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WOOD, Alexander Gray

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Surname: WOOD

First Name: Alexander

Given Names: Gray


DOB: 26/11/1854

POB: England

Date Joined:

Date Ceased:

Registered number:


Service Summary:

Promoted to Mounted Constable 3/C

Notes and Comments:

Was a farmer prior to joining the police. Stood 5'7".


Alexander Gray Wood was born in England on 26 Nov 1854. His father, Charles William Wood, was a prominent QC and Bencher of Lincolns Inn. His mother was Josephine Webb Moore Wood. The family was connected to the Wordsworth family (of the poet) and to the Maitland family. The male members of those families were often merchants, lawyers and clergymen.


It is not clear when Wood arrived in SA, nor much about the time he spent there as a farmer. However it is clear that by 1880 he had enlisted in the SA police as was on his way to the NT.

SHIPPING. (1880, August 21). The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1858-1889), p. 3 Supplement: Unknown. Retrieved July 11, 2011, from

Recorded as having departed Adelaide on 7 Aug 1880 on a (presumably Dutch) ship, the Graaf van Bylandt, for Darwin via Melbourne. He travelled in the cabin with another policeman.

On arrival in the NT he appears to have been promoted to Constable 3rd Class and sent to the gold fields near Pine Creek. The place of most relevance to his story was a mine called "The Shackle" . A pertinent excerpt from a newspaper article of 1873 follows and, though some 8 years earlier, gives some context to the conditions prevailing around that time.


THE GOLD REEFS. (1873, December 12). Northern Territory Times and Gazette (Darwin, NT : 1873-1927), p. 3. Retrieved July 11, 2011, from


(From our own Correspondent.)

Pine Creek, November 29.

We left the Palmerston Mining Company's camp, Howley Creek, on the morning of the 25th, and struck across to the Cosmopolitan claim, which is also in the Howley district, at a few miles distance from the Palmerston. The Cosmopolitan is a private affair, and is being worked by two men, Cooper and Aubin. Tliey have followed a gold-bearing quartz reef down about sixty feet, besides driving a tunnel at 30 feet, and have raised some promising stone. These men are working with a will, and in that respect offer a strong contrast to most of the Howley Companies. They are men who have roughed it very much since they have been up here. A party of four of them lived a long time last year in this wild district with no other provisions than bad flour, salt, and tea. They were trying the alluvial diggings then, and when they washed up at the close of the season they had 16 ounces for each man.

From the Cosmopolitan we proceeded to the Shackle - a distance of about 30 miles. This place is now quite a village, though 12 months ago there was no settlement here ; there was nothing but an empty box turned upside down, on which the telegraph operator sat and transmitted his messages by means of a temporary shackle along the line. There is now a wooden house for the Telegraph offices, besides lots of huts and tents be- longing to private persons. A public-house is also being erected.

The Warden's quarters and the police camp are at this place, but they consist of nothing but old tents, through which the rain beats as easily as through a sieve. This is bad for the police and their uniforms ; and is still worse for the Warden, who has official documents and papers of all sorts which ought to be kept dry.

There is a considerable amount of business now done at the Shackle telegraph station, as all the mining news comes here from Yam Creek and Pine Creek, besides which Sandy Creek is close by with its alluvial gold diggings. I have seen some good specimens of gold here, but only in small quantities. There are rumours, however, of larger finds. The telegraph operators have a small flock of sheep feeding about here in apparently good condition, and the country looks well.


Australian death records for an Aleck Grey Wood (1881) indicate death occurred at the Shackle


SOUTH AUSTRALIA. (1881, June 25). Northern Territory Times and Gazette (Darwin, NT : 1873-1927), p. 1. Retrieved July 11, 2011, from


To all Constables of the Province of South Australia, and to all others whom these may concern.

I the undersigned, Chas. W. Nash, being one of Her Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the Province of South Australia, having made inquiries respecting the death of one Alick Grey Wood, who died at the Shackle on the 9th day of June, 1881, do hereby certify that there is not, in my opinion, any necessity for holding an inquest upon the body of the said Alick Grey Wood, and that the body of the said Alick Grey Wood may be buried.

Given under my hand the 10th day of June, 1881.


A few weeks later the following commentary was published.

NEWS AND NOTES. (1881, July 2). Northern Territory Times and Gazette (Darwin, NT : 1873-1927), p. 2. Retrieved July 11, 2011, from

