Wood, John (d.1570) (DNB00)

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WOOD, JOHN (d. 1570), secretary of the regent Moray [see Stewart, Lord James], was the second son of Sir Andrew Wood [q. v.] of Largo. He was educated for the church at St. Leonard's College in the university of St. Andrews, where he took the degree of M.A. in 1536, and he afterwards became vicar of Largo. His connection with Lord James Stewart (afterwards Earl of Moray) began as early at least as 1548, when he accompanied him to France. About September 1560 he accompanied an embassy to England, for Randolph in a letter of 23 Sept. promises to send by him to Cecil a copy of Knox's ‘History,’ ‘as mykle as ys written thereof’ (Knox, Works, vi. 121; Cal. State Papers, For. 1560–61, No. 550). From his connection with Moray it is probable that he joined the reformers at a comparatively early period, and, like Moray, he belonged to the more strictly religious class. At the first general assembly of the kirk in December 1560 he was selected as one of those at St. Andrews ‘best qualified for preaching of the word and ministering of the sacraments’ (Calderwood, History, ii. 45).

Wood accompanied Lord James in his embassy to Queen Mary in France in 1561 (Cal. State Papers, For. 1560–61, No. 29); and Sir Nicholas Throckmorton [q. v.], the English ambassador at Paris—who describes him as one ‘in whom there is much virtue and sufficiency’—recommended that his devotion to the English interest should be rewarded with a pension (ib. Nos. 125 and 151). Following the example of his patron Lord James, he, on the arrival of Queen Mary in Scotland, held aloof from the counsels of the more ardent reformers, and though, according to Knox, he had formerly been ‘fordward in giveing of his counsall in all doubtful matters,’ he now ‘plainly refused ever to assist the assembly again’ (Works, ii. 295). His defection was, however, only temporary and ostensible; and in 1563 Knox mentions that Wood had incurred the special displeasure of the queen, as one of those who ‘flattered her not in her dancing and other doings’ (ib. p. 393).

On the rebellion of the Earl of Moray in 1565, Wood was commanded to enter himself in ward in the castle of Dumbarton within six days, and failing to do so he was denounced a rebel (Reg. P. C. Scotl. i. 353). He was also of course deprived of the office of extraordinary lord of session, to which, by the title of Tulliedavie, he had been appointed 9 Dec. 1562; and he was not again restored to it except nominally. During Moray's rebellion Wood was sent as his emissary to Elizabeth with vain requests for her assistance (Cal. State Papers, For. 1566–8, No. 174). He remained otherwise in obscurity until Moray's return to power as regent, when he became his secretary, in preference to (William) Maitland of Lethington, and was employed in all his more confidential political missions. On Queen Mary's escape to England, after Langside, he was sent by the regent, in June 1568, ‘to resolve the queen of England of anything she’ stood ‘doubtful unto’ (ib. No. 2291). He was again sent ambassador to England 9 Sept. 1568 (ib. No. 2516), and he was present at the York and Hampton Court conferences regarding the conduct of the queen of Scots. At Hampton Court conference he made a show of reluctance in presenting the accusation against the queen, but allowed it to be plucked out of his hands by the bishop of Orkney, who presented it to the council (Melville, Memoirs, p. 211). After the return of Moray to Scotland, Wood was again sent on an embassy to England in March 1568–9 (Cal. State Papers, For. 1569–71, No. 186), whence he returned in June (ib. No. 289). His embassy was intended to assist in exposing the intrigues of the Duke of Norfolk and his secret negotiations with the queen of Scots (Melville, Memoirs, p. 216); and in order that he might have ‘ane honorable style, to set out the better his embassage,’ he used indirect methods to obtain from the regent the bishopric of Moray (ib.) On his return to Scotland he gave a report to the privy council of his proceedings, when, on the motion of the regent, he was thanked and discharged (Reg. P. C. Scotl. ii. 6). When Moray was about to pass through Linlithgow, Wood was sent by the Countess of Moray to warn her husband of a plot for his assassination, but the warning was unheeded. Wood was himself assassinated on 15 April 1570 by Arthur Forbes of Rires, Fifeshire, with the assistance of his son Arthur Forbes and Henry Forrest (Pitcairn, Criminal Trials, i. 40). Buchanan, in his ‘Admonitioun to the True Lords,’ asserts that he was assassinated ‘for nothing but for being a good servant to the crowne and to the regent his master;’ but his further statement that Wood was slain by ‘fechtit men out of Teviotdale’ rested apparently on mere rumour, the real murderers not having been discovered when Buchanan wrote.

[Cal. State Papers, For. Eliz.; Sadler State Papers; Cal. State Papers, Scotl.; Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, vols. i–ii.; Histories by Knox, Keith, and Calderwood; Sir James Melville's Memoirs.]

T. F. H.