The only known portrait of my great great grandfather William Moore is well known to other descendants. For over 30 years I’ve had a black and white copy of the image on my wall. My cousin owns a similar portrait in a 1920s/1930s oval glass frame that is likely the original photo. For decades now a relative has had a large framed portrait of what I thought was the the original portrait, and I remember seeing it on their wall as a child. The custodians had it cleaned up and a new mount put in the frame. As that relative has downsized, they remembered my interest in the portrait and they know of my family history interest, so kindly offered it to me. I am now the proud custodian of the largest portrait.

Portrait on porcelain of William Moore, shown here with two vases that were used in the home of William and his wife Rebecca.

This is not just any portrait. The photograph has been produced on porcelain, and touched up by hand. We recently pulled apart the mount and carefully put it back together securely but there was no sign of who the original photographer was. Perhaps that was lost in any remounting done in the last 120 odd years. The image on the porcelain has lost some of the detail that can be discerned in the photograph, particularly around the face, so having the two to compare is invaluable. Apart from the rarity of the reproduction on porcelain, this is an important portrait for another reason. William Moore was appointed Clerk of the Course at the Wangaratta Racecourse on the 8th January 1868 at the young age of 22 years. He held that position until his sudden death in November 1908, two weeks before his 63rd birthday. William is shown in his Clerk of the Course gear in the portrait and he appears to be in his early sixties, so this image must have been taken not long before his death, and possibly for a special occasion. His 60th birthday possibly? Or a celebration of 40 years as Clerk of the Course which he would have celebrated in January 1908? Or was it for his 30th anniversary in 1898? He is wearing a corsage but given the different occasions on when these were worn, it does not narrow down the possibilities.

As this newspaper report from 1904 indicates, ‘Billy’ as he was known, was very committed to his job.

On Wednesday last, our well-known townsman Mr. Wm. Moore, met with a painful accident (says the ‘ Despatch.’) The gentlemen was proceeding to castrate a colt, and the animal becoming unruly and overpowering those who were holding him, kicked Mr. Moore with full force in the face, inflicting deep wounds and greatloss of blood, which necessitated medical skill. However, not wishing to disappoint the Wangaratta Turf Club’s committee, he went out and performed his duties as clerk of course under most trying conditions on Wednesday.

Portrait of William Moore. Copy taken from original photograph.

My copy of the photo is very dark around the right side of the face so we can’t see if he has any scars from such an awful injury, and the touch ups in the porcelain portrait would likely have erased any disfigurement. So does this lend more weight to the occasion being the 40th anniversary of William being Clerk of the Course? Or did the various racing clubs who used William’s services come up with a testimonial as suggested (below) in January 1902.
A Long Service Record.— It is not many racing officials who can even approach the record achieved by Mr. William Moore, who as Clerk of the Course for the various race meetings at Wangaratta, completed his 34th year of office on the 8th inst., never having missed a single meeting during that period. Mr. Moore has deservedly gained the reputation of having always been courteous and obliging, and it has been suggested that the members of the racing, clubs might mark their appreciation of his services by presenting him with a suitable testimonial.
** Many unsourced family histories claim that Billy Moore was known as ‘Horse’ Moore. As far as I can tell this is a recent fabrication. Billy or William are the only names under which he was recorded. There has been no source I have found that in any way supports this ‘Horse’ Moore. In addition, some family members claim that William had a middle name of Henry. He didn’t.
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