Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Key witness letter by Livingston cousin and "genuine antiquarian" TWC Moore

New York Park Theatre 1822
New York, the interior of the Park Theatre, 1822
John Searle via Wikimedia Commons
In the "Witnesses" section of the main page for the Henry Livingston, Jr. website, Mary S. Van Deusen points out that
"Henry's 1st cousin Judith Livingston, who lived next door to him, was married to John Moore, a relative of Clement Moore's father's family."  --Mary S. Van Deusen
1st cousin is absolutely right since Judith's father James Livingston (1728-1790) and Henry Livingston, Jr.'s father Henry Livingston Sr (1714-1799 ) were brothers. For the relationship between Henry and one of cousin Judith's children in the next generation I need some help. Looking it up on the Cousins Chart, I see "your parent's first cousin is your first cousin, once removed." Once removed means a difference of one generation. In the next generation Van Deusen here only names Lydia, the daughter of Judith Livingston (1753-1813) and John Moore (1746-1828), important because "Lydia's daughter Frances married Rev. Clement Moore Butler, the brother of Harriet Butler." Harriet Butler reportedly gave a copy of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" to newspaper editor Orville Holley who published it for the first time, anonymously, on December 23, 1823 in the Troy Sentinel. In floating this particular family connection, Van Deusen and advocates for Henry Livingston Jr.'s authorship of "Visit" aka The Night Before Christmas want to suggest the plausibility of an imaginary sequence of transmission from Poughkeepsie to Troy by way of New York City and perhaps another, unspecified household somewhere "in the south."

Henry Noble MacCracken in Blithe Dutchess (pages 388-390) introduced Judith Moore, formerly "Judith Livingston," for the same purpose, first emphasizing her kinship with Major Livingston and the proximity of their residences in Poughkeepsie:
Judith Livingston, was a first cousin and next-door neighbor of Major Henry Livingston, Jr. --Blithe Dutchess by Henry Noble MacCracken
In less than three pages MacCracken's narrative goes from mostly conjecture to "some degree of probability," and it all starts with Major Livingston's first cousin and her children (in other words his first cousins, once removed):
"From Locust Grove to Judith Livingston Moore's children is the first step."
MacDonald P. Jackson rightly characterizes MacCracken's scenario as "pure speculation," but only after carefully and almost too closely paraphrasing the whole thing:
"The first step is from Livingston's homestead, Locust Grove, to Judith Livingston Moore's children."  --Who Wrote The Night Before Christmas, page 119
Hypothetically then, according to MacCracken and Van Deusen and Jackson, these children of Judith Livingston Moore might have mediated transmission of the now world-renowned Christmas poem to Troy via Clement C. Moore's home in New York City. They or nobody, it would seem, could testify to the facts of its original authorship and transmission.

Well if that's the case, authorship investigators should be looking hard for witness statements by one of Judith Livingston Moore's children. Too bad none of Judith Livingston Moore's children bothered to leave a letter for the historical record, telling the world who really wrote "A Visit from St. Nicholas." Wait a minute...
MacCracken and Jackson after him only seem to know and talk about daughters. Lydia and Maria. Lydia Hubbard Moore Hart (1790-1831); and her sister Maria Seabury Moore Moore (1788-1812). But John Moore and his wife Judith Livingston Moore had more than two children. Van Deusen names eight of them on another page of her great website, quoting genealogist J. Wilson Poucher on "James Livingston, and Some of His Descendants":
They had eight children: Elizabeth Channing Moore, who died in infancy; Eliza Elliot Moore who married Alfred Livingston, Esq.; Townsend Moore who died unmarried; John; Maria Seabury Moore who died in infancy; a second Maria Seabury Moore who married the Rev. David Moore, D.D.; Lydia Hubbard Moore who married the Rev. William Henry Hart; and Thomas William Channing Moore who died unmarried.
--Dutchess County Historical Society Yearbook, Vol. 28 (1943) page 72 via Mary S. Van Deusen
Townsend Moore and Thomas William Channing Moore? Ah, forgotten brothers. How soon the most industrious family historian will drop a brother "who died unmarried." Not to mention a younger brother who emigrates west, although in Illinois, just about "everybody from Calhoun County to Rock Island used to know" ex-New Yorker Francis Childs Moore (1796-1874), Frank C. Moore to his friends. Before lighting out for Hillsboro and Quincy, Francis named his first child with his first wife John Moore III, aka John Livingston Moore III. Townsend Moore died in April 1833 "at the house of his brother-in-law" Rev. Hart in Walden, Orange County. Evidently one brother at least remained close to the family of his sister Lydia after her death in 1831, and presumably before. Then there's Thomas William Channing Moore (1794-1872), born four years after Lydia Hubbard Moore so her younger brother (if 1790 at WikiTree is closer to right than 1796 at Find A Grave for Lydia's date of birth). Call him T. W. C. Moore. Better yet, call him Cuz: first cousin once removed of Henry Livingston, Jr.

