Wood, Alexander (1725-1807) (DNB00)

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WOOD, ALEXANDER (1725–1807), surgeon, born at Edinburgh in 1725, was the son of Thomas Wood and grandson of Jasper Wood of Warriston in Midlothian. He studied medicine at Edinburgh, and after taking out his diploma settled at Musselburgh, where he practised successfully for a time. He then removed to Edinburgh, became a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons on 14 Jan. 1756, and entered into partnership with John Rattray and Charles Congleton, to whose practice he subsequently succeeded. He possessed considerable ability as a surgeon, and was one of those whom Sir Walter Scott's parents consulted concerning his lameness (Lockhart, Memoirs of Scott, 1845, p. 5). He attained great celebrity in Edinburgh, where his philanthropy and kindness were proverbial. His character made him extremely popular with the townsfolk, and one night during a riot, when the mob, mistaking him for the provost, Sir James Stirling (1740?–1805) [q. v.], were about to throw him over the North Bridge, he saved himself by exclaiming ‘I'm lang Sandy Wood; tak' me to a lamp and ye'll see.’ Byron held him in high esteem, and in a fragment of a fifth canto of ‘Childe Harold,’ which appeared in ‘Blackwood's Magazine’ in May 1818, he wrote:

Oh! for an hour of him who knew no feud,
The octogenarian chief, the kind old Sandy Wood!

and spoke of him very warmly in a note to the stanza. Wood died in Edinburgh on 12 May 1807. An epitaph was composed for him by Sir Alexander Boswell [q. v.]; and John Bell (1763–1820) [q. v.], who had been his pupil, dedicated to him the first volume of his ‘Anatomy.’ Two portraits of him were executed by John Kay (1742–1826) [q. v.], and a portrait by George Watson is in the National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh. He married Veronica Chalmers. One of his sons, Sir Alexander Wood, was chief secretary at Malta, and one of his grandsons, Alexander Wood, became a lord of session in 1842 with the title Lord Wood.

[Kay's Edinburgh Portraits, ed. Paterson and Maidment, 1885, i. 115–19; List of Fellows of the Edinburgh Royal College of Surgeons.]

E. I. C.