[From The Manx Quarterly, #27]



Deemster Moore

Deemster Moore was born in the Isle of Man, and was a member of a well-known Manx family but until his appointment to the Manx Bench twenty-one years ago, practically the whole of his life, from infancy, had been spent across the water. He is a son of the late Rev. J. J. Stevenson Moore, for many years Vicar of Dagenham, Essex, and a grandson of the late Mr John Stevenson Moore, of Lhergydhoo, German. His grandfather and two of his uncles, the late Mr W. E. Stevenson Moore and the late Mr T. C. S. Moore, were among the first members to be sent to the elective House of Keys. He was educated at Keble College, Oxford, and afterwards joined the Middle Temple, and became a barrister in 1882. In the same year he took an Equity Scholarship and became a prizeman of the Council of Legal Education in Roman law and jurisprudence. He came to the Island as Second Deemster in 1900, the year of the failure of Dumbell's Bank, and the year in which various changes in the judiciary were occasioned by the death of Sir Alured Dumbell then Clerk of the Rolls. The death of Sir James Gell in 1905 brought Deemster Moore promotion, and on the death of Mr Thomas Kneen in 1916, Deemster Moore would, but for reforms which had been made in the Island's constitution, have become Clerk of the Rolls and have sat simply as judge in Chancery and as a member of the Criminal Court and the Appeal Court. By that time, however the office had been abolished, though the'First Deemster was allowed the empty satisfaction of adding to his title the words "and Clerk of the Rolls." Deemster Moore has throughout his judicial career been a member of the Tynwald Court, but he has not taken any prominent part in the work of legislation and administration, save that for a number of years he was chairman of the Local Government Board, and was also chairman of the committee appointed to administer the war distress loans to boarding-house keepers. The owner of several valuable farms, he has taken some little interest in agriculture, and he was President of the Agricultural Society in 1905.

Although he was accounted a brilliant student Deemster. Moore has never, while in the Isle of Man, shown any passion for the law as an intellectual exercise. He rarely reduced his decisions to writing, and the precedents of Manx law will certainly not be enriched by luminous and profound contributions by him, as they were by Sir James Gell. As a rule, indeed, he did not give considered judgments at all, but delivered his mind there and then. He had a very quick eye for the salient points in the case, and many a simple suitor has been grateful for Deemster Moore's down rightness and expedition. His was very often the wisdom of Solomon in the classic case of the two mothers and the one baby, and he had a great fondness for " splitting the difference," but the opinion of all habitues of the courts is that, slapdash as his judgments were, they were generally shrewd and just. By one dictum his Honour will be remembered, and though it is capable of exaggeration, there is much sense in it-" the value of a thing is what it will fetch." And his Honour's prior residence off the Island, and his studied detachment from the common life of the Island all the time he has resided here, did enable him to retain one of the most valuable qualities of any judge-absolute independence and freedom from all pre-possessions. He was uniformly good-hearted and good-tempered and the farthest thing in the world from the judicial bully.

Shortly after his appointment to the Deemstership, his Honour married, in London, Miss Emma Praed, daughter, of the late Mr Winthrop Mackworth Praed, a descendant and namesake of the famous poet and essayist. About eighteen months ago Mrs Moore's health broke down and it is this painful circumstance which has finally led his Honour to relinquish office and return to his well-loved London. The sympathies and the hopes of the Manx public will certainly follow his Honour and Mrs Moore in their new home.


At a Vacation Court held Douglas on Monday, September 19th, the Attorney-General (Mr R. B. Moore), on behalf of the Manx Bar, gracefully expressed good wishes for his Honour in his retirement.

The Attorney-General remarked that his Honour had been in the courts now for 21 years, and had gained the advocates' heartiest esteem. He came at a time when the Island was involved in a thousand ways by the failure of a great bank, and his sound judgment had been of inestimable value to the Island. Years had gone by, and time had but increased their esteem for his Honour as a judge and, he could quite fairly say, as a friend. His Honour had in a novel degree reposed trust and confidence in the Bar, and looked to them to assist him in arriving at a decision, and he (the Attorney-General) hoped his Honour would feel that that trust had not been misplaced. His Honour had had a great many cases, cf every possible kind, and the characteristic of his work had been the application of business commonsense and independence of judgment to the problems before him. He had not allowed technicalities to stand in the way, but had given a new meaning to an expression which often fell from his Honour's lips, " substantial justice." He had realised that the law was not, after all, a hard and dry science, but its intention was to deal fairly between man and man. They were all exceedingly sorry for the breakdown in Mrs Moore's health, and they trusted that the removal to what was her own home among her own friends, in contact with the best medical help, would tend to restore her to health, and that his Honour and she might have many happy years to spend together.

His Honour, who evinced much emotion, expressed gratitude for the kind words spoken to him, and testified that he had ways had the greatest possible assistance from the Bar in his work. He came to the Island practically as a stranger among a Bar for whom there were very few plums, and that circumstance added to the esteem in which he held the Bar for the handsome ,and courteous way in which they had treated him. He must, in the course of his administration of justice, have given offence to many. He had no desire to give offence to any man; but at times feeling ran high, and one must of necessity give offence. But he could most conscientiously say that he had never borne malice against anyone, and whatever he had done had been in the strict discharge of his duty, as he understood it. He was deeply touched by the sympathy that had been own him, by, the Bar and by the public, on many occasions since that lamentable middle of March of last year, when his dear wife was stricken down in the way she was, and nothing could give him greater comfort than to remember the kindness which had come to him in his great distress. He should look back on his relations with the Bar with the most affectionate remembrance and he could only hope that the blessing of Almighty God would rest on them all.




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