Major James Moodie of Melsetter

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Major James Moodie of Melsetter

Birthplace: Melsetter, Orkney, Scotland
Death: Died in Edinburgh, Scotland
Place of Burial: Edinburgh, Scotland
Immediate Family:

Son of Captain Benjamin Moodie of Melsetter and Henrietta Sinclair
Husband of Elizabeth Moodie
Father of Captain Benjamin Moodie, SV/PROG 1; Thomas Moodie; Donald Moodie, SV/PROG 2; Jessie/Janet Moodie; Henrietta Moodie and 2 others
Brother of N.N. Moodie; Captain Donald Moodie; Christian Moodie; Lieutenant John Bladen Moodie; Charles Moodie and 7 others

Occupation: ninth laird of Melsetter, Orkney
Managed by: Sheila Anne Gordon
Last Updated:

About Major James Moodie of Melsetter

12 February 1757 Walls Scottish Baptismal Records

Major James Moodie, ninth of Melsetter, J.P., eldest son and heir of the preceding, born Feb. 12th, 1757. Captain and Major of the 1st Battalion 8th Orkney Fencibles from 1793 to 1798. (p. 52)

In 1769 Major James Moodie became ninth Laird of Melsetter and inherited Breckness, Snelsetter Castle and Melsetter. He married Elizabeth Dunbar and had 6 children (Henrietta, Janet, Thomas, Benjamin, Donald and John; and there is mention of another son, James, who was possibly illegitimate, born to an Elizabeth Taylor). The Moodies were an ancient family and could claim to be able to trace their descent directly from Robert the Bruce. The first written record of the family seems to date from about 1470, when William Mudie appears in a list of Scottish bishops as Bishop of Caithness. The non-conjectural pedigree of the Moodies (or Mudie, as it was in the fifteenth century) starts with another William, the first Laird of Melsetter, who was a man of some importance, being, among other things, Chamberlain in Orkney to Mary Queen of Scots. His lands were listed and confirmed by King James VI in 1591. At that time he disposed of his properties on the mainland of Scotland to consolidate his position in Orkney.

In 1818, Major James Moodie was forced to sell the estate which had been in his family for more than 500 years, despite his strenuous efforts to save it. James Moodie died heartbroken and is buried in the Canongate Parish Churchyard in Edinburgh. The breaking up of the Melsetter estate gave rise to an acrimonious and extended legal battle involving, among others, Lord Dundas, and was never settled to the satisfaction of the Moodies. Although the connection between the Moodies and Melsetter in Orkney was irrevocably severed by the sale of the estate in 1818, another Melsetter connection was created years later in another continent. Just before the sale of the estate, the son Benjamin and others had emigrated to Africa and within a few years the Moodies had become one of those pioneering families whose story is interwoven with the history of Southern Africa in the nineteenth century. One of the family, Thomas, led a trek to Gazaland, in what was then Rhodesia, and founded the town of Melsetter at an altitude of 1586 m in the Chimanimani Mountains.

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Major James Moodie of Melsetter's Timeline

February 12, 1757
Melsetter, Orkney, Scotland
April 20, 1783
Age 26
January 1, 1789
Age 31
Age 34
June 25, 1794
Age 37
Age 36
Age 39
June 28, 1820
Age 63
Edinburgh, Scotland