This unfortunate man, who fell a victim to his ungovernable passions, was a native of Falaize, in Normandy. His parents were respectable, and he traded in his own vessel to the West Indies, where he had a wife and two children at the time of his death. His little bark being taken in 1803, by the 'John Bull' letter of marque, he was carried to Liverpool, and from thence to Chatham, where he was put on board the Canada prison-ship, in the Medway, along with his captive countrymen.
During the eight years of his sorrowful captivity his conduct was exemplary; but it appears he was subject to sudden gusts of passion. On the 12th of March he wanted to go into the cooking-room; but was prevented by Ebenezer Alexander, a private marine, who was on duty there, and whose orders were to that effect. The sentinel desired him to get leave from the sergeant, which he pretended to go for, and returned, saying he had obtained it. This Alexander refused to credit, as he knew in that case a corporal would have come to inform him, and therefore persisted in his refusal. Upon this Wood drew a knife from his pocket, and, calling the sentinel some vulgar names, said he would kill him. Alexander, who was not apprehensive of danger, paid no attention to the threat; but several fellow-prisoners, who knew their countryman's failing, ran to prevent him. Wood, however, before they could secure him, came up to the sentinel, and, seizing him round the neck with his left arm, inflicted with his knife two dreadful wounds in the left breast. The marine fell, and was carried to the hospital, where he was confined thirty-one days. Wood was secured, and brought to trial at the following assizes at Maidstone, when he was found Guilty, and received sentence of death.
Thursday, September the 5th, 1811, was the day appointed for carrying his sentence into execution, on Penenden Heath. He was escorted by the usual retinue, and a vast concourse of people, who sincerely lamented his fate. A Catholic confessor attended to prepare him for the awful moment, assisted by the chaplain and Mr. Shelton. He appeared penitent and resigned; and before he ascended the scaffold he requested of Mr. Shelton to say something for him to the people who surrounded him, which he did, as follows:-
'Good people! the poor unfortunate man who is about to suffer the dreadful sentence of the law desires me, as he cannot speak our language, to tell you that he is sincerely sorry for having committed the crime which has brought him to this miserable and untimely end; and that he trusts, through the prevailing influence of the venerable priest who attends him, he has made his peace with his God, and rests with full confidence of forgiveness at his dread tribunal. He also directs me to warn you against the violence of vindictive passion, by which alone he was actuated to commit this dreadful crime. He truly forgives every one, and hopes, in his last moments, you will offer up your prayers for him; this I am confident you will do, in consequence of his deep contrition, and the circumstance of his being a stranger in this country.'
After this he was supported to the platform, and an end was put to his sufferings.