Last name also spelled Wooden.

William Woodin was a businessman and merchant in Halifax, Nova Scotia. His family may have lived in the area for several years before 1800; there is a record of a poll tax for William Woodin of St. Margaret's Bay, Nova Scotia (south west of Halifax) in 1792 - 1793 listing him as a farmer with "4 cattle", and also as a Loyalist, indicating he came from the United States after the Revolutionary War. There is also a record of a John Woodin in St. Margaret's Bay in 1801.

The Woodin family appear to have had investments in privateering ships around 1800 - 1801. Privateers were legalized pirates, preying on ships belonging to enemy nations; at the time, it was the Spanish and the Napoleonic French who were at war with the British, and therefore fair game. Nova Scotia merchants previously had a profitable trade with the West Indies, a trade which was disrupted by the conflict. Some of these merchants turned to privateering to stay in business, attacking and capturing Spanish and French trading ships in the West Indies.

The Woodins had an interest in two privateer ships, the Earl of Dublin and the General Bowyer. In 1800 and 1801 records show William, James and John Woodin as part owners of and agents for both ships. The General Boyer is described as "quite successful Halifax privateer ship under the command of a Liverpool captain [Thomas Burnaby] ... originally an American built-privateer ... she was captured on her first voyage and bought by a small group of Halifax merchants, who renamed her after the commander of the Halifax garrision. [The ship was built] August 1800 in Salisbury, Massachusetts as Brutus; captured by Halifax privateer schooner Earl of Dublin and renamed General Bowyer in November, 1800." The ship had a crew of 80, and was armed with 14 six pound guns. She captured seven ships between 1800 and 1803. The registered owners were William and John Woodin, and James Creighton Jr. The taking of even one merchant ship could have made the Woodins wealthy, if the ship had a good cargo or a high selling price; the capture of seven almost certainly would have.

Biography of
William Woodin