Moore, Sir Edward (c.1530–1602), soldier and settler, was second son of John Moore of Benenden, Kent, England, and his wife Margaret, daughter and heir of John Dering of Surrenden in Pluckley, Kent. A follower of the earl of Warwick, he served in the English garrison at Berwick on the Scottish border during the 1550s before going to Ireland c.1561, probably having been encouraged to do so by his kinsman Sir Henry Sidney (qv), who had held senior appointments in Ireland in the late 1550s.
Guardian of Mellifont About 1563 Moore married Elizabeth, daughter and coheir of Nicholas Clifford of Chart, in Kent, and his wife Mary Harpur. Thrice widowed, she had previously been married to Sir William Brabazon (qv) (d. 1552), Christopher Blunt, and Humphrey Warren (d. 1561). Her first husband, Brabazon, had held vast tracts of former monastic property in north Leinster including a twenty-one-year lease, granted in 1551, to the property of the suppressed Cistercian monastery at Mellifont, Co. Louth, where Moore had established his residence by May 1564. On 20 June 1566 his tenure in Mellifont was confirmed by the crown when it granted him a twenty-one-year lease of the property. By virtue of his possession of this strategic site close to the Ulster border, Moore was to play an important part in the defence of the Pale for nearly forty years. He converted the abbey into a fortress, from which he offered obdurate resistance to repeated incursions into the Pale by the Ulster Irish during the 1560s. As custodian of Mellifont, he also provided sustenance to locals suffering from the devastation caused by these attacks, thereby perpetuating the former monastery's tradition of hospitality. A more sinister aspect to his duties emerged as early as May 1564, when he received the first of a series of pardons for any excesses he may have committed while exercising martial law in Co. Louth. Over the following decade he received at least five further commissions to execute martial law for the defence of Louth and served as sheriff of the county for a number of years. About 1569 he was included on the royal military establishment and given command of a company of twenty Irish kern based at Mellifont.
His military effectiveness owed much to the income of £500 a year which his marriage had brought him, enabling him to hire soldiers and generally hold his own as a semi-private warlord in a frontier territory. This self-sufficiency facilitated his receipt of further grants of strategically important land from the crown, which appreciated that he would require little or no military or financial aid. Many of his men were local Irish, and the authorities in Dublin noted approvingly that he had the respect of a number of Irish lords on the Leinster–Ulster border. Foremost among these was Hugh O'Neill (qv), Baron Dungannon, who sought with the crown's help to make good his pretensions of becoming lord of Tyrone, and thus assisted Moore in resisting the assaults of Turlough Luineach O'Neill (qv), lord of Tyrone from 1567. Their alliance was cemented during the 1560s when Dungannon transferred his title to land at Balgriffin, Co. Dublin, to Moore, which the latter subsequently sold for the considerable price of £900.
Military service and profiteering in the midlands In May 1574 Moore expanded his influence into the midlands when he was authorised to wage war with a force of 300 men on those members of the O'Connors of Offaly who opposed the establishment of an English plantation in the region. This commission gave him very broad discretionary powers, including the right to kill supporters of the O'Connor rebels and to seize the goods of those inhabitants of the Pale who aided them. By June he boasted of having suppressed the midland rebels, but they merely seem to have gone to ground for a time. Moreover, Moore's installation in Offaly aroused the jealousy of Gerald Fitzgerald (qv), earl of Kildare, who regarded the midlands as his personal bailiwick and used his considerable influence to encourage opposition to Moore there. Nonetheless, aided by Kildare's long-term imprisonment for treason in 1575, Moore consolidated his position in Offaly and was appointed constable of Philipstown castle and seneschal of King's Co. in May 1576; he retained the constableship till his death. Operating in a lawless and chaotic environment, he could not afford to be overly scrupulous in his duties. During 1576 he engaged in a private feud with the loyalist Irish lord Barnaby Fitzpatrick (qv) that devastated much of the midlands and impoverished the settlers he had been charged with protecting. Neither was he averse to employing or doing business with rebels if it suited his own interests: prior to his coming to Offaly, he had been accused in 1573 of engaging in commerce with O'Connor rebels, while in 1577 it was alleged that he actively encouraged rebel activity in the midlands.
These criticisms throw a new light on the otherwise puzzling speed with which he expanded his landed interests. During the 1560s and 1570s he acquired a series of leases from the queen: of former monastic properties such as that of the hospital of St John of Ardee, of the monastic cells of Colpe and Duleek, and of the monastery of Gallen, all of which gave him control of huge properties in Co. Louth and Co. Meath; he may have held as much as 51,000 acres. Many of these grants appear merely to confirm purchases of these leases previously made by Moore. Indeed, such was his wealth that he was able to lend large sums of money to the government during the 1560s and 1570s. Even allowing for a highly propitious marriage and his evident shrewdness, such a rapid accumulation of property and wealth can only be explicable if he was engaging in some sharp practice. For example, he appears to have secretly and illegally had the property vested in the constableship of Philipstown transferred to himself. Also, as well as associating himself with Gaelic lords, he adopted some of their more unsavoury (but financially rewarding) habits such as military racketeering.
