Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: September 27, 2019
Webpage updated: January 04, 2020




William Foster Moore was born in Friary Street, Plymouth, on May 9th 1815.  His father was Mr William Moore (1782-1867), who was a member of Plymouth Corporation in the days before the Municipal Reform Act of 1835.  His older brother, Mr John Moore, was Mayor of Plymouth in 1834.

Mr Moore was educated by Mr J Heyrick Macauley, a cousin of Lord Macauley, in the building in Princess Square that later became the Plymouth Grammar School.  His friends tried to persuade him to go on to university but he was more interested in ship building and became an apprentice at his father's yard.

In 1850 he took control of his father's ship building business in the north-eastern corner of Sutton Pool.  This had been started in 1812 by Mr Joseph Moore (1753-1829), who was himself the son of a shipwright, Mr William Moore (1716-1764).  The yard was at the end of Friary Street, which led to the harbour from Exeter Street.  Joseph had reputedly bought the two smaller yards at Meeting House Slip that had belonged to a Mr Barnacott and Messrs Kerswell/Kerswill and Brinel.

Although Mr William Foster Moore took no active part in politics in the Town, he was elected Mayor in 1874, succeeding Mr Alfred Rooker, who had opened the new Guildhall.  He was re-elected for two more terms and at that time was the only person to serve three consecutive terms since 1465.  It was said that this was because the Conservative Party were in power and had no other suitable candidates for the role.

But all was not well in the world of ship building.   With iron-built ships now becoming the normal, the call for wooden ships ceased.   In 1876 Mr William Foster Moore apparently declared that he would never build an iron ship and the following year he closed the yard down.  His financial position was saved by the fact that the Sutton Harbour Improvement Company, of which he was a director, and the London and South Western Railway Company wanted part of his land for improvements to the harbour.  The site was transformed into North-East Quay in 1879, complete with a link to the LSWR at Friary Station.

During his lifetime, Mr Moore the first commodore of the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club; honorary secretary of the Plymouth Royal Eye Infirmary; occupied a seat on the Board of the Cattewater Commissioners; was a director of the Plymouth Gas Company; represented Vintry Ward on the Council; was chairman of the Plymouth Conservative Association; was an active member of the Associated Chambers of Commerce; and was deputy-chairman of the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce.  It was in connection with the last post that he induced the West India mail boats to disembark their mails and passengers at Plymouth.

Mr Moore seems to have remained unmarried until he reached the age of 66, when, on June 20th 1882, he married Miss Marion Freeling at the Church of Saint Mary, Bathwick, Somerset.  Born in South Australia, Miss Freeling was the only daughter of Sir Henry Freeling, Bart, of Bathampton, formerly a commandant of the Royal Engineers in Plymouth, and was but a mere 35 years of age. 

Mr William Foster Moore died at the long-time family residence of The Friary on Tuesday July 20th 1886 at the age of 71 years.

The funeral took place on Saturday July 24th 1886 at Charles Church and the body was laid to rest in the burial ground there.  Almost every prominent Plymothian, political and commercial, attended the funeral and included Sir Henry and Lady Freeling.  The bells of both Saint Andrew's and Charles Churches were tolled during the day and at the latter the tenor bell was rung 71 times.  The funeral arrangements were carried out by Mr Jonathan Marshall.