T. W. C. traveled often in South America and Europe but like his brother and fellow bachelor Townsend, T. W. C. Moore managed to stay connected with his sisters and their families. Under oath, niece Frances Livingston Hart Butler (Mrs. Clement Moore Butler) mentioned having conversed with him on a highly personal and delicate matter, something she would not fully disclose even to her own father. As Mrs. Butler testified in December 1844, the visit took place "early last spring" (so 1843), just before uncle T.W.C. sailed for Buenos Aires.

Frances told the court that she also made a confidante of her "sister-in-law, Miss Harriet Butler, of Troy." Obviously nobody involved in the sensational trial of Bishop Onderdonk for sexual misconduct cared too deeply about the authorship of "A Visit from St. Nicholas." Nevertheless, as a matter of documented history this one page of sworn testimony by Frances Livingston Hart Butler brings T. W. C. Moore, the brother of her deceased mother Lydia, into a small family circle that included Harriet Butler and few others, only her closest and most trusted friends and family members. Along with her husband Clement and her best friend Catherine, and maybe her father, T. W. C. Moore and Harriet Butler were practically the only people alive that Frances Livingston Butler could speak with about her experience of being molested by the Bishop, Benjamin T. Onderdonk.

Another sister of T. W. C., Maria Seabury Moore, died in 1812, and T. W. C. owned a profile portrait painting of her in tintype that in 1866 he inscribed to a relative.

And here is the back of the tintype, where the inscription by T. W.C. Moore shows his abiding interest in preserving historical artifacts, along with his characteristic and very antiquarian attention to relevant circumstantial details and facts. (Acquired from James Cummins Bookseller in February 2018, this item is now in the collection of Scott Norsworthy.)

Considering the ties he maintained over many years with family of his deceased sisters including his Livingston niece Frances and her husband, this Livingston cousin T. W. C. Moore must have known a good deal about his niece's confidante Harriet Butler, the unmarried sister of her husband. Next to Harriet of Troy herself, few persons could have been better equipped to hear the story of how those marvelous lines about St. Nicholas got copied and re-copied and eventually transmitted to editor Orville Holley for publication in the Troy Sentinel. With Townsend's death in 1833, and Francis's move west in 1834, two children of Judith Livingston and John Moore were left in New York State, T. W. C. and his older sister Eliza Elliot Moore Livingston of Poughkeepsie (1776-1847). Or possibly three children, if John Moore II survived and stayed in New York. At any rate, nobody then was in a better position than T. W. C. Moore, the living son of Major Henry Livingston's first cousin Judith, to know all about it if the Major himself had anything to do with "A Visit from St. Nicholas." If Henry Livingston, Jr. had written The Night Before Christmas as alleged by some Livingston descendants, T. W. C. Moore would have known it, and for the honor of his dear mother Judith Livingston Moore and her native town of Poughkeepsie and her worthy cousin Henry Livingston, Jr. he would happily have told the world. Not even the most persistent advocates for Livingston's authorship of The Night Before Christmas allege any conspiracy of silence. Their assumption has always been that printed attributions to Clement C. Moore astonished Livingston family members who only belatedly learned of the "mistake" made in giving credit to the wealthy New York seminary professor.  Before now, however, it has not been recognized that the person who forwarded the holograph manuscript to the librarian of the New-York Historical Society in 1862 was (in spite of the forwarder's surname) no "nephew" or any blood relation of Clement C. Moore's, but rather a Livingston cousin--blood kin, and perfectly situated to know the history of its authorship and earliest transmission.

