MOODY (Moodey), SAMUEL, minister of the Congregational Church; b. at Newbury, Massachusetts, 4 Jan. 1675/76 (o.s.), son of Caleb Moody and Judith Bradbury; d. 13 Nov. 1747 at York (Maine).
Samuel Moody was a grandson of William Moody who migrated to New England from Wales in 1633. His father Caleb represented Newbury in the General Court of the colony (1677–78) and was imprisoned for five weeks under the tyrannical regime of Edmund Andros for daring to speak and act as a freeman. Samuel Moody’s first wife, Hannah Sewall (m. 15 July 1698), was a niece of Chief Justice Samuel Sewall and a relation of the wife of William Pepperrell.
Moody attended Harvard College, where he experienced conversion from reading Joseph Alleine’s An alarm to unconverted sinners. He graduated in 1697 and the following year accepted the chaplaincy of York in northeastern Massachusetts (now Maine). Only a man inured to the prospect of hardship and possessed of exceptional courage would have agreed to go to a place where the previous minister and a number of inhabitants had lately been murdered by Indians. Moody declined a regular salary, believing that the Lord would provide. Once he gave away his wife’s shoes to a poor woman, but a neighbour gave her a new pair before the day was out. Anxious to divest himself of the love of created things, he gave away his most prized possession, his horse, saying, “He goes right up with me into the pulpit, and I cannot have him there. . . .” Although he never failed in the performance of compassionate acts on behalf of the unfortunate, he nevertheless was a man of violent temper, as he showed when he visited the alehouses, driving home the tosspots whom he found idling there. Many of the tales told of him throughout New England and his strange utterances found their way into Agamenticus, a work of fiction.
Ministering to a people who knew the horrors of the petite guerre waged by the French and their Indian allies, Moody volunteered as a chaplain to John March*’s ill-fated expedition to Port-Royal (Annapolis Royal, N.S.) in 1707. In 1712 York was attacked by Indians and some of Parson Moody’s parishioners were killed. The following year, however, he signed a treaty with the Abenakis, which gave some temporary respite [see Mog*]. The year before he died, the members of his congregation still found it necessary to go to church under arms.
Moody was a powerful preacher and took part in the religious revivals of his time, including the Great Awakening, which helped to give the expedition to Louisbourg, Île Royale (Cape Breton Island), in 1745 something of the character of a crusade. The fishery in which Maine settlers were so much engaged was threatened by the destruction of their station at Canso, Nova Scotia, and the attack on Annapolis Royal in 1744 by detachments from Louisbourg [see Joseph Du Pont Duvivier]. Thus a third of the Massachusetts contingent sent to reduce that fortress in 1745 was drawn from Maine, the whole force being placed under the command of Moody’s neighbour, William Pepperrell.
Moody joined the expedition as senior chaplain, and when he boarded the transport at Boston he seized an axe and exclaimed, “The Sword of the Lord and of Gideon,” predicting that Louisbourg would be taken and that he would cut down the objects of papal worship. “O that I could be with you and dear Mr. Moodey in that single church,” wrote Deacon John Gray to Pepperrell, “to destroy ye images their sett up, and hear ye true Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ their preached.” It is said that following the siege Moody did attack the altar and images in the French church with his axe. He subsequently gave the first Protestant sermon preached within the precincts of Louisbourg. Though he had always been a long-winded and extemporaneous speaker, at the banquet tendered by Pepperrell to the British naval forces he astonished all present by the brevity of his thanksgiving.
Moody was over 70 at the time of the capture of Louisbourg, the oldest man in the army. He died two years later at York in the arms of his son, the Reverend Joseph Moody. His first wife, Hannah, had died in 1728; he married Ruth Newman, née Plummer, in 1732 or 1733. The other surviving child by Moody’s first marriage, Mary, was the great-grandmother of Ralph Waldo Emerson.
University of New Brunswick Library, Archives and Special Collections Dept., Bailey family papers, Genealogical notes on the family of Loring Woart Bailey. Documentary history of Maine, IX. “The Pepperrell papers,” Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., 6th ser., X (1899), 106. New Eng. Hist. and Geneal. Register, CXIV (1960), 125. [Samuel Sewall], “Diary of Samuel Sewall,” Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., 5th ser., V–VII (1878–82). Shipton, Sibley’s Harvard graduates, IV, 356–65. Ralph Emerson, Life of Reverend Joseph Emerson . . . (Boston, 1834), 444. C. C. P. Moody, Biographical sketches of the Moody family . . . from 1633 to 1842 (Boston, 1847), 54–94. Parkman, Half-century of conflict (1893), II, 96–98, 109, 153. E. P. Tenney, Agamenticus (Boston, 1878). W. D. Williamson, “Sketches of the lives of early Maine ministers,” Maine Hist. Soc. Coll., 2nd ser., IV (1893), 199–205.