The Friends of St. Peter's Berkhamsted

Friends of St Peter's, Great Berkhamsted

Wood, James William (1824 – 1918) and Eliza, nee Hurst (1823 – 1908)

Grave Number 656

Born on 21st July 1824, William James Wood was baptised as James William on 24th September at St Peters, Berkhamsted.  He was the son of James Wood, ‘Servant of the Duke of Bridgewater’ 1819, labourer 1822, chair maker/caner from 1823 onwards. (b. Ivinghoe, Bucks c 1790 – d. Dec 1871 Berkhamsted.) Baptist. Buried Berkhamsted Baptist Chapel graveyard & Mary (nee Baldwin) (bc 1797 – ?) and grand-son of Thomas Wood (bc 1760 – dead by 1841) ‘Of Edlesborough’ at marriage & Rebecca (nee Hawkins).

He married Eliza Hurst on 25th December 1844 at St John’s, Waterloo, Lambeth. 

His profession was variously baker (in 1844); baker and grocer (1851); and piano tuner (1861 onward).  By 1901 he was the owner of Music Warehouse at 90, Berkhamsted High Street (next to Manor Road) and 36, St Albans Road Watford. They were the agents for Brinsmead, Collard & Collard, Chappell etc.   By 1911 he and his wife were living at 13, Kitsbury Road. By 1914 the Music Warehouse had moved to Lower King’s Road, Berkhamsted, where his son Willam and subsequently his grandson Gilbert carried on the business.

Eliza Hurst was born  on 6th Sepember 1823 in Berkhamsted and baptised on the same day at St Peter’s Church.  She was the daughter of Thomas Hurst, cordwiner and shoe maker, who was born in 1779 in Aylesbury and died in 1869 in Berkhamsted and Lydia nee Barnes (1780 – 1869) and granddaughter of William Hurst and Hannah Maria (nee Webb).  See Hurst family history for grave number 48.

Together with William they had seven children, including Emma Hurst Wood (1845-1925) who married George Lingard the stonemason (1838-1901). (Emma and George are buried in Grave number 603).

They were a pioneering couple, the proud owners of a motorcar!

Mr and Mrs Wood in their pride and joy circa 1900

It was just sixty years after the railway was opened at Berkhamsted that a pioneer local motorist, Mr. J.W. Wood, bought a second-hand 4.5 h.p. Benz from a St. Albans doctor. If it wasn’t the first car seen in Berkhamsted, it was almost certainly the first car owned by a Berkhamstedian. It was tall, sturdy, noisy, with solid tyres, large wire suspension wheels, coach-style brass lanterns with candles, and no windscreen. The whole town turned out to see this strange contraption. Mr. Wood’s car tackled the steepest Chiltern hills and then disgraced itself on a level stretch of the road at Broadway. After a damaging swerve into the roadside verge, it was necessary to hire one horse to tow 4.5 horse-power to Berkhamsted’s first garage, a greenhouse. Neddy was still supreme.” (Beorcham, Berkhamsted Review, Nov 1967).  With thanks to Berkhamsted Local History and Museum Society for this article and the photograph.

Eliza Wood died on 23rd November 1908 and William on 21st March 1918.

Memorial to William and Eliza Wood, prior to restoration

Researched by Melanie Hilton, their great-great-grandaughter, who is having the grave restored by our stone mason.

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