RBCM Archives

Fonds PR-2321 - C.F. Moore fonds

Unidentified Priest Unidentified Man in Hat Boating in Pond Unidentified Building Unidentified damaged buil... Landscape, building and c... Residence and back garden Architectural detail Carts with wooden wheel Rural Chinese setting Courtyard View Unidentified body of water Farmhouse Summer Palace Landscape Waterfall Summer Palace View From Boat Building Interior Ships on Ocean Chinese Writing Mules, Carts Stone Bridge Mules and carts Building and British Men ... Unidentified Entrance Building Exterior Building Complex Animal Statue Unidentified Chinese Man
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Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

C.F. Moore fonds

General material designation

  • graphic material
  • textual material

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1860-1910 (Creation)

Physical description area

Physical description

99 glass plate negatives
1 photograph album containing 155 b&w prints
0.2 m. textual material
Ephemera: 1 dragon pin, one violin case, one violin, one paper seal

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Archival description area

Name of creator

Moore, Charles Frederick (1838-1916)

Biographical history

Writer, Colonial Administrator, Notary Public - Charles Frederick Moore was born in Manchester England on August 1, 1838. Not much is known of his youth in England. His life is recorded in greater detail during his experiences in British colonial affairs in China. On August 8, 1860, at the age of 22, Mr. Moore began to serve in the British Colonial Office’s Commissariat Department in Hong Kong. He first served under Mr. D.C. Napier in 1860 and then under Philip Turner, Deputy Commissary General, in 1861. In 1895, seeking employment in the office of the British Columbia Attorney General, Mr. Moore wrote to British Columbia Premier J.H. Turner outlining his work in China. He wrote,
I may mention that under the Chinese Government; as Paymaster, with rank of Major, I was honored with a gold and silver medal, rolls of silk and recommendatory letters. I served nine years under Sir Robert Hart of the Customs...
While serving in this position as paymaster Moore became involved with the British forces in the Taiping Rebellion (1850-1864). Mr. Moore first mentions the Rebellion in his notes in 1861. He wrote, rebels captured “the walled city of Chên Hai, at the entrance to Ningpo” on December 7, 1861 and they were “driven out by Captain Roderick Dew of the H.M. S. Encounter in the following month of May.” At this time, in the same region “near the city of Yu Yao, above Ningpo,” heavy fighting occurred. Around this time Mr. Moore replaced Lieutenant Rawson, of the Encounter, now Governor General of New Zealand, as Paymaster. Mr. Moore was assigned to what was then called “Dew’s force,” later commonly known as “Gordon’s Ever Victorious Army,” a group of Chinese soldiers and British forces fighting, under the direction of General Charles “Chinese” Gordon, against the rebel forces of Hong Xiuquan in the in the civil war known as the Taiping Rebellion, involving the Manchu Qing Dynasty. Moore was present at the fall of Hong Xiuquan’s stronghold of Nanjing in 1864. Moore took photographs of rebellion events during this period, including the destruction resulting from the fall of Nanjing. This likely includes images of the destroyed Yuan MingYuan (The Old Summer Palace). Moore’s photos represent a set of images that document the rebellion at a time when colonial photography was in its infancy. In addition to his photography, Moore documented his experiences in China in a book titled Moor documented his experiences in China in a work titled, A Quarter of a Century in China: Experiences of a Victorian in the Flowery Kingdom with ‘Chinese Gordon.’

On March 23, 1868 Mr. Moore married Bibianne Yii in Peking at the “British Legation.” Together the couple had eleven children. These included George Yi Moore (born in Peking 1869), Henry Moore (born Ningpo, 1869), Annie Moore (born Ningpo, 1871), Charles Moore (born Kiukian, 1873), Bibianne Moore (born Kiukian, 1873), Jane Moore (born Shanghai, 1877), William Moore (born Peking 1879), Francis Robert Moore (born 1881 Peking), Margaret Moore (born Peking 1883), George Leslie Moore (born Peking, 1885), Mary Victoria Moore, (born Victoria, B.C., 1887). George Yi, Henry, William, and George Leslie, did not survive childhood. The six others made the voyage to Victoria, B.C. Only Mary Victoria Moore was born in Victoria.
Mr. Moore arrived with his family in British Columbia in 1885. The family was registered in the Federal General Register of Chinese Immigration on December 4, 1885. On October 4, 1886, Moore received his certificate of appointment as notary public for the province of British Columbia. On December 22, 1887, he passed his preliminary examination for the civil service of Canada. Moore eventually found a permanent position as the secretary for Justice Sir Mathew Baillie Begbie. He drafted a biography of Sir Begbie based on his experiences as his secretary. Moore lived out the rest his life with his family in Victoria. For most of his life in Victoria his family resided at 1401 Taunton Street. Moore passed away on June 21, 1916. He was buried at Ross Bay Cemetery in Victoria.

Custodial history

The C.F.Moore records remained in the physical custody of descendants of C.F. Moore until they were donated to the Royal BC Museum (Archives) in 2014.

Scope and content

Fonds consists of photographs and textual material documenting the professional and personal life of Charles Frederick Moore. The records predominantly concern Moore’s activities as an English colonial officer in late nineteenth century China. As a paymaster for General Charles Gordon’s forces in China, Moore witnessed and documented important events in the Nanking Rebellion. This is the most closely documented period of Moore’s life and the predominant amount of records in the fonds concern this period. Following the rebellion, he remained a colonial official in Peking, starting a young family. He decided to move his family to Victoria, British Columbia in 1885. His service in Victoria is not well documented save for some official certificates. He served as a secretary to Judge Mathew Baillie Begbie and retired in Victoria. Even though he was working in a different colonial context, the records of Moore’s life in Victoria relate predominantly to his reminiscences and observations of his service in China.

Notes area

Physical condition

The textual material is in fair condition. Some of the collodion glass plate negatives are in a significant state of decomposition making the image content difficult to identify.

Immediate source of acquisition


Fonds is arranged into the following levels:

1. Photographs
2. Miscellaneous textual material
3. Ephemera

Language of material

  • English

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A finding aid is available:

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No further accruals expected.

General note

Accession number: 2014.20

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