The Life Of James Moody, 1830-1900

When I started “Intwined” all those years ago, I always hoped it would be a space where my family could share their own memories and research. And today my vision is starting to become a reality. 
I’m sure many of you would have read about my Sister In-law, Sarah and our joint passion for our family’s history. 
Over the last twenty odd years, but especially over the last few months, Sarah and I have spent every free minute going back over our research and researching even deeper into our families lives. We’ve become a great team or should I say, partners in crime.
Our passion for our loved ones is so strong, we’ve even began to dream about our ancestors.
Working with Sarah, has become my favourite pastime, I can’t express how truly wonderful it is, to share this discovery journey with her and how special it is to know her passion runs as deep as mine.
We have been working extremely hard on researching the life of James Moody.
James is Sarah’s 3rd Great Grandfather and my 1st Cousin 2x removed. His mum being my 3rd Great Aunt, Sister to Charles Hatcher, my 3rd Great Grandmother.
Our family tree branches entwine over and over again and the reason why my blog is called Intwined.

Anyway without further ado and with the greatest honour, I give you,


The Life Of James Moody, 1830-1900, by Sarah Harris Nee Green.

One of those ancestors that really intrigue & compel me to find out more about the past along with its colourful characters is James Moody.
In the prime of his life, he was working at Embley Park in the service of the Nightingale family as a domestic servant but predominately gardening helping to manage the 4000 acres of land surrounding the estate. 
In my mind I imagine him being an upstanding, well-respected member of the community. A loyal trustworthy employee, loving supportive husband & a doting firm but fair father.  
I certainly know for most part he was well dressed. Below is a photo of James and his second wife Matilda, probably taken at Embley

James’s parents Silas Moody & Sarah nee Hatcher were married on the 31/07/1830 at St Leonard’s old church James was their 1st born and was baptised on 01/11/1830 so this was a shotgun wedding (as they referred to it in those days) as they married when Sarah was around 4 1/2 months pregnant (scandalous!) 

The old St Leonard’s church, was situated down Pound Lane , originally built in the 13th Century. The building itself became unfit for use in the mid 19th century & the Nave was pulled down in 1859 & the Chancel in 1907. A male & female Yew tree still guard the entrance into what’s left of the churchyard, many of our ancestors were baptised, married & buried here although a few headstones remain many are eligible, cracked & covered in ivy.  In a few weeks, the area will come into its own and will be a blanket of white snowdrops.

There are no records to show from James Baptism in 1830 until the 1841 census the whereabouts of James so we must presume he was living with his parents in Wellow. His father Silas was working as a wood dealer & Mother Sarah Housewife. Silas & Sarah had 5 other children between with birth of first-born James & the census.
George born 1832, Mary born 1834, Hannah born 1837, Martha born 1839 and Maria born 1841. 

Sadly, Maria passed away just 3 weeks old & was buried on 25th February 1841 at, St Margaret’s of Antioch Church, Wellow. James would only have been 11 years old at the time.
Sarah & Silas go on to have 4 more children between 1841 & 1851.
Silas born 1842, Moses born 1844, William born 1847 and Charles born 1850.
That’s quite a family !

James resurfaces in the 1851 census he is now 20 years old living at, The Frenches, East Wellow and working as an agricultural labourer, still living with his parents and 7 of his siblings.

Silas & Sarah have their last child Stephen in 1852.

James’s life is changed forever when he meets his sweetheart Ann Morgan, from Lockerley. They have their banns read on 20/11/1853 at Lockerley church then go on to marry in the bride’s parish on 24/12/1853.

Ann was a dress maker, I wonder if she made her own dresses and what colour the dresses she wore would have been ? Possibly sewing for the Nightingales even? 

James & Ann have their first child a son they name Samuel who was born in Lockerley, in 1855, their 2nd child is named George born in 1856, East Wellow, so maybe this is around the time James & Ann moved to Embley

Sadly, Silas James’s father passed away a year later on the 24/11/1857, at East Wellow, aged 48 he was buried on 18/11/1857) at, Wellow Church.

By 1861 James & Ann are now living at Embley and James no doubt has started working for the Nightingale family

They are living at Embley Park in Embley Lodge with their 2 sons Samuel & George but now there is a daughter to add to their family ! Ellen born in 1860 in Embley Lodge, this is my 2nd great grandmother.


James & Ann then have a second daughter called Edith in 1862 sadly she passed away only 6 months later & was buried In Wellow church 28/04/1863. 

I think perhaps this is why my Nanny Wallace ( Ellen’s daughter & Nan’s mum) was named Edith after Ellen’s little sister.

