Canon John Ryle Wood (1807-1886).
Canon Wood was the son of Samuel Wood of Prestbury, Cheshire. He was educated at Christ Church College, Oxford where he became BA in 1828 and MA in 1830. He was in sole charge of the education of Prince George, Duke of Cambridge from 1831 until 1836 and it was Wood who encouraged the Duke to keep a diary, which he did from the age of fourteen until shortly before his death.
Wood also served as Chaplain to King William IV and Queen Adelaide. He was present at the death of King William and wrote Some Recollections of the Last Days of His Late Majesty King William the Fourth, London, 1837. It was Wood that wrote to the Duke to inform him of the death of his uncle. Although Wood left the royal household, becoming Canon of Worcester Cathedral in 1841, he remained chaplin-in-ordinary to Queen Victoria from her accession in 1837 until 1881. He also remained close to his former pupil as can been seen by the fond references to Wood in the duke's journal.
'8th November 1886. - Heard today of the death of of my dear old friend and tutor, Mr. Wood after a painful and somewhat protracted illness. He died early this morning. He is a friend of 58 years' standing, and was very dear and good to me.' (E. Sheppard, George Duke of Cambridge, A Memoir of His Private Life Based on the Journals and Corredpondence of His Royal Highness, London, 1907, p. 158.)
The prince later attended the funeral at Worcester Cathedral on the 13 November laying a wreath himself and a cross from his mother Princess Adolphus, Duchess of Cambridge (1797-1889).
The coat-of-arms on the wine coolers is closest to the arms of Wood granted to Henry Wood of Hackney (College of Arms Ms: Misc. Grants II/234) in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The crest of a wolf's head erased is also recorded for Wood, of England in A. Deuchars, British Crests, London, 1817. The wolf's head handles on the wine-coolers suggest they were commissioned by someone aspiring to bear the arms of Wood and it is possible that Canon Wood assumed arms similar to those already exisiting for other Wood families, as is often the case in the 19th century. He was certainly a man of some wealth. He commissioned a stained glass windows for the Jesus Chapel in Worcester Cathedral to commmemorate the death of his first wife Harriet, daughter of William Lacon Childe, who died in 1849. Later Wood's only son Francis John Adelbert Wood gave a magnificent high Gothic revial canopied font to the cathedral in memory of his father. The presumption is that Wood presented the duke with the coolers during his lifetime as Wood's will, probated on the 4 Decmber 1886, only lists a number of small bequests with the bulk of his estate passing to his only son.
Prince George, Duke of Cambridge (1819-1904).
Prince George spent much of his childhood in Hanover where his father was governor-general. He was sent to England in 1830 to live with King William IV and Queen Adelaide where he was privately educated by tutors, one of whom, a Mr. Welsh, had to be removed from his position after loosing the balance of his mind. As mentioned above the Rev. John Ryle Wood was in sole charge of the prince's education from 1831 and became a lifelong friend of the Prince.
The Duke was destined for a career in the army from the age of nine when he was appointed a colonel in the Jäger battalion of the Hanoverian Guards. After the accession of Queen Victoria the duke was made a brevet colonel in the British army and served in Gibralter, England and Ireland. He most notably saw active service during the Crimean War in 1854 commanding the first division of the army and fighting at the battle of Alma where his horse was shot from under him. In 1856 he bcame general commanding-in-chief. He was to serve until his much resisted retirement in 1895.
The Duke was described as 'a bluff, fresh, hale, country gentlemen, with something of the vigorous frankness of the English skipper and something, too, of the Prussian martinet; industrious, punctual, rising early, seeking rest late, fond of life and its pleasures, of good dinners, good cigars, pleasant women, of the opera, of the play' (Society in London, London, 1885, p. 19). It has been said that his tenure of office as Commander in Chief of the Army for 39 years was noticeable for his opposition to a number of Army reforms. However he was a strong supporter of military education and founded the School of Military Music in 1857 and was a governor of the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich.
He married, in contravention of the Royal Marriage Act of 1772, in 1847, Sarah, daughter of Robert Fairbrother, a theatrical printer. She was a popular actress in burlesques and bore him three sons who adopted the surname FitzGeorge. The 2nd Duke died in 1904 when the dukedom became extinct. He had amassed a considerable silver collection, much of which was sold by Christie's later that year. As these wine coolers do not feature in the sale it is possible they passed to Princess Mary Adelaide (1833-1897), daughter of the 1st Duke of Cambridge who married Prince Francis, 1st Duke of Teck (1837-1900) in 1866, and in turn to their daughter Princess May of Teck, later Queen Mary (1867-1953).