Wood was educated at Winchester, where he was expelled for his involvement in a revolt against the Headmaster, Geneva and Trinity College Cambridge. He was called to the Bar in 1824 and became a QC in 1845. In 1847 Wood was elected as Liberal MP for Oxford. He served as Solicitor General from 1851-2. In 1868 Gladstone appointed him Lord Chancellor in his first administration. Failing eyesight forced his retirement in 1872 but he continued to sit as a Law Lord until his death.