George William Wood (c.1852-1927)

An avid collector of Manx material whose library acquired in 1923 about the time of his death, formed an excellent nucleus for the Manx Museum Library. I have not yet determined how he was first acquainted with his wife or the Island.

The 1891 and 1901 censuses provide a modicum of information - born c.1852 (age 39 in 1891 census) at Mile End, Stepney, London, wife was Augusta Robina (or Rosina in IGI) Wood, age 30 born Isle of Man.; he returned his occupation as accountant,. They had a single live-in servant and probably bought the house at 14, Riggingdale-road Streatham, London SW, from new - the plans were first lodged in 1880 but moving in c.1883 judging from the street directories, after naming the house Ballagawne. He was the son of John Wood, perfumer (born 1827, Stone, Staffordshire) who in 1881 was living in Bromley, Kent where George, described as accountant, and Augusta were also staying at the time of the census (his father was indicated as married but his mother is not in the census). His wife, was almost certainly (place & date of marriage not yet determined) Augusta Rosina Gell, baptised Lonan 6 Jan 1860, third child of John Gell and Amelia Cregeen (married at Malew 21 Jun 1854) who in 1863 were farming Ballagawne in Lonan (about 100 acres) though by 1881 it had tenant farmers and Amelia Gell (age 47) is noted as a widow living with most of her children at Laggan Road, Lonan. The Wood's were still at Riggingdale Road in 1901 when he described himself as Claims Inspector working for the London County Council. By this time they had 2 servants - a cook and a parlour maid but it would appear still no children. Between 1903 and 1904 moved to Rossholme, (12) Leigham Avenue, also in Streatham - this house had a new occupier by 1925. A search through the local paper failed to locate any death notice, nor did he appear to have played a role in any local society - local historian John Brown also could not find any mention in his study of local residents. In later life a friend of C.I. Paton, whose brother owned Streatham College, who wrote on some Manx topics (though is remembered locally as a founder member and secretary of the Streatham Entomological & Natural History society founded c.1902) - in 1915 Wood and Paton were appointed delegates from Yn Cheshaght Gailckagh to the London Manx celebration of Edward Forbe's centenary. G. W. Wood was president 1916-1917.

Joined the IoMNH&AS in 1889. Wrote a few articles on natural history topics but mostly on bibliographic topics from the early 1890's - contributing to YLM, (later Proc IoMNH&AS), Manx Note Book and Manx Church Magazine amongst others. Became interested in the Manx language. His wife bought him Prince Lucien Buonaparte's copy of the 1773 quarto Manx Bible (one of only 40) at auction at Sotheby's in 1895 as a birthday present.

In 1920 the Museum and Ancient Monuments Trustees contemplating the formation of a National Museum wrote to Mr Wood to ask about the nature and extent of his collection. Their opportunity came much sooner than they expected as in early 1923 they heard that Mr Wood had had a sudden and unexpected breakdown in health which necessitated the sale of his house and dispersal of his effects. Recognizing that such an opportunity would never arise again, the Trustees, after having dispatched William Cubbon to examine the collection, applied for a special grant of £500 from Tynwald of which some £300 was spent to acquire the collection of printed material and manuscripts.

In their application to Tynwald they state that Mr Wood who was connected through marriage to the Island had spent some 40 years of his leisure time making the collection (and also researching for two manuscripts, one of which "The Literature in the Manx Language" Wood stated was ready for the Press; the other was a proposed updating of Harrison's Bibliotheca Monensis which from his description would have provided a major contribution to Cubbon's Bibliography.

He and his wife had been subject to increasingly common bouts of ill-health but in 1923 he had to be admitted to hospital, Cyril Paton helped his wife organise the sale and transfer of books to the newly founded Manx Museum; his wife died in February 1926, Mr Wood having been transferred to a nursing home died 22 January 1927 and was buried at Sunbury on Thames, Middlesex.



Proc IoMNH&ASoc

Manx Church Magazine

Manx Notes and Queries (1904)


Manx Quarterly

Other contributions

On the Classification of Proverbs and Sayings of the Isle of Man; with a collection of Proverbs in Manx and English Folk-lore v pp229/274 London 1894

Literature in the Manx Language to the middle of the 19th Century Library Association Record Oct 1911 pp343/353

Manx Language and Literature (under Celt ed by E.C. Quiggin) in Encyclopaedia Britannica 1911

W Cubbon used his material in a paper read before the Manx Society 1924

A Bibliographical Account of the Literature translated into the Manx Language; compiled from the Manx Library of Mr.G.W. Wood in the Manx Museum. pp18

Natural History

Record of Additional Hydoida from the Isle of Man Report iii Univ Coll pp48/9 1892

The Hybrid Zoophytes of Man, with a Notice of Species not hitherto reported. YLM ii 12/21 1901


Thanks to staff at Minet Library,Streatham; John Brown, local historian at Streatham, and Brian Lawson for help.

 return to index


Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2001