Moody Surname Genealogy

The Moody surname was originally a nickname.
But its meaning then was a little different from its meaning now. The root of the word is the Old English modig
meaning “brave” and “proud.” But the
word had the connotation of foolhardy as well, which might also have
been a
characteristic of someone with that nickname.  
Moody is the English
spelling. The alternatives Moodie and
Mudie occur in Scotland.

Moody Resources on

Moody Ancestry

England. The earliest known
Moody as a surname
dated from
the 12th century
and an early
English charter
the name Alwine Modig

England. The early spelling in Wiltshire was
Mody. Edmund Mody was recorded as gentry
in Wiltshire at the time of Henry VII.
The Moodys of Malmesbury in north Wiltshire were originally from
Worcestershire. They had settled in
ry in the
late 1400’s. Richard Moody acquired
Garsdon Manor in 1544
at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries.
Sir Henry Moody was an MP and baronet who
died with large debts in 1629.His widow, Lady
Deborah Moody
, sought new
pastures in New England and later in Dutch New York.

John Mody held land at Abbotts Ann near
Andover in Hampshire in the early 1500’s.
John Moody died at Upton Lovel in Wiltshire in 1658. Later Moodys of his family moved to
in the same county. Other Moodys were
recorded at Steeple Langford and at Landford.

Elsewhere. Another early
Moody family was to be found at Harwich and Bury St. Edmond in Suffolk
in the
late 1400’s. Edmund
saved the life of King Henry VIII in 1524.

However, by the time of the 1881 census there were
larger Moody numbers further north in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. William Moody was recorded at Partney in
Lincolnshire in 1616. Moodys from
Yorkshire have included:

  • Captain John
    Moody, born in York in 1801, who spent a lifetime involved
    in commissioning
    and captaining the new generation of
  • and
    James Moody from Scarborough who served as the Titanic’s
    sixth officer in 1912 and was the only junior officer to perish for
    behind to help evacuate the passengers after all the other officers had

Scotland. There have been two
spellings in Scotland – Moodie and Mudie.
Both are found primarily on Scotland’s East Coast – Moodie in
and Mudie in what was then Forfarshire and is now Angus.

The Moodies were traced
first to
the Orkney islands
in the 1500’s. They made
their home at Melsetter until
1819. Moodies also moved to Cockslaw and
Lassodie in Fifeshire. The Mudies of
Forfarshire began with the Mudies of Bryanton around the year 1550. Notable among them were:

  • James
    Mudie, a prominent merchant of Montrose who died in 1638.
  • Robert
    Mudie, the son of a weaver from
    Forfarshire, who made his name as a newspaper editor and writer in
    London in
    the 1820’s and 1830’s.
  • and
    James Mudie,
    also from Forfarshire, who at this time was prospering as a local
    official and
    landowner in Australia. However, his
    authorship of the book The Felonry of New
    South Wales
    brought him no friends there and he headed back to

The Moodie Book, written by the Marquis of
Ruvigny and Raineval in 1906, covered this genealogy.

. The
Moody name was mainly to be found in Antrim and in Down.
It was probably of Scottish origin. That
was the case with William Moody who
baptized his children in the Millrow Presbyterian church in Antrim in
1680’s. Robert Moody and James Mudie
appeared in the Ballykelly Presbyterian church records in Derry in 1700.

Moody of Longtown in county Antrim was the father of a long line of
Moodys that
served in the British army. Richard
Moody, born in Barbados, was the first Governor of the Falkland islands
and in
the 1850’s gave his name to Port Moody in British Columbia.

America. There were three early Moody lines in New England,
but they were not related:

  • the
    William and John Moody lines of Newbury

    and Roxbury
  • and
    the Clement Moody line of Exeter,
    New Hampshire.

. William
Moody from
Suffolk who arrived in Newbury in 1635 was by family tradition a
blacksmith and
“the first person in New England to shoe oxen to enable them to walk on

  • his son
    Caleb, a deacon, built
    Moody House in West Newbury which remained
    in the possession of his descendants until 1937.
  • his grandson Samuel, also a deacon, was a
    preacher in the backwoods of Maine.

Pramberg’s 1986 book Four Generations of the Descendants
of William Moody
covered this
line. A later descendant, born in Moody
House, was William H. Moody, the US Secretary of the Navy in 1902.

John Moody, also from
Suffolk, came to Roxbury, Massachusetts with his wife Sarah in 1633. They removed to Hartford, Connecticut around
the year 1639. Later Moodys via his son
Samuel, and these included the 19th century evangelist and revivalist
D.L. Moody, moved to Hadley and then to Northfield in eastern

Another Moody family from this line departed
Massachusetts by ship and across Panama to Oregon territory in 1851. Zenas Moody started a shipping company
there. In 1882 we was elected Governor
of Oregon.

Clement Moody, born in Wenham, Massachusetts in 1661, made his home
in Exeter, New Hampshire. Many of his
descendants settled in Maine and Vermont, and some back in
Massachusetts. Captain Clement Moody
served in the Maine
militia during the Revolutionary War.

Elsewhere. A Moody line in Virginia began with a John
Moody who was first recorded in Essex county in 1692.
Colonel William Lewis Moody, born there in
1826, fought on the Confederate side in the Civil War and later moved
to Texas
where he was to found the Moody dynasty in Galveston.
His son W.L
consolidated and expanded the Moody businesses. When he died in 1954 Time magazine
proclaimed him as one of the ten wealthiest men in
the country.

Caribbean. The Moodie name has been quite
common in Jamaica, suggesting possibly a Scottish
heritage. James Moodie was recorded as a minor in
Jamaica in 1754. He may have been the
same Moodie who graduated from Edinburgh medical college in 1762 and
returned to Jamaica as a physician.

The Moodie name often became Moody.
Thomas Moodie, for
instance, was a tailor in Kingston in the
1860’s. His son Charles Moody was the head of a large family which
included Harold
who sailed to London in 1904 to study medicine.
With the support of the Quakers
, Harold
the League of Colored Peoples in 1931 to campaign for racial equality
and civil

South Africa. Benjamin Moodie from
Orkney led a group of
Scottish Highlanders on the Brilliant
to the Cape Colony as early as 1817. He
later made his home in the Western Cape.
A younger brother Donald lived in the Eastern Cape and
Natal, where he became Colonial Secretary.
A third brother John wrote the book Ten
Years in South Africa
in 1835, but he then left for marriage and
in Canada.

John Moody from Winchester was among the English 1820 settlers. He died in 1841 in the Eastern Cape but left
no children.

Moody Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Moody Names

Sir James Moodie of Melsetter was a Royal Naval Commodore and later
MP for the Orkneys.
Colonel W.L. Moody was the forebear of the
Moody dynasty in
Galveston, Texas.
ohn Moody was the founder of Moody’s
Investors Service
and Moody’s Rating Agency.
Helen Wills Moody
was an American tennis
player of the 1930’s
who won 19 Grand Slam titles.

Clyde Moody
, known as the Hillbilly
Waltz King
, was one
of the
pioneers of American Bluegrass music.

Select Moodys Today

  • 17,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Yorkshire)
  • 22,000 in America (most numerous in Minnesota)
  • 10,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)




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