Moore, Henry
1751-1844; e.m. 1779

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WM itinerant, born near Dublin on 21 December 1751. Despite showing academic promise, he was deprived of a university education by his father's death and was apprenticed to a wood engraver. At 19 he left for London and while there developed a taste for the theatre and other pleasures. He heard John Wesley preach, but was unimpressed. Back in Dublin, he was converted in February 1777 under the influence of Samuel Bradburn and the Rev. Edward Smyth, became a local preacher and opened a school. Wesley met him in Liverpool in 1779, appointed him as an itinerant and sent him into the Coleraine Circuit, where he became friends with Alexander Knox. For two years, 1784-1786, he was stationed in London as Wesley's travelling companion and amanuensis, declining to go out to America in 1785 because of his mother's health. Although he resisted Charles Wesley's suggestion that he should enter the Church, he was one of the three preachers ordained by John Wesley in 1789 for the English work. He was present when John Wesley died. As one of his literary executors he was involved in the dispute with Dr John Whitehead over Wesley's papers and hastily prepared an official biography, published in 1792 over his and Thomas Coke's names. (It was rewritten and enlarged in 1824-25.) He later wrote a life of Mary Bosanquet Fletcher (1817).

Moore attended the unofficial meeting at Lichfield in 1794, but opposed any moves lacking the prior approval of the Conference. Later that year his involvement in a celebration of Holy Communion in Bristol led to his being barred from the New Room pulpit by the trustees and a bitter dispute between them and the Conference. A somewhat similar dispute occurred in 1812 while he was stationed at Wesley's Chapel, London; it was not until 1826 that he became one of the first itinerants to administer the Sacrament there. He was twice elected President of the Conference, in 1804 and 1823. By 1836 he was the only surviving itinerant to have been ordained by Wesley himself, but was not invited to participate when ordination by laying on of hands was reintroduced by Conference. In his closing years he opposed the establishment of the Theological Institution. He died in London on 27 April 1844 and was buried in the graveyard at Wesley's Chapel.


'[Moore's life of Wesley], written with a certain reverence, nevertheless displays a degree of mature judgment that was not so evident in his earlier collaboration with Coke. Though Moore intended to answer Southey, he lost no opportunity to attack the work of his old antagonist, Whitehead… Ironically, Moore plagiarized a major portion of Whitehead's work, including many of his firsthand comments ("I have put this here…") and most of his footnotes (citing the old 1771-1774 Works)… Those few passages that are acknowledged as Whitehead's are at times less accurately transcribed than the vast portions of other material that he copies without acknowledgment. And the description of Wesley at the end of his work, which the reader would normally ascribe to Moore's memory, is in large part copied straight from Hampson's work…

'Moore differs drastically from Whitehead, primarily on the matter of the ordinations and the Deed of Declaration of 1784. He is much more apologetic than the previous biographers, defending Wesley at almost every point. He marshalls his sources cleverly in this regard, quoting Whitehead against Hampson, Watson against Soutrhey, and even usiong Southey against Hampson.'

Richard P. Heitzenrater, The Elusive Mr. Wesley (Nashville, 1984) II pp. 178-9

  • 'A Brief Account of his Life and Christian Experience' [autobiographical] in Henry Moore, Sermons on Several Occasions (1830) pp. 279-442
  • Mrs. Richard Smith, The Life of the Rev. Henry Moore… (1844)
  • George Smith, History of Wesleyan Methodism (1858-61) 2 pp.25-9, 107-19
  • G.J. Stevenson, Methodist Worthies (1884-86) 2 pp.210-11
  • Wesley and his Successors (1895) pp. 61-64
  • Oxford DNB