Richard Moody

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Richard Clement Moody
Richard Clement Moody (1859).JPG
Col. Richard Moody, 1859
Governor of the Falkland Islands
In office
1841 – 1848[a]
Monarch Queen Victoria
Preceded by John Tyssen (as Military Administrator)
Succeeded by George Rennie
Personal details
Born (1813-02-13)13 February 1813
Died 31 March 1887(1887-03-31) (aged 74)
Bournemouth, England
Nationality British
Military service
Service/branch Royal Army
Years of service 1830-1866
Rank Colonel in B.C.; retired Major-General
Commands Columbia contingent, Royal Engineers
a. ^ Until 1843, the official title was Lieutenant-Governor of the Falkland Islands

Major-General Richard Clement Moody (13 February 1813 – 31 March 1887) was a Lieutenant-Governor, and later Governor, of the Falkland Islands, and the first Lieutenant-Governor of the Colony of British Columbia. While serving under this post, he selected the site of the new capital, New Westminster. Moody was also a Colonel in the Royal Engineers, and was the commander of the Columbia Detachment, the force that was brought to BC to establish British order during the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush.

Early career[edit]

Moody was born at St Ann’s Garrison, Barbados, West Indies, the son of a Royal Engineer and Colonial Office administrator. When he was fourteen, he enrolled in the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich and in 1830 he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Royal Engineers. He served in Ireland and in the West Indies before returning to the Academy to teach classes in fortifications.

In 1841, Moody was appointed lieutenant governor of the Falkland Islands. He wrote a report on the islands that earned him some attention and in 1843 was named governor and commander-in-chief of the islands. Though he was popular, Moody did little of lasting value during his tenure in the Falklands: he organised neither a survey nor a tenure system.

Moody returned to England in 1849 and was promoted to Captain. He served for a while with the Colonial Office, commanded Newcastle upon Tyne where he married Mary Hawks in 1852, and was later posted to Malta, where he was elevated to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He oversaw the Royal Engineers' restoration of Edinburgh Castle, earning a strong reputation in the ministry.

British Columbia[edit]

Shortly after his promotion to brevet Colonel in 1858, Moody was placed in command of the Columbia detachment of the Royal Engineers that was formed to be stationed in British Columbia. He was appointed Lieutenant Governor and Commissioner of Lands and Works for the colony.[1] Upon his arrival he hired Robert Burnaby as his personal secretary, and the two became close friends.

Moody had hoped to immediately get to the work of laying out a capital city, but upon his arrival at Fort Langley he learned of an outbreak of violence at the settlement of Hill's Bar. This led to an incident popularly known as "Ned McGowan's War", where Moody faced down a group of rebellious American miners, but soon the Engineers' task was turned to preparing for settlement of the area.

Following the enactment of the Pre-emption Act of 1860, Colonel Moody and his engineers assisted the process of settling the Lower Mainland by surveying the area surrounding the capital "Queenborough" (rechristened New Westminster by Queen Victoria on 20 July 1859). Moody had chosen the site, on the north bank of the Fraser River, for its strategic control of the mouth of the river, it defensibility, and its suitability as a port,[1] but he was also struck by its natural beauty, writing, "The entrance to the Frazer is very striking-- Extending miles to the right & left are low marsh lands (apparently of very rich qualities) & yet fr the Background of Superb Mountains-- Swiss in outline, dark in woods, grandly towering into the clouds there is a sublimity that deeply impresses you. Everything is large and magnificent."[2]

The Pre-emption act did not specify conditions for distributing the land, so large parcels were snapped up by speculators, including 3,750 acres (1,517 hectares) by Moody himself. Roundly criticised by newspapermen such as Amor de Cosmos for land grabbing and conflict of interest, Moody was shamed into selling much of his land off to settlers.

Moody and the Royal Engineers also built an extensive road network, including what would become Kingsway, connecting New Westminster to False Creek and North Road between Port Moody and New Westminster. As part of the surveying effort, several tracts were designated "government reserves", which included Stanley Park as a military reserve (a strategic location in case of an American invasion).

By 1860, the colonial office was expressing misgivings with the cost of the contingent as well as the wisdom of entrusting Moody with civil responsibilities. The Columbia Detachment was disbanded in July, 1863. Apart from the Moody family, only 22 men and 8 wives returned to England, while the rest, 130 sappers, elected to remain in BC.[3] Chartres Brew replaced Moody as land commissioner.

Later years[edit]

Returning to England, Moody was soon promoted Regimental Colonel, and the Royal Engineers in Chatham were placed under his command. On 25 January 1866 he was promoted Major-General and retired.


Port Moody, is named for Colonel Richard Clement Moody, Royal Engineers. It was established at the end of a trail that connected New Westminster with Burrard Inlet to defend New Westminster from potential attack from the US.[4]


  • Derek Hayes (2005). Historical Atlas of Vancouver and the Lower Fraser Valley. Douglas & McIntyre. pp. 26–29. ISBN 978-1-55365-283-0. 


  1. ^ a b Ormsby
  2. ^ Jean Barman, The West Beyond the West: A History of British Columbia, (Toronto: University of Toronto) p.7
  3. ^ Ormsby.
  4. ^ "Port Moody". National Inventory of Canadian Military Memorials. National Defence Canada. 2008-04-16. Retrieved 28 May 2014.