Moore, Sir Garret (c.1566–1627), 1st Viscount Moore of Drogheda , landowner and soldier, was the second and eldest surviving son of Sir Edward Moore (qv) of Mellifont, Co. Louth, and his first wife, Elizabeth, daughter and co-heir of Nicholas Clifford of Chart, Kent, England. Due to Sir Edward's disgrace on politically motivated charges of treason, Moore began about 1592 to play a leading role in the management of his father's large estates in Co. Louth, Co. Meath, and King's Co. (Offaly). In early 1592, probably because he bore a grudge against the lord deputy of Ireland, Sir William Fitzwilliam (qv), over his father's treatment, he harboured Hugh O'Donnell (qv), recent escapee from Dublin Castle and future rebel, in his residence at Mellifont.
Hugh O'Neill and the Nine Years War As agents of the centralising protestant state in a frontier territory, the Moores tried to mitigate their military vulnerability by cultivating good relations with their Gaelic Irish neighbours. Moore and his father were particularly close to Hugh O'Neill (qv), earl of Tyrone, who, however, assembled a confederation of Ulster lords determined to resist royal encroachments into the province during the early 1590s. From 1594 Garret and Sir Edward acted as intermediaries between Tyrone and the government in a series of diplomatic initiatives, all of which failed to halt the drift towards a destructive and prolonged war. On 12 March 1594 Garret arranged a meeting between Tyrone and a group of royal commissioners outside Dundalk. A dramatic (but probably staged) scene ensued, whereby Tyrone protested his loyalty but was virtually dragged away by his fellow confederates, who had accompanied him to the parley. Moore and Thomas Lee (qv) followed them but hastily withdrew when members of the rebel party levelled their muskets at them. In January 1596 Moore was present at another meeting between Tyrone and royal commissioners near Dundalk, but again the meeting failed to provide a breakthrough. That November he is said to have distinguished himself in resisting rebel attacks on Co. Louth, and in 1597 the lord deputy, Thomas Burgh (qv), gave him command of a troop of thirty horse in the royal army.
However, in January 1598 William Paule, an army officer who had been arrested after Moore's half-brother Sir Henry Warren alleged he had falsified army musters, accused Moore and Warren of treason. He claimed that the recently deceased Burgh had discovered that Moore and Warren were in secret communication with the rebels, for which they had poisoned him. In May Paule alleged that he had been attacked by Moore on his way to Swords, Co. Dublin, for having aired his concerns about Moore to the authorities, and that one of Moore's own kinsmen had been killed at Moore's behest for fear of what he might reveal. The matter rested until July 1600, when Owen O'Neill accused Moore of providing Tyrone with intelligence and of indicating that he would never serve against the rebel earl. Moore had been in contact with Tyrone that spring, but this was in relation to a prisoner exchange that he had been trying to arrange with the government's approval.
In any case his superiors had no doubts about his loyalty, appointing him to a commission for the defence of Louth and Meath (1 May 1598), giving him command of 100 foot along with his troop of horse (1599), and knighting him (6 September 1599). He seems to have been active against the rebels in Cavan and Monaghan, and in summer 1601 was stationed in the newly established fort at the River Blackwater on the borders of Tyrone's personal lordship. That October, as the Nine Years War approached its climax following the landing of a Spanish expeditionary force at Kinsale, Tyrone marched through the Pale in overwhelming strength and devastated the Moore estates, which would appear to give the lie to the earlier allegations that Moore was secretly confederated with the rebels. In November he marched south as part of reinforcements dispatched to assist the royal forces besieging the Spanish at Kinsale, Co. Cork. He remained for the duration of the siege and for the royal army's victory over Tyrone's forces outside Kinsale in December.
After his father's death in early 1602, he succeeded both to his estates and to his constableship of Philipstown in King's Co.; this position was later confirmed to him for life. That summer he campaigned as part of Mountjoy's main field army, which overran the rebel heartland in mid-Ulster, while in November he secured the surrender of a number of leading rebels in Cavan. However, Tyrone proved frustratingly elusive, and in November 1602 the rebel leader informed the government through Moore that he was prepared to negotiate the terms of his surrender. Having been authorised to treat with Tyrone, he rode alone from Dungannon to meet the earl in his fastness on the night of 27 March 1603, persuading him to come to Togher, near Dungannon, on 29 March and place himself in Sir William Godolphin's custody. They then hastened to Mellifont, arriving on the evening of 30 March, where Tyrone submitted to the lord deputy of Ireland, Charles Blount (qv), Lord Mountjoy, on relatively lenient terms thereby bringing the war to a close. The political uncertainty caused in England by the death of Queen Elizabeth I the previous week had left Mountjoy desperate to secure Tyrone's submission; Moore's role in facilitating this was greatly appreciated.
