Thursday, 21 July 2011

Captain John Moody

I am always amazed at the connections which the internet enables us to make in matters of local history. 

I recently received an email from Keith Johnson in New Zealand. He had come across the obituary on  my website for Captain Samuel Wright of Goole who died in 1897:

The obituary includes a mention of Captain John Moody. John Moody had married, as his first wife, Rebecca Lubbock, the only daughter of John Lubbock, a shipbuilder of Great Yarmouth.

Keith is a descendant of one of the sons of John Lubbock and  he has in turn been in touch with Harriet,  a descendant of another son, who lives  in California. She passed on to him a biography of Captain Moody which has come down through her family. She has given permission for this to be published.

Keith has written much more about the Lubbock family connection and Captain Moody on his blog:

However, he has kindly allowed me to include a copy of Captain Moody's life story here as well. He would be pleased to know anything else about Captain Moody's Goole connections.

John Moody's first wife, Rebecca [Lubbock] died and he married again, in 1848, to Matilda Duckels / Duckles, daughter of Thomas Duckels of Old Goole.


 [by his grandson Arthur Russell Emerson (1866- 1947), with permission from the family]

Captain John Moody was born on December 13, 1801 in the City of York, York, England, where he attended school.  When he was about 15, he apprenticed as a sailor for 6 years.  At the age of 21 he became Captain.  On occasion, his ship needing repairs, he put in at the Port of Wells, Norfolk, at the shipyard of John Lubbock. 

While there, he became acquainted with Rebecca Lubbock, only daughter of John Lubbock, to whom he became greatly attached, and in January, 1826 they were united in marriage.  In 1828 he took charge of numerous canal passenger boats sailing from York to Selby, John Lubbock, his father-in-law, having constructed these boats. 

Afterward moving to Yarmouth, he became Captain of a schooner running to London called the Lawther ??[ Lowther].  In 1831 they moved to Wells, Norfolk and  he took charge of the “Good Intent”, a ship also constructed by John Lubbock and presented to his children, six sons and one daughter (the wife of Captain Moody). 

In 1837, Queen Victoria’s Coronation Year, the family moved to London.  From 1837 to 1845, he captained deliveries of new ships to various overseas governments and colonies (e.g. Russia, Spain, Jamaica, Italy, China etc). 

He then took charge of the “Prinsula” for the precursor of the Oriental Steam Navigation Company (in part as a shareholder). 

From 1844 to 1846 Capt. Moody supervised the construction of 3 steamers for the Spanish Government in the Philippine Islands (based in Manila) of which he became Commodore, again delivering them to the buyer. Leaving the ships, he returned home, visiting China, crossing the desert through the Suez Canal. 

The camphor-wood trunk that is still owned by the family was brought from China through the desert on this voyage.  After reaching home, he again took ships to Russia and other countries.   When he was in Russia, Prince Gemticoff(?) gave a banquet in his honor. 

He was the father of 10 children – 2 boys and 8 girls. In 1846 his wife died, leaving him with nine living children, one Robert having died in childhood.  His daughter Mary, the eldest at 17, took charge of the house, the youngest being 6 months old.  The other children were Rebecca, John, Ann, Grace, Hannah, Elizabeth, Julia and Matilda.

All lived under Mary’s care while her father was engaged in shipping and in foreign countries.  During his absence, his family took a house adjoining their Grandfather Lubbock at Wells, Norfolk, and upon Captain Moody’s return, they moved back to their London home. 

His two little daughters, Hannah and Grace, died while he was abroad.  Later his daughter Elizabeth died, also his son John, after growing to manhood and becoming married in 1851.  His daughters Mary and Rebecca married.  Mary (Mrs. R. H. Emerson) went with her husband to America while Rebecca married Thomas Fryer

He then retired for a time to private life at London and Goole. 

