Select Wood Surname Genealogy

The name in England is mainly locational, describing someone who lived atte wode or at or by a wood.  This meaning gave rise to other surnames, such as Bywood, Underwood and Atwood.  The name could also be occupational for a woodcutter or forester.

In Scotland, the surname root may have been the Old English wod, describing someone who is wild or crazy.  An example of the use of this term is the pun in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream: "And heere am I, and wod within this wood."

Early surname spellings were Wod and Wode.  The main spelling variant today is Woods.

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England.   The surname first appeared in England in the 13th century.  Walter de la Wode was recorded in Hertfordshire in 1242 and Roger del Wode in Yorkshire in 1274.

The later name distribution has been more north than south. 

Two prominent Wood families came from Yorkshire and Staffordshire: 
  • a Yorkshire Wood line began with George Wood of Monk Bretton near Barnsley in the mid-1500’s. Charles Wood of this family, a 19th century colonial administrator, was made Viscount Halifax.  Edward Wood, better known as Lord Halifax, was a leading appeaser to Nazi Germany in the 1930's.
  • the Staffordshire Woods started with three brothers in Burslem in the early 18th century, Ralph, Aaron, and Moses.  They were prominent in the development of Staffordshire's pottery industry. 
One Wood family record began with Richard Wood in Ripon in north Yorkshire in the late 1500's.  This family moved to London in the early 18th century and later bought Melton Hall in Suffolk.

John Wood from Yorkshire made a fortune in the cotton industry in Glossop, Derbyshire in the early 19th century.  His grandson Samuel Hill Wood, great grandson Denis, and great great grandson Peter have all been chairmen of Arsenal football club.

  One Wood line in NE Scotland may have had Norman connections with the de Boscos that had moved north into Scotland from England.  The early spelling of the name was Wod.  As the Woods of Balbegno in Kincardineshire and Bonnytoun in Angus, they were extensive landowners in the region.  William Wood, a 15th century merchant, came from this family.

His son Andrew Wood was a successful sea captain and pirate whose victories over the English, notably off the Firth of Forth in 1490, made him a Scottish admiral and granted him lands at Largo in Fife.
  Wynd House in Fife remained in Wood family hands.  But other Wood descendants, generally strapped for cash, disposed of these estates and relocated themselves to Perth where they prospered.  Many subsequently settled in England.  Sir Mark Wood of Gatton Park in Surrey was made a baronet in 1808.

  The surnames Wood and Woods may have either been an English or Scottish implant or an anglicization of the Gaelic word coill meaning wood.  The names have mostly been found in the Ulster counties of Monaghan and Tyrone.  The Woods spelling is more common in Ireland than in England.

Sir John Woods from Yorkshire was in Ireland with Cromwell and held Dunshaughlin castle in county Meath. One line of his family later resided at Milverton Hall, just north of Dublin.  Other Woods departed Ireland for America in the 1720’s.

  Abraham Wood was perhaps the first Wood to step ashore in America, arriving at the Jamestown colony in Virginia in 1620 as a ten year old boy.  He later became a fur trader and early explorer of what became West Virginia. 

James Wood came to Virginia in 1735 and gave his name to the town of Winchester in Frederick county after his home in England.  His son James was a General in the Revolutionary War and served as Governor of Virginia from 1796 to 1799.  Wood county in Virginia was named in his honor.

Michael Woods had come to America from Ireland in 1724, settling initially in Pennsylvania.   In 1734 he led a pioneering group across the Blue Ridge Mountains through what became known as Woods’ Gap into the Shenandoah valley of Virginia.  Woods himself made his home near Woods Gap where he died in 1762.  His descendants were to be found at various points south and west in the 1800’s.

Some early Wood arrivals in New England were:  
  • Edmond Wood from Halifax in Yorkshire who came on Winthrop’s fleet to New England in 1630 and later, in 1644, settled in what became Hempstead on Long Island.  
  • and William Wood from Derbyshire who arrived in 1638 and was one of the first settlers of Concord, Massachusetts.  The Woods remained there for more than a hundred years before migrating north to Maine in 1774.
Caribbean.  Roger Wood was in Bermuda as early as 1622 and was later Governor of the island.  His son Thomas established the Wood home Bosco Manor at Spanish Point.  This family was to become merchants and traders across the Americas, from Newfoundland to South America.  Richard Wood moved to Canada in the 1860’s.  He built an oil refinery at Oakville in Ontario, which unfortunately then blew up.

.  Alexander Wood, a Scottish merchant who came to Ontario in 1793, is remembered in his home-city of Toronto even though he left no descendants.  Wood was tagged with the nickname Molly Wood after an alleged rape case in 1810.  There is an area today in Toronto which is known as Molly Wood’s Bush and forms part of Toronto’s gay community.

There were rumors that Robert Wood, a timber merchant in Quebec at this time, was the illegitimate son of an English royal prince, Edward, and a French lady.  Family tradition has it that he was given to the prince’s former servant, Robert Wood, to be raised as his son.  But this Robert Wood really does seem to have been his father.

Select Wood Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Wood Names

Sir Andrew Wood was a 15th century privateer who became Lord High Admiral for Scotland.
John Wood built the PS Comet, Europe's first commercial steamship, on the Clyde in Scotland in 1812.
Alexander Wood, a doctor in Edinburgh, was in 1853 the first to introduce the hypodermic syringe.
Fernando Wood, first elected in 1854, was one of the most colorful mayors of New York.
Sir Henry Wood was a prominent English conductor who started the annual Proms season.
Natalie Wood was a well-known American actress.
Tiger Woods is considered the greatest modern-day golfer.

Select Woods Today

  • 186,000 in the UK (most numerous in Warwickshire)
  • 130,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 71,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

Select Surname List

Adams Ellis Johnson O'Connor
Allen Evans Jones O'Sullivan Shaw
Anderson Fisher
Kelly Parker Simpson
Bailey Foster Kennedy Perry Smith
Baker Fox King Peterson Stevens
Barnes Fraser 
Lee Phillips Stewart
Bell Graham Lewis Powell Taylor
Bennett Gray Marshall Price Thomas
Brown Green Martin Reed
Griffiths Mason      
Reynolds Turner
Campbell Hall McDonald Richards
Carter Hamilton Miller  Richardson Walsh
Chapman Harris Mitchell Roberts Ward
Clark Harrison
Moore Robertson Watson
Collins Henderson Morgan Robinson White
Cook Hill Morris Rogers Williams
Cooper Howard Murphy Ross Wilson
Cox Hughes Murray Russell Wood
Davis Jackson Nelson Ryan Wright
Edwards James O'Brien 

For other surnames check the surnames2 page where there are to be found the history and genealogy for more than 800 surnames.

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