So in the spring of 1843 T. W. C. Moore conversed with his niece Frances, whose most intimate friends included her sister-in-law Harriet Butler. Uncle T. W. C. and Frances talked more or less confidentially at the home of Frances and her husband (when they lived in New York City?). Writing from New York City on February 27th of the following year, Clement C. Moore tells editor Charles King of the New York American a surprising thing, that he only recently discovered how his verses about the Christmas Eve visit of St. Nicholas wound up in a Troy newspaper. Avowing that he originally wrote the Christmas poem "not for publication, but to amuse my children," Clement C. Moore revealed not only his "great surprise" upon learning of its publication in the Troy Sentinel, but something else, a little mystery that remained unsolved "until lately." About his "lines, describing a visit from St. Nicholas," Moore states for the record that he wrote them "many years ago" but only "lately" learned the method of their transmission or "how they got there":
... some lines, describing a visit from St. Nicholas, which I wrote many years ago, I think somewhere between 1823 and 1824, not for publication, but to amuse my children. They, however, found their way, to my great surprise, in the Troy Sentinel: nor did I know, until lately, how they got there.--Clement C. Moore, published letter to Charles King
Moore's innocent, frankly admitted uncertainty about the exact date he composed "A Visit from St Nicholas" ("I think somewhere between 1823 [the last number in the printed date appears smudged and hard to decipher on microfilm; possibly it reads "1822" instead] and 1824") shows that he has not yet received the extant letter from Norman Tuttle in which the former proprietor of the Troy Sentinel writes in reply to a query from Moore with additional details of the poem's transmission (to the extent that Tuttle can remember what Orville Holley told him). I don't offer this reading as a complicated hypothesis, but rather as the simplest and most logical inference from the details that Moore gives in this important published letter. If Moore had already received and read Tuttle's reply, he would have known exactly when his poem appeared on December 23, 1823 and would have adjusted the time frame of its composition accordingly, knowing for a fact that he could not possibly have written the lines in 1824, one year after they were first printed.

This point bears repeating: with Tuttle's letter in front of him, Moore would have known exactly when his poem was published in the Troy Sentinel. Hypothetically, the imputed motive of verifying that "the coast was clear" should have made him especially careful to date his composition of the poem before the date of its first publication. But Moore was not so guilty, or careful. He did not need to be so careful and without help, could not be more careful and precise than memory allowed. In the first place, Moore simply and most understandably could not remember the exact year he wrote it (more than 20 years before!). In the second place, he could not give the exact date of its first publication because he had not yet learned it. Evidently Norman Tuttle's response to his inquiry had not yet arrived from Troy. On this point the date of Moore's letter is crucial. Moore's letter to Charles King appeared in the New York American of March 1, 1844 but he wrote it three days before, on February 27, 1844 as the un-smudged heading of his printed letter clearly indicates. Three not two days before, since February in the leap year 1844 had 29 days.

The first Response by MacDonald P. Jackson to my blog-review of his Christmas book acknowledged the significance of Moore's published 1844 letter and generously credited the find as the product of "admirable scholarly diligence." More recently, in print, Jackson has again referenced Moore's published letter in the New York American in the last paragraph of his essay on Style and Authorship in a Classic of Popular Culture: Henry Livingston and The Night Before Christmas [Style 51.4 (2017): 482-505 at 491], showing exemplary scholarly generosity by crediting Melvilliana. Unfortunately, however, the case for Livingston's authorship demands a sinister reading of Moore's motives that, besides being grossly unfair and even slanderous, here turns on Jackson's error in mistaking the published date of Moore's letter (March 1, 1844) for the date he actually wrote it (February 27, 1844, three days earlier than Jackson supposes). In his online Response and more recent article in Style, Jackson takes an obvious typo ("1827" for 1837) as ground for "suspicion" of Moore's integrity, while failing to recognize the importance of Moore's plain statement that he "gave" the publishers of The New-York Book of Poetry four poems for their 1837 anthology, including "A Visit from St. Nicholas." Since Moore himself contributed all four poems that appeared under his name, The New-York Book of Poetry provides rock-solid bibliographic evidence that Moore had already claimed the Christmas poem with three other pieces in 1837, seven years before the false attribution to James Wood spurred him to write Norman Tuttle and Charles King.

