WOOD, William (1611-78), of Wapping Wall, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



25 Jan. 1671 - 8 Nov. 1678

Family and Education

bap. 2 June 1611, s. of George Woode, butcher, of Taynton, Glos. m. 25 Oct. 1638, Jane Smith of Poplar, Mdx., 1s. 2da.2

Offices Held

Member, Shipwrights’ Co. ?by 1638; freeman, Dunwich 1658; commr. for assessment, Mdx. 1664-d., Suff. 1673-d., Dunwich 1677-d.; j.p. Mdx. by 1669-d.; commr. for recusants, Suff. 1675.3


Although Wood was born in an inland village, he was already a shipwright at the time of his marriage, and was later recommended by Peter Pett as a supplier of masts to the Commonwealth navy. During the Interregnum he was in partnership with John Wright as contractor and shipowner. With the help of Sir William Batten he acquired a virtual monopoly in the early years of the Restoration, so that he was able to ‘set and command his own price’. Although Samuel Pepys succeeded in wresting at least one contract from him, to the benefit of Sir William Warren, he continued to prosper, and was described as ‘very rich’ on the occasion of his son’s marriage in 1666. In 1670 he entered into partnership with (Sir) Matthew Andrews to build an East Indiaman at Wivenhoe.4

Wood stood for Dunwich at a by-election early in 1671 against Admiral Sir Thomas Allin. When it was objected that he was a stranger in Dunwich his supporters claimed that he had been a freeman since September 1658 and ‘was intimately known to most of the freemen of Dunwich as having done eminent service in managing some of the affairs of the said corporation’. Besides serving ‘three several years’ master of the corporation of shipwrights’, he was also a merchant

of very considerable quality and dealing, and a great encourager of navigation, having freighted thirty sail of ships a year, each to measure at least the burthen of 250 tons.

His election was disputed, but he was allowed to sit on 25 Jan. on the merits of the return, and became a moderately active Member of the Cavalier Parliament. He was appointed to 28 committees, most on economic subjects, such as the preservation of naval stores (14 Apr. 1671), and those instructed in 1673 to inquire into the decay of the Muscovy, Eastland and Greenland trades and to give local authorities powers to prevent the spread of fire. On 19 Apr. 1675 during a debate on a motion to recall British subjects in the service of the French King, he desired

that a passage in my lord keeper’s speech may be remembered, that Joseph, in time of plenty, provided for famine, and though we are in peace, [he] would think of building ships.

On 19 May 1675 he was appointed to the committee on the bill appropriating the customs for the use of the navy. His only other speech was in October, during a debate in committee on building war ships, when he gave some technical information on the size and cost of various rates. His name appeared on the working lists and on Wiseman’s account of government supporters. As a Middlesex j.p. he was active against conventicles, and he was also much concerned about the danger from fire in the metropolitan area. In the 1677 session, he was marked ‘doubly vile’ on Shaftesbury’s list, and appointed to the committee on the bill for the recall of British subjects from the French service. The Admiralty suggested that he and Wright with other ‘eminent merchant-builders’ should be consulted about the practicability of maintaining the separate account for the building of the 30 new warships, on which Parliament had insisted. The ledger that was accordingly kept shows payments of £940 to him between September 1677 and his death. In A Seasonable Argument, he was described as ‘master of the King’s dock, his shipwright, and a violent man for taxes’, and his name appeared on both lists of the court party in 1678. His last committee was on the bill for fixing the measurements of colliers on 3 June, and he was buried at Wapping on 11 Nov. Nothing further is known of his family, although his son continued to receive substantial payments from the treasurer of the navy during 1679.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Paula Watson


  • 1. New writ.
  • 2. J. Smith, Glos. Men and Armour, 65; Taynton par. reg.; Stepney Par. Reg. i. 264; PCC 135 Reeve.
  • 3. SP29/287/50; CSP Dom. 1664-5, p. 497; 1668-9, p. 491.
  • 4. CSP Dom. 1648-9, p. 577; 1652-3, p. 508; 1663-4, p. 270; Cal. Ct. Mins. E.I. Co. ed. Sainsbury, iv. 86; viii. 352; Pepys Further Corresp. 8; Pepys Diary, 5 Jan. 1664, 10 Aug. 1666.
  • 5. SP29/287/50; Grey, iii. 6, 326; HMC 11th Rep. VII, 17; CSP Dom. 1676-7, p. 173; Cat. Pepysian Mss. (Navy Rec. Soc. lvii), 429; Adm. 20/23; Greater London RO, Wapping par. reg.