Archive for January, 2013

Shrewsbury School

Now part of the Shrewsbury School, the large building overlooking the Severn River was once the House of Industry, with which Isaac Wood was closely connected. (Courtesy, Carmel Hazan)

Shrewsbury School

Gerard Benjamin and Mike Morrogh, in front of the Shrewsbury School’s building overlooking the River Severn.

HANGING on the wall of the study at Marche Manor was this modern sketch (pictured above) of the main building of the Shrewsbury School situated high on the riverbank overlooking the school’s rowing sheds and the River Severn.

This sketch was an unobtrusive reminder that the Woods – in particular Isaac Wood (1705-1801) – were connected to that particular building. Isaac Wood (brother of Capt Wood and uncle of the diarist JC Wood) was a prominent Shrewsbury citizen: watchmaker, editor of the “Salopian Journal”, and enthusiastic promoter of the Shrewsbury House of Industry.
The building was originally Dr Coram’s foundlings’ hospital, and later housed Dutch prisoners of war, before its incarnation as the Shrewsbury House of Industry in the 1790s, a literate protagonist of which was Isaac Wood.
Salop Fire Office

Salop Fire Office in Shrewsbury’s High Street. Isaac Wood was once secretary.

Salop Fire Office

A detail from the facade of the Salop Fire Office, established in 1780.

Unitarian Church

Also in the High Street is Shrewsbury’s Unitarian Church. As an aspiring preacher, Coleridge corresponded with church secretary, Isaac Wood.

Wood was also secretary to the Salop Fire Office, subscriber to the rebuilding of the town’s English bridge in 1765, and secretary to the Unitarian Church in Shrewsbury’s High Street. Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s letter to him of 1798, declining a preaching position at the church, has been preserved.

On 15 September 2012, I was kindly given a tour of Shrewsbury School by Dr Mike Morrogh, archivist and school historian.
The tour included a look at the old House of Industry and the magnificent view of the town and river that it commanded.
A copy of A Shropshire Squire is now part of the school library collection.
It’s worth noting that though the school only moved to its current site in 1882, the diarist’s nephew, novelist John Clavering Wood (1837-1910) was clearly familiar with the school’s reputation. Why else would he make it the alma mater of two key characters in his 1865 novel Tom Hurstbourne or a Squatter’s Life?
To learn more about Isaac Wood, see A Shropshire Squire.

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Hanwood Church

Hanwood: Stained Glass roundel memorializing William Wood of Marche Hall

I was sure that there was some memorial to the Wood family in the parish church at Hanwood, 4.5 miles from Shrewsbury and 8 miles from Marche Hall. The various memorials to the Warter family were prominent, diarist John Clavering Wood’s sister Emma (1783-1863) having married prominent nearby landowner, Henry Degory Warter (1771-1853). Their son, John Wood Warter (1806-78), married Edith Southey, daughter of Poet Laureate Robert Southey (brother-in-law of Coleridge).

Re-checking each memorial still yielded no Woods. I was almost about to give up the search when I spotted the stained glass window on the right hand side near the altar.
A painting of the church which hangs in St Mary's, Hanwood.

A painting of the church as it appeared in the 18th C which hangs in St Thomas’, Hanwood.

The wording read:

(inscribed round 5 medallions of scenes from the life of Christ.) In memory of William Wood, Esq., Marsh Hall, who died Dec 22nd, 1813, aged 68. Also of Esther Wood his wife, who died Sept. 21st, 1804. Also of Anne Wood his sister who died March 15th 1810. Also of John Clavering Wood, Esq. his son, who died June 24th, 1835, aged 57. Also of William Warter his grandson, who died June 27th, 1819, aged 1 year.

This window would have been installed some time after 1835 when John Clavering Wood died.

At the base of another window is a “Sacred to the Memory of…” commemoration to: “Henry Degory Warter who died on April 5th, 1853 and Emma S M Warter [nee Wood] his wife, who died on June 3rd 1863, and also also Charlotte Gertrude Warter, their daughter in law, who died August 28, 1854. The latter (nee Harries) was the first wife of their son, Rev Edward Warter (1811-1878) of Hanwood.

On the subject of funerary memorials, this well-worded “piae memoriae” (‘of pious memory’) in St Mary’s Church, Leyton in London, dating from ca 1626, honours Eliza Wood (nee Barker), the beloved wife of Tobias Wood (a likely ancestor of the Woods of Marche Hall):

Wayle not, my Wood, thy tree’s untymely fall;
They weare butt leaves the Autumn blast could spoyle;
The bark bound up, and some fayre fruit withal
Transplanted onely, shee exchanged her soyle
Shee is not dead; shee did but fall to rise,
And leave the Woods, to live in Paradise.
At the base of another window is a dedication to Emma  Warter (nee Wood), sister of JC Wood.

At the base of another window is a dedication to Emma Warter (nee Wood), sister of JC Wood.

Hanwood window for the Woods

This part of the window commemorates John Clavering Wood (diarist of ‘A Shropshire Squire’).

Wood window at Hanwood

The window dedicated to the Wood family is at the front of St Thomas’ church, Hanwood, to the right of the altar.

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Lt-Gen Sir Eyre Coote

General Clavering was succeeded by Sir Eyre Coote (portrayed above) who attended the 1780 christening of Lt Wood’s second child, Maria.

TWO valuable documents discovered in the British Library throw new light on the East India Company career of William Wood (ca 1743-1813), and the assistance offered him by three members of the Clive family.

If Mary, the widow of Shrewsbury watchmaker Richard Wood, were anxious for her youngest son to obtain a secure position, then India was likely to hold strong prospects – especially since the local Shropshire family of Clive was linked to such astonishing achievements there. In 1768, a letter was addressed to Robert Lord Clive (1725-74) – “Clive of India” – on behalf of 23-year-old William Wood, signed by prominent Shropshire citizens including Shrewsbury’s Mayor. At the foot of the letter (British Library: G37/72/3 folio 35) is the note: “Appoint’d Cadet to Bengal”. The letter reads:

To the right honourable Robert Lord Clive,
We the underwritten beg leave to recommend to your Lordship’s patronage Mr William Wood, who intends going to East India; and is earnestly desireous of obtaining thr’ your powerful Interest, some appointment from the Company.
He is a Burgess of Shrewsbury, and his family have been allways steadily attached to the cause of Liberty, and the Interest which your Lordship espouses. Should he be so happy as to succeed, it will give general satisfaction to your friends here, and particularly oblige Your Lordship’s humble servants (followed by the signatures of)
Edw. Vaughan, Mayor [1768]
Rd Corbett
Go Edwards [possibly Godolphin Edwards (d. 1772) of Frodesley]
W. Adams [possibly Rev Dr William Adams (1706/7-89)]
I. Townes
By 1771, Ensign Wood was in the East India Company’s Service posted to the Dinapore Cantonments near Patna on the Ganges. In a letter of 23 Dec of that year, the young Ensign offers a frank assessment of the waste and inefficiencies which he witnessed. (British Library, MSS EUR G37/62/3, folio 43).
At the foot of the letter is the following note:
NB. The above mentioned Ensign Willm Wood is personally known to Archdeacon Clive, and upon his going to India, was recommended to the patronage of Lord Clive by Sir Rd. Corbett, Mr Rock, Dr Adams, and several other Gentlemen, his friends in Shrewsbury. He was favoured with his Lordship’s Letter to the Governor. Any further notice his Lordship may be pleased to take of him, any further more effectual recommendation he may be pleased to transmit to his Correspondents in India, would be very gratefully acknowledged by the friends of this deserving youth.
‘Mr Rock’ is likely to be John Rocke, Esq. (1727-82), Justice of the Peace and Mayor of Shrewsbury (1760), while Archdeacon Clive to whom Ensign Wood was apparently personally known was Robert Clive (d 1782) who became Archdeacon of Salop in 1769. He was a cousin of Lord Clive and was married to Lord Clive’s eldest sister Rebecca.
The word of support clearly resulted in promotion. In March 1773, ‘William Wood, Gentleman’ was appointed a Lieutenant of Infantry by the Hon. Warren Hastings (1732-1818) who had just taken up his post as India’s first Governor-General. (Deed of Appointment – shown above – courtesy of Peter Tomlinson, NZ).

A further promotion came in December 1775, when General John Clavering appointed him a Lieutenant in a regiment of infantry. Wood’s connection with Clavering continued when he became Clavering’s ADC, and subsequently named his first born son John Clavering Wood in 1778.

In 1776, yet another member of the Clive family was lauding the merits of Lieutenant Wood:

…I should not, Sir, have troubled you with a letter, not having the honor of being much known to you, had not the favor you have shewn Mr Wood, who at my request was recommended by Mr D’Oyly to your notice, demanded my grateful acknowledgment…

(Letter, 15 December 1776, George Clive to Sir John Clavering, reproduced in A Shropshire Squire, p 132)

This was George Clive (d 1779) of Arlington Street, London. A banker, he was a first cousin of Clive of India, on whose interest he held the parliamentary seat for Bishop’s Castle (1763-79) in Shropshire.

William Wood was still serving in India in 1786, and his army service continued until 1793. In the years before his death in 1813, he resided at Hanwood, Shropshire (6 miles from the Marche Estate) to be near his daughter Emma Warter.

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Gerard Benjamin with Carmel Hazan of Marche Manor.

Wood family descendant Gerard Benjamin teams up with Carmel Hazan of Marche Manor in September 2012.

I HAD STUDIED the details of my Shropshire forebears for more than six years, and helped to publish two books about them, without ever setting foot in the ancestral county. It’s one thing to have an image of that landscape in one’s mind’s eye, but at last in September 2012 came the opportunity to align imagination with reality…

The welcome afforded me at Marche Manor by Carmel and Kate Hazan couldn’t have been warmer. Taking in the refinements of their charming Elizabethan manor house (one roof-post reads 1620, though elements of the house are probably earlier), both inside and out, followed by a walk in the grounds and a view from a highpoint to survey the extent of the original estate. was one of those wondrous days that memory will always preserve.

Marche Manor dates from at least the 1620s.

Marche Manor dates from at least the 1620s.

Reflecting on the thought that this house and the surrounding 350-acres would have been part of the commonplace backdrop for at least three generations of the Wood family added another magical dimension to the day.

The mantle of ‘historical custodianship’ that comes with owning a heritage-listed dwelling involves expense and care, and Wood descendants in particular can be eternally grateful to Carmel and Kate for their diligent interest in the the property’s history, as well as their gracious hospitality to this particular Wood pilgrim.
inglenooks, exposed oaken beams, carved corbelles, and intricate woodwork over the fireplaces were all intriguing features of a building which was described in an 1890 Sale Notice thus:
The Manor's cosy inglenook

The Manor’s cosy inglenook

In close proximity is the old Elizabethan Manor House, a portion of which is occupied by Workmen on the Estate; this, with a trifling outlay, could be restored into a most charming and picturesque residence. (quoted in A Shropshire Squire, p 140)

The prophecy of that Sale Notice of more than 120 years ago has more than been fulfilled…

Plan of the Marche Estate

Plan of the Marche Estate (ca 1890s) – courtesy Carmel Hazan

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