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Cornelius C. Moore papers

Biographical note

Cornelius C. Moore, a lawyer, banker, politician, and leader of several prominent organizations, was a pivotal contributor to American art and history through his extensive, and well developed, colonial silver collection. Committed to civic and religious duties, Moore generously contributed his time, energy, and material wealth to Rhode Island government, educational facilities, and charitable associations. In addition, he shared with the public his avid interest in colonial Rhode Island silversmiths’ work. Over several years, Moore was able to compile one of the foremost American colonial silver collections from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. His desire to share the historical, artistic, and educational merits of the silver, has produced substantial referential material to better appreciate the unique aspects of this collection.

The collection’s focus on Rhode Island silver work may be attributed to Cornelius C. Moore’s life-long residency in Newport, Rhode Island. Born in 1885 to John J. and Katherine M. Moore, he became a prominent citizen of Newport and the greater Rhode Island state. Before passing the bar in 1916, Moore worked as as a clerk on the Rhode Island Board of Health. Within three years, Moore established the law firm of Moore, Virgadamo, Boyle, and Lynch, where he assumed the responsibilities of a senior member. He was later awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Salve Regina College in 1961. Moore also served as director (1935) and Vice-President (1942) of the Newport National Bank, before being named the bank President in 1950.

Moore’s interest in the law encouraged him to pursue public life. He served as a Rhode Island delegate to the Democratic National Conventions of 1936, 1940, and 1944. He was a member of the bar of the Supreme Court of Rhode Island, a commissioner of the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island, chairman of the Rhode Island Representative Council, and a member of Rhode Island State Council of Defense. Moore also was a member of the Rhode Island Port Authority and served as Mayor of Newport. [DATES]

Apart from these political posts, Moore was actively involved in a number of religious and educational organizations. These positions include chairman of the Bishop’s Campaign Fund, Knight of St. Gregory, chairman of the 37th Annual Catholic Charities Appeal, chairman emeritus of the board of trustees for Salve Regina College, member of the President’s Council at Providence College, and founder of Portsmouth Priory (Portsmouth Abbey).

He was also an advocate for Irish freedom and served as Vice President of the Irish-American Historical Society. Moore was committed to advancing higher learning in Rhode Island and made significant donations to Salve Regina College, most notably the “Four Acres” Ochre Point Avenue property in 1950. As a result of his generosity, Salve Regina dedicated Moore Hall in his name.

In spite of Moore’s array of commitments, he found time to amass a extensive silver collection from the American colonial period 1670-1830. Although the collection revolved around Rhode Island silversmiths, such as Jonathan Hull and Robert Sanderson, Arnold Collins, Samuel Casey, Samuel Vernon and Jonathan Otis, Moore also attained pieces from notable colonists such as Paul Revere, John Edwards, Moody Russell, Myer Myers and Samuel Avery. Moore was fascinated by the historical and artistic elements of each object and piece’s creator. He frequently permitted public display of the collection to engage and educate those likewise enthralled by colonial antiques. Moore compiled an impressive quantity of biographical, genealogical, and artistic research on each silversmith and work he owned.

After a long period of illness, Cornelius C. Moore passed away on August 11, 1976 at age eighty-five.


1885Cornelius Cliuian Moore is born to John J. and Katherine M. Moore.
1916Receives law degree and begins his career as an attorney.
1919Establishes the law firm of Moore, Virgadamo, Boyle and Lynch.
1920Hosts Eamon DeValera, President of the Republic of Ireland, for the Irish-American Historical Society.
1926Founds the Portsmouth Priory and School (Portsmouth Abbey) of Middletown, Rhode Island.
1935Appointed director of the Newport National Bank.
1936Rhode Island Delegate to the Democratic National Convention.
1940Rhode Island Delegate to the Democratic National Convention.
1942Appointed Vice-President of the Newport National Bank.
1942-1946Member and chairman of the Representative Council.
1944Rhode Island Delegate to the Democratic National Convention.
1950Donates "Four Acres" Ochre Point land to Salve Regina College.
1961Exhibits silver collection at the Rhode Island Historical Society. Exhibits silver collection at the Red Cross of Newport. Awarded Doctor of Laws Honorary Degree from Salve Regina College.
1962Exhibits silver collection at Point Association of Newport, Rhode Island.
1963Chairman of the 37th Annual Catholic Charities Appeal. Exhibits silver collection at Newton College of the Sacred Heart.
1964Exhibits silver collection at Salve Regina College.
1965Exhibits silver collection at Rhode Island School of Design.
1966Exhibits silver collection at St. Julia's Women's Club of Newton, Massachusetts.
1970 Aug 11Cornelius C. Moore passes away after a long illness.