Woods, Joseph (DNB00)

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WOODS, JOSEPH (1776–1864), architect and botanist, second son of Joseph Woods by his wife Margaret, daughter of Samuel Hoare, was born at Stoke Newington on 24 Aug. 1776. His father, a member of the Society of Friends, engaged in commerce, contributed in English and in Latin, both prose and verse, to the ‘Monthly Ledger.’ Delicate health causing Woods to be removed from school when only thirteen or fourteen years old, he was mainly self-taught, but became proficient in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, Italian, and modern Greek. When sixteen he was articled to a business at Dover; but, preferring architecture, he placed himself in the office of Daniel Asher Alexander [q. v.], and afterwards began to practise, but, having no business capacity, was not very successful. He designed Clissold Park House for his uncle Jonathan Hoare, and the Commercial Saleroom, Mincing Lane; but in the latter building, a failure having resulted from his miscalculation of the strength of some iron trestles, he had to make good the loss. In 1806 Woods formed the London Architectural Society, of which he became the first president; and in 1808 he printed, but does not seem to have published, ‘An Essay on Modern Theories of Taste’ (London, 1808, 8vo). Having been entrusted with the editing of the remainder of Stuart's ‘Antiquities of Athens,’ Woods in 1816 issued the fourth volume of that work [see Stuart, James, 1713–1788]. Woods had already devoted considerable attention to geology, and still more to botany, as is proved by the appearance in the ‘Transactions’ of the Linnean Society for 1818 (vol. xii.) of a ‘Synopsis of the British Species of Rosa,’ the first of a series of papers devoted to the more difficult or ‘critical’ genera of flowering plants. In April 1816 he had started on a continental tour through France, Italy, and Greece, the results of which appeared in a paper ‘On the Rocks of Attica’ communicated to the Geological Society in 1824 (Geological Transactions, i. 170–2), and in ‘Letters of an Architect from France, Italy, and Greece’ (London, 1828, 2 vols. 4to); the work has illustrations by the author which are good in drawing but poor in colour and chiaroscuro; the text evinces considerable critical taste and judgment.

On his return to England in 1819 Woods took chambers in Furnival's Inn; but in 1833 he retired from his profession and settled at Lewes, Sussex, devoting himself mainly to botany. He contributed critical papers on ‘Fedia’ to the Linnean ‘Transactions’ for 1835 (vol. xvii.), on ‘Carex’ to the ‘Phytologist’ for 1847, and on ‘Atriplex’ to the same periodical for 1849, and made various excursions in England and abroad while engaged upon the ‘Tourists' Flora,’ the work by which he is best known. Accounts of such excursions to the north of England and to Brittany appear in the ‘Companion to the Botanical Magazine’ for 1835 and 1836, and that of one to Germany in the ‘Phytologist’ for 1844 (vol. i.) In 1850 appeared the ‘Tourists' Flora: a Descriptive Catalogue of the Flowering Plants and Ferns of the British Islands, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and the Italian Islands’ (London, 1850), a work which has not yet been superseded. With a feeble constitution in a largely developed frame, Woods possessed tireless energy, and, being always a good walker, he continued to make excursions and to study critical plants, with a view to a second edition of his ‘Flora,’ up to the time of his death. Thus there are records in the ‘Phytologist’ of visits to Glamorgan and Monmouth in 1850, to France in 1851, and to the Great Orme's Head and part of Ireland in 1855; and in 1857 he visited the north of Spain (Journal of the Linnean Society, ‘Botany,’ vol. ii. 1858). He studied the genus Salicornia, partly in conjunction with Richard Kippist (1812–1882) [q. v.], also a native of Stoke Newington, who had assisted him with the ‘Tourists' Flora’ (Phytologist, vol. iv. 1851, and Proceedings of the Linnean Society, vol. ii. 1855); but the last series to engage his attention were the Rubi (Phytologist, new ser. vol. i. 1855–6), many of which he sketched. He also amused himself, when over eighty years of age, by finishing up some of his early architectural sketches as presents to his friends; and he was for many years an exceptionally brilliant chess player.

Woods died, unmarried, at his house in Southover Crescent, Lewes, 9 Jan. 1864, and was buried in the Friends' cemetery in the same town. He was a fellow of the Linnean, Geological, and Antiquaries' societies; and, in addition to fifteen papers with which he is credited in the Royal Society's ‘Catalogue’ (vi. 436), he contributed to Smith's ‘English Botany’ descriptions of several species that he had discovered which were new to Britain. Robert Brown (1773–1858) [q. v.] gave the name Woodsia to a rare and beautiful genus of British ferns. There is an engraved portrait of Woods by Cotman, dated 1822, of which there is a copy at the Linnean Society's rooms. His herbarium of British plants was given by him to James Ebenezer Bicheno [q. v.], and is now at the Royal Institution, Swansea; but his larger general collection is now the property of Mr. Frederic Townsend of Honington, Warwickshire.

[Lower's Worthies of Sussex, 1865, p. 312; Friends' Biogr. Cat. p. 736; Proceedings of the Linnean Society, 1863–4, vol. xxxii.; Journal of Botany, 1864, p. 62; Britten and Boulger's Biogr. Index of British Botanists.]

G. S. B.