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Family spelling variants includes Woods, Woodd, Woode, Wode, Woodes

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WOOD Family History

This surname has pre-7th century Old English origins. Recorded in several forms, it is a topographical name which derives from the Middle English 'wode' and Old English 'wudu' which both mean wood, and as such therefore refers to an ancestor who lived in or near a wood (this would also be the origins of the Attwood surname) or who worked as a woodcutter or forester. It first appears as a surname during the early half of the 13th century.

In other cases, the name may also originally have been used as a nickname which derives from 'wod', the Middle English word for ‘mad’ or ‘frenzied’.

Early bearers of the surname include John del Wode of Yorkshire who appears on the 1274 Wakefield Court Rolls (Yorks); and Margaret Wood who lived in Warmingham, Cheshire in 1538.

The name is far less common on the early records in Wales. Most references on the 17th century parish registers relate to areas close to the border with England or to larger towns and ports elsewhere in the country. Later occurences of the surname appear in Wales during industrialisation in the 19th century when English families moved to the coal-mining areas. However, some Welsh Wood family members are descended from the Romany tribe of Abram Wood who settled in Wales during the 18th century – his descendants became very well-known as violinists and harpists.

In 1881, 5,079 Wood entries were recorded on that year's census in Kent, and was particularly numerous in Chevening, Luddesdown, Molash, Murston and Petham. In the same year, the most common Wood occupation in the UK was farmer.

In 1891, there were 94,436 references to the surname across England and Wales as a whole, with a further 6,943 in Scotland.

Notable people

  • Albert Beaumont Wood OBE (1890–1964), was a British physicist, known for his pioneering work in the field of underwater acoustics and sonar. He is recognised for his work on developing sonar in the UK between the First and Second World War. 
  • Victoria Wood CBE (1953– 2016) was a very popular English comedian, actress, lyricist, singer, composer, pianist, screenwriter, producer and director.
  • Ronnie Wood (b. 1947) is an English rock musician, songwriter, guitarist, and artist, best known as a member of The Rolling Stones.



1881, 1891 Census

Dictionary of American Family Homes, P Hanks OUP 2003

Homes of Family Names in Great Britain, H.B. Guppy, London 1890

The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland, P.Hanks, Coats, McClure OUP 2016

1860 Lower, Mark A Patronymica Britannica: a dictionary of the family names of the United Kingdom, London: J.R Smith. Public Domain

1857 Arthur, William An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. New York: Sheldon, Blakeman. Public Domain

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