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The Anecdotage of Glasgow
Sir John Moore, Grammar School boy and amateur clerk, Glasgow


SIR JOHN MOORE was the son of Dr. John Moore, a medical practitioner in Glasgow, who was famous as a novelist in his day, and one of the most esteemed literary correspondents of the poet Burns. His mother was a daughter of the Rev. Professor John Simson of Glasgow University, and his paternal grandmother was a daughter of the famous provost, John Anderson, whose name occurs as Provost of Glasgow during several terms of office towards the end of the seventeenth and beginning of the eighteenth centuries.

The future military hero was born on the 13th November, 1761, in Donald’s Land, north side of the Trongate, a little to the east of the Candleriggs. He attended the Grammar School in Greyfriars Wynd, was appointed an ensign at the early age of fifteen, and along with his father, Dr. Moore, who became tutor to the young Duke of Hamilton, he made the tour of Europe. The duchess— Elizabeth Gunning, famed for her beauty—took quite a fancy for the handsome young ensign, and specially desired him to go as companion to her son.

In four years after his return he was made captain and paymaster to the 82nd regiment, and as he considered himself deficient in accounts, he obtained leave of absence, came to Glasgow, and worked for some time as an amateur clerk in the counting-house of a friend, in order that he might make good his deficiency, and be able to discharge his financial duties properly. His brilliant career, and glorious death in the arms of victory at Corunna, January 16th, 1809, are matters of history.

The news of the death of Sir John Moore deeply affected the whole nation, and in a special degree his native city. The people of Glasgow, who were justly proud of him, had followed his patriotic and heroic progress with the greatest interest. As a token of their deep regret for his loss, and to erect a suitable memorial in his honour, a sum amounting to upwards of £4000 was raised in Glasgow by subscription.

His monumental statue was the first erected in the local open-air Pantheon, as George Square has become. The monumental statue of Burns (his father’s correspondent) stands a little way to the right and behind; while that of Lord Clyde, who formed one of the burial party, whose work has been immortalised in the famous Elegy, stands in line, as a fitting companion, to the left. The Glasgow Herald, of 20th August, 1819, contained the following account of— "SIR JOHN MOORE’S MONUMENT.

"On Monday, the workmen finished the erection in George Square of the monument of Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore, K.B., on which is the following inscription :—

TO COMMEMORATE
THE MILITARY SERVICES OF
LIEUT.-GENERAL SIR JOHN MOORE, K.B.,
NATIVE OF GLASGOW,
HIS FELLOW-CITIZENS HAVE ERECTED
THIS MONUMENT.
1819.

"It consists of a full-length bronze statue of the hero, about eight and a half feet high, dressed in military costume, having a cloak thrown round, the left hand leaning on the sword, and the right placed in easy position across the breast. It is supported by a pedestal of Aberdeen granite, about ten feet high. The statue is chiefly made from brass cannons. The whole cost is between three and four thousand pounds. The weight of the statue is upwards of three tons, and that of the pedestal ten. The whole confers the utmost credit on the taste and execution of Flaxman the artist. The monument has a grand appearance, and is placed on the south side of the square fronting Miller Street."

To this it may be added that, standing by the monument and looking south, down Miller Street, across Argyle Street, and down Dunlop Street, the scene of the hero’s early years may be seen, where he played and sported as a boy, but of course very much changed in its aspect and surroundings. By order of Parliament another monument was erected to Moore’s memory in St. Paul’s Cathedral, and Marshal Soult also raised one over his grave in the citadel of Corunna.


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