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The swindling Irish watchmaker of early Launceston

In 1832 Irish watchmaker Adam Moore opened what was probably Launceston’s second watchmaking businesses. Born in Cork in 1796, Adam Moore was recorded as 28 years old when he was sentenced to seven years transportation for stealing watches in Queens County, Ireland.

His occupation was listed as clerk and watchmaker and he was later described as “a man of genteel bearing but a member of the swindling gentry.”

He arrived in Sydney in April 1825 and in August that year he was charged with pawning watches left with him for repair.

Nevertheless, he was granted a certificate of freedom in 1831 and left Sydney for Van Diemen's Land where in July 1832 he announced in the Launceston Advertiser his intention of commencing a clock and watchmaking business:

Adam Moore, watch and clockmaker, begs to inform the inhabitants of Launceston and its vicinity, that he has arrived from Sydney, and intends carrying on the above business in all its branches, upon the most moderate terms, at the premises of Mr John Dunn, Shopkeeper, St John Street, near the Wharf, Launceston, watches and jewellery repaired on the shortest notice. Country orders punctually attended to.

By January 1833 Adam Moore was working out of a cottage in Brisbane Street but he seems to have struggled to make a go of his watchmaking business.

In September 1834 he announced in The Independent that he had bought one of Launceston’s oldest hotels, the Black Swan Inn, that was established in 1820.

Adam Moore’s career as a publican was also brief as he announced in January 1835 that he was about to open a general store in Launceston.

Instead, he was charged with failing to pay his bills and found himself in debtors’ prison after which he resumed his watchmaking business, a fact he announced to the people of Launceston with a notice in the Cornwall Chronicle in September 1835:

Adam Moore, watch and clockmaker and jeweller, begs to acquaint the public that he has recommenced business in his former shop, in Brisbane Street, and solicits a share of its patronage.

A. Moore having obtained his discharge from the Debtors’ Gaol, begs to notify, that he will exert himself to liquidate every outstanding debt against him and that he did not obtain his liberation by taking the benefit of the Insolvent Act.

By January 1836 he had moved his business to Wellington Street where he offered a reward of £5 for information about a break-in at his shop in which ten watches were allegedly taken.

Then he took a trip to Hobart where he was accused of passing forged cheques. He was pardoned for this crime but in 1837 he was sentenced to another seven years transportation for stealing a watch.

Adam Moore was granted a ticket-of-leave in October 1840 but it was revoked in 1842. He continued to get into trouble for offences of dishonesty and in 1844, while living at Westbury, was gaoled for again pawning a watch left with him for repair.

In 1845 police at New Norfolk were trying to find the owners of stolen items found in his possession.

In 1848 Adam Moore left Van Diemen’s Land and in 1850 he was charged with stealing a watch and pawning it in Parramatta.

He was sentenced to three months hard labour in the Parramatta Gaol and then disappears from the public record.

The story of Adam Moore is one of many in DOING TIME: STORIES OF CONVICT CLOCK AND WATCHMAKERS IN VAN DIEMEN’S LAND. In all good Tasmanian bookshops and the Queen Victoria Museum Shop!


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