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Stephen Moore, pianoforte maker, 1772 - 1803 : Timeline

(added 22 February 2021)

1772 Stephen Moore (son of William and Elizabeth) was baptised on 20 December 1772 at Collier's Rents Independent Church, White Street, Southwark, according to an original entry recorded in the church register (RG4/4145, retrieved from Ancestry 30 January 2021)

He was apprenticed to Francis Fane Broderip (of Longman & Broderip) on 12 March 1787 (IR1/33, retrieved from Ancestry, 30 January 2021)

[Author's note: This newly identified primary source evidence provides information that supersedes that previously reported by in 'Piano Wars' (2009) by George Bozarth and myself citing the published transcript of a database entry drawn from the records of the Spectacle Makers [London Livery] Company, that named the apprentice in question as 'William Moore, son of Stephen. Panton Street, Tailor'. (see: G. S. Bozarth and M.Debenham, in collaboration with D. Cripps, 2009. ‘Piano Wars: The Legal Machinations of London Pianoforte Makers, 1795-1806’ in The Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle Vol. 42. London: Royal Musical Association, Appendix 3, pp 87-88). It seems that either the original entry in the Spectacle Makers Company archives was incorrectly recorded at the time, or, perhaps more plausibly, the forenames of father and son were transposed at the time of transcription.]


An entry in the marriage register of the parish of St James, Westminster records the marriage of one Stephen Moore, a minor, to Elizabeth Beake with permission of his father, William Moore - this being legally necessary in the case of minors. William Moore (presumably his father) and 'E Moore' were witnesses to the marriage.

In accordance with the Marriage Act of 1753, after this date all marriage ceremonies had to be conducted by a minister in a parish church or chapel of the Church of England to be legally binding. It required religious non-conformists and Catholics to be married in Anglican churches. For this reason it would not have been possible for Stephen to marry at Collier's Rents.

(See also 1801 for anther marriage possibility and 1803 for information on Stephen Moore's will).


On 12 July 1796 John Watlen placed an advertisement in the Edinburgh Advertiser stating that he had for sale 'some very fine PIANO FORTES with the New Invented Patent Springs, by the celebrated Stephen Moore.'

If, as was the norm at that time, he had served his full apprenticeship term of seven years, Moore would have been due to complete his apprenticeship in 1794. This advertisement provides evidence that by 1796 he had left London and gone into partnership with Watlen in Edinburgh. However, a notice placed in the name of both men and in the Edinburgh Advertiser on 12 November 1796, giving their address as No. 27, South Bridge, reveals that their Co-partnership lasted only briefly, having been dissolved by mutual consent on 16 November of that year.


A lengthy advertisement placed by Moore in the Edinburgh Advertiser of 10 March 1797 provides evidence that he then continued business on his own account 27, South Bridge Street. A transcript is given below:

