Revd Adolphus Woodford

The Revd Adolphus Frederick Alexander Woodford was born on 9 July 1821, the eldest son of Field Marshall Sir Alexander Woodford and a descendant of the Barons of Carleby. 

He served as a commissioned officer in the Coldstream Guards from 1838 to 1841 and then studied at University College, Durham, gaining a BA degree in 1846 and LTh degree in Theology in 1847.

He was immediately inducted as Rector of Swillington in Leeds and served in that living until 1872.  His first Masonic association was in Gibraltar when his father was governor of the fortress.  He was initiated into the Royal Lodge of Friendship (then No 345) of the Freemasons on the island in 1842.

Revd Adolphus Woodford
Revd Adolphus Woodford

He later joined the Lodge of Antiquity, and from that point his Masonic career flourished, becoming Deputy Master of Antiquity in 1878 under the Duke of Albany, and Masonic Grand Chaplain of England in 1863, to which he was appointed by the Earl of Zetland.   He preached his initial oration as Grand Chaplain on 'The Dignity of the Order and the Principles of Freemasonry' at the laying of the foundation stone of the new Freemasons Hall in the same year.

St Mary's Parish Church, Swillington, Leeds
St Mary's Parish Church, Swillington, Leeds

In 1871, Adolphus Woodford was one of the signatories of a remonstrance against the Privy Council for upholding a conviction of an Anglican Vicar, John Purchas, for the way in which he celebrated communion.   The following year, he moved to London, resigning his living for a career in Masonic publishishing.   He became a frequent contributor to the Masonic press under the non-de-plume of `Masonic Student'.    An enthusiastic writer, he edited both `The Freemason' (1879-1885) and `The Masonic Magazine' (1873-1882).    His essay on 'The Connection of York with the History of Freemasonry in England', published in Brother Hughan's unpublished 'Records of the Craft', was written in 1871.

Kenning's Cyclopaedia of Freemasonry, edited by Adolphus Woodford
Kenning's Cyclopaedia of Freemasonry, edited by Adolphus Woodford

He compiled Kenning's Cyclopaedia of Freemasonry in 1878, edited the Sloane Mss No.3329 (1879) and wrote `A Defence of Masonry' in 1874.  He was a founder member of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge, a body dedicated to Masonic research, in 1886 and gave an oration at its consecration, but died in the following year.

He died on 23 December 1887.  Despite his high standing as a Masonic thinker and writer, his estate was valued at only approximately £30.00.   His library of Masonic literature was bequeathed to the freemasons. 

He was buried at the South Metropolitan Cemetery in West Norwood and was succeeded by his sons, though little is known about them.


Sources:

John Seed, 'Woodford-Progenitor of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No.2076' in Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, The Transactions of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No.2076, pp 118-128, 1980.

I wish to record my gratitude to the late Stan Vaughan, a former member of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge, for verifying much of this information regarding Revd Adolphus Woodford.