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Sir John Moore

6 March 2019

Sir John Moore - Attended the High School of Glasgow: 1768(?)-1772

Sir John Moore was born to Reverend-Physician John Moore and his wife in the Trongate district in the centre of old Glasgow. He was educated at the High School of Glasgow until he was 11 years old, and then joined his father on a tour of the continent whilst being a companion to the 8th Duke of Hamilton. During his grand tour of Europe, Moore fist-fought a pair of French noble youths, accidentally fired a pistol (injuring a maid), wounded the Duke in a play sword-fight, and was injured from a volcanic explosion on Mount Vesuvius. Always having a keen interest in militia, the highlight of the tour for Moore was meeting the Earl Marischal of Scotland and watching the 40,000 troops under the Earl’s direction perform manoeuvres. The Earl Marischal was thoroughly impressed with the youth and presented him with a pocket-sized edition of Horace and a fine pair of Prussian pistols - which Moore would carry for the rest of his life.

Moore began his formal military career at the age of fifteen through a generous ensigncy purchased by his patron. He quickly progressed through the ranks to become Quartermaster and Lieutenant at the age of seventeen while on a campaign in the American War of Independence. Moore was known to be fearless of his own death, but it is believed that he never killed a man by his own hand as “the moralistic upbringing that he had received prevented him from actually killing a man other than as an act of self-preservation” (Day pp. 15). Throughout his military career Moore served in the American Colonies, Ireland, Gibraltar, Toulon, Corsica, the West Indies, Holland, Egypt, Sicily, Sweden, and finally Iberia. During a time of peace, Moore also served as a Member of Parliament between 1784-1787.

In his final campaign, Moore was called upon to defend a portion of Spain from the advances of Napoleon’s troops. Moore was against the campaign as he had doubts of success in the region, but was compelled into service by his political enemy. The eventual victory at Corunna is attributed to Moore’s fair and equitable treatment of his troops which engendered their loyalty towards him, as well as his perseverance and courage. After being mortally injured on the battlefield of Corunna, Moore continued to direct his troops and only succumbed to death when he was assured of the British victory. Among his final words were “I hope that the people of England will be satisfied. I hope my country will do me justice” (Day pp. 208).

Moore House was named to commemorate Sir John Moore in 1917 by the Rector, Peter Pinkerton. The pistols and copy of Horace gifted to Sir John Moore by the Earl Marischal are on display within the High School of Glasgow.

Day, R. (2001) The life of sir John Moore: Not a drum was heard. United Kingdom: Pen & Sword Books.

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