No. 27 South Bridge Street
WHO had the honour of inventing and introducing into this country the PATENT SPRING FRAME is penetrated with the warmest gratitude to the Nobility and Gentry for the unbounded support he has experienced; and while he is so kindly upheld in the rugged path of envy and opposition he nourishes the hope of a continuance of this patronage, and assure them that it shall be his sole motive to obtain their esteem, and his highest ambition to deserve it.
The effects of the Spring Frame on the Grand Forte Piano and the finished elegance and lightness of its appearance are at once striking and beautiful.  The great bearing and density of the Grand Forte Piano on its common Frame has a tendency to check the vibration similar to a mute on a violin.  On the spring Frame, the tone produced is clear and brilliant, and while it rivals the powers of the organ, it possesses the enchanting and delightful tones of the sweetest Flute.  The beautiful TOUT ENSEMBLE can only be conceived by being heard.
A most striking advantage of the Spring Frame is the length of time which the instrument so suspended will stand in tune.
A  Forte Piano belonging to an officer on board one of her late Imperial Majesty’s ships when lying at the Nore, was put most completely out of tune by firing the gun; –by way of experiment, it was affixed to a spring Frame, and although one gun, which ran in within three feet of the Instrument was repeatedly fired, not yet a note of the Forte Piano was the least altered.  The reason is obvious, the shock was lost in the springs, and when it is admitted that the least jar has a tendency to put a Forte Piano out of tune, the advantage of the Spring Frame must be striking indeed.
STEPHEN MOORE having the sole right of manufacturing the Spring Frame humbly hopes and trusts, that a combination against it will have no other effect with a generous and enlightened Public than to induce them to examine its merits.
STEPHEN MOORE takes the opportunity of gratefully informing his Friends that under their auspices he has been enabled to establish an extensive Manufactory of FORTE PIANOS in Edinburgh-that he hopes the prejudice generally entertained of London instruments having the pre-eminence will be done away when they are informed that S.M. served an apprenticeship to the First House in London (Longman and Broderip’s) in that line and that nine out of ten of the journeymen Piano Forte makers in London are cabinet-makers from North Britain.–S.M. has made it his particular study to select and employ the choicest cabinet-makers in Edinburgh; and it will be no small pleasure to his numerous Friends to assure them that his instruments are in the highest estimation in London; and it will be the pride of his life to reflect that he has had the opportunity of reversing the scene for instead of London supplying Edinburgh with Piano fortes (which it has done for some years past to the amount of from Five to Eight thousands Pounds a year) the piano Fortes made under the direction of S.M. find at this time the readiest sale in London.
He will not presume to pay so ill a compliment to the Nobility and Gentry of this country, as to suppose it is necessary for him to add that those who most encourage the manufacture of this country are its best friends
S.M. begs likewise to state that, from the comparatively low wages give to workmen in this country, when compared with London, he is enabled to sell his FORTE PIANOS 25 per cent cheaper than the London instruments.
It is certainly proper to add that the Spring Frame makes no difference in the tone of the Small Piano Forte as the bottom of that instrument is a solid block of common deal full three inches thick, which nothing could make vibrate.
The bottom of the Grand Piano Forte is only half an inch thick.–In respect to the standing in tune, the advantage is alike in both instruments.
The only objection which has ever been urged against the spring Frame by its most inveterate interested enemies, that the distance between the Springs is so great in the front of the Grand piano Forte as to endanger its bending is entirely done away by the addition of a fifth Spring in the middle.
Edinburgh, March 7, 1797

The orignal patent drawings of this invention are likely to be held the patent rolls for this period at The National Archives; however, locating them would require a personal visit to conduct an on the spot search through the rolls between 1794 and 1796, since these records are not as yet individually indexed or digitised. This provides an opportunity for those with an interest in this maker to conduct further research.


Jenny Nex has reported on the contents of a pamphlet circulated by one Alexander Anderson in Aberdeen, said to be dated 1800, but which in the light of a newspaper notice placed by Stephen Moore (see transcript below) would seem must have first appeared towards the end of 1799. Anderson alleged that Moore served only three years of his full term of apprenticeship with Broderip and that during that time he was not employed in the manufactory of musical instruments or organ work.  He also claimed that in a letter written to him by Frederick Augustus Hyde he was told that although Mr Moore lived at Haymarket with Messrs Longman and Broderip, he never received any lessons from Mr Clementi.  Hyde referred the enquirer to Mr Watlen in Edinburgh for further information. (See: Jenny Nex 'Longman and Broderip ' in The Music Trade in Georgian England (2011) Ed. Michael Kassler. Farnham, Surrey:Ashgate, pp 34-36.

[Author's note: If indeed Stephen Moore married in 1791 while still a minor, this provides a possible explanation as to why he may not have been able to complete his apprenticeship (begun in 1787) in the conventional sense, since apprentices were not allowed to marry at that time. However, this does not preclude the possiblity that he may have continued to train with Francis Fane Broderip in the Longman and Broderip workshops on a more informal basis, though at present this can be no more than educated speculation.]

