In recent weeks I have been working on some of Pusey House’s smaller archive collections, and by far the most extensive and diverse is that of F. H. Woods, a theological scholar who wrote on Higher Criticism and the Hebrew Prophets. Amongst the items in this collection are a letter from Lord Teignmouth to Professor Samuel Lee of Cambridge (dated 1820; possibly part of Woods’s own collection), a copy of a note in German from the theologian Franz Delitzsch, a furious letter about Moses signed only from ‘an Octogenarian’, and a touching, almost Dickensian note from one Mrs. Trayhorn, requesting financial aid.
Despite the many colourful fragments of this rather eccentric collection, F. H. Woods himself remains something of an elusive figure, partly due to his relatively frequently-occurring surname. The fact that everything in the archive is either to or about Woods (as opposed to from him) also does not help. However, a quick look in the 1900 edition of Crockford’s clerical directory places him in the parish of Chalfont St. Peter in that year, whilst a set of three letters of condolence sent to his wife confirm that Woods died in early 1915. Crockford’s also reveals that Woods was the author of such works as A Guide to the Study of Theology in Oxford, and was a translator.
For those wishing a glimpse into the sheer randomness of Woods’s intellectual and professional life, this somewhat quirky archive is available to view (on request) in the Library.