Wood was the son of Captain Patrick Wood, of the East India Company's military service, and his wife Jane née Patterson; he was born at Bothwell, Tasmania. When eleven years of age he went to England to complete his education, and entered as a student at the Middle Temple in November 1845, but was not called to the Bar till January 1852.
In 1853 Wood went out to Victoria and entered on the practice of his profession before the Supreme Court in Melbourne. In March 1857 he was appointed Solicitor-General in the first John O'Shanassy Government, which however, only held office till 29 April. On 1 April 1857 he was returned to the Legislative Assembly for the Ovens district. In the Nicholson administration, Wood was Attorney-General from 27 October 1859 to 26 November 1860, and he was Minister of Justice in the third O'Shanassy Cabinet from November 1861 to June 1863. Having been defeated for the Ovens, and subsequently for Gippsland, Wood ultimately secured his return for Warrnambool. Soon after his retirement, with his colleagues in the O'Shanassy Ministry, Wood left Victoria, and took up his residence in London, where he practised his profession mainly before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in colonial appeal cases. In 1889 he returned to Victoria, and resumed practice at the local Bar.
- Eastwood, Jill. "Wood, John Dennistoun (1829–1914)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 14 April 2013.
- Mennell, Philip (1892). . The Dictionary of Australasian Biography. London: Hutchinson & Co – via Wikisource.
- "John Dennistoun Wood". re-member: a database of all Victorian MPs since 1851. Parliament of Victoria.
- "Appointment Solicitor General John Wood". Victorian Government Gazette. 11 March 1857. p. 1857:469.
|Victorian Legislative Assembly|
| Member for Ovens
sole member Apr 1857 - Sep 1859
With: Alexander Keefer (Oct 1859 – Mar 1860)
John Donald (Mar 1860 – Jul 1861)
William Charles Weekes
| Member for Warrnambool
December 1861 – August 1864
Henry Samuel Chapman
| Attorney-General of Victoria
27 October 1859 – 25 November 1860
Richard Davies Ireland
| Solicitor-General of Victoria
11 March 1857- 29 April 1857
|Tasmanian House of Assembly|
Nicholas John Brown
| Member for Cumberland
|Hare-Clark electoral model adopted|