In the 1871 census James Mother, Sarah, is living with 3 of her sons Silas, Charles & Stephen. Sarah has a small holding of 4 acres. 

Sadly, Sarah will pass away 3 years later on the 17/4/1874. She wass buried on the 22nd of April of that year. 

Also, in the year of his mother’s passing Florence Nightingale, writes a letter to, Harry Verney which is interesting. I think by her words that James was held in high regard at Embley.
There is mention of James Moody in a book I purchased a few years ago called, Florence Nightingale “A Introduction to Her life and Family

In a letter written to Sir Harry Verney from her London residence on the 20th of May 1874 I think after her mother passed away it says,

“Will James Moody and his wife keep Embley for the present ? What will happen to the cats ? Would Mrs Crook like to have Topsy? Or the lilac one? If not please let instructions be given to Moody to supply them with milk.”

In 1881, James, Ann and their daughter Ellen are still living at Embley Lodge, Embley, East Wellow. James is still employed as Head Gardner.

James’s beloved wife Ann who passes away on 08/12/1884 aged only 52 years old. Ann died from, Cirrhosis of the liver and dropsy.

James laid her to rest at, St Margaret’s of Antioch Church, Wellow, Hampshire.

Only a year later James suffers another tragedy in December of 1885 he loses one of his younger brothers Moses at the young age of 41. We have a handwritten pencilled letter from Florence Nightingale, to James still in the family. 

It reads …..

10 South St            Dec 28th ‘85

Dear Moody 

I was so grieved for the loss of your brother at the Frenches ( of which I heard from Mr Shore) & for his wife please tell her she has my deepest sympathy. Her loss is great, but “his” gain is great too. I believe he had been a sufferer for sometime before his death. I should like to know how they go on.
The evergreens from Embley which were beautiful gave the greatest pleasure at all the hospitals (& among all the nurses) to which they were sent & poor sick people in close London streets. The holly berries were very fine London people do so enjoy these things, so fresh & fair. Thankyou very much for the trouble you have taken. I send in another envelope £1.10 and please keep the change from me wishing to you a good new year in spite of sorrow & to the widow & fathers children too to whom God promises to be a “husband” as Isaiah says a “father” if they took to him into the hands of the almighty Father, I commend them. 
How well I remember the Frenches I hope Mrs Smith is well again and able to walk out. The weather has been so severe here that we have had blackbirds on outr leads begging for food – a thing I’ve never seen before. 
Yours sincerely

F Nightingale. 

Excuse the pencil For I am always Ill & over worked.

6 years after losing his beloved wife Ann we find James on the 1891 Census still living at Embley lodge next door to their daughter Ellen and son in law Walter Southwell, James is now down as “Widower” 

James finds comfort in another woman shortly after the 1891 census he marries Matilda Reynolds, on 19/05/1891 in Holy Trinity church Bishops Stortford Hertfordshire. 

How did they meet ? Through Florence ? Where did they live ? Hertfordshire or Hampshire? They are completely in between census years. 

We do know Matilda worked as a housemaid in Westminster London working for, Thomas Leyland, landowner, in the 1871 census at, Selbery Gate, with many other servants & then in 1881 for John Barnard Byles, a retired judge at, 3 Princes Gardens Westminster. 

Both James & Matilda were working as staff for wealthy families, maybe James travelled to, 10 South Street, Mayfair, London, with Florence ? Or did Matilda travel down to, Embley to work for her there? I am still on the search ! 

Sadly, James passes away on 12/08/1900 aged 69, from Heart disease and dropsy.

James was interred with his beloved wife 1st wife Ann, at St. Margaret’s of Antioch Church, East Wellow, the other side of the church to the Florence Nightingale plot. The inscription on their stone reads as follows –

    In

               Loving memory of

                    James Moody

            Who died Aug 12th 1900

                     Aged 69 Years

     For so he giveth his beloved sleep 

                        Also, Annie 

         The beloved wife of the above 

              Who died Dec 8th 1884

                     Aged 52 years 

      Home at last their labour done 

      Safe and blest the victory won 

      Jordan past set Free from pain 

Angels now have welcomed them 

Only a few weeks later 2nd wife Matilda passed away 02/10/1900 aged 58 years. She is interred in Bishops Stortford Cemetery

So where did James & Matilda live? Where did they die? Matildas death certificate confirms she died at Jarvis Road, Hertford, Hertfordshire, when she was 59 years old from, Cancer of the peritoneum.

This leaves so many unanswered questions. When did she return to Hertfordshire? Was she present our James death or did she leave before?
Research continues.

Rest in peace James, Ann & Matilda ❤️

Written by Sarah Harris Nee Green.
Monday 24th January 2022.

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