John Henry Wood was born in 1808 at Lydd, on the Kentish coast, not far from the lighthouse at Dungeness. He received his early education partly at Lydd and partly in a French school across the Channel. Having the misfortune to be "impotent in his feet — a cripple from his mother's womb," he was incapable of physical effort and of any commercial pursuit. He had to support himself by teaching in private boarding schools. He followed the vocation of an usher until he was nearly thirty years old. He then became master of a day school at Melbourne, Derbyshire. With his weekly teaching he combined the work of Sunday preaching, and his services were sought in many of the Midland towns and villages. He also published several small pamphlets on controversial subjects, and in 1847 he completed a volume of nearly four hundred pages, entitled, "The History of the General Baptists." Adam Taylor published his history of the same denomination in 1818, but it was too costly to be reprinted. Mr. Wood ventured on the production of quite a new work, and brought down the history to a much later date, and the entire edition was soon sold. It has not been reprinted, but is of much value as a work of reference. In subsequent years he published treatises on "The Great Propitiatory," and on Popery, as well as such booklets as "The Heavenly Mansions and Joyous Anticipations." His later work was a history of the Martyrs of Kent. Being well known as a preacher and author, he was advised to give up his school and enter the regular ministry. His first sphere was Sutterton, Lincolnshire, and his next was Smarden, Kent. Afterwards he removed to Wolvey, Warwickshire, and lastly, to Monk's Kirbyand Pailton. There he met with a painful accident. On getting out of his pony carriage his crutches became entangled in the reins and he fell to the ground. Both his frail legs were fractured,
and a long confinement to his bed ensued. This event, together with approaching old age, compelled him to retire. The means of support in his time of need, and to the end of his days, were providentially offered by the generosity of Colonel Croll, of Reigate, who engaged to make quarterly allowances to twelve aged and disabled ministers. Mr. Wood was thus enabled to return to his birthplace, and spent his closing years in Ebenezer Cottage. Long before the end, his eyesight began to fail, and at length he became totally blind. But as he had ever been one of the best, so was he to the last, one of the happiest of men. In his days of health he was never heard to murmur at his malformation, and when his vision as well as his vigour failed, he did not repine. His faith and hope never failed, and his joy in the Lord was unspeakable and full of glory. He peacefully expired at the age of eighty-six, on 19th May, 1895. — W. U.
You may access his book from Google:
J. H. Wood, A Condensed History of the General Baptists of the New Connexion.
[The Baptist Handbook for 1896, By Baptist Union of Great Britain and Ireland, 1895, pp. 180-181. The document is from Google Books; thanks to Steve Lecrone for locating the book. — jrd]
British Baptist Index
Baptist History Homepage