From Troy in upstate New York Norman Tuttle dated his reply to Moore February 26, 1844. And Tuttle wants Professor Moore to know he has wasted no time in responding:
Yours of 23d inst. making inquiry concerning the publication of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" is just received. --Letter from Norman Tuttle to C. C. Moore, February 26, 1844
On Monday, February 26th Tuttle states plainly that he "just received" Moore's inquiry dated February 23, 1844, which was Friday. Literally interpreted, Tuttle's expression "just received" probably means "today" if not "five minutes ago." Tuttle just today, Monday, got Moore's inquiry written from New York City on Friday. Possibly it arrived over the weekend; it's hard to be certain. Obviously though, it takes some time to travel 152 miles from Troy to Chelsea, even today. The known facts are, Tuttle replies to Moore from Troy on Monday the 26th of February; and Moore writes Charles King from Manhattan on Tuesday, the 27th. Another fact that Tuttle communicates right away, and in wonderfully clear, legible script, is the all-significant date of December 23, 1823 when "Visit" "was first published in the Troy Sentinel." The contents of Moore's published letter in the New York American do not reflect knowledge of the particulars in Tuttle's letter of the day before. And the one-day window between Tuttle's letter to Moore and Moore's letter to Charles King makes it all the more likely that Moore had not yet received Tuttle's reply when he wrote the published letter to Charles King--a letter that is most immediately and directly motivated, as Moore clearly states at the outset, by new knowledge of the published claim for James Wood in a very respectable newspaper, the Washington, D. C. National Intelligencer.

Moore could not have written Norman Tuttle in the first place without already knowing something about the publication of his verses on St. Nicholas in the Troy Sentinel. While Moore reveals that he never knew "until lately, how they got there," he does not identify the source of his information. That unnamed source may well have been Livingston cousin T. W. C. Moore, who in fact did know essential details about the earliest transmission of Moore's verses on the visit of St. Nicholas. In his key 1862 witness letter, ironically overlooked or unreasonably discounted by advocates for authorship of the Christmas poem by Major Henry Livingston, Jr., Major Livingston's cousin T. W. C. Moore relates exactly what he knows about how Moore's verses got to Troy.

Turns out, Livingston cousin T. W. C. Moore wrote the earliest and best witness letter of all, fortunately still extant in the collection of the New-York Historical Society. As he states in the 1862 letter, T. W. C. Moore was responding a request from Society librarian George H. Moore (no relation to Clement C. but a friend of Melville's friend Evert A. Duyckinck and eminently worth further attention, another day). On behalf of the Historical Society, T. W. C. Moore got Clement C. Moore, in spite of his "advanced age" and "much impaired eye sight" to write out those famous lines one more time for posterity. T. W. C. Moore forwarded the requested manuscript copy of "A Visit from St Nicholas" along with his letter to George H. Moore.

Dated March 15, 1862, this crucial witness letter from Livingston cousin T. W. C. Moore begins with the good news of Moore's compliance. After declaring victory and complementing "the distinctness and beauty" of Professor Moore's handwriting at age 82, T. W. C. Moore continues with details of the poem's composition and transmission, presented--significantly, I think--in successive but separate paragraphs. First T. W. C. Moore relates what he knows about the date and original circumstances of composition:
These lines were composed for his two daughters, as a Christmas present, about 40 years ago.—They were copied by a relative of Dr. Moores in her Album, from which a copy was made by a friend of hers, from Troy, and, much to the surprise of the Author, were published (for the first time) in a Newspaper of that city.—
Here I wish to highlight the statement by T. W. C. Moore that Moore's lines on St. Nicholas "were copied by a relative of Dr. Moores in her Album, from which a copy was made by a friend of hers, from Troy." As a veteran collector of art and historical artifacts, T. W. C. Moore knows the value of careful and accurate written descriptions. In just the same spirit, T. W. C. Moore donated valuable papers of his father John Moore (his account of the Social Club, for example) to the New-York Historical Society. With gifts of historical artifacts and art, T. W. C. Moore habitually supplied annotations of his own, giving dates and pertinent facts, as shown in the 1873 Catalogue of the Museum and Gallery of Art of the New York Historical Society.

When William I. Street, grandson of Major Andrew Billings of Poughkeepsie, gave T. W. C. Moore souvenir locks of George Washington's hair (and Martha's, too!), T. W. C. meticulously recorded the provenance in a letter from New York City dated March 24, 1857.

One more example will suffice for now to illustrate T. W. C. Moore's characteristic interest in supplying accurate descriptions for valuable works of art.