Not content with retirement, he constructed and commanded the “Empress” and “Majesty” steamers running from Hull to Goole.  He then developed new designs for several ships, including the lifeboat “Sea Refuge” and other ships that were commissioned by the US Government. 

He then received a substantial order from the French Government to build 14 ships of his own design and construction.  When the government of France changed from a Kingdom to a Republic the order was canceled. 

In 1852 he settled in America and invested in farming land in Wisconsin – Oshkosh, Elk Grove and surrounding countryside, also at Oberlin and Chicago, Illinois. 

He then returned again to Goole, supervising the construction of more ships.

Captain Moody died at his house in Bridlington where his ironworks were situated, on March 5, 1872.

Captain  John Moody

Rebecca Lubbock was  born in Yarmouth, Norfolk March 12 1807.

Rebecca Lubbock, only daughter of John Lubbock, shipbuilder and owner of shipyards at Wells.  She was the only daughter with six brothers.  She was married at Norwich Cathedral to Capt. John Moody Jan. 18, 1826.  Most of her married life was lived in London.  On Aug. 7, 1846 she was taken suddenly with erysipelas on on her face and died  on August 9, after 2 days illness, being 39 years of age. 

Great Grandfather Lubbock was engaged in shipbuilding as was also Great Grandfather Moody, as well as being Captain.  Great Grandfather Lubbock lived to be 97 years old. (?)  One of his sons, Robert ), kept a boarding school for boys at Snettisham.   Also Ann Potter  kept a finishing school for young ladies at Harrogate, England.'


  1. I am excited about finding this post. I am a descendant of John Lubbock and of Captain John Moody. My grandmother on my mother's side was Mary Lubbock Johnson Ashley; her mother was Ellen Victoria Emerson Johnson. I have a family tree that is somewhat muddled but that was written out by our only relative still living in England, a single lady, Mary Emerson, born about 1910. All of the names on her tree match the information in this posting. This reinforces all of the stories I've heard all my life. Thank you for providing this biography.
    Marjorie Fey Farris, daughter of Bernice Ashley Fey, granddaughter of Charles M. and Mary Lubbock Johnson Ashley.

    1. Marjorie - I met Mary Emerson when she visited Iowa around 1975 - 76. Can you share any of her documentation?

      Tom Johnson

  2. I'm also a descendant of Captain John Moody. I have the same photo posted here in my collection and I also have his telescope and a hand written note quoting the captain as having remarked about the telescope's execeptional clarity and range. Are there photographs available for any of the ships he commanded? I'm assempling his picture, hand written notes and would like to add a picture of a ship he commanded as a display.

    Tom Johnson - Cincinnati, OH

  3. I am pleased that members of Captain Moody's family are finding this post interesting. In my researches into the history of Goole I will keep an eye open for any more references to Captain Moody's time in the town.

  4. Question: My grandmother, Mary Lubbock Johnson Ashley, daughter of Ellen Victoria Emerson Johnson used to tell us grandchildren that Captain John Moody's daughter, Mary, was the Mary Moody Emerson that was the aunt of Ralph Waldo Emerson, a lady instrumental in Ralph Waldo Emerson's poetry writing. Can anyone shed light on this statement, or was Grandma Ashley merely hoping that there was this connection. Thanks to anyone who can add to this information. Marjorie Fey Farris []

  5. This is an interesting read; however I am confused by the mention of their daughter Rebecca as having never married. In my family tree she is listed as my great-great grandmother, born in Knottingley Yorkshire. She married Thomas Fryer and they lived in Wells-Next-the-Sea in Norfolk. Her maiden name was Lubbock. Can you please advise as to whether I have the wrong Rebecca Lubbock? Mine was connected to Sir John Lubbock. My name is Lindy Peters Bell. Thanks

  6. No, you have the correct Rebecca. I included the information which was passed to me by an Emerson descendant as a quote and without checking it. I have now checked it and amended it.

  7. I read your post with great interest. I am a direct descendant of John Lubbock. Although my ancestor was his second son Charles.