Richard Shaw Wood: His Journey from Bermuda to Ontario Canada

I have a great interest in the local history of Oakville. Sometimes I am researching one thing and come across a person or event that intrigues me and I keep researching until know more. Richard Shaw Wood was one of those intriguing stories.

There is a house in Oakville called Kerosene Castle that Richard Shaw Wood was supposed to have built but he was not found on the land records or on the census records with those who would have been his neighbours.

The Wood family arrived in Bermuda around 1628. They were seafarers and traders. Captain Thomas Wood purchased “Bosco Manor” at Spanish Point in Bermuda. The family prospered and owned land from Newfoundland to South America.[1]

Thomas’ great grandsons, Richard, Joseph and Stowe, formed the “Patriotic Company” circa 1800 and had offices in Quebec City, Montreal, St. John’s, Philadelphia, Grenada, the Turks Island, Trinidad and Guiana.[2]

Richard Shaw Wood was born on 27 December 1827[3] in Bermuda.  His parents were Benjamin Burch Wood and Frances Nusum Shaw who were married on 10 June 1819 in Southampton Parish, Bermuda.[4]

As a young man Richard Shaw Wood travelled many times between Bermuda and New York on his way to the United States, Canada and Great Britain.[5] He his found in New York’s Fifth Ward on the census that was taken on 23 September 1850. Richard was 24, born in the West Indies and listed as an engineer.

Richard Shaw Wood married Sarah Isabella Shaw some time prior to 1857. Their first child Frances was born circa 1857. Then Sarah was born circa 1860 and Elizabeth was born circa 1861. All the daughters were born in Bermuda. Frances seems to have died in New York around 1858.[6] The rest of their children were all born in Ontario. Benjamin was born circa 1863, Mary McCulloch was born circa 1865, Robert O.S. was born circa 1867and Anna Burch was born circa 1870.[7] They had a son called Thomas Burch Wood who was born circa 1874 and died 9 December 1874.[8]

The first time Richard is found in Ontario is in the 1862-63 city directory for Toronto where he is noted as living at 241 Carlton Street.[9] The first time he is found in records relating to Oakville is in 1863 on land records but he is noted as being from Toronto.[10] The first time he is listed as living in Oakville is on land records in 1868.[11] Richard Shaw Wood and his wife Isabella were found on many land records in Oakville.

Richard Shaw Wood built an oil refinery in Oakville along the Sixteen Mile Creek and Dundas Street North which is now known as Trafalgar Road. The refinery blew up in July of 1866. It was known as the Great Fire of Oakville.  It was reported in the Hamilton Spectator as an amazing sight because the creek was on fire.[12]

In the 1871[13] Canada census the family are living in Oakville. The head of the household is listed as Nusum F. Wood aged 71, born in Bermuda and he is a gentleman. The enumerator crossed out F and put M under gender and crossed out independent and added gentleman under occupation. The person is a widow. This is actually Frances Nusum Wood Richard’s mother.

Richard Shaw is listed as a merchant and manufacturer. In the house are his wife Isabella and their children: Sarah Shaw, Elizabeth, Benjamin S., Mary McCulloch, Robert O.S. and Anna B.

Also in the household is Charles E Wood aged 20 and born in Jamaica West Indies. His occupation is general manager. Charles Edward Wood is Richard’s cousin.

Richard Shaw Wood and family are found in London, Middlesex County, Ontario in the 1881[14] Canada census. In the household is Sarah Hooker Shaw, aged 81 and born in the United States. Sarah is Isabella’s mother. Richard moved to London and built a large family home called Woodholme.[15]

Mrs. Frances N. Wood died on 7 December 1888 in Philadelphia. Her obituary was in the Royal Gazette newspaper in Bermuda. She was the daughter of Thomas Shaw and Frances Russell Wood and the widow of Benjamin Burch Wood all of whom were from Bermuda. She was born in Bermuda on 14 June 1800 at the home of her grandparents Joseph and Rebecca Wood. The home was called “Boss Cove”.[16]

In the 1891[17] Canada census Richard and his family are in London Ontario. Sarah S. Ogden, their married daughter, Elizabeth S., Robert O.S. and Anna B are all living at home.  Richard lost his wife Isabella on 14 November 1897.[18]

