MOODY, Sir Henry, 1st Bt. (c.1582-1629), of Garsdon, Wilts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

b. c.1582, 1st s. of Richard Moody of Garsdon and Christiana, da. of John Barwick of Wilcot, Wilts. m. 20 Jan. 1606 (with £2,000), Deborah (d.1659), da. of Walter Dunch† of G. Inn and Avebury, Wilts. 1s. 1da.,1 ?1 ch. illegit. with Margaret Harvard.2 kntd. 18 Mar. 1606;3 suc. fa. 1612;4 cr. bt. 11 Mar. 1622.5 d. 23 Apr. 1629.6 sig. Henry Mody.

Offices Held

Commr. charitable uses, Wilts. 1614,7 j.p. 1617-d.,8 sheriff 1618-19,9 commr. subsidy 1629.10


Moody could trace his family back at least six generations. Originally from Worcestershire, they had settled in Malmesbury by the end of the fifteenth century, where they leased both property and pasturelands from the local abbey.11 They owed their subsequent prominence among the gentry of north Wiltshire to their acquisition of several of the abbey’s estates at the Dissolution, including Garsdon manor, two miles from Malmesbury. Aubrey records that Moody’s grandfather, a royal footman, had been granted Garsdon after saving the life of Henry VIII, who fell while riding on Hounslow Heath. By 1544 the family owned not only Garsdon but also Whitchurch and Cleverton manors, east of Malmesbury, together with substantial acreage elsewhere.12 Moody secured a generous dowry at his marriage in 1606, and six years later he inherited the bulk of his father’s estate, which his son, during a Chancery suit in 1630, valued at £1,500 p.a. These he subsequently consolidated through exchanges of land with his absentee neighbour Thomas Howard, 1st earl of Suffolk.13

Moody was knighted shortly after his marriage and in 1622 acquired a baronetcy without paying any cash into the Exchequer, presumably having purchased it from a courtier.14 Although his father died in 1612, he was not found a seat on the county bench until 1617. Two years later, while serving as sheriff, Moody became embroiled in a prolonged and acrimonious dispute with his neighbour Sir George Ivy, a fellow magistrate. The dispute erupted publicly in May 1619 when, at the market place in Malmesbury, Moody, by now sheriff, was denounced by Ivy’s son, Thomas, as ‘a base fellow, a rascal and an unworthy knave’.15 Thomas also accused him of abusing his shrieval and judicial powers by selling the office of under-sheriff to a tenant for £200, setting recognizances for no just cause, bribing bailiffs to secure arrests, keeping fines for his own use and holding petty sessions at his house ‘for his own private gain rather than the public good ... and there at his will and pleasure discharg[ing] offenders and vex[ing] innocent persons who are compelled to attend him.’16 A number of suits brought by tenants and local gentry reinforced Moody’s reputation for hard usage,17 including one instigated by Margaret Harvard, a married Malmesbury woman who accused him of fathering her child. When the alleged liaison became public knowledge nine months after the child’s birth, Moody not only had Harvard imprisoned in Salisbury but also entered a bill in Chancery against her to forestall being sued for ‘the most cruel and barbarous manner’ with which she had been treated.18 In 1623 the Privy Council fined Moody £100 for killing the king’s deer in Braydon forest, Wiltshire, after he had been ordered to protect them from poachers. This incident may have led to a breach between Moody and the earl of Suffolk, the keeper of the forest, especially as Moody was ordered to pay his fine to Suffolk’s son, Viscount Andover (Sir Thomas Howard*). Five years later Moody was censured for enclosing forest land which abutted his own property.19

Moody was initially recorded as one of the Members for Malmesbury in the 1625 Crown Office list, but his name was deleted and that of Sir Thomas Hatton inserted in its place. His inclusion may have been a clerical error, as his name does not appear in the return and there is no evidence of any electoral irregularity.20 Moody was subsequently returned for the same borough, without apparent controversy, in 1626. He presumably owed his election to his local property holdings, although by this date he may have repaired his relations with Suffolk, the dominant patron in Malmesbury.21

