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Famous Woods

William Wood (Williemus de Bosco)

Chancellor to King William the Lion in 1168, he is the first recorded Scot of the name.  He is also mentioned in charters of King Alexander II relating to Inverness, 1214.

Admiral Sir Andrew Wood (1st Chief)

Born around the middle of the 15th century in Largo, Fife, Andrew Wood was the eldest son of William Wood, merchant, who was almost certainly a scion of one of the notable Wood families who held lands in Bonnytoun in Angus.  They had a long history of owning lands throughout that district, Kincardineshire and elsewhere.  Those areas still held around the time of James VI are shown in the map 'Scotland of Old', by Collins.

Andrew Wood, too, was a successful merchant, and owner of the frigate Flower.  He became a master of fighting off Dutch, English and Portuguese pirates.  His fame reached James III, who asked him to captain his ship, the Yellow Caravel.  Sailing out of Leith, Andrew triumphed in many major skirmishes with privateers and squadrons sent by the English government, was made Admiral of Scotland and a feudal baron.  He built a castle at his barony of Largo, a tower of which still stands.  Sir Andrew Wood died probably in 1515.  Enjoying the friendship of successive Stewart monarchs, his significance to Scottish history, and that of his descendants, is far greater than some people realise or can be gone into here.

Electric Scotland Note:  I was reading an old book, "The Constable of France; and other Military Historiettes" by James Grant (1866) when I discovered an account of Sir Andrew Wood. The pdf was in a terrible condition so I extracted the pages and tried to clean up the pages and have gathered them together into a new pdf file which you can read here. Sir Andrew Wood

However we have had a critic on it which we include here...

It saddens me, therefore, to tell you that that is one of the narratives that have led to a great deal of misinformation being published over the past century or so about the family.  Let me give you just a few examples of what I mean.

Very early on, he concludes that the Admiral came from a family so undistinguished (nothing wrong with that in itself) that nothing is known about his forebears.  Later on, he picks up references in various places to charters for properties granted to Andrew Wod, such as Balbegno and Fettercairn.  If he and his like had sniffed around a little more, they would have considered the possibility that there might just have been more than one Andrew Wod: they later even go so far as to confuse the Admiral with his own son and surmise that he must have died in extreme old age, when we know that he was dead by 1517!!  Balbegno, Fettercairn and Craig were all castle estates far removed from Largo in the counties of Angus, Kincardineshire and Aberdeenshire, and yes, Andrew was a favourite name of all of those (unknown?) Wood families, some of whom were also knights.  He then compounds the myth about the Admiral laying seige to Aberdeen in his own claim for the Royal Forest of Stockett and the castle.  Not only is such an action wildly out of character of everything else we know about the Admiral, but for the king to have made such a grant to the seaman simply does not make sense.  What is more likely is that James III granted those lands to Sir Andrew Wod of Overblairton and Belhelvie, merely a few leagues north of Aberdeen, and the Admiral went in support of his kinsman in opposing the burgesses of city.  (It transpired that the burgesses were legally in the right, and the claimant was therefore awarded a different grant, presumably to his satisfaction.)  Incidentally, the Wood lands of Belhelvie include a famous wildlife habitat, the sand dunes that Donald Trump has notoriously been allowed to bulldoze to build his new golf course.

Among the further objections that can be levelled at him, the writer speculates that the home of Elizabeth Lundie, before she married the Admiral prior to 1487, might have been Balgonie near Glenrothes.  However, Balgonie was not in Lundie hands until her brother, Sir Robert, married the heiress, Elspeth Sibbald, in 1493.  He also asserts that the fourth laird married Janed Balfour.  He actually married Jean Drummond, dtr. of James Drummond, 1st. Lord Madderty. He did not have a son named James: he left no male heir.  It may have been one of the other Andrew Woods who wedded Janet Balfour.  Much more research is needed.

So you see, the well-meaning wider publication of these proven inaccuracies that raised numerous obstacles for modern historians actually does no favours.

Warm regards,


Robert Wood (6th Chief)

Under Secretary of State for Scotland 1705-26 - during the traumatic years that included the 1707 Act of Union and the 1715 Uprising.

John Wood of Largo (7th Chief)

Governor of the Isle of Man 1761-77.

Sir Gabriel Wood

Born 1767 at Gourock, he became Consul of Maryland (which then included Washington), and later Commissary-General of Accounts for the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and then of Canada - the most important army position abroad.  He died in 1845.  From one of his legacies, Sir Gabriel Wood's Mariners' Home was founded in Greenock five years after his death and is still serving the purpose for which it was intended.

Doctor Alexander Wood

Born in 1817, he was appointed to the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.  He is most remembered for developing and introducing the hypodermic syringe in 1853.

Rt, Hon. Thomas McKinnon Wood

Secretary of State for Scotland 1912-16.



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