Interior of the Park Theatre, New York
via The New York Public Library Digital Collections
In 1868, six years after writing the 1862 cover letter that accompanied Clement C. Moore's holograph manuscript of "A Visit from St Nicholas," T. W. C. Moore took the trouble to assemble a helpful "key" for identifying the subjects of a treasured water-color by John Searle titled "Interior of the Park Theatre, New York City, November 1822."
The painting is accompanied by a key added to a photograph from the original published by Mr. Elias Dexter in 1868. This key was prepared by the late Thomas W. C. Moore, a well known and highly esteemed member of this Society, and a liberal contributor to its Collection of Paintings. Mr. Moore had himself obtained the loan of the picture, at that time in the possession of Mrs. William Bayard, for the purpose of its reproduction, and took great pains to identify the persons represented....--The Iconography of Manhattan Island
via The New York Public Library Digital Collections
As Martha Joanna Lamb explains to the same effect, in his enlistment of knowledgeable persons to get the figures in Searle's Park Theater painting identified correctly, T. W. C. Moore displayed
"the instinct of a genuine antiquarian." --History of the City of New York
A reproduction of the painting by Searle appears in the New-York Historical Society Quarterly 54.2 (April 1970), right alongside the "Key" to persons shown. In the Quarterly these reproductions of the Park Theatre painting and Key nicely illustrate the article by Edward Pessen titled "The Wealthiest New Yorkers of the Jacksonian Era: A New List." Thomas W. C. Moore appears in the foreground--age 28 in 1822, identified by the Key he helped produce over forty years later as number 14.

Thomas W. C. Moore (1794-1872)
Detail from Interior of Park Theatre by John Searle
via The New York Public Library Digital Collections
This painting of John Searle's represents a scene on the opening night of November 7, when cold weather had permitted New York to return to its business, homes and amusements; Mathews is on the stage as "Monsieur Morbleau," and Miss Johnston as "Madame Bellgarde." Through an inspiration of Thomas W. C. Moore, forty-five years later (who prepared a key to the painting then owned by Mrs. William Bayard), we know the names of some eighty odd of the representative New Yorkers whom the artist portrayed as witnessing this important appearance. They are all here, Bayards, and Coldens and de Peysters and Livingstons, Crugers, Van Wycks, Clintons, Beekmans, Lenoxes, Brevoorts and the rest; not to mention the prodigious Doctor Mitchell, Doctor Hosack, Doctor Francis, James K. Paulding, Mrs. Daniel Webster and many another of the outstanding figures in the financial and social life of the period. --Henry Wysham Lanier, A Century of Banking in New York, 1822-1922 (New York: George H. Doran Company, 1922) page 62.
Not that T. W. C. always prevailed with popular icons of art and literature. Washington Irving in 1859 was less obliging than Clement C. Moore proved to be in 1862, as Wayne R. Kime details in Pierre M. Irving and Washington Irving (Wilfred Laurier University Press, 1977), page 159. Irving rebuffed aggressive attempts by T. W. C. to obtain Irving's photograph for a promotion to finance the restoration of Mount Vernon.

But Clement C. Moore obliged with his holograph manuscript, and  T. W. C. Moore with the habitual "instinct of a genuine antiquarian" was more than glad to add an appropriate cover letter. Since manuscript and letter are both for the historical record, T. W. C. means exactly what he says. In this part of his March 1862 letter to the Librarian of the New-York Historical Society, T. W. C. Moore calls attention to two stages of copying in manuscript, not counting authorial drafts. In the first stage "a relative of Dr Moores" copied his poem "in her Album." In another stage, "a friend of hers, from Troy" copied the copy. T. W. C. Moore does not name either person. However, the writer's discretion here does not necessarily signify that he is unable to identify one or both individuals, both women. Rather, he chooses not to identify them in this particular document. Later sources name Harriet Butler as one of the copyists--often without specifying clearly whether Harriet was the visiting "relative" or the Troy "friend." Nevertheless, given T. W. C.'s close ties to the family of his niece Frances, including her husband and sister-in-law Harriet, it seems plausible that T. W. C. Moore was the authority behind later identifications of Harriet Butler.

The copying is what T. W. C. Moore attests to from personal knowledge, perhaps derived from his documented conversation in 1843 with Frances Livingston Butler, or maybe long before that. In the next paragraph, T. W. C. relates what he learned during a personal "interview" with Clement C. Moore the day before, on March 14, 1862:
he told me that a portly, rubicund, Dutchman, living in the neighbourhood of his fathers country seat, Chelsea, suggested to him the idea of making St. Nicholas the hero of this "Christmas piece" for his children.
The identity of that Chelsea "Dutchman" remains a mystery. I can't do everything around here.