On the ninth day of June poor Alick Grey Wood, a policeman stationed at the Shackle, died of dysentry. He had been ill for some time, hence the necessity arose for him to be comfortably housed. But it was not so. The poor fellow lay night after night with cold easterly winds blowing-blowing, as it were, underneath his poor emaciated ribs the wind literally howling through his dwelling, with no kindly mother near to put warm clothing around him, or to stop up the gaps in the ant-eaten boarding of his miserable quarters. And then, what next ? The usual coroner's notice that his body may be buried, " given under my hand this 10th day of June, 1881. Signed C. W. Nash, JP., Coroner," closes this miserable fiasco. As a policeman said, " Poor Woods has gone !" The question arises,-Had this man who was sent up to the Shackle the reasonable quarters that a policeman is entitled to ? The miserable shanty, known as the police quarters, was fully described to us by Mr. V. V. Brown, who was at the Shackle two or three weeks before poor Woods breathed for the last time. Mr. Brown said he would rather sleep out in the open air than in such a shanty. The police quarters in town are comfortable enough; but then they are open to the gaze of the passer by, and if the inmates dwelling therein are not comfortable it is their own fault. But who is responsible? Certainly the head of the department, and why he should have closed his eyes so long is a mystery to most folk. In conclusion, we think had the inquest been held in Europe a Coroner's jury would have returned a somewhat different verdict


That concluded the short life of Alexander Gray Wood. It may be worth mentioning that Alexander had several brothers, two of whom also came to SA. Alexander's brother, Percy Moore Wood, was a physician and served in the NT from 1885. The other, Montagu Couch Wood, was a clergyman in SA for a time, but returned to England in ill health. In addition an elder half brother, Charles Wordsworth Wood (my ancestor), also lived in SA and was the executor of Alexander's estate. A half-sister, Jessie Ann Blackburn (nee Wood) also came to SA (Port Lincoln) and died there in 1885. Her descendants include some very distinguished Australians

As a last act in the tragedy, the following notice appeared in 1885:

Classified Advertising. (1885, April 18). Northern Territory Times and Gazette (Darwin, NT : 1873-1927), p. 2. Retrieved December 2, 2010, from

W. B. WILKINSON, Liquidator. 2 Pirie-street, Adelaide.

PURSUANT to an order of the Chancery

Division of the High Court of Justice made in the matter of the Estate of Alexander Gray Wood, deceased, and in an action Trinder against Wood, 1884, W 93, the creditors of Alexander Gray Wood, formerly of Adelaide but late of Port Darwin, Northern Territory, both in the Province of South Australia, Police Trooper, deceased, who died in or about the month of June, 1881, are, on or before the 20th day of July, 1885, to send by post prepaid to Mr. Frederick Romer, of the firm of Trinders and Romer, of 14 St Helen's Place in the city of London, the solicitors of the plaintiffs, Henry William Trinder and Arnold Trinder, to whom Lietters of Administration with the will annexed of the personal estate of the deceased, were granted as the lawful attor- neys of Charles Wordsworth Wood (the executor of the will of the said deceased, acting under Probate granted by the Supreme Court of the said Province in its Testamentary Causes Jurisdiction, on the 16th of July, 1881) for his use and benefit and until he should duly apply for and obtain Probate in the United Kingdom of the said Will, their Christian and surnames, addresses, and de- scriptions, the full particulars of their claims, a statement of their accounts and the nature of the securities, if any, held by them, or in default thereof they will be perempto- rily excluded from the benefit of the said order, and the said Plaintiffs will proceed to remit the assets in their hands to the said Charles Wordsworth Wood, regard being had only to the claims of which notice shall have been given. Every creditor holding any security is to produce the same before Mr. Justice Kay, at his Chambers, Royal Courts of Justice, London, on Monday, the 27th day of July, 1885, at 12 o'clock at noon, being the time appointed for adjudication on the claims.

Dated this 13th day of February, 1885.



As a footnote, Alexander's brother, Percy Moore Wood, became, Coroner, Government Medical Officer and Protector of Aborigines in the Northern Territory.

Appointment. (1885, January 31). Northern Territory Times and Gazette (Darwin, NT : 1873-1927), p. 1. Retrieved July 11, 2011, from


DR. PERCY MOORE WOOD to be Register of Births, Marriages, and Deaths for the Northern Territory.


Government Resident.

Government Resident's Office, Palmerston,

31st December, 1884.


Government Gazette. (1885, February 21). Northern Territory Times and Gazette (Darwin, NT : 1873-1927), p. 2. Retrieved May 4, 2011, from

1885 was appointed as Coroner and JP in the NT.

Several newspaper articles of the time deal with his various activities including investigations into various acts of violence and the abuse of Aboriginals then occurring in the NT.


DR. PERCY MOORE WOOD. (1939, March 18). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842-1954), p. 17. Retrieved May 4, 2011, from


The death has taken place of Dr. Percy Moore Wood, of Strathfield, in his 83rd year, He was formerly a house surgeon and resident obstetrician of Guy's Hospital, London and served as medical officer with the P. & O. Line and with the Eastern Extension Telegraph Co. and travelled extensively. For some time he was Government Medical Officer and Protector of Aborigines in the Northern Territory. Dr Wood was married in London in 1890. and in the same year returned to Australia and commenced practice at Ashfield. He was interested in the affairs of the St. John Ambulance Association, a vice-president of the Pittwater Regatta, and a student of literature. As a Freemason was as a member of Lodge Victoria No. 73 for 49 years. He is survived by his widow.

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