Moore, John (1767–99), ‘president of the government of Connacht’, was the third of seven children born in Alicante, Spain, to George Moore (1729–99), merchant, of Ashbrook and Moore Hall, Co. Mayo, and Alicante, and Catherine de Killikelly of Lydican Castle, near Gort, Co. Galway, and Spain, where she married Moore at Bilbao in 1765. The couple's first two children died young and John was the eldest surviving son. Educated at Liège, Belgium, and subsequently at the University of Paris, the young heir stayed at the Collège des Irlandais. George Moore took the oath of allegiance to the crown in 1780 and subsequently inherited the Ashbrook property from his brother Robert (d. 1783). He began to build Moore Hall in 1792, and the family was living there by 1796. His son John was admitted a student in the Inner Temple in London on 3 August 1785, and on 30 January 1795 was called to the bar in Dublin, but there is no record of his ever having practised in Ireland. John seriously displeased his father in some way in 1793. He promised to reform, but we have no information concerning his life for the period from January 1795 to his interview with the French general Jean-Joseph Amable Humbert (qv) in Castlebar on 27 August 1798.
Moore had shown an interest in politics in his youth, but denied he was ever a member of the Society of United Irishmen. It would appear that he conformed to the loyalist stance of most property-owners of the period, both catholic and protestant. Moore Hall was attacked and plundered by the rebels on 30 August, and on the following day George Moore sent his son to Castlebar to seek protection from the French general. Humbert was so impressed by the social standing of the young man and his fluency in the French language that he appointed him ‘president of the government of the province of Connacht’. This government of local gentlemen was to administer the province, and one of their duties was to provide subsistence for the French and Irish armies. Humbert demanded a contribution of 1,000 guineas (£1,050) from the inhabitants of Castlebar on Sunday 2 September, and to this end Moore was obliged to sign some assignats. The French troops evacuated Castlebar on Tuesday, and the président spent that day with a magistrate in endeavouring to prevent arms from falling into the hands of the rebels, and to preserve the cattle near the town for the use of the loyal troops. However, that night Moore was arrested by Col. Crawford with the incriminating French commission of president on his person, and so began his sufferings of some fifteen months.
He was lodged in the county gaol in Castlebar, and the Moore family hired an attorney, Alexander McDonnell, for his defence. His fate depended on the outcome of a struggle between the military and civil authorities. Drumhead courts-martial were the norm immediately after the insurrection, but officially the civil courts were in operation from September 1798 until the beginning of April 1799, when Maj.-gen. Trench and certain diehard loyalists demanded the reintroduction of military courts.
Moore wished for a speedy trial but instead became the victim of the tussle between the two authorities, being brought successively to abortive trials at Athlone, Dublin, and Castlebar. This last court-martial in Castlebar in November 1799 was adjourned because of the rapid deterioration in the prisoner's health. It would appear that the state did not know what to do with John Moore, a member of a wealthy catholic family, who had not been caught bearing arms, and who had, moreover, become a martyr in the minds of the local people; and it was decided that in the interests of passing the proposed act of union, it would be advisable to urge him and a few others of some importance to accept transportation under the terms of the proclamation of 21 September. Accordingly, a party of fourteen prisoners arrived in Waterford on 16 November. The six of higher rank were lodged in a room in the Royal Tavern. By this time Moore was so emaciated from illness that his attendants were obliged to carry him from his carriage to the tavern. To add to his agony he heard of his father's death in a letter written by a friend on 14 November. His death ‘of a lingering and obstinate disorder’ was reported on 17 December 1799. His remains were interred privately at Ballygunner cemetery. The burial place was forgotten until 1961, when the grave was identified and the remains reinterred on the Green, Castlebar, with appropriate civil and military honours.