Moodie, Donald (DNB00)

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MOODIE, DONALD (d. 1861), commander royal navy and colonial secretary in Natal, was son of Major James Moodie of Melsetter, Orkney, and great-grandson of Captain James Moodie, royal navy, who received an 'honourable augmentation' to his arms for the relief of Denia in Spain during the war of the Spanish succession, and at the age of eighty was murdered by Jacobites in the streets of Kirkwall on 26 Oct. 1725.

Donald entered the navy in 1808 as a first-class volunteer in the Ardent of 64 guns, flagship at Leith. In 1809 he served in the Spitfire sloop of war in the North Sea, at Quebec, and on the coast of Spain. In 1811 he was rated midshipman in the America of 74 guns, Captain Josias Rowley, and served in the Mediterranean, including the attack on Leghorn in 1814, and at the capture of Genoa. At Leghorn, his elder brother, who was first lieutenant of the ship, was killed. He afterwards served in the Glasgow of 50 guns off Ushant and Madeira, and in the Impregnable of 104 guns in the Mediterranean. He was made lieutenant on 8 Dec. 1816, and placed on half-pay.

Thereupon he emigrated to the Cape Colony, and afterwards entered the civil service there. In 1825 he was specially commended by the royal commissioners of colonial inquiry for the attention he had given to the question of land appropriation, and was appointed resident magistrate at Port Francis. In 1828 he was resident magistrate at Graham’s Town, and in 1830-4 protector of slaves in the eastern district. In 1838 he brought out his ‘Cape Record,' a work now very scarce, consisting of translations from the colonial archives illustrative of the condition and treatment of the native tribes in the early days of the settlement. The work commences with the ‘remonstrance’ of Janz and Proot, dated 26 July 1649, in which they set forth the advantages and profit that will accrue to the Dutch East India Company by making a fort and garden at the Cabo de Esperance. In 1840 Moodie was appointed superintendent of the Government Bank, Cape Town, then heavily in debt, and afterwards was sent as acting commissioner to George, to extricate that district from the disorder into which it had fallen. His various services met with the approval of successive governors. On 29 Aug. 1845 Moodie was appointed secretary to the government of Natal, to exercise therewith the functions of colonial treasurer, receiver-general, and registrar of deeds in the new colony, at a salary of 500l. a year. He held the post until 1851. He became unpopular in the colony through his advocacy of the claims of the Kahrs to lands of which they had been dispossessed. He died at Pieter-maritzburg in 1861. Of the two elder sons, W. J. Dunbar Moodie, sometime resident magistrate at the Umkomas, Natal, compiled and issued the ‘Natal Ordinances;’ and D. C. F. Moodie is the author of ‘History of the Battles, Adventures, &c., in Southern Africa,’ Adelaide, 1879, Cape Town, 1888.

Besides the ‘Cape Record’ (Cape Town, 1838-41) Moodie published: 1. ‘Specimens from the authentic Records of the Colony of the Cape of Good Hope, being extracts from the “Cape Record,”’ London and Cape Town, 4pts. 1841. 2. ‘ A Voice from the Kahlamba: a Lecture on Intercourse with Natal in the Eighteenth Century, and early Relations between the Dutch and Kalirs,’ Pietermaritz-burg, 1857. 3. ‘South African Annals, 1652-1792’ (chap. i. only), Pietermaritzburg, 1860.

Moodie, John Wedderburn Dunbar (1797-1869), a brother of Donald Moodie, born in 1797, was appointed second lieutenant 21st Royal North British fusiliers on 24 Feb. 1813, became first lieutenant in 1814, and was placed on half-pay on 25 March 1816. He was severely wounded in the left wrist in the night attack on Bergen-op-Zoom, 8 March 1814. He emigrated to South Africa to join his elder brothers, James and Donald, and spent ten adventurous years there. After his return to England he married Miss Susannah Strickland, youngest sister of Agnes Strickland [q. v.], authoress of the ‘Queens of England.’ With his wife he emigrated to Upper Canada, and acquired land at Belleville. He served as a captain of militia on the Niagara frontier during the insurrection of 1837, and was afterwards paymaster of militia detachments distributed along the shores of Lake Ontario and the bay of Quinte. In 1839 he was appointed sheriff of Vittoria, now Hastings County, Ontario. Through some technical irregularity in the appointment of a deputy sheriff he was subjected to a long and vexatious prosecution. By advice of the solicitor-general he resigned his post before the long-deferred judgment was given in 1863. Moodie, who besides his other adversities had in 1861 a severe attack of paralysis, from which he never wholly recovered, died in 1869.

He was author of: 1. ‘The Campaigns in Holland in 1814,’ in ‘Memoirs of the late War,’ London, 1831, 12mo. 2. ‘Ten Years in South Africa, including a Particular Description of the Wild Sports,’ London, 1835, 2 Vols. 3. ‘Roughing it in the Bush,’ London, 1852.

Moodie, Mrs. Susannah (1803-1885), authoress, wife of John Wedderburn Dunbar Moodie Eee above], born in 1803, was youngest daughter of Thomas Strickland of Reydon Hall, Suffolk, and, like her sisters, appears to have acquired literary tastes, despite her surroundings (cf. Life of Agnes Strickland). Her first published work was a little volume entitled ‘Enthusiasm, and other Poems’ (London and Bungay, 1831). In 1832 she emigrated with her husband to Canada. During the family troubles of later years she resumed her pen, and in 1852-68 published numerous minor works of fiction. Her last was ‘The World before them,’ London, 1868, which was described by a reviewer as the ‘handiwork of a sensible, amiable, refined, and very religious lady . . . innocent and negative’ (Athenæum, 1868, i. 16). She died in 1885.

[For Donald Moodie: Information from private sources; O’Byrne’s Naval Biog.; Colonial Services of Donald Moodie, Pietermaritzburg, 1862, 8vo. For John Wedderburn Dunbar Moodie: Manuscript autobiographical notes; Brit. Mus. Cat. of Printed Books. F orMrs. Susannah Moodie: Strickland’s Life of Agnes Strickland; Moodie’s Roughing it in the Bush; Mrs. Moodie`s writings.]

H. M. C.