Seemingly in response to this attack on his reputation and abilities, Moore placed the following notice in the Aberdeen Press and Journal on 8 Sept 1799

In the Press and shortly will be published
On the Subject of the late Repairs of the Organ of St Paul’s Chapel, Aberdeen, in which the Conduct of the Organist and his Friend, will be fairly and candidly stated and reviewed, and left for the decision of an impartial Public.  Illustrated with Observations and Anecdotes by STEPHEN MOORE.
Mr Moore has in his possession a Letter (which will be introduced in the above work) in the Organist’s own hand-writing, and which was sent to a gentleman (and through which means he obtained one of the letters he has been so invidiously circulating to M.'s disadvantage), which will tend to open the eyes of the public, and to place in a striking point of view this gentleman’s real character, more than volumes written on the subject.
Mr. Moore cannot resist the impulse of taking the opportunity of presenting the public with the following Attestation of Messrs. URBANI and STABILINI, professional Gentlemen, who are well known to rank high in the Musical World.
“Having been requested by many respectable Gentlemen, to give our opinion, in writing, respecting the professional abilities of Mr STEPHEN MOORE, we do this with the more confidence, as we have had every opportunity of knowing and examining them. Mr Moore resided constantly in Edinburgh for three years, and was esteemed by all judges as the best tuner of Keyed Instruments that ever was in Scotland.  It would not be doing justice to Mr Moore to consider him in the light of a tuner only, we were witnesses of his founding a very extensive manufactory of Instruments in Edinburgh; the workmen of which, near twenty in number, were taught the mechanical part of the musical business, personally by Mr Moore, as they were all common Cabinet Makers, till so employed.
To our knowledge Mr Moore has repaired and tuned several Organs, and, so far from his abilities in that line being depreciated, we never heard them mentioned, but with the highest respect, before we came to Aberdeen. As professional men, we should not discharge our consciences were we not to add that, there is not a person in Great Britain, whom we could recommend sooner, or, who is, in our opinion, more capable of tuning and repairing all Keyed Instruments whatever than Mr Stephen Moore, as witness our hands
In consequence of the report that has been so industriously circulated, M. has found, to his great loss, that prejudices in other parts of the country are still entertained against him, from the story of the organ being imperfectly known. It is in Aberdeen, where the business has undergone a strict and full examination, and where malice can no more be called into action to his disadvantage. Mr Moore therefore takes the liberty of informing the Musical Inhabitants of Aberdeen, and its neighbourhood, that he has formed the resolution of taking up his constant residence in Aberdeen, and to follow his profession in all its branches, viz. Organ Building, Piano Forte Making, Tuning and repairing Musical Instruments in general – As his expences will be lessened by his residence being permanent, his charges for tuning will be unusually low, and he humbly looks forward to the patronage and support of an impartial and discerning public.
Orders received for S. Moore at Mr Robert Gibbs, Broad street.

It should be noted that Urbani and Stabilini both appear to have been established musicians of the time in Edinburgh. According to J. L Cranmer, Pietro Urbani was an impressario active in Edinbugh, a rival to Corri. However his ventures failed by 1806 and Cranmer reports that he died destitute in Dublin in 1816. Stabilini was a violinist and Cranmer reports that he later died of dropsy in 1816. (J.L.Cranmer, 2001. Concert Life and the Music Trade in Edinburgh c. 1780 to c. 1830. University of Edinburgh: Doctoral thesis. Downloaded 10 February 2021)


Clearly Moore's sojourn in Aberdeen did not work out as he had hoped, since in July 1801 there is clear evidence that he was back in London and languishing in the Fleet Prison for debt (London Gazette 15382, p 765, 4 July 1801; and a second notice London Gazette 15385, p.795 7 July 1801)

Prisoners in His Majesty's Prison of the FLEET

Stephen Moore, formerly of St. Martin's Lane, in the County of Middlesex, afterwards of the South Bridge, Edinburgh, North Britain, and last of Bull Court, Upper Ground Street, near Black Fryar's Bridge, in the County of Surrey, Musical Instrument Maker.

A newly identified entry in the prison records book provides more details on the dates of his incarceration and release and the reasons for his imprisonment. He was committed to prison on 24 January 1801 and was released on 6 August of that year [Note: release date incorrectly transcribed as 6 August 1802 in Ancestry] The names of his creditors are given as Archdale Wilson Taylor Esq., to whom he owed £36.15; and William Moore, to whom he owed £15. The handwritten record give no additional information as to how the debt was cleared. (The National Archives Kew, Surrey, England; Collection Title: King's (Queen's) Bench, Fleet, Marshalsea and Queen's Prisons: Miscellanea; Class: PRIS10; Piece: 156; retrieved Ancestry, 21 February 2021) [Authors note: My grateful thanks to Simon Fleming for drawing this record to my attention)

