Moore, Robert Ross Rowan (1811–64), political economist, was born 23 December 1811 in Dublin, the eldest son of William Moore, clergyman, of Garden Hill, Dublin, and his wife, Helena Moore (née Rowan). William Moore belonged to a branch of the Rowallan family who had settled in Ulster in the early seventeenth century. An astute and intelligent student, Moore was initially educated at the Luxembourg School near Dublin, before entering TCD (5 July 1830), where he gained a BA in 1835. He was a frequent participant in the meetings of the College Historical Society, through which he met Thomas Davis (qv) and became his friend, though they differed in political outlook. Moore's belief in greater free trade within the United Kingdom as the best means of ameliorating Ireland's problems contrasted with Davis's vision of an Ireland with greater autonomy. After leaving TCD, Moore briefly taught in Carlow before studying law; he was called to the bar as a member of Gray's Inn, London, in 1837 and King's Inns in 1839.
By this time, however, Moore's real interests lay not in law but in the study of political economy and the advocacy of free trade. On 15 August 1839 he gave a lecture in Dublin ‘On the advantage of mechanics' institutes’, which was afterwards published. He was interested in other issues, particularly slavery, and he became a prominent member of the Irish Anti-Slavery Society. Although slavery had been abolished in the British empire in 1833, the society continued to raise awareness of the condition of former slaves, and in 1841 Moore was involved in a successful campaign to prevent the practice of shipping indentured apprentices to the Caribbean from Ireland.
Moore's main focus was the study and encouragement of free trade and he became strongly committed to the movement for the repeal of the corn laws. He was introduced to John Bright by George Thompson in Dublin in December 1841 and shortly afterwards to Richard Cobden, the two main figures in the Anti-Corn Law League. From then on, Moore devoted himself to the league's campaign for the repeal of the corn laws until its achievement in 1846. He took on a punishing schedule of public meetings in Britain from October 1842 and, accompanied by either Bright or Cobden and other leading figures of the league, spoke at a large number of gatherings in the industrial areas of Lancashire, Yorkshire, and the English midlands. He was also part of a delegation sent to address the supporters of free trade, as well as the farmers and landowners in favour of protection, in the agricultural counties of Cambridgeshire, Hampshire, Surrey, and Sussex in the summer of 1843. In 1844 he was one of the main delegates sent to campaign in Scotland, and he addressed the large meetings held by the Anti-Corn Law League in Covent Garden, London.
Moore's importance to the league can be assessed in a number of ways. The sheer number of meetings he spoke at is testimony to his importance as an authority on free trade, and he was recognised by contemporaries as one of the best fundraisers in the Anti-Corn Law League. He was also honoured at several meetings during his speaking tours: the freedom of Cupar, Scotland, was conferred on him and Richard Cobden in January 1844, and in 1845 he was presented with a commemorative plate by the working men of Exeter. His portrait in the form of a wax medallion was available in large numbers at the league's grand bazaar in Covent Garden in April 1845. Moore also contested the election for the borough of Hastings on behalf of the Anti-Corn Law League in March 1844 but was unsuccessful.
The election for Hastings damaged Moore's already precarious health and he was forced to play a less active role in the league. After the successful climax of the agitation for repeal of the corn laws, he withdrew from public life and, though he visited Ireland on several occasions, he lived in England. He did not return to law as a profession as his health continued to deteriorate. He assisted J. L. Ricardo in the preparation of his book The anatomy of the navigation laws (1847) and later wrote a volume of fables for children (though these were unpublished). Moore moved to Bath, where he died 6 August 1864; he was buried at the Mount Jerome cemetery, Harold's Cross, Dublin.
Moore married Rebecca, daughter of B. C. Fisher, in January 1845, though this was a difficult and short-lived relationship. He had already left his wife before their son, Norman Moore (qv), was born on 8 January 1847 at Higher Broughton, Lancashire. Sir Norman Moore went on to have a successful and notable career as a biographer, medical historian, Gaelic scholar, and dean of St Bartholomew's Hospital in London; he also wrote the biography of his father for the Dictionary of National Biography (1894).