Transcribed in full below, the earliest known Livingston witness letter, fully and decisively affirming Clement C. Moore's authorship of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" aka "The Night Before Christmas." Addressed to the Librarian of the Historical Society, the letter from T. W. C. Moore was first published in The New York Historical Society Quarterly Bulletin 2.4 (January 1919) pages 111-115.

73 East 12th St.
New York, March 15th 1862.
Geo. H. Moore Esqr
Librarian of The New-York Historical Society:
Dear Sir:
I have the pleasure to inform you that Doctor Clement C. Moore has been so kind as to comply with my request (made at your suggestion) to furnish, for the Archives of our Society, an Autograph Copy of his justly celebrated "Visit from St. Nicholas." I now enclose it to you.—

I hardly need call your attention to the distinctness and beauty of his hand writing:—very remarkable, considering his advanced age, (he completed his 82d year in July last) and his much impaired eye sight.

These lines were composed for his two daughters, as a Christmas present, about 40 years ago.—They were copied by a relative of Dr. Moores in her Album, from which a copy was made by a friend of hers, from Troy, and, much to the surprise of the Author, were published (for the first time) in a Newspaper of that city.—

In an interview that I had yesterday with Dr. Moore, he told me that a portly, rubicund, Dutchman, living in the neighbourhood of his fathers country seat, Chelsea, suggested to him the idea of making St. Nicholas the hero of this "Christmas piece" for his children.
I remain, very respy. Your obt. st.

T. W. C. Moore

Listed in WorldCat from the library catalog of the New-York Historical Society as A Visit from St. Nicholas: Holograph; currently held in Mss Collection, BV Moore, Clement, Non-circulating.
Holograph manuscript, dated March 13, 1862, of Clement C. Moore's "A visit from St. Nicholas," originally composed ca. 1822 and written out by the author on this occasion at the suggestion of librarian George H. Moore of the New-York Historical who wished to add a holograph copy of the poem to the Society's library collection. The three page manuscript is accompanied by a cover letter addressed to George Moore by Thomas W.C. Moore presenting the enclosed manuscript and briefly discussing the circumstances of the poem's original composition forty years earlier.  --New-York Historical Society, catalog summary via BobCat

More about TWC MOORE

The will of Thomas W. C. Moore confirms that he remembered many nieces including Frances Livingston Butler, and his Illinois connections, too. In his 1858 will (accessible via, as I found with expert help from The Frick Collection, Center for the History of Collecting), T. W. C. names his brother Francis Childs Moore as one of the executors along with his friend Stephen Cambreling and nephew-in-law Joseph D. Evans. A codicil revokes the nomination of Cambreling due to his "impaired health of late." To his niece "Mrs. Frances L. Butler" Moore bequeathed "all my Italian books & pamphlets - all my loose engravings & prints - also a Landscape (No. 8.) by Dan Huntington"; these gifts were in addition to the legacy of two thousand dollars each that T. W. C. Moore bestowed on all four "daughters of my late sister Lydia."

T. W. C. Moore and Clement. C. Moore were both Original Members of the Union Club of the City of New York, founded in June 1836. Both belonged to the New York Society Library (whose 1764 copy of Seneca's Morals and 1754 edition of the Dictionnaire des monogrammes were both donated by TWC Moore).

The chapter on "Commercial History" in volume 4 of The Memorial History of the City of New York features a portrait of T. W. C.'s father John Moore. The footnote by editor James Grant Wilson relates that T. W. C. Moore "shared his father's love for literature, wrote society verses, and was an intimate friend of Fitz-Greene Halleck."
John Moore was deputy collector and receiver- general of his majesty's customs in New-York while occupied by the British forces during the Revolution, and for ten years previous. He was a favorite in society, a writer of pleasant satires on the men and women of the city, gay and convivial. Some of his writings yet survive in manuscript. and throw light on the manners of the time. His son, Thomas W. C. Moore, shared his father's love for literature, wrote society verses, and was an intimate friend of Fitz-Greene Halleck, as their fathers had been before them. The son's portrait appears in the picture of the interior of the Park Theater, in Volume III. Editor.  --James Grant Wilson, The Memorial History of the City of New York, Volume4 - page 517.

