Story: Moore, Lorenzo

Page 1 - Moore, Lorenzo

Moore, Lorenzo

1808–1894

Anglican clergyman

This biography was written by Warren E. Limbrick and was first published in the Dictionary of New Zealand BiographyVolume 2, 1993

Lorenzo Moore was born at Kilbride Manor in Blessington parish, County Wicklow, Ireland, probably on 1 September 1808, the son of Elizabeth Armstrong and her husband, George Ogle Moore. Lorenzo is said to have entered the service of the East India Company at the age of 18, joining the Madras Light Infantry and eventually rising to the rank of major. While in India, at Poona on 6 September 1834, he married Elizabeth Bodington.

Moore was highly critical of the East India Company's 'fearful and Anti-Christian' policies. Writing later, he cited an incident in his regiment at Meerut when Christian literature given by missionaries to the Indian troops was burned by the commanding officer on the grounds that military authority might be undermined. Moore contended that such actions helped provoke the Indian war of 1857–58.

Lorenzo Moore's second career commenced when he entered St Catharine's College, University of Cambridge. He was ordained deacon in 1851 and priest in 1852, and graduated BA in 1851 and MA in 1854. He served in the parishes of Tunbridge Wells, Rocester and Drypool between 1852 and 1859, when he decided to emigrate to New Zealand. A brother, Joseph Schroder Moore, also travelled to New Zealand, and practised law in Wellington.

In Melbourne, Australia, Moore learned of the outbreak of war in Taranaki and consequently remained in Victoria to minister in Geelong and Brighton. He arrived in Christchurch in 1862 and was instituted by Bishop H. J. C. Harper as the second vicar of St Paul's Church, Papanui, on 28 December. This was the longest and most fruitful of his clerical appointments. During this time a new church, St Mary's, was consecrated at Merivale, which became an independent parish in 1872.

Some private means gave Moore a degree of independence. He bought into a partnership in the Avoca sheep station, on which he placed his sons, Frederick and Lorenzo, as cadets. While at Papanui he lived in his own house. When, in February 1868, his parishioners organised a concert without his consent to raise funds for a new vicarage, he dissociated himself from their efforts in the strongest terms. When the matter was aired in the Lyttelton Times he responded that it was not his place to be the 'patron of worldly amusements for my parishioners.' He crossed swords with the local Presbyterian minister, John Lillie, on a similar issue; and in 1872, following the visit to Christchurch of an Italian opera company, he complained in the Lyttelton Times of the manner in which opera depicted human frailty, vice and drunkenness.

Despite such moral rigour and stern preaching of judgement, Moore was greatly respected in Papanui for his warmth and community involvement. He chaired the Papanui and Harewood school committees, and supported the sale of church land which enabled the Papanui railway station to be erected adjacent to his home. He travelled on the first train to use the Papanui line and arrived to the accompaniment of the cheers of his parishioners. When he resigned from the parish in July 1872 a memorial signed by 150 parishioners induced him to remain until September 1873. His valedictory sermon warned against both rationalism and ritualism which, in his view, sapped the basis of Christian truth and destroyed the simplicity of the Gospel.

Following a brief term as a prison chaplain in Melbourne in 1875, Moore returned to New Zealand in 1876 as vicar at Port Chalmers. The following year he accompanied the bishop of Dunedin, Samuel Tarratt Nevill, to visit the Maori community at Otakou, where the Reverend E. H. Te Ngara was made a Maori missioner. Nevill's high church leanings and Moore's austere evangelical convictions soon clashed. Their disagreements came to a head in January 1880 when, having impugned the 'novelties' of the Anglican church in New Zealand, Moore embraced the role of 'a much needed reformer of ritualistic abuses' in the church. He seceded from the diocese of Dunedin and began to conduct services for his small group of followers of the 'Free Church of England'. While the incident attracted little attention outside Dunedin, it exhibits the tensions in faith and practice in nineteenth century Anglicanism which found expression in the colonial church.

On retiring to Nelson about 1884, Moore found the evangelical ethos of that diocese more congenial, and was licensed to officiate by Bishop A. B. Suter. He died in Nelson on 13 August 1894; Elizabeth Moore had died on 7 March that year. They were survived by their two sons and their daughter, Mary Elizabeth, who had married John Eldon Gorst.