Moodie Family letters go to auction

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Tuesday, 14th January 2014

Grahamstown's famous Fables Bookshop has 5 exciting lots relating to the Moodies of Melsetter, a prominent Settler family, and one item relating to the Anglo-Boer War for sale.

Benjamin Moodie of Melsetter in the Orkneys had been forced to sell the family estate. This was finalised in 1818 fetching only slightly more than half of the trustee's valuation. In 1817 he left for the Cape Colony with 3 ships and 190 "mechanics and artisans" (Burrows). The men were indentured to him but he recovered little of the costs that he covered them for. He settled to farm near Swellendam on the farm Grootvadersbosch (which is still there by that name). He was a member of the Legislative Council of the Colony, and was generally an active and successful member of the community.

Detailed descriptions are provided on the auction site complete with images. Transcriptions of many of the letters and documents will be provided on request.

The auction is now open for preview. Bidding opens on 23 January 2014 at 16:30 GMT, closing one week later.

Very briefly the 5 lots are as follows:

Lot 25: 5 Letters/documents relating to Benjamin Moodie from 1817 or earlier.

Lot 26: 10 items 1821 - 1840. Of particular note is one original letter from Sir Rufane Donkin to Benjamin Moodie.

Lot 27: Documents to do with the liquidation of the Moodie estate of Melsetter in Orkney, 1816.

Lot 28: Letters/documents relating to Captain James Moodie, 9th and last Laird of Melsetter, Orkney.

Lot 29: Boer War - TLS Clearing the district of animals and foodstuffs - dated Piquetberg 21st March 1902 

Lot 30: ALS to Benjamin Moodie from John Fairbairn. 3 letters - the first concerns problems with Moodie's son at school in Cape Town (1833), the second is about work and personal matters (1816) and the 3rd is undated (earlier than 1817) and places him in London and in which he discusses his prospects in New South Wales and the West Indies.

For more info: Tel/Fax: +27 (0)46 636 1525. Email:

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