James Wood (1777-1849), partner in the cotton firm of Wood and Westhead, was the first President of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce. A friend of the young Jabez Bunting, he was politically conservative and an opponent of free trade. He was a class leader and local preacher, and one of the instigators of the Watchman. As Treasurer of the WM Centenary Fund, he strongly recommended the setting up of a Theological Institute as a fitting memorial of the occasion.
His son Dr Peter Wood (1811-1877), born on 19 July 1811 at Timperley Hall, Bowdon, Cheshire, was a pioneer advocate of sea-bathing and had much to do with the early development of Southport. He was its first Mayor. He died on 15 February 1877.
In the next generation, his son, another James Wood (1844-1899) was several times Mayor of Southport. Born in Manchester on 5 March 1844, he died on 15 February 1899. His wife Mary was the daughter of the Rev. Charles Garrett. One of their daughters was the children's writer Lucy M. Boston (1892-1990), whose autobiographical Perverse and Foolish (1979) graphically describes the rebellion of a spirited young person against the rigid piety of high-Wesleyanism at the turn of the 19th century. The family was related by marriage to the Holden and Heald families, as well as to the Garretts.