Julian Tenison Woods: A Life – Chapter 1st

Chapter 1st

It would seem fitting that a wiser head and a more practised hand should undertake to write the life of Father Tenison Woods. Perhaps a noble work on the subject may yet be produced: meantime, it is a ‘Labor of love’ to draw this unpretending sketch, which will have one great advantage – it will be strictly authentic… Mary MacKillop
Mary MacKillop, 1871

The Rev. J.E.T. Woods was born in West Square, Southwark, London, on 15 November, 1832. He was the sixth son and seventh child of Mr James Dominick Woods, Q.C. and F.S.A. of the Middle Temple (and of Sydenham Kent), Barrister at law – and Henrietta Marie St Eloy Tenison, fourth daughter of the Rev. Joseph Tenison, Rector of Donoughmore Glebe, in the county of Wicklow, Ireland, and deputy governor and justice of the peace in the same county. The Rev. Joseph Tenison was son of the Bishop of Ossory, and grand nephew of Thomas Tenison, Archbishop of Canterbury.

Mr Woods was married to Miss Tenison at the Church of St George in the East, on 16 August 1819. Mr Woods’ father was a ship owner and wine merchant in the city of Cork, Ireland.

When Julian Woods was born, his father (who occupied a leading position on the literary staff of the Times newspaper) was absent from England..and did not see his infant son for nearly four months. Soon after the father’s return, the baby was baptised by the Rev. John White. The infant received the names of Julian Edmund Tenison. He certainly inherited his mother’s kindness; and seems to have had a special love for priests..

Father Julian Tenison Woods

At the age of four, Julian was sent to a lady’s school with his only sister, four years his senior – proud to take care of her little brother. He remained at this school (which was conducted by a Catholic lady – Miss Rose) two or three years; and after leaving it was taught at home for some considerable time. He was then sent to an ordinary day school, not far from his father’s residence, where he remained until about ten years of age.

Like many other distinguished men and noted characters, Julian E. Woods in his infancy and early boyhood was in no way remarkable. But what he learned, he learned well, and never forgot..As a child he was loving, generous, and considerate in the extreme. He was very sensitive, but of a trusting and affectionate nature. He was endowed with a sweet temper, and a most forgiving disposition..

About the age of ten, he was placed in the preparatory school at Kent House, Hammersmith, then carried on by Mr Thomas Hunt, where some of his brothers had been and others were being educated. This school was intended for Catholics only…

Julian remained about four years in Kent House School; then he was removed in consequence of ill health.

After remaining at home awhile, Julian was sent to Newington Grammar School in Surrey, where he remained about two years..

About this time his mother’s health gave cause for great anxiety, and in the hope that a change might be beneficial to her, Mr Woods removed with her and the junior members of the family to the island of Jersey. They remained there eighteen months; but nothing could restore the health of the good lady, who passed away peacefully on 5 November 1847.


This extract is taken from:

Chapter 1st of Julian Tenison Woods: A Life and has been used with the kind permission of the Trustees of the Sisters of Saint Joseph 1997 and the publishers, St Paul’s Publications.

If you would like to read the full text, including an informative Introduction, footnotes and an index, this book is available online and from some Mary MacKillop Centres.

For locations and contact details visit the Josephite Books webpage.


Carmel Jones rsj