T. W. C. was fondly remembered in Virginia, too. After his death in 1872, a niece inherited two letters concerning portraits of George Washington, as documented in the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 18.1 (1894) on page 81. This niece was (like her sister Frances Livingston Hart, Mrs. Butler) another daughter of T. W. C.'s sister Lydia Hubbard Hart: Mrs. Elizabeth E. Coleman, widow of the Rev. Reuben Lindsay Coleman, of Albemarle County, Virginia. In Richmond T. W. C. may have visited Moore cousins as well, family of his father's brother Richard Channing Moore. Here's a vivid reminiscence from "old Virginia":
"Old Cousin Tom," we were wont to call him. What a stream of memories, sweet childish memories, his name evokes! Can we forget him who never forgot his juvenile kindred, but made glad their hearts, not once but always, when his travels brought him to old Virginia. His portrait appears in the picture of the interior of the Park Theatre in the History of New York City, in the library of the Penn. Hist. Society. He spent much time in genealogical research and was a steadfast friend of Fitz-Greene HALLECK. Peace to his ashes!  --Six centuries of the Moores of Fawley, Berkshire, England and their descendants amid the titled and untitled aristocracy of Great Britain and America (Richmond, VA, 1904) via RootsWeb
From Buenos Aires in 1824, T. W. C. wrote a letter to his father John Moore that is reproduced and transcribed on Spared & Shared 4, with this bit of biography:
Thomas W. C. Moore transcribed his father’s memoirs in 1851, was one of the promoters of the Academy of Fine Arts, and travelled through the art galleries of Europe with Washington Irving and Sir David Wilkie. He died unmarried. --Spared & Shared 4
MacDonald P. Jackson discusses the letter from T. W. C. Moore without recognizing Moore's kinship with Henry Livingston, Jr. as the son of Livingston's first cousin and Poughkeepsie neighbor Judith Livingston Moore. As Jackson does explain (Who Wrote, page 102), "T. W. C. Moore and Clement, though not related by blood, were both nephews of the same aunt and uncle." Edifying particulars may be found on the Stephen Moore of Mount Tirzah Family blog of David Jeffreys:
TWC Moore's uncle, Rev. Thomas Lambert Moore was married to Judith Moore, the aunt of Clement Clarke Moore, the author of the poem. The two Moore families are not otherwise related.  --Teri Bradshaw O'Neill
So T. W. C. Moore was related to Clement by marriage. But as discussed herein, the closer blood relation was to his mother's first cousin: Henry Livingston, Jr.


  • Livingston cousin Thomas William Channing Moore (1794-1872), New York merchant and banker, art collector, antiquarian, and active member of the New-York Historical Society most definitely is not the Canadian diplomat T. W. C.( Thomas William CHARLES?) Moore (1794-1873).

  • And let's not confuse our T. W. C. Moore with his younger relative of the same name, Thomas William Channing Moore (1834-1881). The grandfather of that TWC Moore, the Rev Richard Channing Moore, was a brother of John Moore, our antiquarian TWC Moore's father. Young TWC Moore served in the U. S. Civil War with the Wisconsin volunteers; most famously an aide-de-camp of Philip Sheridan. Enlisted in Company B, Wisconsin 24th Infantry Regiment on 13 Aug 1862; mustered out 1866 and promoted to Brevet Lt Col in 1867. Staten Island TWCM is honorably remembered in Morris's Memorial History of Staten Island, New York as "Colonel Thomas W. C. Moore, Military Secretary on the staff of General Sheridan, during the Civil War, was born at Richmond; he was a son of Rev. Dr. David Moore, rector of St. Andrew's Church, and a brother of Richard Channing Moore."
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  1. You fail to mention that Clement Moore contacted the newspaper to see if anyone had claimed authorship of the poem before he accepted authorship. This suggests a dishonest man.

    1. Good news! As shown in several earlier Melvilliana posts, Moore wrote that 1844 letter to Norman Tuttle after learning of a recent false claim for Joseph Wood as the author of The Night Before Christmas, which was published December 25, 1843 in the Washington National Intelligencer. See for example:

      and Moore's published acknowledgement of authorship in a letter to the editor of the New York American, published on March 1, 1844:

      Given the recent false claim for Wood's authorship, Moore had good reason to inquire about the circumstances of the Christmas poem's first publication in the Troy Sentinel. Nobody who knew Moore ever suggested he was a liar or thief. And had no motive in this case--zero reason to lie, especially in a published letter to a major New York newspaper.