Moody was re-elected for Malmesbury in 1628, by which time Suffolk was dead, but he left no trace in the surviving records of parliamentary proceedings. His inactivity during the 1629 session may be explained by a severe illness which, from November 1628, restricted him to his residence in St. James, Duke’s Place, London.22 His election was perhaps motivated by a need to secure privilege from creditors. Faced with mounting debts during the 1620s, he had begun to sell land from 1625, including part of his wife’s jointure. However, he was unable to stave off near ruin, and after his death at Garsdon on 23 Apr. 1629, there remained several suits against him, to satisfy which his widow, Deborah, and heir, also Henry, were forced to sell the Wiltshire estates.23 No will or grant of administration has been found. One creditor, owed £2,640, had already sued to be permitted to extend the Garsdon property.24 Deborah surrendered Whitchurch manor, a remaining part of her jointure, to her son and was paid £12,000 from the £13,565 realized from its sale, while Garsdon was sold for £10,300. Cleverton manor, valued at £5,423, was sold to a London creditor for £1,800.25 His heir, Henry Moody, became a courtier and subsequently a royalist during the Civil War, but was absolved from compounding for his remaining estates in 1646, having valued them at less than £200 p.a.26

Moody’s widow emigrated to Massachusetts in about 1639, but, following her rejection of infant baptism, she left with a group of followers for Long Island, then part of the Dutch colony of New Netherlands, where she survived until the late 1650s.27 Her son also went to America, acting as an emissary for the colony of Virginia to the New Netherlands, and died childless in about 1661.28

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Henry Lancaster / Ben Coates



  • 1. CB, i. 191; Wilts. Vis. Peds. (Harl. Soc. cv-cvi), 135-6; C104/85(I)/4; W. Hall, ‘Lady Deborah Moody’, N and Q (ser. 7), v. 425.
  • 2. STAC 8/184/23.
  • 3. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 139.
  • 4. C142/333/7.
  • 5. 47th DKR, 129.
  • 6. Wilts. IPMs ed. G.S. and A.E. Fry (Brit. Rec. Soc. xxiii) 151.
  • 7. C93/5/20.
  • 8. C231/4, f. 43v; C66/2527.
  • 9. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 154.
  • 10. Add. 34566, f. 132.
  • 11. Vis. Wilts. 135-6; J. Badeni, Wilts. Forefathers, 59; C104/85(I)/3, 74, 76.
  • 12. J. Aubrey, Wilts. ed. J.E. Jackson, 241-2, 267, 275; VCH Wilts. xiv. 90, 121; Aubrey, 243; C104/85(II)/8.
  • 13. PROB 11/124, f. 60v; C2/Chas.I/M11/36; C104/85(I)/11; 104/85(II)/4; VCH Wilts. xiv. 148.
  • 14. SCL, EM 1284(b).
  • 15. STAC 8/210/5.
  • 16. STAC 8/184/19, 23.
  • 17. C78/315/4; STAC 8/201/7; 8/218/5; C2/Jas.I/M15/64; 2/Jas.I/M3/41.
  • 18. STAC 8/184/23; 8/215/1.
  • 19. CSP Dom. 1619-23, p. 512; APC, 1619-20, p. 69; STAC 8/28/15; F. Warneford, Warnefords, 146, 193.
  • 20. OR; C219/39/236.
  • 21. E315/310, f. 56; CSP Dom. 1619-23, p. 256.
  • 22. C2/Chas.I/M11/36.
  • 23. C104/85(I)/39; 104/91/2; Aubrey, 275; Wilts. IPMs, 151.
  • 24. C2/Chas.I/M11/36.
  • 25. C104/85(I)/14, 17, 19; 104/85(II)/10, 12; C54/2913/11.
  • 26. LC3/1, unfol.; Northants. RO, FH3775; CCC, 1577.
  • 27. Oxford DNB sub Moody, [née Dunch], Deborah.
  • 28. Hall, 425.