MOODY, JOHN, lieutenant-colonel; deputy-governor of Placentia; b. c. 1677; d. 1736.
Moody was appointed lieutenant in Captain Michael Richards’ Independent Company in Newfoundland, 18 Feb. 1703. By the time Moody arrived at St John’s, Richards was preparing to leave with Commodore Graydon, who appointed Thomas Lloyd to the command of the garrison. When the commodore for the following year, Bridges, arrived, he found the inhabitants and the soldiers complaining bitterly about Lloyd’s conduct. In October 1704, Bridges returned to England taking Lloyd with him, and Moody was left in charge of the military forces in St John’s.
Trouble had always arisen between the residents at St John’s and the military commanders, because the latter regarded themselves as entitled to certain perquisites and privileges. Although prohibited by orders from so doing, every military commander speculated profitably in trade in provisions, fish, and oil on his own account. As the commander’s position gave him special advantages, the residents strongly objected. It was not long therefore before accusations similar to those against Lloyd were levelled against Lieutenant Moody. But the winter of 1704–5 was to provide grounds for more precise and spectacular accusations against Moody. In December Moody ordered that Christian, a charwoman employed by John Jackson’s daughter, Margaret, should be whipped – allegedly for the theft of some rum and brandy. The exact details of the case are lost in a mass of contradictory reports, but it may well be that Christian’s real crime was that she knew too much about Moody’s private life. At all events, she died a few days after her ordeal, and a number of the inhabitants accused Moody of causing her death. The following summer Moody demanded a trial, which was presided over by Commodore Bridges. The court found that the allegations were “malicious and unfounded”; the woman – according to the court – had died from venereal disease.
The winter of 1704–5 had afforded Moody the opportunity to prove his military courage and determination. In January 1704/5 with a very small detachment of the Independent Company, he was besieged in Fort William by some 600 French troops, under Auger de Subercase, from Placentia (Plaisance). With only 50 or 60 men he repulsed the enemy, who retired with the loss of 200 men. Moody was admirably supported during the siege by his lieutenant (and later personal enemy), Robert Latham.
In October, Lloyd returned as commander of the land forces, and on 21 Nov. 1705, Moody sailed for England with Commodore Bridges in the Looe. In the same convoy went John Jackson with whom, despite the episode with Christian, Moody had maintained a steady friendship. The Looe was wrecked on the Isle of Wight, with some loss of life, but Moody and Bridges survived. On 14 March 1707, as a result of his gallant defence of Fort William, Moody was commissioned lieutenant in the Coldstream Guards, and soon afterwards was appointed second adjutant.
After the cession of Placentia to Britain by the treaty of Utrecht in 1713, Moody was promoted brevet lieutenant-colonel, and appointed deputy-governor of Placentia, under the governor of Nova Scotia, Colonel Nicholson. By an ordinance of Queen Anne, the French residents at Placentia were permitted to sell their estates, and Moody purchased a considerable amount of land and property from them including the lands of the former French governor, Pastour de Costebelle. Like William Taverner*, he incurred the wrath of the visiting English fishing captains by so doing.
In 1717 the comptrollers of the army accounts recommended that Moody be ordered to return home with Commodore William Passenger to answer the many charges against him, and to settle the accounts of the garrison. Lieutenant-colonel Martin Purcell was appointed lieutenant governor of Placentia to supersede Moody. The latter returned to England, letting his lands to various tenants. He resided in London (a sufferer from gout), and received army half-pay until his death in 1736. At this date his widow, Mrs. Ann Moody, was placed on the widows’ pension list.
PRO, C.O. 194/3, 194/4, 194/5, Index to Nfld. corresp. 8234; W.O. 24/662–24/682 (half pay registers, 1717–34); 24/806 (widows’ pensions); CSP, Col., 1704–5, 1706–8, 1708–9, 1712–14, 1714–15, 1716–17, 1717–18. Dalton, English army lists, IV.