    2. In this very post right here I absolutely do mention Clement Moore's lost letter to the Troy Sentinel, which we know about because Moore kept the reply from Norman Tuttle. For instance, quoting now from the text above in case you missed it:

      >>Moore's innocent, frankly admitted uncertainty about the exact date he composed "A Visit from St Nicholas" ("I think somewhere between 1823 [the last number in the printed date appears smudged and hard to decipher on microfilm; possibly it reads "1822" instead] and 1824") shows that he has not yet received the extant letter from Norman Tuttle in which the former proprietor of the Troy Sentinel writes in reply to a query from Moore with additional details of the poem's transmission (to the extent that Tuttle can remember what Orville Holley told him).<<

    3. When Clement C. Moore contacted the Troy Sentinel in February 1844 his authorship of A Visit from St Nicholas aka The Night Before Christmas was already well-known. By well-known I mean published under Moore's name in at least three different anthologies of American poetry. Evidence here:

  2. Thanks to the great work of Mary S. Van Deusen we know what else Clement C. Moore was doing around the time of his February 1844 letter to the Troy Sentinel: writing this delightful Valentine's Day poem titled, "A Valentine Feb. 14, 1844."

    >>The top of the morn to ye! this blessed day,
    My sweet little Lydia dear.
    But I'll wish myself dead, and clean out of your way,
    If you turn to my words a deaf ear.

    For I tell you, d'ye see, I'm a tight Irish boy,
    Just come o'er from the green little isle,
    With a purse full of shiners; and heart full of joy
    At the hope of your favouring smile.

    And tho' Norah is surely the neatest young creature
    Ever was, or that ever can be,
    Yet I think, on my soul, that the blessing of Nature
    Has made you still neater than she.

    And although her bright image yet lives in my heart,
    A heart ever loyal and true,
    Och! that image was kill'd by young Cupid's last dart;
    And I live, my dear girl, but for you.

    It was first in Broadway that I met you a walking,
    With looks than May-flowers more sweet;
    And so pleasant and smoothly you seem'd to be talking,
    That my heart like a fulling-mill beat.

    I follow'd you up, and I follow'd you down,
    And I follow'd you everywhere;
    Till the back of your head seem'd beginning to frown,
    And the folk were beginning to stare.

    So I thought it was best to leave off galavanting,
    Till your name, and so forth, I could get.
    But, sure, thro' my brain how your image kept jaunting!
    And, oh dear! how it bothers me yet!

    And that same very night, what a tossing and turning!
    How the bed-clothes were kept in a rout!
    The curds in the churn, when my mother was churning,
    Were never so tumbled about.

    And of sleep de'il a wink, all the night, could I take,
    Of darts and of arrows for dreaming,
    That kept sticking all through me, and making me wake,
    Like a crazy man, screeching and screaming.

    And who among mortals is able to say
    How long I had gone at this rate?
    But I chanc'd to bethink me of Valentine's day;
    When the birds are beginning to mate,

    And the lads and the lasses have power to choose
    The sweethearts with whom they will pair;
    And no maiden has then a good right to refuse
    An offer that's open and fair.

    So, ukuthla ma cree, now without any bother,
    Hold ye fast a good chance when you can;
    And just run like a rabbit, and tell your good mother
    You're engag'd to a neat little man.

    And, that, you may know the goodman of your choice,
    Look out, when you're next in the street,
    For the heart-touching brogue of a rich Irish voice,
    As a bugle-horn mellow and sweet,

    And a lad with his hat plac'd a trifle askew,
    With a face that looks pleasant and bold,
    And a coat like the sky, all so shining and blue,
    And with buttons so yellow as gold;

    With a bright scarlet waistcoat; a bit of a staff;
    And with gloves that are whiter than snow;
    With his corduroys button'd around a full calf,
    And a well polish'd top-boot below.

    And I thought it was best, at the top of my letter,
    Just to give you a sketch of my phiz;
    Like a map on a deed, that assists one, the better
    To know what the property is.

    So, next time that you see me, just tip me a smile;
    And I'll give you a touch of my hat;
    And I vow, by the Shannon, that never shall guile
    Dishonor the heart of your own little
    [Museum of the City of New York
    Poetry Manuscript Book of Clement C. Moore
    Accession Number: 54.331.1 (7662) ]