Wood went to sea in 1811 as a midshipman in the British East India Company's service, which he left, however, in 1826. He then settled at Hasketon near Woodbridge, Suffolk. He devoted himself to a study of the mollusca of the Newer Tertiary (Crag) of Suffolk and Norfolk, and the Older Tertiary (Eocene) of the Hampshire Basin. On the latter subject he published A Monograph of the Eocene Bivalves of England (1861-1871), issued by the Palaeontographical Society. His chief work was A Monograph of the Crag Mollusca (1848-1856), published by the same society, for which he was awarded the Wollaston medal in 1860 by the Geological Society of London; a supplement was issued by him in 1872-1874, a second in 1879, and a third (edited by his son) in 1882. He died at Martlesham, near Woodbridge.
His son, Searles Valentine Wood (1830-1884), was for some years a solicitor at Woodbridge, but gave up the profession and devoted his energies to geology, studying especially the structure of the deposits of the Crag and glacial drifts.