The flight of the earls In the aftermath of the war Moore was pardoned (9 June 1603) for any treasons he might have committed, which may refer to certain communications he had with Tyrone during the war, and was appointed seneschal of Co. Cavan and of the town of Kells on 20 June. He was sworn a member of the Irish privy council in autumn 1604, and by 1609 was in receipt of a royal pension. Following the cessation of hostilities in 1603, his company was cashiered but he remained one of the dominant figures in the Ulster–Leinster border region, which continued to be of great strategic importance due to the crown's still-uncertain grip on the northern province. In summer 1605 he was commissioned by the government to put down local disturbances in this area. In recognition of his influence and of the fact that he was able to raise and maintain soldiers out of his private resources, the cash-strapped government granted him the command of a troop of twenty-five horse in September 1607.
He had inherited from his father vast estates in the counties of Meath, Louth, Westmeath, King's Co., and Cavan; at his death he held at least 51,000 acres. However, most of these territories were leased from the crown. By 1608 he had succeeded in having these leases extended to last at least another seventy years, but he complained that he paid more in rents to the crown than any other landholder in Ireland. His ultimate goal was to have all his lands passed to him in fee farm, which would have made them his permanent possessions.
His efforts in this regard were furthered by Sir Arthur Chichester (qv), lord deputy of Ireland (1605–16), with whom he established a close relationship and who was often a guest at his house in Mellifont. A less welcome but equally regular visitor throughout 1603–7 was Tyrone, whose relations with the government (and particularly with Chichester) remained fraught. Later Moore claimed that he wished to discourage Tyrone from visiting but that Chichester dissuaded him from doing so, as the earl would immediately suspect that the government was behind this.
In May 1607 Sir Christopher St Lawrence (qv), 9th Baron Howth, informed the government of Tyrone's involvement in a plot hatched by leading members of the catholic nobility, to rebel against the crown with Spanish assistance. Howth was well known to Moore, the two men having served together in the royal army during the Nine Years War when they had clashed bitterly. Then, Howth's attempts to build a personal power base in Moore's personal bailiwick of north Leinster had been vigorously opposed by the latter, who had eventually succeeded in discrediting his rival. Unconvinced by the accuracy of Howth's claims and even suspecting that the baron was acting as a double agent, Chichester ordered Moore to monitor the activities of Howth and of certain disaffected nobles, but does not seem to have told him of Howth's role as a government spy. He reported on meetings held during that period between Howth and Ruaidhrí O'Donnell (qv), earl of Tyrconnell, who was a close ally of Tyrone, and also met with Howth at Mellifont in August.
Both Moore and Chichester also spoke with Tyrone at Slane (29 August), where they tried to gauge his intentions. Initially Moore judged that, although troubled by reports that King James I was displeased with him, Tyrone would comply with a royal summons to London, made in July. However, Moore and Tyrone then proceeded from Slane to Mellifont where the clearly agitated earl complained while in his cups that the king had turned against him. On leaving the next day, Tyrone brought away his son, whom he had fostered out to the Moores, and treated the Moore family to an emotional farewell. Moore immediately went to Dublin to inform Chichester, who put his forces on high alert. In the event Tyrone fled into exile some days later.
Renewed charges of treason The power vacuum created by the flight of Tyrone and other leading Ulster lords destabilised the province, leading to an upsurge in violence. In December 1607 Chichester authorised Moore to lead 200 soldiers into Cavan in pursuit of Richard Nugent (qv), Lord Delvin, who had escaped from Dublin castle after being arrested on suspicion of treason. However, the political fallout from the ‘flight of the earls’ proved far more threatening to Moore's position. Still nursing a grudge against Moore and convinced that Chichester had deliberately exposed him as a government informer, Howth stated in February 1608 that Moore had declared his knowledge of and support for Tyrone's projected uprising at their meeting in Mellifont the previous August. The fact that Moore's career to date had been dogged by innuendo surrounding his relationship with Tyrone, and that he had met with the earl immediately prior to his departure, facilitated Howth in casting these aspersions on his loyalty.
Howth also claimed that Moore's chaplain John Aston was a sorcerer and that he had invoked the Devil in order to foresee the consequences of Tyrone's flight, presumably at his master's behest. Rumors that Aston practiced magic had been rife in Ireland in late 1607, and Aston voluntarily confessed as much (while denying that he had engaged in a compact with the Devil) in February 1608 to the incredulous Chichester, implicating both Moore and the lord chancellor of Ireland, Thomas Jones (qv), in these activities. Jones said that one of his servants had, without his knowledge, turned to Aston to divine who had stolen a certain sum of money from his master. In his own defence Moore protested that he had employed Aston from November 1605 on the recommendation of the bishop of Chester and of a gentleman of the king's privy chamber, and that he had expelled him from his household after about a year as his true nature became apparent. He denounced Aston in the strongest terms as a moral reprobate, and argued that his testimony was based on a desire to revenge himself on Moore. By May, Aston had admitted to merely posing as a sorcerer, but the suspicion remained that Moore and Jones had believed him to be one and had asked him to use his powers on their behalf.
This affair was greatly embarrassing, but a belief in the occult was not uncommon among even the highest ranks of society during this period. The revelations regarding Tyrone were far more dangerous. The charge that Moore, a pillar of the protestant establishment, would collude with Tyrone in treason was fantastical, but that was beside the point. In many respects, Moore was a pawn in a bigger political game in which the credibility of Chichester's lord deputyship of Ireland was at stake. The crisis that gripped Ireland for much of 1607–8, and which threatened to become a full-scale rebellion, had been largely precipitated by Chichester's aggressive harrying of the earls and by his vigorous persecution of catholicism during 1605–7. Such was the king's desperation to appease catholic opinion that he contemplated replacing his lord deputy in spring 1608, and Howth's charges against a member of Chichester's inner circle could have provided a pretext for doing so. Despite affecting nonchalance in his correspondence, Chichester felt threatened by Howth's proceedings and exerted himself to secure Moore's acquittal.
Aware that Howth was gathering evidence against him, Moore sent a messenger to tell the baron that he was a coward and a liar. This was designed to provoke the notoriously volatile Howth into coming forward before he had fully prepared his case, and he took the bait by formally accusing Moore of abetting Tyrone's flight (3 May 1608). Subsequently Howth expanded on these claims to assert that Moore and his father had aided Tyrone during the Nine Years War, that Moore had also assisted the flight from Ireland earlier in 1607 of Cuchonnacht Maguire (Mág Uidhir) (qv), and that Moore had assured Tyrone that he would join him on his return to Ireland at the head of an invading Spanish army. During the course of the summer Moore and his supporters were able to uncover the identity of some of Howth's intended witnesses, whom they successfully intimidated or otherwise dissuaded from testifying. Later Howth alleged that Chichester had wrongfully revealed to Moore details of the charges made against him. In September 1608 Moore was suspended from the Irish privy council pending the resolution of the case. Meanwhile, the rivalry between Moore and Howth led to violence during the course of 1608, in which some Irish soldiers in Moore's pay, under the leadership of Shane O'Carolan, killed one of Howth's retainers. Howth pressed for the trial and execution of Shane O'Carolan and his associates, but Chichester eventually granted them a royal protection.
Exoneration, honours, and death With Howth unwilling to submit his evidence to Chichester, the king summoned Moore and Howth to England to arbitrate on the affair. In January 1609 Moore went to England with Chichester taking bonds of £8,000 for his appearance before the relevant authorities, and was questioned by royal officials in England in March. However, by then it was apparent that Tyrone's flight had led to the consolidation of royal power in Ulster: Chichester's methods had been vindicated. Moreover, Howth's evidence was weak and the witness he produced, claiming to have overheard Moore plot treason, was discredited. Thus, on 28 April the king declared his confidence in Moore's loyalty and permitted him to return to Ireland.
Having been acquitted and enjoying the backing of the Dublin administration, Moore was able to harass Howth with impunity back in Ireland and eventually forced him to withdraw to England for his own safety. With his dangerous friendship with Tyrone no longer an issue he was able to keep a lower profile thereafter and consolidated his position as one of the leading landowners in Leinster. He continued to benefit from official favour, being granted 1,000 acres in the Ulster plantation at Orior in Armagh (1610), obtaining a grant of all his lands in fee farm (January 1612), and being created Baron Moore of Mellifont (15 February 1615), and Viscount Moore of Drogheda (7 February 1621). He was also elected as MP for Dungannon in the 1613–15 Irish parliament. On 9 November 1627 he died at Drogheda, and was buried in St Peter's church there on 13 December.
He married Mary (d. 3 June 1654), daughter of Sir Henry Colley, of Castle Carbery, Co. Kildare; they had seven sons and five daughters. He was succeeded by his third son, Charles (qv). His widow married Charles Wilmot (qv), 1st Viscount Wilmot of Athlone.