Select Wood Miscellany

Here are some Boyd stories and accounts over the years:

Admiral Wood's Sea Victory in 1490

One of Sir Andrew’s most famous sea battles was in 1490.  It began in the Firth of Forth and ended next day off the River Tay, the numerically superior English force having been overwhelmed and their vessels captured.  It was said that minstrels celebrated throughout Europe with the following lay: 

“The Scotsmen fought like lions bold,
And many English slew;
The slaughter that they made that day
The English folk shall rue.

The battle fiercely it was fought
Near the craig of Basse;
When next we fight the English loons,
May naewaur come to pass.”

Wynd House

The current owners of Wynd House in the borough of Elie in Fife are descendants of Admiral Sir Andrew Wood, the famous 15th century merchant seaman.  William Wood bought the house in 1650. 

The Wood family later set up a merchant bank in Glasgow and in 1828 another William Wood left Scotland for New York to set up the branch there.  Although he lived the rest of his life in New York, his thoughts would often return to Fife.  In 1861, as an elderly man, he penned a poem Thoughts on Elie lamenting:

"The dear old house in Elie,
Oh! would that I were there 
Close by the southern window,
In the quaint morocco chair."

Wynd House has been owned by descendants of William Wood ever since, even though they have always lived in America.  But the current owner of Wynd House, John Walter Wood, reversed the westward trend of Woods when he settled in Britain after marrying an Irishwoman, Charlotte Cusack Jobson.

The Wood Potters of Staffordshire

Early in the 18th century, there were three brothers - Ralph, Aaron and Moses Wood – in the town of Burslem in Staffordshire: 
  • Ralph “the miller of Burslem,” was the eldest, born in 1715.  He achieved renown round about 1750 with his Staffordshire figures, and especially his Toby Jugs.
  • Aaron, born in 1717, was the finest mould maker in the Staffordshire potteries. He was also the father of the even more celebrated Enoch, whose fame rested not only upon his great skill as a modeller but also on his ability as a potter.  
  • and from Moses, the third of the three brothers, can be traced the beginning of an unbroken succession of seven generations of Master Potters.  
Enoch Wood was a man of great enterpriser whose craftsmanship and flair for invention served to build up the considerable business which began in 1790 and continued through his life as his wares became more sought after, especially in America.  He lived into his eighty-third year and died in 1840.

Absalom Wood, a descendant of Moses, founded a new Wood pottery business in 1865.  His company flourished and was employing around 1,000 workers at his Burslem plant in 1910.  It continued to operate until 1981

John Wood of Glossop

The Wood name had been recorded in the Glossop parish records in Derbyshire since 1620.  But this John Wood had been born at Gatehead near Marsden in Yorkshire in 1785, the son of John Wood, a wool clothier, and his wife Betty.  

John had lived in Manchester and Liverpool before arriving in Glossop around the year 1815.  A story went around that when he arrived in Glossop he was so poor that he could not afford either a pair of clogs or shoes, but that he had one of each on his feet.  This does not seem likely.  

He got his start in Glossop at the age of thirty when he rented two idle cotton mills there, the Thread mill and the Old Water mill.  His business boomed and he started to acquire mills.  His Howardtown mills became the largest spinning and weaving combine in Glossop and he was to dominate the Derbyshire cotton industry.

He was a careful and mindful owner.  In 1830 the spinners in the district went out on strike and there was rioting.  The soldiers who were brought in to calm the situation were billeted at one of Wood’s mills.  So careful was Wood that no fire should take place owing to the carelessness of the soldiers that he slept many times in the room where the bales of cotton were stowed.  

His company John Wood & Sons was continued by his sons after his death in 1854.

Michael Woods and Woods' Gap

Michael Woods had originally come to Pennsylvania in 1724 with his brother William and widowed sister Elizabeth.  He had married Mary Campbell and they reportedly had eleven children (of which six were recorded in his will when he died).

In 1734 he led a group of 25-30 sturdy pioneers across the Blue Ridge Mountains into the Shenandoah valley of Virginia, a trek of some 200 miles.  They are believed to have been the first whites ever to have goneon that route via an old Indian trail that became known as Woods' Gap (so designated in 1757).

Woods subsequently took up large land holdings within the vicinity of Woods’ Gap.  The original name of his plantation was Mountain Plain.  The Mountain Plain church, built in 1747, was put up on part of his land.  His wife Mary had been murdered by Indians in 1742.  Woods himself died at Mountain Plain in 1762. 

His niece Magdalena who died in 1800 lived to be ninety years old.  She was noted by contemporaries as being a strikingly beautiful woman with blond hair and possessing great charm.  She was often seen astride a famous black stallion, wearing a hunter’s green riding cloak with gold buttons and a bonnet with many plumes. 

The Rev. Neander Woods, a descendant of this family who was born in 1844, asserted in his 1905 book The Woods-McAfee Memorial that Michael Woods was a descendant of the Cromwellian soldier Sir John Woods in Ireland.  Others have suggested a Scots Irish origin. 

He also said that Magdalena was by the 1750’s (because of her second marriage to Benjamin Borden) the richest woman west of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Maybe that was the family gossip but it was probably not true.

Fernando Wood of New York

Fernando Wood’s line began in America in 1670 when Henry Wood, a Welsh Quaker and carpenter, arrived with his family at Newport, Rhode Island.  He did well in the new country and later settled in New Jersey with a substantial landholding at Peashore near present-day Camden.  

Over the next three generations, the family fortunes declined.  Henry Wood fought in the Revolutionary War, but this caused a break with his Quaker brethren.  His son Benjamin struggled unsuccessfully in various businesses in Philadelphia in the early 1800’s. 

From this humdrum background came Fernando Wood, born in Philadelphia in 1812, with his unusual Spanish forename having been chosen by his mother from a character in an English gothic novel. 

Making his way in New York, the dapper Wood was first a bar owner who then bought ships and made a fortune in California.   He retired from business in the 1850’s to devote himself to politics.  He was the “Grand Sachem” of Tammany Hall from 1850 to 1856 and elected the Mayor of New York in 1857.  He proved to be a colorful figure in the rough-and-tumble of New York politics over the next decade. 

At the time of the Civil War, he was brash, often opposing Lincoln’s actions.  He was in reality a known provocateur if he thought he could get away with it.   His brother Benjamin was less subtle.  He was editor of New York Daily News, which was closed for abetting treason in 1861-62, and a strong anti-War Democrat.  Fernando himself survived being on the losing side in the War and continued to represent New York in Congress until his death in 1881.

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