A few months later, there is a parish register entry of for a marriage between a Stephen Moore, bachelor, and Elizabeth Stacey at St Leonards, Shoreditch. Hackney on 27 September 1801 - only a month after his release from prison. This is intriguing since Stephen Moore's signature and that of one of the witnesses, William Moore, in the register, look very similar to those on the earlier marriage entry in 1791. So had Stephen's first wife had died the meantime? There is a burial record for an Elizabeth Moore on 2 October 1795 at the Spa Field Burial Ground, a Nonconformist burial ground, so this is a possibility. in those days young women quite often died in childbirth. However, in that case his status should have been recorded as 'widower' rather than bachelor and so for the moment remains unproven.


Sadly, less than two years later, the death register of Collier's Rents Independent Church, White Street, Southwark (the Non-conformist church where he had also been baptised) records the death of Stephen Moore on 11 March 1803 and his burial on 17th March, aged 30 years, giving his address as St James Street.

He left a brief will, leaving everything to his wife, Elizabeth (The National Archives, Prob 11/1400 Image 45, transcript below)

Will of Stephen Moore.

In the name of God Amen.

 I Stephen Moore pianoforte maker in Upper St James Street Golden Square being of sound mind do this twentieth day of December 1802 make and publish this my last will and testament in manner to following viz first I desire to be decently  buried and I give and bequeath to my beloved wife Elizabeth Moore everything that I may be possessed of at the time of my death in the fullest comprehension of the words after paying my funeral expenses and  just debts and Mr George Gilbert late of Hackney being my greatest creditor and the most intimately acquainted with all my engagements and affairs I hereby appoint him  with Mr Thomas Hammond of Canterbury as Executors of this my last will and testament for witness thereof I submit my hand and seal this day and year first above written in the presence of Stephen Moore (LS)  George Gilbert

24th October 1803

Appeared Personally

William Moore of the Heralds Colledge [sic] Doctors Commons Gentleman and William  Bindon of Saint Andrews Court Holborn Gentleman and being sworn on the Holy Evangelists to  depose the truth made oath that they knew and  was well acquainted with Stephen Moore late of Upper James Street Golden Square in the parish of St James Westminster in the County of Middlesex deceased for some time before and down to the time of his death and that by means of having frequently seen him write and subscribe his name they are respectively become  well acquainted with his manner and  character of handwriting and subscription and that having now with particular care and attention having viewed the paper writing hereto annexed purporting to be and contain the last will and testament of the said deceased beginning thus  In the Name of God  Amen I Stephen Moore pianoforte maker of Upper  James Street Golden Square  ending thus  subscribe my hand and seal this day and year above written in the presence of and thus subscribed Stephen Moore they those deponents say they both verily and in their conscience believe the names Stephen Moore so set and subscribed to the said will to be the proper handwriting and subscription of the said Stephen Moore deceased  William Moore   William Bindon  Same day said William Moore and William Bindon now duly sworn to the truth of this affidavit before me  S Parson Sner  Pr for Jno Wills  Not. Pnb

This Will was proved at London  the twenty seventh of October in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and three before the worshipful Samuel <illegible word> Parson Doctor of Laws and Surrogate of the Right Honourable Sir William Wynne Knight, Doctor of Laws Master <illegible word> or Commissary of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury lawfully constituted by the oath of George Gilbert on of the Executors named in the said will to whom Administration was granted of all and singular of the Goods, Chattels and Credits of the deceased having been first sworn duly to administer power reserved of making the like grant to Thomas Hammond the other Executor named in the said will when he shall apply for the same.

According to a contemporary newspaper notice, the William Moore referred to in the sworn statement above married Miss Price, daughter of the Lord Mayor of London of the day, in 1803 so clearly he was very well educated and connected. (Trewman's Exeter Flying Post, 3 March 1803). It is intriguing to speculate what, if any, was his relationship to Stephen Moore, and/or whether he was one of the creditors named in the Fleet prison record. This provides a further lead for future research into the family background. No information on William Bindon, also named above, and George Gilbert, Executor of the will has as yet been identified.

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