of a paper by Samuel Ferguson on the 'Antiquity of the Kilee, or Boomerang' read to the Royal Irish Academy follows this correspondence.
Last amended 2 Jul 2013 09:30:28
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