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Richard Clement Moody

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Major-General Richard Clement Moody (1813-1887)

1839 Lieut. Richard Clement Moody of the Royal Engineers, became a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.[1]


1887 Obituary [2]

MAJOR-GENERAL RICHARD CLEMENT MOODY, R.E., died on the 31st of March, 1887, at Bournemouth.

He was the second son of Colonel Thomas Moody, R.E., and was born in St. Anne’s Garrison, Barbados, on the 18th of February, 1813.

Early showing great talent as a mathematician and architectural draughtsman, his father obtained for him a nomination for a cadetship at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich. He joined in February 1827, and left in December 1829, having been for about a year head of the school. It was then the custom for cadets appointed to the Royal Engineers to learn surveying under Mr. Dawson, who was stationed at Cardiff on the Ordnance Survey. They were called “candidates,” and the pay was 6s. a day, and 6d. for a chain-boy when in the field. Young Moody was gazetted second lieutenant on the 5th of November, 1830. Immediately afterwards he was employed on the Ordnance Survey in Ireland for about nine months, and thence was sent to Chatham, where he was very shortly appointed Adjutant.

Lieutenant Moody’s first foreign service was at St. Vincent in the West Indies, where, after a few years, he had a severe attack of yellow fever, from which he barely escaped with his life. When convalescent he obtained sick leave, and travelled for some time with Sir Charles Smith, R.E., in the United States.

His next appointment was that of Professor of Fortification at the Royal Military Academy, whence he was, in 1840, while still a subaltern, selected as the first Governor of the Falkland Islands. This colony was at the time almost in a state of anarchy, and the young Governor was given exceptional powers, which he used with great wisdom and moderation. On the 6th of March, 1844, he obtained the rank of Captain. He continued in his appointment as Governor of the Islands for two years more, during which time he introduced the Tussac grass into England and Scotland, for which he obtained the gold medal of the Royal Agricultural Society.

On returning to England in 1846 a year’s leave was granted him, which was spent in tending his father, Colonel Thomas Moody, during the last few months of his life. After a short tour of duty at Plymouth, he was appointed Commanding Royal Engineer at Newcastle-on-Tyne. About this time a great reservoir burst at Holmfirth, in Yorkshire, destroying much life and property, and Captain Moody did important service in reporting on this matter, and in inspecting other reservoirs in the neighbourhood.

In 1854 he proceeded to Malta as executive officer, but the visit to that island did not last long. Captain Moody had never a strong constitution, and the peculiar fever of the place obliged him again to proceed on sick leave, this time to Germany.

In January 1855 the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel was bestowed upon him, and shortly afterwards he was appointed Commanding Royal Engineer at Edinburgh. He had all his life been interested in science and the fine arts, and meeting, as he did, in the northern metropolis some of the most noted men of the day in those pursuits, he seems to have given this bent of his mind full play. He turned his attention particularly to architecture, which was his special delight, he being an accomplished draughtsman. He drew up plans for the restoration in appropriate style for Edinburgh Castle, and Lord Panmure, then Secretary of State for War, who had asked him to undertake this work, thought so highly of his plans that he sent the Colonel to Windsor to submit them for the inspection of Her Majesty and the Prince Consort. About that time one of the art fancies of the day was the connection between architecture and music. Moody’s designs were all drawn according to musical chords, and as the Queen and Prince Albert were both very musical, his plans for the restoration of Edinburgh Castle excited much interest, both from their architectural merit and from the novelty of the idea that pervaded them.

On Lord Panmure’s retirement, however, these designs were packed away at the War Office, where they still remain, a memorial to Moody’s talent. His most able assistant in these plans was Mr. R. Anderson, now one of the chief architects in Edinburgh.

In 1858 he was gazetted Brevet-Colonel, and was appointed Lieutenant-Governor and Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works in the Colony of British Columbia. The Colony was a new one; gold had recently been found in it ; 75 per cent. of the population were Americans, and many of these were from the Californian mines. Colonel Moody performed his duties for five years to the satisfaction both of the colonists and of the authorities at home, and his name is still remembered in British Columbia as one of the fathers of that rising country. He founded the capital (New Westminster), and the western terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway at Port Moody is named after him.

In 1864 he returned to England, and was for two years Commanding Royal Engineer at Chatham.

In 1868 he retired from the service with the rank of Major-General, and thereafter lived in great seclusion till his death.

General Moody was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 23rd of April, 1839, and was therefore one of its oldest members. He was a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and a Member of the Royal Agricultural Society. A few days before his death he was elected an Honorary Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects. A kinder and more considerate commanding officer than General Moody was not to be found ; and no one who knew him, whether a brother-soldier, or statesman, or a humble villager or artisan, failed to love the kindly Christian gentleman whose seventy-four years of life were devoted to the service of his God, his Sovereign, and his neighbour.


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