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A brief biography of William Wood

According to his tombstone, William Wood was born about 1788, place of birth uncertain. At the age of 16 he joined the 2nd battalion of the 95th Regiment (the Rifle Corps). The 2nd 95th saw considerable action with varying success. In 1807, they fought the Spanish at Monte Video.

2/95th hat badge

In 1808, they had to retreat from Napoleonís army at Corunna in North West Spain and, in 1809, they also had to retreat after the Walcheren Expedition in the Netherlands. Walcheren Island was swampy and about 4,000 of the troops died of malaria compared with 106 in actual battle. The rifle corps made a name for itself in the 1815 Battle of Waterloo where they distinguished themselves by being instrumental in the victory.



    Waterloo medal

of 2/95
In action

From the 2/95th Re-enactment Group www.95th-rifles.co.uk

During his time with the 2/95th he had frequent bouts of illness which could have been due to either malaria caught at Walcheren or injuries suffered on the ill-fated retreat from Corunna.

He was discharged from the 2/95th in  September 1818 and re-enlisted in the Royal Staff Corps six years later in September 1824. During that time it appears that he married Ann Payler, had two children, Mary Ann and James, and learned shoemaking as a trade.

In July 1825, William and his brother Thomas  sailed for  New South Wales as Escort to Governor Darling. After his arrival, he was sent to King George Sound in Western Australia to establish a military and penal colony at Frederickstown, now Albany. About a year later he was joined by his wife and two children, who arrived together with Thomasí wife Sarah and their children.

William and Ann

William  and  his  family  returned  to  Sydney  in  December  1828   and   settled   in  Liverpool.   In 1829,  Governor Darling  ordered  that  men  of the Royal Staff Corps could be discharged from the army and settle in Australia. Those doing so would be given a parcel of land large enough to build a town on, a yearís provisions, a collection of tools to help them get started and build a hut, and a cow. To get title of the land, they had to remain on it and cultivate it for seven years. William availed himself of this and was granted some land in Liverpool. After much toing and froing and uncertainty, he seems to have sold it and, instead, obtained 80 acres of land at Bong Bong in 1839 (Rifle Farm), now a polo field stretching between the Wingecarribee River to Eridge Park Rd. Here he raised the remainder of his family. He and Ann are buried at the local Christ Church.

There is ambiguity in the documentation, and it is possible that the 1929 Liverpool land did not involve our William Wood, and his initial grant was at Bong Bong and title passed to him in 1839 after living there for up to ten years.

1. War Office records for the Public Records Office, Kew UK - Research for the Wood family by Colonel Iain Swinnerton
2. John Passmore: Descent - vol 7 part 1 September 1974, Society of Australian Genealogists: The Royal Staff Corps Settlers in Australia 1829
3. The Bridge at Bob's Creek - newsletter from David Wood
4. The Military Establishment at King George Sound J Sweetman, Military Historical Society of WA, 1989.

Acai Berry