Relationship with Hugh O'Neill Following the outbreak of the second Desmond rebellion in summer 1579, Moore accompanied the lord justice Sir William Drury (qv) in his campaigns in Munster, for which he was knighted that autumn. By November he had been compelled to return to Mellifont to help resist a feared invasion of Leinster by Turlough Luineach O'Neill. There he earned further approbation from his superiors by dissuading Dungannon from proceeding with his intention to join Turlough Luineach in armed opposition to the government. For the rest of the 1580s, and despite operating on opposite sides of Ireland's great political and ethnic divide, Moore and Dungannon cooperated closely and thereby facilitated their advancement within their respective spheres. Through his own efforts Dungannon supplanted Turlough Luineach as the dominant figure in mid Ulster by the middle of the decade, and the crown accepted this, even creating him earl of Tyrone. Moore undoubtedly facilitated his ally's rise, particularly in his role as adviser on Ulster affairs to Sir John Perrot (qv), lord deputy of Ireland 1584–8. Possibly under Moore's influence, Perrot prioritised the extension of the crown's authority into the previously autonomous lordships of Ulster and regarded Tyrone's ascendancy there as a welcome development. The centrepiece of this strategy was his composition of Ulster, whereby the leading lords agreed to pay for the maintenance of royal soldiers in the province. As someone likely to be acceptable to Tyrone, Moore became the principal collector of this payment, thereby furthering himself both politically and financially. Being a cousin of Francis Walsingham, secretary of state in London, to whom the queen delegated the management of Irish matters during the 1580s, further augmented his clout.
Although not a high-profile figure within the central administration in Dublin, by the end of the 1580s Moore had established himself at a regional level as the linchpin of a formidable political and dynastic network. Three brothers had accompanied him to Ireland and pursued careers in the royal administration and army. The youngest, Sir Thomas Moore, soldiered in Offaly and became a landowner at Croghan. Also, his first wife's previous marriages brought him a clutch of stepsons, many of whom were influential soldiers and landowners. He was particularly close to his Warren stepsons, who held important military offices in King's Co. and in east Ulster. His friendship with the Warrens survived the death of his first wife and subsequent marriage (March 1589) to Dorothy, daughter of Sir Richard Southwell, master of the ordnance in England, and widow of John Wentworth of Essex. The largeness of his extended family was not an unmitigated benefit, encumbering his estate with maintenance payments for some of his stepchildren. His refusal to pay maintenance to one of his Blunt stepsons led to legal action in 1581, after which he was compelled to acknowledge a large debt. Nonetheless, in King's Co., Louth, and parts of Meath he and his associates dominated local society as landowners, military leaders, and royal officials, while in Ulster the Moore axis was perfectly poised to prosper as the crown tightened its hold there.
In fact the crown and its agents had overreached themselves dangerously in Ulster, where attempts to bring the province within the remit of the Dublin administration were threatening by the late 1580s to provoke a furious backlash; not least from Tyrone, who was determined to preserve his quasi-sovereign powers. Moore's levying of the composition tax on various Ulster lordships aroused deep resentment among Tyrone's allies in the province, and strained the previously harmonious relationship between the two men. In spring 1590 Moore became alarmed when Tyrone defied the government by executing one of his local rivals. He warned presciently that unless the government took immediate action to curb Tyrone's power it would be faced with a major crisis.
Political tribulations Fatefully, this advice was disregarded due to Moore's being on the wrong side of a power struggle within the London and Dublin administrations. Indeed, his well-known friendship with Tyrone, for so long a source of strength, now became a liability due to the earl's estrangement from the government, and contributed to the most serious reverse of his career. After Perrot stepped down as lord deputy (1588), Sir William Fitzwilliam (qv) assumed this position. During his first stint as lord deputy (1571–5), Fitzwilliam had repeatedly lauded Moore for his service and had been responsible for advancing him into Offaly. However, now regarding Moore as an adherent of his enemy Perrot, Fitzwilliam froze him out and tried to defeat Moore's attempt to undertake the farm of the Ulster composition. At first, Fitzwilliam's hostility mattered little, as Perrot then exercised great influence over the crown's Irish policy from London. Thanks to Perrot, Moore was sworn a member of the Irish privy council in autumn 1589 and given command of a troop of fifty horse in April 1590. The English privy council also ordered Fitzwilliam to rely on Moore in Ulster.
In early 1590 Fitzwilliam accused Perrot of treason, at which the queen established a commission to investigate these claims. Moore was included on this commission, which was composed overwhelmingly of Perrot's clients and which was to interrogate the former priest Dennis O'Roughan who had made the original allegations. However, the death (May 1590) of Walsingham, the patron of Perrot and Moore, led to the emergence of Lord Burleigh, Fitzwilliam's patron, as the dominant minister in London. Perrot was arrested, while his supporters in Ireland were subjected to legal harassment. In June O'Roughan accused Moore (probably correctly) of presiding over his torture, while Fitzwilliam's hints that he was part of a treasonous combination (involving Tyrone) sealed his fate. By the start of 1591 Moore was imprisoned in London. At some point later that year he was released on bonds but still faced a trial in the court of castle chamber in Dublin, and found the manner in which he had acquired most of his property coming under official investigation. About this time he conveyed his Mellifont property to Sir Anthony St Leger (qv) to hold in trust in order to forestall a potential royal confiscation. In the end nothing came of these proceedings, although he was expelled from the Irish privy council and stripped of his troop of horse.
Rehabilitation and Tyrone's rebellion Moore kept a low profile for a time and seems to have spent most of 1592–4 in England. Embittered by his treatment and eager to destabilise Fitzwilliam's administration, he allowed Mellifont to be used as a place of refuge in early 1592 by Hugh O'Donnell (qv) who was a recent escapee from Dublin Castle, a close ally of Tyrone, and a future rebel leader. Fitzwilliam's recall as lord deputy in 1594 quickly led to Moore's political rehabilitation and put a stop to any further flirtations with Tyrone and his confederates in their rebellious designs. Had he not been in disgrace for 1590–94, he might have been able to prevent the gradual breakdown in relations between Tyrone and the Dublin administration, but by the time the government belatedly dispatched him to Ireland in autumn 1594 the drift towards war had become irreversible. Finding the defences of the northern borders of the Pale to be inadequate, he was happy to agree to a series of rolling truces with the rebel confederation of Ulster lords led by Tyrone, and believed that a peaceful resolution was possible. His optimism in this regard was understandable, as his estates in north Leinster would effectively become the front line in a war between the crown and the Ulster confederates.
After intermittent fighting during 1595–6, he was involved in further attempts in July 1596 to broker an end to the conflict. He brought Tyrone a royal pardon and another truce was agreed. This time, however, Moore was under no illusions: in his report to the lord deputy, William Russell (qv), he declared that Tyrone would not submit to the crown and had thrown his lot in with Spain. Sensitive to claims of softness on his part towards Tyrone, he requested that he be excluded from any future talks with the rebel leader, pleading ill health. Although the truce lasted till early 1597, this did not prevent a series of raids by rebel forces on north Leinster in late 1596. He sought to preserve his properties from these attacks but was unable to participate in the fighting due to age and illness, delegating that role to his son and heir Garret (qv), who was granted a command in the royal army in 1597. The attacks on his estates by rebels, and the burden of often having royal soldiers quartered on his lands, left him in financial difficulties and meant he struggled to pay an annual rent of £600 due to the crown for his lands, although revenues from estates inherited from his father and cousin in Kent provided some relief. In order to encourage him the queen restored him to the Irish privy council in March 1599.
The same year he was described approvingly as one of only two English proprietors who had not fled Co. Louth, but for some royal officers this was seen as proof that he was colluding with Tyrone. In 1598, and again in 1600, his son Garret was accused of aiding the rebels and it was said that Mellifont was left relatively unscathed while neighbouring properties were ruined by rebel onslaughts. These allegations, which were not acted on, were substantially untrue and Garret served with distinction against the rebels, but it is possible that at times the Moores and Tyrone may have pursued a decidedly neighbourly mode of warfare. Significantly, during his talks with Tyrone in summer 1596, the rebel leader had informed him of an impending uprising in the midlands, warning him to look to his family, friends, and property in Offaly.
That said, such accommodations could only hope to mitigate the harsh realities of war, and even then only temporarily. In autumn 1601, as the nine years’ war reached its climax following the landing of Spanish forces as Kinsale, Tyrone led his forces through the Pale in overwhelming strength and devastated Moore's estates. In the aftermath of these depredations he claimed to be facing financial ruin, having suffered losses of £3,000. During his last days he harboured rather exaggerated fears that he would forfeit his lands due to his inability to pay his royal rents. He died early in 1602, by 10 March at the latest, and was buried in St Peter's Church, Drogheda.