William Woods 1751-1802
An English actor who settled in Edinburgh early in the 1770s. Robert Burns probably met Woods at the Cannongate Kilwinning Lodge. He was a member of the Edinburgh Company of players for thirty-one years, a close friend of Robert Fergusson, the poet, and is said to have given him regular free seats at the theatre. On his retiral he taught elocution. He is buried in Calton cemetery. Burns wrote a prologue for him for his benefit night, beginning, 'When by a generous Public's kind acclaim'. The play was Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor. He is represented in the painting making an offer from the 'Waissal bowl' in welcome of the stranger or visiting brother who had just come into the Lodge.