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Papers of Sydney and Flora Moody


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The collection consists of Flora Moody's diaries and notebooks; letters from Flora and Sydney Moody and their daughters; Dr William Ewing's Palestine diaries and letters from him, his wife and other relatives; letters from various correspondents to the Moodys and papers about Palestine.


  • 1888-1967


2.4 Linear metres (16 boxes)

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 382, box 1, item 1].
Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 382, boxes 1-13

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 3349


Papers of Sydney and Flora Moody, chiefly concerned with the years they spent in Palestine and Mauritius, and covering the period from 1921 to 1966, with a few additional papers of an earlier date.

Biographical / Historical

Sydney Moody was born at Goole, Yorkshire,on 18 November 1889, and educated at the King's School, Pontefract, and at Lincoln College, Oxford, as a history scholar. From 1914 to 1920 he served in the 7th Battalion of the East Yorks Regiment and the King's (Liverpool) Regiment. He took part in the Middle Eastern Campaign and, in 1918, was appointed to the Palestine Military Administration as Deputy Assistant Administrator, later Deputy Military Governor, of Safed Sub-District. With the establishment of the civil administration in 1920 he became District Officer.

During 1923 Moody was attached to the Colonial Office and his record of conversations and meetings concerning the Palestine situation at that time is of particular interest (box 8, file 5). The following year he returned to Palestine as Assistant Secretary and from 1929 to 1931 was Clerk of the Executive and Administrative Councils, retaining the former post until 1934 when he became Assistant Chief Secretary. He was made Deputy Chief Secretary four years later and was thus a member of the Secretariat during the turbulent years after the Mandate came into force. For periods in 1932, 1935, 1938 and 1939 he was accredited representative of His Majesty's Government to the Permanent Mandates Commission.

At the end of 1939, after twenty-one years in Palestine administration, Mr Moody left to take up the post of Colonial Secretary in Mauritius; he did not return to the Middle East until after his retirement when he paid brief visits in 1957 and 1958. He remained on the island throughout the war, acting as Governor during the absence of Sir Donald Mackenzie-Kennedy.

Mr Moody retired from the Colonial Service in March 1948, after a fall had seriously injured his back. He was awarded the O.B.E. in 1932 and the C.M.G. in 1942. In retirement he took up a long-cherished project and became a successful raspberry-grower in Perthshire (box 5, file 5). He died on 5 June 1979.

While on leave in the spring of 1921 Captain Moody, with an introduction from Scottish missionaries in Safed, visited in Edinburgh an ex-Palestine missionary, Rev. Dr William Ewing. In May he married the Ewings' elder daughter, Flora, then a student at St Andrew's University, and returned with her to Safed. Their first child, Joan Elizabeth, was born in March 1922; Jill Elspeth followed in April 1925, and Judith in March 1932. Letters from the three girls are included in the collection (box 9). Dr Ewing's Palestine diaries, 1888-1892, and letters to Mr and Mrs Moody from him and his wife, are also included (boxes 10 and 11).

Flora Marion Moody was born on 19 March 1897, the daughter of Dr Ewing's second wife, Elizabeth. Her talent for writing was never channelled but the idea of creative or autobiographical writing was always hers and accounts for much of the collection. In Palestine she took an active part in children's broadcasts and both at University and while in Jerusalem was a keen actress. In Mauritius she was First Captain of the Girl Guides and, with V.A.D. experience in the 1914-1918 War, an organiser of the Red Cross. She also played a large part in the care of illegal Jewish immigrants to Palestine who were detained in Mauritius throughout the Second World War. It was a matter for rejoicing among the Jewish community in Palestine that the Moodys were in Mauritius to receive the immigrants (box 12, file 1, fol. 3; box 12, file 7, fol. 3; box 13, file 2, fol. 50; box 13, file 5, fols. 99-100). After her husband's retirement Mrs Moody put her descriptive and dramatic gifts to use by broadcasting and lecturing in Scotland (boxes 4-5).

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated to the Bodleian Library by Sydney and Flora Moody in 1968.
Catalogue of the Papers of Sydney and Flora Moody
Finding aid prepared by S.C. Willson-Pepper
1971; converted to EAD 2020
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom