Select Woodward Surname Genealogy

Here are some Woodward stories and accounts over the years:

Wadard or Waudard

Commander Wadard was said to have assembled William's army at Saint Valery in Normandy for the invasion of England in 1066.  It was he, Wadard, who then advised William of the Saxon advance from the north under King Harold at Hastings. 

Wadard was granted lands in Essex and as Waudard appeared in the Domesday Book of 1086.  Descendants Henry and Simon Wadard were recorded as lords of the manor
in Essex in 1278.

Nathaniel Woodward the Hot-Headed Puritan

Nathaniel Woodward, captain of the Warwick yeoman guards, was a strong Puritan and apparently a hot-headed one as well.  He was cited in 1632 by a bench of Anglican Bishops to take oath to keep his Puritan teachings within his own family and home.  Unwilling to do this and heavily fined by the ecclesiastical court, he gave notice that he and his brother Ezekiel, also cited, would leave England for good. 

This they apparently did, departing with two yeomen Henry Saterlee and Richard Sumner to Whitehaven where they took passage to Boston.  By trade a carpenter, Nathaniel was employed there to survey the border between Plymouth colony and Massachusetts. 

Nathaniel’s hot-headedness was apparently a family trait.  In 1671 his son Nathaniel was sentenced by the Court to sit in the stocks for the pleasure of the Court “for speaking abusive words against Mr. Shove, the pastor of the church of Taunton."

How Henry Woodward Met His Wife

In 1755 Henry Woodward had just boarded a ship at England to come to America when he saw officers coming on board to search the ship to see that no able-bodied man left England. 

He was said to have cried out to himself and the sea as follows: 

"I have served seven years in the War, and now I suppose I will have to end my life in the army." 

A young but large woman standing nearby overheard him.  Her name was Sarah Shelton and she looked at him.  Noticing that he was a small man, she told him: 

"Squat down under this stool." 

Then she sat upon the stool, out-spreading her skirt so as to completely obscure him during the search.   He then jumped up and kissed her.  Allegedly they were married by the captain of the ship during the voyage. 

Henry Woodward and his new wife came to Virginia.  He was known by his descendants for his sword and silver knee and shoe buckles.

Woodward Pioneers in British Columbia

William Woodward was born in Norley, Cheshire in 1821, the son of the innkeeper of the Red Lion.  He and his wife Hanna raised seven children there – one son and six daughters.  However, tragedy struck the family in 1864 when Hanna died of tuberculosis, followed by the death through epidemic two years later of three of their daughters.  As a result William Woodward departed with his son John for a new life in Canada in 1870. 

Father and son ended up in British Columbia where William secured a contract for road-building in Surrey and soon saw the possibilities for homesteading there.  He and John were granted land in 1886.  William initially built a log cabin but by the following year he had constructed a substantial frame house, one of the first in Surrey, at what became known as Woodward’s Hill.  Two of his daughters, Elizabeth and Ann, had by then joined him in Canada.  Son John meanwhile had started a dairy farm at Burnaby nearby and took over his father’s farm after William died in 1893. 

Elizabeth Woodward married John Oliver who went on to become Premier of British Columbia in 1918.  She lived onto the ripe old age of 95, dying in 1952.

Woodwards of Vancouver

The story of Woodward's, the well-known Vancouver retailer, began in 1875 on Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron.  It was there that Charles Woodward opened his first store with his brother-in-law in a bid to break away from farming. The small store, however, did not fare well and a fire, allegedly criminally begun, burnt down his store and destroyed Woodward’s ambitions in his home province. 

Charles started out again in Vancouver in 1892.  Laden with debt, he struggled for the first few years to meet his monthly payments; but - despite a recession and the loss of his wife and two of his children to tuberculosis in the summer of 1892 - he managed to make it through the tough times, emerging as a healthy retailer. 

Business grew tremendously in this first decade of the 20th century, in parallel with the growth of the city. Vancouver's population was about 14,000 when Charles Woodward opened his first store in 1892.  Fifteen years later, it was already 60,000, and would reach almost 130,000 by 1912.  It was no surprise, then, that established retailers with a strong work ethic were to reap the benefits of this growth.  Charles Woodward finally achieved the success he had been seeking since starting out in business.

The Shooting of the Century

By the 1930’s the Woodwards were old money.  In 1876 James T. Woodward became President of Hanover National Bank, a position he held for 34 years before turning it over to his nephew, William Woodward.  William Woodward Sr. was the owner of Belair Stud in Maryland, a foremost horseracing stable.  His wife Elsie was a socialite who was to become the dowager empress of New York high society. 

Son Billy followed in his father’s footsteps in both the horse business and the banking industry.  Upon his return from the war, he became known as an “international sportsman.”   He was passionate, reckless and the quintessential playboy.  Through his father he met a 27-year-old radio actress, born Angeline Crowell on a farm in Kansas, who had changed her name to the more theatrical Ann Eden. 

It was love at first sight and very quickly the two were wed.  However, their marriage was a stormy one.  Billy and Ann had one of those relationships that was too fractious to keep together and too strong to break apart.  They sparred openly in public over many things, not the least of which were her affairs with the likes of the Aga Khan and Franchot Tone and his with any number of debutantes. 

But the marriage had a tragic denouement in 1955 in what was called at the time “the shooting of the century.”  The following was an account of that fateful night: 

By the time the couple had returned home, it was about one a.m.  Ann and Billy retired to their own rooms.  Behind locked doors, Billy slept with a revolver nearby while Ann was armed with a double-barreled shotgun. 

It was two hours later that Ann awoke to find her dog, Sloppy, barking at her open door. Ann told authorities she saw a “shadowy figure” near the door to Billy’s room, backlit against the pale moonlight streaming in from a hallway window.  She reached for the 12-gauge shotgun and pulled the trigger. 

Birdshot from the gun exploded from the muzzle of one barrel, a majority striking the wall next to the door.  She pulled the trigger again and the second barrel fired, a scattering of pellets hitting the figure in the doorway. 

“Almost immediately,” Ann testified later, “I realized it was my husband.  I ran to help him and fell on the floor beside him.” Ann pulled herself away long enough to call for help.  She summoned an ambulance, police and, in a move that some would use to damn her, an attorney. 

Billy died on the floor of his mansion; one of the shotgun pellets had lodged in his brain. When police arrived at the scene, they found a distraught Ann on the floor near her husband. 

“I did it,” she told them. “I thought it was the man who has been around here.” 

The jurors took just 30 minutes to deliberate over the facts and find that Ann had acted without malice and that the shooting was unintentional.  However, the tongues had begun to wag and quickly Ann became persona non grata in New York society.  Behind her back they called her “Annie Get Your Gun” or “the murderess.”  Ann left New York for Europe and did not return for twenty years.

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