Sir Andrew Wood

c.1455 - 1539

Naval commander. Born in Upper Largo (Fife), Wood began his career as a maritime trader and ship-owner based in Leith. By 1480 he had entered the service of King James III (1452-88) and was granted land near Largo in return for ferrying the King and Queen to the Isle of May to make their devotions. He defended Dumbarton Castle from the sea and, with his famous ships the Flower and the Yellow Carvel, won a memorable action against the English in Largo Bay. These victories brought Wood a knighthood and title to Largo in 1483. In an engagement off Dunbar, Wood's two ships captured five English vessels, so distressing the English King Henry VII that he offered a pension of £1000 per year to anyone who could capture Wood. He went on to serve James IV (1473 - 1513), commanding the remarkable warship the Great Michael. Built in Newhaven (Edinburgh) in 1511, this was the biggest ship of its time, a product of a mediaeval arms race with England.

After the death of James IV at Flodden (1513), Wood served as Ambassador to France and took the invitation to the Duke of Albany to serve as Regent during the minority of King James V (1512-42). He was present at the Battle of Linlithgow Bridge (1526).

Curiously, Wood constructed a canal between his home and the church in Upper Largo, the remains of which can still be seen. Each Sunday he was rowed by English prisoners on a barge to attend church services. His last journey took a similar form and he was buried in his family tomb in Largo Kirk.

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