MOORE, Sir William Harrison (1867-1935)


MOORE, Sir William Harrison (1867-1935)
legal writer, professor of law, university of Melbourne
was born at London on 30 April 1867, the son of John Moore, official shorthand writer to the privy council. He was educated at King's College school and privately, and for a short time did newspaper reporting in the gallery of the house of commons. He entered at the Middle Temple in 1887 and in October of the same year went to King's College, Cambridge university. In 1889 he was elected a scholar of King's College, Cambridge, and graduated B.A. in 1891 with first-class honours in both parts of the law tripos. He was Barstow law scholar in 1889, completed the LL.B. course at London university in 1891, and was called to the bar in November of that year. He was appointed in 1892 professor of law at the university of Melbourne, where he arrived in January 1893. He was only 25 years of age and looked younger.
When Moore came to Australia federation was the burning question of the time. He was often consulted in connexion with constitutional questions and gave much study to the problems involved. In February 1902 he published his well-known work, The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia, of which a second edition, revised and enlarged, appeared in 1910. A shortened "Students' Edition" was published in the same year. His Act of State in English Law, was published in 1906. In 1907 he was appointed constitutional adviser to the government of Victoria but relinquished the post in 1910. His advice, however, was afterwards frequently sought by both federal and state governments. At the university he was building up a notable school of law, and took an important place in the conduct of the university as dean of the faculty of law, and, for a period, president of the professorial board. He resigned his chair in 1925 and became emeritus professor. In 1927 he was invited to give the Norman Wait Harris foundation lectures before the university of Chicago, and chose for his subjects, "The British Empire and its Problems", and "The White Australia Policy". From Chicago he went to Geneva to study the operations of the League of Nations, and represented Australia in the League of Nations assembly in 1927, 1928, and 1929. In 1929 he was the official Australian delegate at the conference of experts on the operatlons of dominion legislation, and his influence was felt in the drafting of the statute of Westminster. For many years he was president of the League of Nations union in Victoria, and chairman of the Victorian group of the Royal Institute of International Affairs. In 1930 he was leader of the Australian group at the biennial conference of the institute of Pacific Relations held at Shanghai. Towards the end of his life he was engaged on a work on Imperial constitutional law, which was completed just before his death. He died after a short illness on 1 July 1935. He married in 1898, Edith, daughter of Sir Thomas à'Beckett (q.v.). Lady Moore survived him. There were no children. In addition to the works mentioned a few articles were published as pamphlets. A long essay on "The Political System of Australia" is included in Australia: Economic and Political Studies, edited by Meredith Atkinson. Moore was also responsible for much able writing in the Journal of the Society of Comparative Legislation, the Law Quarterly, the Columbia Law Review, the Revue de Droit Public, and the Quarterly Review. He was created C.M.G. in 1917 and K.B.E. in 1925.
Moore was slight of figure and had a comparatively youthful appearance until near the end of his life. He was liked by his students with whom he was always ready to work or talk. He was somewhat deliberate in his speech and appeared to be seeking the right word, but his delicate dry sense of humour relieved his conscientious and earnest attitude to his work.
The Argus, Melbourne, 2 and 6 July, 12 October 1935; The Age, Melbourne, 2 July 1935; The Times, 2 July 1935; Sir Ernest Scott, A History of the University of Melbourne; Who's Who in Australia, 1933; personal knowledge.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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