Revd. James Leith Moody: 1816 – 1896

James Leith Moody was born in Barbados to Col. Thomas Moody and Martha Moody (nee Clement).

In 1835 he entered St. Mary’s College where he obtained a BA. He got his MA in 1863. He was ordained a Deacon in 1840 and Priest in 1841 by the Bishop of Lincoln.  He served as a curate in Radnage, near Oxford, and soon after joined the Royal Navy as Naval Chaplain.

By this time his older brother, Richard Clement Moody, was Lieutenant-Governor of the Falkland Islands. At the time there was no churches or priests on the island and Richard, probably with a little help of the family connections, arranged for James to be posted to the Falkland Islands as Chaplin. He arrived there on HM Frigate Thalia in 1845. By this time he had spent 4 years at sea.

James Leith Moody was not afraid to stand for what he thought was right. He seemed to be champion and voice of the underprivileged which brought him into disagreement with the governor and magistrate, W.H.Moore.

Soon after he arrived he wrote to London for a salary increase and some leave. When the leave was granted he did not take it.

When the Governor was forming the first Legislative and Executive Council he, along with his brother, was appointed to it. However the powers in London did not agree with his appointment so he was removed.

He complained in writing about anything that he did not think appropriate. Among them was that the governor would not answer his letters, the way the fledging colony was being governed, the use of the communion table as writing table (the church and court used the same building) and the state of the graveyard among other things.

He reprimanded the governor for allowing the bodies of two drowned sailors to be left in the elements. He tried to stop a young girl from running off with a Gaucho.

On 1 January 1846 he established the first School on the island with just 12 children. This did not meet with approval with everyone as some thought that their children should not have to attend school with the children of lower social class. In January 1847 a new teacher, William Barry Brown arrived but he was not accepted as he was “effeminate” and was called the school mistress Sally Brown. He did not last long.

He used his sermons to outline what he saw as the short comings of the governor and other members of the government.

There was an enquiry into his conduct in the Falkland Islands but the proceedings were not approved by the powers in London.

He left The Falkland Islands in 1854 and became a chaplain to the forces and assistant chaplain in 1859. He served in Gibraltar, Malta, China, and Crimea among other places.  In 1865 he was living at as Walmer in Kent. He retired from the armed forces in 1876 and became the rector of Virginstow, Launceston, Cornwall, until 1879. He was Vicar of St John the Baptist, Clay Hill, Enfield, from 1879 to 1885, when he retired to Dulwich. From the 1881 Census, we know that he was married to Mary, who was born around 1833 in Hertfordshire and had three children: William (b c1865), Alicia (b c1869) and Reginald (b c1878). He died in Dulwich in 1896, leaving effects worth over £4,000. His wife Mary died on 28 July 1930 in her ninety ninth year.

Thanks to Teena Ormond, the Museum assistant with Falklands Islands Museum and National Trust for giving me the lead on James Leith Moody.

1 thought on “Revd. James Leith Moody: 1816 – 1896”

  1. Robbie-John Foster

    Having been born in Barbados and was here(?) probably 16 years before entering St Mary’s College in England, do you think he had a Bajan accent?

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