James Moodie 1645-1725

From Book Owners Online

James MOODIE or MUDIE, 7th laird of Melsetter, 1645-1725

Biographical Note

James Moodie entered the Royal Navy in 1661, at 16 years of age. His first recorded appointment was in 1688 as First Lieutenant of the 'York'; in 1690 he was promoted to the command of the 'Hound', a fireship; in 1693 he commanded the 'Wolf', a hired ship of war; in 1695 he was promoted to be captain of the 'Yarmouth' and appointed Commodore of a squadron consisting of eight ships of war and two fireships sent as convoy to the Turkey Fleet.

In 1702 he was appointed to the command of the 'Torbay' and sent on the expedition against Cadiz during which he was wounded by a cannon ball which took away part of his thigh; he returned to England and 'retired' (due to the injury) for a short time. In 1707 he commanded the 'Lancaster' (Mediterranean Fleet) and relieved the siege of Denia (with a number of sailors dressed in soldiers' uniforms) for which King Charles (later Emperor Charles VI) of Austria wrote a letter of appreciation to Queen Anne acknowledging his services. He is recorded as commanding the ship which brought King George I to England. He was given command as Commodore of a small squadron patrolling off Gibraltar. He later commanded the 'Yarmouth' in the Baltic in 1717; after quitting this vessel he appears to have retired altogether from the Naval Service.

In 1714 he had purchased the Melsetter estates of his nephew, the 6th laird, in Orkney, using prize money earned during more than 60 years service in the Royal Navy. His family and neighbours were strong Jacobites, while Captain Moodie was a strong Hanoverian. He was assassinated in Kirkwall in 1725 by servants of Sir James Stewart of Burray.


Used an engraved bookplate:

Franks 20952 Moodie, Captain James, late Commander of his Majesties ship Prince George.

Franks 20953 Moodie, James of Melsetter, Esqr. (The last plate with inscription altered.)

(The 1st and 4th quarterings are an honourable Augmentation granted by Queen Anne to Captain James Moodie for the relief of Denia in Spain during the war of the Spanish Succession. Captain Moodie was killed by Jacobites at Kirkwall 1725.)

The extent and disposition of his library is not known.


  • Gambier Howe, E. R. J. Franks bequest: catalogue of British and American book plates bequeathed to the ... British Museum. London, 1903.
  • https://www.geni.com/people/Commodore-James-Moodie-of-Melsetter-RN/6000000013105419068
  • The Marquis of Ruvigny and Raineval, The Moodie book, Being an account of the families of Melsetter, Muir, Cocklaw, Blairhill, Bryanton, Gilchorn, Pitmuies, Arbekie, Masterton etc. London: Privately printed, 1906, p. 34-39.