Maine Genealogy Archives

Extracts from the Diary of Rev. Joseph Moody of York

Source: Collections and proceedings of the Maine Historical Society, Second Series, Vol. III. (Portland, Me.: Maine Historical Society, 1892).

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Read before the Maine Historical Society, May 9, 1891.

Among the treasures of the Society's archives is a little, time-stained manuscript volume, measuring five and one-half by three and one-half inches.

It was begun in August, 1720, and ended October, 1724, and is mostly written in a Latin cipher by the Reverend Joseph Moody, who was the eccentric son of the eccentric Parson Moody, the chaplain of Sir William Pepperell's regiment at the siege of Louisburg. He was born in the year 1700, graduated at Harvard in 1718, died in 1753. The Reverend Timothy Alden in his collection of epitaphs published in 1814, has the following:—

Here lies interred the body of the Reverend Joseph Moody pastor of the Second Church in York, an excelling instance of knowledge, ingenuity, learning, piety, virtue and usefulness, was very serviceable as a school master, clerk, register, magistrate and afterwards as a minister was uncommonly qualified and spirited to do good, and accordingly was highly esteemed and greatly lamented.

Although this stone may moulder into dust,
Yet Joseph Moody's name continue must.
In a note it is stated that in consequence of accidentally killing a youth for whom he had a great affection, as a token of his grief he was determined to wear a veil during the remainder of his life, and

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accordingly ever after wore a silk handkerchief drawn over his face.

In the biographical sketches of the Moody family, published some years since, this little manuscript journal is alluded to, and the author states that, with the help of President Allen, he was able to decipher some part. He says, I found many curious things, and many eccentric things, savoring of the peculiarly diseased state of his mind, yet mingled with the deepest devotion.

This diary it will be seen was written when Joseph Moody was but a young man. Born of an eccentric father, disappointed in not securing the hand of his cousin, Mary Hirst, in marriage, his eccentricity increased with age, until finally he almost retired from the world, and was seldom seen excepting in the pulpit and then with his face partly covered with a handkerchief. As to his having accidentally killed a friend, this may be a fable circulated among the country people, and believed in process of time to be a fact. It is also reported that Joseph's father, the eccentric parson, compelled his son to sit up all night with the body of his friend as an atonement.

Interesting points in the diary are the records of the first visit of young Pepperell to the Hirst family, also the date of the wedding, August 15, 1723.

In the biographical notices of Sir William Pepperell, the date of his marriage is given as February 21, 1723.

If Mr. Moody referred to this marriage in his entry in August, as we have reason to believe, there is a correction to be made in future notices of Sir William.

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Doctor Usher Parsons in his biography of Sir William Pepperell, gives no date of marriage.
H. W. B.
Abig. Curtis died August 26.
Mr. Lucas died 23.
Betty Banks 30.
Soldiers march Sep. 16 & 17th.
Moved home from Mr. Harmon's 29th.
October 1,Father sailed with Young to Cape Ann, arrived at sunrise.
Set out for York Oct. 25, arrived at sunrise.
Set out for York Oct. 25, arrived 26. Die Gratia.
24 captives was redeemed and came through this town.
December 25.Bracy's child died 4 or 5 months old.
H. Simson married 28th

Jan. 25.
Mr. Ward ordained.
2 men accidentally killed at Portsmouth.
Elder Sayward came to York 31.
FebruaryMy father returned 3d.
Mr. Wise was here from 6 to 9.
Began at Capt. Nowell's 13th.
March 12th.Lord's supper.
Town meeting 14th.
April 26.Little Richard Banks died.
April 12th.Mr. Parker ordained.
Dismissed at Scotland 7.
Set out from York 11th.
A vessel with ye small Pocks 19.
Capt. Pickerin died 10th April at night.
Mr. Came chosen deputy 16.
My Father preached to ye young 21st.
Report of a burning Irland 13.
Set out for Boston 22.

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April 12th.Mr. Stone a Date, 22.
G. P. taken ill 25.
Madm G____? came 19.
July 17, 18.200 Indians in arms at Arowsick Island.
Mrs. Ruth Meserve died 3.
Henry Simons son died 10th August.
October 4,Linscutts child died
Ramsdels 5th
Garrison began 4th
Moved from Garrison 21st.
Insign Banes wife a son—Goodwin a daughter.
Mr. Harmon chosen deacon 29.
Cap Harmon visited his friends 30.
Job Banks returned 31.
Capt Harmon went Eastward again and Freeman with him.
Capt Preble ill 12th.
November 24.Spurger brot his wife and children.
Sam Black married 30. Lewis Bane 7.
December 14.Patience More ill of the Small pox.

Bradbury married Jan. 11th.
Mrs. Stone taken ill of ye s p 17 died 28th.
E. Preble died 13th.
February 1st.3 children burnt at Saco.
March 5.Mr Newmarches wife died.
May 10.Mr. Shaw and wife came to town.
Capt Pepperell first visited Mr Hirst.
June 3.Mrs. Bragdon died.
June 10.Capt Preble's child died.
AugustWar proclamed.
SeptemberThomas Adams killed a rattle snake with 9 rattles 3½ foot long
September 6.Voluntiers marched to Berwick from thence to Pigwocket.
Absent from my school Sept. 25th to October 2 a week.

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September 6.John Parson died at Portsmouth 3d.
Mrs Jane Payson Dauter to Capt Northend died very hopefully about the 25th.
December 31.Capt Came &c opened their commissions.
News came that the Governor was sailed for England.

Jan. 5.
P. Downs died suddenly.
The Voluntiers returned.
Uncles Abraham and Henry and Mr. Stickney came.
April.Many of the soldiers are sick, Capt Harmon in particular.
May 7.James Junkins died suddenly.
May 25.Tis said that Sergeant Card was beset by two Indians about 9 or 10 o'clock last night near Capt Harmon's barn one of which fired on him and pierced the breast of his Jacket we scarce know what to think of so strange a story.
Tis reported that Moses Hubbard of Berwick was shot yesterday by the accidental firing of a pistol in the hand of one Pray.
June 3.Old Mrs Moulton died.
July 4.A negro executed at Boston for setting a house on fire.
July 5.Mrs Plaisted's datr Sarah died at Salem.
July 23.Dummer Sewall began Grammar Cato and Romend.
Mr. Storer brought his wife to town.
No news about the Eastern Indians all is still and quiet.
August 1.Father Parker dies after a long illness.
Aug. 15.The Wedding.
Aug. 18.Col Westbrook came to town bound East
22. One Baley killed at Cape Porpus.

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Sept. 5.Old Mr Molton married.
October 1.Dr Packer died.
3d Mark Shepard married.
4th the Rev d Mr Rogers of Portsmouth died.
18th Capt Bragdon marched with 30 Voluntiers.
Nov. 6.Preached at Glocester.
Saw my friends at Byfield 8.
Pious Deacon Shaw of Hampden departed 10th or 11th.
Kept Thanksgiving at Malden Nov. 28.
My uncle S. S. married by Justice Hale of Newbury Mch 29th.
Dec.10Capt Harmon returned from ye Eastward.
December.Mrs Jane Hirst was with us from 17 to 20.
Mr Cutts lost 2 sons in about a week.
29th Mrs. Pepperell a daughter.

Jan. 2, 3,4.
Capt Bragdon and his Company dismissed.
February 29.The soldiers march for Norridgewock under the command of Capt Moulton.
We met for the first time in the new meeting house at Scotland.
March.Capt Preble was taken ill 12 and died 14 at night, his grandchild died the same day.
The bearers were Col Wheelwright Major Hammond Justice Hill & Capt Leighton.
April 8.Two Indians they say chased one Littlefield at Wells.
They say Pirates are on the Coast.
Gloucester vessels have had very bad time since they sailed.
April 5.Fast for ye rising generation.
Several vessels lately taken by Nutt ye Pirate and kindly treated.
Joshua Elwells was taken from him.
April 19.Jno Carlisle and Mary Junkins were married.

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May.Bartholomew Tomson at Stone's Garrison in Berwick killed by the Indians.
Elder Kusick killed at Oyster River.
We heard of the noble exploit in taking Nutt and Phillips the Pirates.
Stephen Prebles first child died a son of about 2 days old.
19th May.Joseph Preble's wife died last night.
24 Mr Mountfort preached his first sermon.
June 1.A very high N. W. wind our little boats were much exposed some had their sails shattered others were put to leeward to the Isles of Shoals one was foundered in which were lost Elisha Allen who left a wife and many small children extremely poor and Benjamin Smith not 32 years old who left a wife and one child Capt Moulton came up and brought the news of the death of Capt Winslow and 14 of his men.
August 24.About 9 in the morning I sailed with Capt Harmon in a Marblehead schooner towards Boston, by reason of scant wind we reached not near the Cape before dark. I prayed on board, we turned round (after prayers) against a S. W. wind & got into Gloucester about 3. I went up to Mr Whites and returned again into the harbor & on board the Schooner with Pierpont Tompson & Allen.
10th Aug.David Storer came home after he had long been mourned as dead.
Gov r Saltonstall died 20th.
20th The Church Meeting voted my Father should go again and spend 3 or 4 mos at Providence.
Lieut Jaques returned with melancholy news of the armies ill success
Insign Richard Jaques and Mrs Mary Harmon married May 10 1724.

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York April 25.There is a purpose of marriage betwixt Isaac Stover and Mary Stover both of this town.
York April 27, 1824 [sic].There is a purpose of marriage between Mr Nicholas Winkley of Portsmouth and Mrs Mary Nowel of York.
York, May 1, 1724.There is a purpose of marriage between John Smith and Judith Tompson both of York.
York, July 23, 1724.There is a purpose of marriage between Joseph Plaisted and Mary Craige both of this town.