Families named Woods outnumber those named Wood in Ireland by about ten to one. Understandably the two surnames are easily confused, and so have, on occasion, been used inter-changeably. While the English surname Wood, which is among the fifteen commonest surnames in England and Wales, is usually borne by families of settler descent, the surname Woods is borne both by families whose ancestors came to Ireland from England like a Woods family in County Meath, County Kildare and County Dublin whose progenitor came over from Yorkshire in the 17th century, and by descendants of a number of Irish families who took the surname Woods in place of their Irish name. Because the Irish for Wood is 'coill' a number of Irish surnames with a component part sounding similar to coill, were anglicized as Woods. In the last century the Registrar of Births cited the use of Woods interchangeably with Coyle in Longford Union. Another variant reported was Elwood in Lurgant Union, County Armagh and Smallwoods in Newtownlimavady Union, County Derry.
William Wood (1671-1744) was the English iron-founder in London. In 1772, he was granted a royal licence to coin half-pennies and farthings for circulation in Ireland, sharing the profits with one of King George 1's mistresses. He was also granted the licence to strike coins for the American colonies. The scandal was denounced by Jonathan Swift, and the patent was withdrawn. Wood was compensated with a pension.
At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the flowing and draped garment worn over the armour.
The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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