Richard Shaw Wood died on 10 March 1903[19] in London. He was 76 years and 4 months old. His will lists properties in London and Oakville Ontario, Bermuda, New York and Newfoundland.[20]

Richard Shaw Wood was in Oakville for less than ten years but his legacy lives on. His legacy reaches from Canada, the United States and Bermuda. It was rumoured that he would wear a warm beaver hat during the summer in Oakville as he found the temperatures cold.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved


[1]A History of the Wood Family” by Fairwood Island Forest Management Plan, digital image viewed June 2011 (, page 2

[2]A History of the Wood Family” by Fairwood Island Forest Management Plan, digital image viewed June 2011 (, page 2

[3] RS Wood household, 1901 census, Canada, Ontario, Middlesex County, London Township, page 8, family number 86, digital image ( viewed June 2011

[4] Benjamin Burch Wood marriage notice, 12 June 1819, Royal Bermuda Gazette Hamilton & St. George Weekly Advertiser, digital image Bermuda National Library Digital Collection (   ) viewed June 2011

[5] Arrivals New York United States Passenger Lists, digital images ( viewed June 2011

[6] Frances Hook Wood died Coldspring New York on 25 August 1858, digital information ( viewed June 2011

[7] RS Wood, 1871 census, Canada, Ontario, Halton, Oakville, page 21, family 79, digital image ( viewed June 2011

[8] Thomas Burch Wood, Ontario death registration, 9 Dec 1874, registration number 001836, registration year 1875, digital image ( viewed June 2011

[9] 1862-3 Toronto City Directory, page 133, Toronto Reference Library

[10] Ontario Land Records, Halton, Town of Oakville, Northerly half Lot 13 Con 3,  Instrument 937, Volume A, 1-1000, Archives of Ontario, microfilm GSU 179044

[11] Ontario Land Records, Halton, Town of Oakville, N1/2 Lot F NE1/2 Lot C, Block 33, Instrument 164, Volume A, 1—1000, Archives of Ontario, microfilm GSU 179044

[12] Mathews, Hazel C., “Oakville and the Sixteen A History of an Ontario Port” page 350 University of Toronto Press 1994; Oakville Public Library

[13] Richard Shaw Wood, 1871 census, Canada, Ontario, Halton, Oakville, page 21, line 7, family 79, digital image ( viewed June 2011

[14]Richard Shaw Wood, 1881 census, Canada, Ontario, Middlesex, London, page 29/30, line 21/1, family 147, digital image ( viewed June 2011

[15] Cunningham, Dianne E., “Orchard Park Through the Ages”, London Board of Education 1983,  page 90-92, Toronto Reference Library, call number 971.326 O67

[16] Mrs. Frances N. Wood, obituary, Royal Gazette Bermuda Commercial Advertiser and Recorder newspaper, Bermuda, 19 Feb 1889, page 2, digital image ( viewed June 2011, Bermuda National Library

[17] R Shaw Wood, 1891 census, Canada, Ontario, Middlesex, London Township, page 8/9, line 20/1, family 39, digital image ( viewed June 2011

[18] Sarah Isabella Shaw Wood, Ontario death registration, 14 Nov 1897, registration number 016457, registration year 1897, digital image ( viewed June 2011

[19] Richard Shaw Wood, Ontario death registration, 10 Mar 1903, registration number 017427, registration year 1903, digital image ( viewed June 2011

[20] Richard S Wood, Middlesex Probate Records, 1903, estate file 7619, Archives of Ontario, microfilm MS887 Reel 1296

12 thoughts on “Richard Shaw Wood: His Journey from Bermuda to Ontario Canada”

  1. I really enjoyed your article as Benjamin Shaw Wood, one of Richard Shaw Wood’s sons, married Mary Simpson who was my 3G Grandfather Nelson Norton’s niece (making her my 1st cousin, 4xs removed.)

    I remember being quite intrigued by the family when I first came across them. Your research and article shared here helped me fix the identity of Frances Nusum who I still had as male instead of her proper place as mother.

    I will put a link to this article on Benjamin’s information so others that may come across my tree will be able to visit this page as well.

    1. Dear Barb,

      I am so pleased that my article on Richard Shaw Wood helped you to solve the mystery of Frances Nusum. Thank you for your comment.


