Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Henry Alexander Woodd (1865–1954)

by K. J. Cable

This article was published:

Henry Alexander Woodd (1865-1954), Anglican clergyman, was born on 6 June 1865 at Denham Court, near Liverpool, New South Wales, sixteenth child and youngest son of Rev. George Napoleon Woodd and his wife Caroline, née Rust, both of whom had come from England to Sydney in 1837. A delicate child, Henry did not follow his brothers to The King's School, Parramatta, but was educated privately. He attended the University of Sydney (B.A., 1887), residing at St Paul's College, and was one of several college men inspired to enter the ministry by the warden Hey Sharp and the liberal Bishop Alfred Barry. Woodd was made deacon on 8 July 1888 and ordained priest on 22 December 1889 by Bishop Mesac Thomas of Goulburn.

Woodd's first curacy was All Saints, Woollahra, where his father was living in retirement. In 1892 he was invited to serve in the diocese of Newcastle; to Woodd, the new bishop George Stanton was an inspiring figure with a congenial standard of churchmanship. After serving briefly as curate of Scone, Woodd became rector of Gundy (1893-95) and Murrurundi (1895-1901) where he met and, on 15 July 1902, married Dorothy Mabel Wilson. Meanwhile, Stanton had moved him to Morpeth, near the episcopal residence, and made him examining chaplain. His successor Bishop John Stretch appointed Woodd registrar and archdeacon of Gloucester and, in 1910, of Durham. That year Woodd was made rector of Muswellbrook and a cathedral canon. Stretch moved the centre of the see to Newcastle, leaving Woodd to administer rural affairs. It was an area of work to which he was well suited.

In 1919 Reginald Stephen, bishop of Tasmania, was translated to Newcastle. At once he made Woodd full-time archdeacon of the Hunter (Newcastle, 1921) with a salary as Stanton chaplain and vicar-general from 1922. Henceforward, Woodd assumed responsibilities across the whole diocese. He presided over the elections of Bishops George Long and Francis Batty. These prelates took an active interest in the affairs of church and state, so it fell increasingly to Woodd to cope with the domestic problems of the diocese. Although technically superannuated in 1935, he retained his principal offices until 1949. He lived in retirement at Merewether. Survived by his wife and three daughters, he died on 6 November 1954 at Merewether and was cremated. A memorial to him was placed in Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle.

Handsome, affable and dignified, with an extraordinary knowledge of the diocese and region, Woodd had been an impressive figure at Newcastle. Although he sat in the Provincial and General synods and was a fellow (from 1926) of his beloved St Paul's College, Woodd was a Newcastle man first and foremost, content to hold the diocese together while his superiors pursued grander objects.

Select Bibliography

  • A. P. Elkin, The Diocese of Newcastle (Syd, 1955)
  • Newcastle Morning Herald, 8 Nov 1954
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 8 Nov 1954
  • Anglican, 12 Nov 1954.

Citation details

K. J. Cable, 'Woodd, Henry Alexander (1865–1954)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1990, accessed online 13 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (Melbourne University Press), 1990

View the front pages for Volume 12

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


6 June, 1865
Liverpool, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


6 November, 1954 (aged 89)
Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia

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