Select Todd Miscellany

Here are some Todd stories and accounts over the years:

Todd as a Surname

Tod is the Scots word for Fox.  In Scotland and the north of England a todhunter is a fox hunter.  The name Todd is an altered form of the Scotch word tod.  This shorter form of the name is the original and correct one.  The doubling of the final letter is a corruption.  But now the corrupt form is the more common one.

The first to assume the word as a surname was perhaps a keen sportsman.  He followed the hounds or he may have been a fox hunter.  Tod as a name occurred in the writings of Wycliffe, as did Todman.

The arms of the Todds, or of such as were authorized to bear them, were three fox heads in red, in a shield, with a fox sitting or running away with a goose for a crest, and the motto, opertet vivere
or "one must live" (even if he has to steal for it).

The Todds from Pontefract in Yorkshire

William Todd and Isabel Rogerson married in 1592 and had two sons, William and John.  It is thought that this William Todd was the son of Reginald Todd, a freeman of York in 1605, and a descendant of Sir William Todd who was the Lord Mayor of York in 1487.

The son William married Katherine Ward in Pontefract in 1614 and they had two children, Mary born in 1614 and Christopher born in 1617.  But William was killed in a duel in York just four months after the birth of Christopher.

The following records are still preserved in the old parish church at Pontefract:

1592. Sept. 24.  Will Todd and Isabelle Rogerson were married.
1593. June 29.  Wlll, son of Will Todd, was baptized.
1594. Oct. 18.  John, son of Will Todd, was baptized.
1614. May 22.  Willm Todde and Katherine Warde were married.
1614. Oct. 14.  Mary, daughter of Willm Todde, was baptized.
1617. Jan. 12.  Christopher, son of Willm Todde, was baptized.
1617. May 8.  Willm Todde was buried.

Later, Christopher Todd and his wife Grace would emigrate to America, settling in New Haven colony in 1638.  He became a planter, miller, and baker.  In 1650 he bought the house built by Jasper Crane and this house stayed in the Todd family for the next hundred years.  By this time his cousin John had also arrived, settling in Rowley, Massachusetts.

Early Todds in America
Of the nine distinct and, as far as is known, unconnected early families of Todds in America:

  • three came from England, the Massachusetts Todds, the New Haven Todds, and the Virginia Todds (the first two being Puritans).
  • three came from Scotland direct, namely the New York Todds, the Suffield Connecticut Tods, and (probably) the Philadelphia Tods.
  • and three came from the north of Ireland, the New Hampshire Todds, the Maryland Todds, and the Pennsylvania Todds.

The table below shows these Todds and the first immigrants and date of arrival:


Massachusetts (Rowley)
John Todd
Connecticut (New Haven)
Christopher Todd
Thomas Todd

New York
Adam Todd
Connecticut (Suffield)
David Todd

New Hampshire
Andrew Todd
Thomas Todd
Robert Todd

Todd's Inheritance

Todd's Inheritance is a four acre historic farmstead overlooking the Chesapeake Bay on the North Point Peninsula of Eastern Baltimore County.  It offers a window on American history as seen through the eyes of one family. 

For over three hundred years, the Todd family lived and worked the land, passing the property from father to son for ten generations.  The land was their inheritance and in 1765 the family farms were combined in a single holding named "Todd's Inheritance."

Originally from Virginia, the Todds were prosperous landowners and among the first in the region to receive a land grant, eventually holding more than 1,000 acres.  As slaveowners they cultivated tobacco and later switched to more dependable grains, vegetables, and fruit.  The family was also involved in shipbuilding and maritime trades.

The Lineage of Mary Todd Lincoln - Part One

The Mary Todd Lincoln line may trace back to Sir James Todd, Laird of Dunbar on the Scottish borders. 

James and his sons Robert and John were captured with other Covenanters by the English after the Battle of Bothwell Bridge in 1679.  They were loaded on a ship with 250 others to be transported to the West Indies and sold as slaves.  The ship sank in a storm off the Orkney islands.  James and Robert died.  The ship's captain had all the holds shut and padlocked while the ship was pounded against the reef.  Only a few of the prisoners survived.

Son John did escape and resettled in county Antrim in northern Ireland.  He was known as "John the Fox (Tod)" for evading the English.  The story has it that he wore a looped up hat and buckskin breeches, with long stockings and large silver shoe buckles.    It is thought that John's offspring emigrated to America.

The Lineage of Mary Todd Lincoln - Part Two

Emilie Todd Helm, half sister to Mary Todd Lincoln, and her daughter Katherine were Todd family historians. They spent years corresponding with Todds throughout the country and developing family charts.  In the early part of the 1900's, Emilie sold her papers to Kittochtinny Magazine.  This magazine published a Todd family history explaining much of the family history back to the James Todd who was born in Scotland in 1669.

The Todd family had travelled from Scotland to Ireland and, finally in 1737, Robert Todd immigrated to Philadelphia in America.  He was the father of eleven children.  It was this family that could claim among its members statesmen, educators, ministers, was heroes, and the wife of a President, Mary Lincoln.  Since her White House years, Todds have tried to tie their family line into Mary Lincoln's.  Some can; and some cannot.  Emilie and Katherine Helm's diligent genealogy work has provided many Todds with answers as to whether or not they are related to the former First Lady.

Emilie and Katherine protected and often changed the ages of women in the family.  Emilie's grandmother commented that a woman's age was "a changeable number," and Emilie heeded her grandmother's advice on several occasions.  Even in census records, Emilie changed her daughters' ages.  To further protect their age, Emilie listed family members by listing all the male children in their order of birth, and then listing the female children. 

Inside The Todd Empire

Charles Todd, the founder of the Todd family fortune, had left no room for doubt.  You were either in or out - there was no in-between.  Todd Corp's founding document made the distinction clear:

"Todd family means the persons who are descendants natural or adopted of Charles Todd, late of Wellington, merchant who died on August 21, 1942 and his wife Mary Todd."

Even spouses, individuals most New Zealanders would regard as family, are excluded from holding shares. Bloodline control of the company is also firmly vested in the family.  Direct relatives, who number 160, must make up at least a quarter of the board, currently four out of nine directors.  They also get to appoint the chairman and set his terms of employment.

Chairman John Todd has not been prepared to apologize for that.  In a rare public interview, the 78 year old grandson of the company's founder and family patriarch, told The Business that keeping the business in the family was an ethos developed over decades.


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