  2. Hello,
    Thank you for sharing your research. It is always interesting to find more information on Richard Shaw Wood, who built our home in London Ontario, Woodholme Manor. There is a great deal of information here in London and built heritage that honours the family.
    We are always looking for other information and enjoyed reading your article.
    Thank you,

    1. Thank you Sue-Anne. I enjoyed researching this family. They moved around quite a bit. It is said that Richard Shaw Wood wore a big beaver fur hat when he was in Oakville, even in the summer.

  3. Robert Shaw-Wood

    Hello, and thanks very much for this information, some of which I knew and some of which I did not. I am a direct descendant of Richard, through his son Benjamin, Richard and then another Richard, and am living in Ottawa. I have some old photograths of Richard and others in the line. He does wear a hat in one of them. It might be beaver fur, but without the tail!

    If anyone has questions, my email is

    1. Thank you for leaving a comment Robert. It is nice to know a picture of him in a fur hat has been found. I hope you find some cousins through the story.

  4. I was just looking at this link after trying to reasearch my grandfather who lived in St. thomas and London, all I found on him and my grandmother was a headstone from St. thomas cemetary and under it said Wood Family Tree? His hame is Peter Gordon morrison born 1894 his wife is Mary Etta Morrison (jackson)

    1. Thank you for your comment on my Richard Shaw Wood post Marion. I haven’t found a Morrison connection but I didn’t do research much beyond Richard Shaw Wood and his children. Do you know the names of Peter Gordon Morrison’s parents?

  5. My Great grandfather was a Daniel Wood, supposingly born in abt 1802/02 in Long Point, Ontario, and died in London Twp., Ontario in 1847. There is an article written on Benjamin Wood, son of Daniel, in the History of the county of Middlesex, Canada: past and present, pages 1052-1053,which describes Daniel having a brother who was a sea captain and traveled between the West Indies and the USA, his ship was hijacked by pirates and he was killed. It goes on to tell how his fortune was eaten up by the Boston Court system.

    I have tried finding information in Canada in regard to Daniel, but have been told that records for the 1847 were destroyed. Is there any chance that he could be connected somehow to your family?

    1. I don’t know if the two families are connected Verna. This was a local history project for me and the family are not connected to me. This family did have a presence in Bermuda for a couple of generations but that does not mean that another branch came to Canada earlier. Civil registration began in Ontario in 1869. Church records and cemetery records would be the best place to see if you could find something for the death of Daniel in London Township circa 1847. Few of these records are online so a visit to the Archives of Ontario or locally for church records may be necessary. If you have a rough idea of the date of the ship hijacking and the estate going through the Boston Court System you could try doing newspaper research. Good luck with your research.

    2. Robert Shaw-Wood

      Hello Verna. I came back to this article after an absence of some years, and saw your question about Daniel Wood. I am a descendent of Richard Shaw-Wood and live in Ottawa, My family were Woods until 1830 or so when they became Shaw-Woods. I checked my copy of the family tree, and could only find three Benjamins. One was Captain B. Wood in the navy of Queen Elizabeth I. The second was Benjamin Burch Wood (1793-1860), who was Richard Shaw-Wood’s father. And the third was Richard Shaw-Wood’s son Benjamin. I do not see a Daniel Wood appearing anywhere in this chart, nor did I know of a second family connection to Ontario. Richard Shaw-Wood did not have any brothers, only two sisters (Mary Frances and Susanna). Curiously though, the family made its money in Bermuda as merchants and as privateers. They even owned a warship, and I did read somewhere that they had to pay compensation in US courts at one point for their “theft” of US property during the War of 1812.

  6. We are very proud of the dining room chairs purchased by my great-grandmother at the auction sale held at Shaw-Wood’s “castle” on the occasion of the Shaw-Wood’s family move out of London, Ontario. I believe that sale was held in the 1930’s. There were 6 chairs and my grandmother divided them up among her children. I’ve always wondered where they were made. They must be coming up to 200 years old!!! They are very sturdily built and of oak. Do you have details of when the family moved out of their “castle”? Their home was the first of it’s kind. It’s built using silo poured cement technique – a form of storage for silage which I believe was invented here in London, Ontario. Daphne Bice (Carmichael heritage)

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