John Cochran was born in 1727 in Cork, the son of a hairdresser. Because the lad took it into his head to pass himself off as an Englishman, he changed his name to Moody (presumably from the character in Cibber’s “The Provok’d Husband”, which he later acted) and declared that he was born in Stanhope Street, Clare Market, in London. He was a hairdresser for a few years and then sailed to the West Indies, joining a troupe of players in Kingston, Jamaica, with whom he is said to have acted Hamlet, Romeo, King Lear and other leading roles. Moody worked his way back to England and in 1758 was acting in Norwich. David Garrick saw him playing Lockit in “The Beggar’s Opera” and hired him to act at Drury Lane in London. There on 12 January 1759 Moody substituted for Holland as Thyreus in “Anthony and Cleopatra” and on 22 May was advertised as the ‘gentleman’ playing Henry VIII.
In his first full season, 1759-60, Moody showed Londoners, among other characters, Seyward in “Macbeth”, Henry VIII again, Catesby in “Jane Shore” and, most importantly, Sir Callaghan O’Brallagan in “Love à la Mode”. The last role was one of several Irish characters he made a speciality in the seasons that followed: Major O’Flaherty in “The West Indian”, Sir Patrick O’Neale in “The Irish Widow” and Connolly in “The School for Wives” were all written for him. Over the years Drury Lane also used him in such roles as Teague in “The Committee” (G0613), Ben and Sir Sampson in “Love for Love”, Lord Burleigh in “The Critic”, Sir Lucius O’Trigger in “The Rivals” and Oldfox in “The Plain Dealer”. He made excursions elsewhere: Covent Garden, the Haymarket, several summers in Bristol and some appearances in Leeds, York, Liverpool and Plymouth. He worked his way up to £8 weekly at Drury Lane by 1789 but showed little ambition and was regularly called lazy by his critics. His last appearance was on 26 June 1804, when he came out of retirement after 10 years to play Jobson in “The Devil to Pay” (G0611) for a hospital benefit. John Moody died on 26 December 1812, aged 85. He had been married twice: to Anne (family name unknown), who died in 1805, and to Kitty Ann Worlock, a dancer, who survived him and died in 1846. (BDA) [EAL]