Guide to the Papers of Thomas Barrington Moody [MSS 369]

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Manuscript Name Papers of Thomas Barrington Moody
Manuscript Number MSS 369
Last Updated September 2021
Extent 6 cm (1 folder, 1 box)
Location Special Collections, UNSW Canberra
Abstract This collection comprises the diary (journal, logbook) of Navigating-Lieutenant Thomas Barrington Moody 1878-1881 on board the H.M.S Egeria, and its journey to Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, the China coast including Shanghai, Borneo, Siam and Malaya.

Collection Subject Type



Scope and Content

A single bound journal approx 370 pages written by Thomas Barrington Moody Navigating-Lieutenant Royal Navy, aboard H.M.S Egeria 1878-1881 journey to Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan and the China coast including Shanghai, Borneo, Siam and Malaya and then the passage home. Marbled endpapers, written in a ledger with un-used alphabetised thumb index at rear. Legible handwriting despite some water stains, small pen and ink drawings in text, some loose leaf inserts. Measures 32 x 20.5cm. 

The journal begins during a visit to the Japanese Concession on Deer Island in Korea in which Moody describes the contempt in which a local Japanese shop owner held for a group of Korean coolies. The Korean experience is followed by a period of 6 months in Nagasaki. His eye witness accounts of a festival and processions, affrays between drunken sailors, the guilds, camphor and dwarfed trees. He mentions the need for passports when travelling outside the treaty limits in Japan. Under the heading "How can we kill time?' he describes the problems which beset many who are away from home for any period of time….. "As we remained here for some six months, we were rather put to it to find amusement during so long a time. Curio hunting soon failed to amuse, Nagasaki being the worst town to buy anything except tortoiseshell ware and Hizen china - which is inferior to Kago, Kioto, and Satsuma coarse. The walks became tedious... At last one of the officers conceived to collect ferns and at once an object was found to enliven our walks and to engross a considerable portion of our spare time. Most of us being of a somewhat solitary turn of mind, separate on landing, and taking two or three different valleys each afternoon, we eventually covered the whole of them. As many of the residents had pursued this pastime for some time, we received a good deal of information to the different species to be found, their habitats..."

From Nagasaki the Egeria sailed to Shanghai. His entries for Shanghai discuss: Shanghai ponies and roads; Shanghai buildings, clubs etc; Rowing club, Race courses, Rifle range, The Drama; (loosely inserted at this point are two newspaper clippings showing Moody's scores in the internal Rifle Competition which took place during the Egeria's stay). He remarks on "the most intelligent copying powers of these Orientals"; a visit to the gun factory; the slighting of Former US Present General Grant and the ceremonies that followed during his six day visit is recorded. A torch light procession which included a lighting of the ships was included "...quite a sight, as the ships were all illuminated, and occasionally letting off rockets. The Egeria's illumination was the worst, but fortunately our rockets were very much better than anyone else’s and it was quite a sight to see the upturned faces of the thousands of Chinamen, and hear the "hei-ya" of admiration as they went up sky-high".

Following these Shanghai experiences the Egeria sailed up the Yangtze where the author describes Chi-Fu society. Sailing along the China coast brought them to Hong Kong where they appear to have remained for just over a month before continuing to Hainan. Returning to Hong Kong he talks about piracy around Hong Kong and how very common it still was. After discussing the fate that befalls pirates on capture "always executed, and sometimes previously tortured, or what is perhaps as bad, imprisoned for some time in one of the filthy Chinese goals". He tells a story of an audacious robbery of a jewellers on Hong Kong Island at Christmas in 1878 when the pirates came ashore "attacked and partially looted a Chinese jeweller’s shop and got away in a steam launch which they worked themselves, leaving only one or two of their number behind. It is not to be inferred from this, that there are no police in Hong Kong for the Sikh police are a very fine body of men and there are also a number of Chinese police, but of course a regularly organised attack will always be partially successful, it is so easy to descend on the town and get away again".

As the Egeria's tour continued Moody's journal proceeds with many fascinating entries on many aspects of Borneo, Singapore, Siam, Malacca and Johore. The ship returns several times to Hong Kong and Singapore and entries on these places appear in several passages through the journal.

The copious entries in this journal on all manner of topics give compelling accounts of the people, places and situations Moody encountered. This insightful man had a lively interest in the people and cultures he encountered. Although he displays a certain amount of cultural arrogance, typical of a foreigner of the time, it is mild in comparison with many, and his interest in recording the world as he saw it gives invaluable snapshots into eastern Asia in the late 19th century in an engaging manner. This journal, almost certainly Moody's fair copy from notes he made while on the voyage, includes notes, diagrams and drawings (loosely inserted at the rear of the journal) which appear to have been made while at sea for later inclusion in his journal. This record of "ordinary" life is an important historical record which has an authenticity, life and feel of immediacy that make compulsive reading.

The bulk of the journal comprises descriptive text although the introductory first leaves are in a table format with ruled columns listing the Name of Place visited; Date Arrived; Date Left; Number of Miles at Sea and Number of Days at Sea. Under these headings the details of his extensive travels throughout eastern Asia are carefully entered. These listings do not exactly fit with the descriptive essays within the journal further supporting the belief that at least one other volume of his writings must have existed.

Date Range of Content


Biographical Note

Thomas Barrington Moody was born on 29 March 1848. He was the son of Shute Barrington Moody and Sarah Blackburn. He was baptised on 5 May 1848 at St. Botolph, Bishopsgate, London, England. He was appointed to the Royal Navy on 9 June 1863 as Staff Commander.  He was the Navigating-Lieutenant aboard the 4 gun Fantome-class screw composite sloop, H.M.S. Egeria which was launched in 1873, 5 years before he began writing the journal in this collection. The journal documents his travels on H.M.S Egeria from 1878-1881. He was an acute observer and a very capable artist.

Administrative Information

Access and Copying Conditions

Access: Open Access

Copying: Copying of material authored by Thomas Barrington Moody under section 51 (1) of the Copyright Act (more than 50 years since the death of the author) is approved.

Preferred Citation

[Manuscript Item], Papers of Thomas Barrington Moody, Special Collections, UNSW Canberra, Australian Defence Force Academy, MSS 369, Box [Number], Folder [Number].


Acquired by the Academy Library in 2013.

Related Material

The Academy Library holds the following ships' journals and logs in Special Collections:
G. K. Dickson at MS 222
Clement Richardson at MS 264
HCS Northumberland at MS 266
HMS Pegasus at MS 267
H. D. Wilkin at MS 271

John L Allen MS 144


Keywords and Tags

Personal Names

Moody, Thomas Barrington



Naval Diaries

Log books

Corporate Names

Ocean (Ship)

Great Britain. Royal Navy--Foreign service--China

Great Britain. Royal Navy--Foreign service--Singapore

Container List

Box 1

Folder 1 
Bound manuscript journal written by Thomas Barrington Moody aboard HMS Egeria, 1878-1881.[approx 370 pages]