The erroneous notion that clans are Highland groups and families are Lowland units is very much a Victorian one. In fact, the terms are interchangeable, and many a Lowland laird has held from the Lyon Court the title ‘Chief of the Name and Arms’. This is true of the Woods.
Origins of the Clan
The Old English name Wood (also Vod, Voud, Wod, Wode, Woode, Woods, Yod and other variations) may well derive from the Norman French de Vosco, or de Bosco (modern French ‘Dubois’ or simply ‘Bois’), meaning ‘of the wood’. Gaelic forms such as Coll or Coill also took the English translation over time.
As a personal name, the Old English word ‘wudu’, meaning wood, may also have implied a dweller in or near a wood - though it is questionable why that should have been a distinction in an age when trees covered so much more of the land than now. The equally ancient name Wod (which was how the chiefly family, the Woods of Largo, were still spelling their name well into the 17th century) described one who was wild, crazy. By that would have been meant a warrior who became frenzied or savage in battle; a compliment in an unstable, warlike society, and one to prize as a patronymic.
Among the Wood families that moved into southern Scotland, some say with King David I, were the Woods of Bonnytoun, Angus. They held extensive lands in that district as well as Kincardineshire, Perthshire and elsewhere.
Admiral Sir Andrew Wood
Admiral Sir Andrew Wood of Largo, Fife, was born around the middle of the 15th century. Sir Andrew was the eldest son of William Wood, a merchant, who was almost certainly a scion of the Woods of Bonnytoun in Angus. He was famous for inflicting many defeats on foreign pirates and privateers as well as squadrons of ships sent by the English government to harass the Scots. His successors built a hospital and school in Fife for their kinsmen named Wood, and were prominent in Scottish history both politically and militarily: they continued to be a significant influence in British politics and were foremost among the thousands of Scots who contributed enormously to the economic and armed expansion of the British Empire well into the 19th century. The main line of Sir Andrew’s descendants is considered by the Court of the Lord Lyon King of Arms to be the chiefly one. The record of succession is complete right down to 1916, when Andrew George Wood died in Mayfair, London, leaving his estate on the border of Wales and Shropshire to his second wife.
After winning two sea battles in 1480 against the English he was made a free Baron, with lands at the Kirkton of Largo in Fifeshire he was also made a chief of Clan MacDonald for his help in the king’s expedition of land and sea were Domhnall Dubh of the Isles was captured and kept in prison for forty years. Andrew’s ruined castle can be found in Upper Largo.
The hereditary Chief of Clan Wood is Timothy Michael Herbert Fawcett Wood.
The clan’s motto is ‘Tutus in Undis’.
Spelling variations and septs of the Clan Wood include: