Todd Family Genealogy

This huge dataset depicts the descent from Christopher Todd (1637-1919), being an effort to give an account, as full as possible of his descendants in America.

Tod is the Scotch 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. The shorter form of the name is therefore the original and correct one. The doubling of the final letter is a corruption. But at the present time everywhere unless in Scotland and perhaps even there too, 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 may have been a fox hunter. Tod is a name occurring in the writings of Wycliffe, also Todman. We have other forms of the name, Todt or Todte and Todde, also the compounds Todcastle, Todenham and Todlebru.

A good story is told of a market gardener of Middlesex, who was brought before a magistrate for not having printed on his cart his name, his place of residence and the words “taxed cart.” In defence, the gardener said that he had complied with the law in every particular, as the Court could judge from inspection of his cart, upon which was the following legend:

“A Most Odd Act on a Taxed Cart.”

This looked startling, not to say contumacious, until it was explained that it could be rendered:

“Amos Todd, Acton, a Taxed Cart.”

Among those who have helped to make the name illustrious, to mention but a few, one of the best known Irish scholars of his day–he was bornin 1805–was James Henthorn Todd, consulted both by statesmen and theologians. Another was Henry John Todd who was editor of Milton; he also edited Johnson’s dictionary, and added several thousand words. Robert Bentley Todd, the early part of the nineteenth century, was a physician of high repute, and his statue may be seen at King’s College Hospital. David Todd had a world-wide reputation as an astronomer. Isaac Todhunter was a mathematician, whose treatises had an enormous circulation.

Shall we also mention Mary Evans Todd, the “Mary” of Coleridge’s verse? She was not a Todd by birth, to be sure, but the wife of one and the mother of another–the mother of Elliott D’ Arcy Todd, of Yorkshire, which for centuries has been the stronghold, so to speak, of the Todds. Can there be any connection between the name of the family and the town in the West Riding of Yorkshire –Todmorden? The town also dates back to Edward III, and even prior to his reign.

In “Women of the Revolution” we read of Sarah, Adam Todd’s wife. Their home was in Cliff Street, New York. When the British took possession of the city she left it, but quickly returned when she heard that a servant which she had left in charge of her house was passing herself off as the mistress and was taking boarders. She remained through the war, and with her daughters, was a ministering angel to prisoners and the wounded in hospitals. One of the latter had taken up its quarters in the Quaker Meeting House which was next door north of her house, in Queen street, and was used as a prison hospital during the war, and she often went in to cook for and nurse the sick. Her house was called “rebel headquarters” by the British, and an officer said of her and her daughters: “They are the d–Rebels in New York.”

The men too played their part and played it well. Timothy Todd, of Vermont, a surgeon, was at the battle of Bennington and a member of the Governor’s council, and several other of the Todd descendants of Christopher served during the war. Thomas Todd, of Virginia, was also a member of the Continental army; his son Charles was one of the four aides who rendered Gen. Harrison most important services during his campaign and was afterward minister to Russia. The Kentucky branch of Todd family also has its war record. There were Lieut. Levi and his brother, Col. John, good and brave soldiers. Levi was the father of Robert, the father of Mrs. Abraham Lincoln.

All the Todds have originally come from Scotland; but they have come by different roads, and some of them have been a long time on the way. For centuries, driven by persecution or lured by the hope of advantage, they have been with their fellow-countrymen, descending into England, or crossing the straits into the North of Ireland.

For three or four hundred years the parish registers in all the counties of England have contained many records of Todds. An ancient Yorkshire register records the marriage of Richard Tod and Mary Wod. This is poetic and beautiful. In such a family it must have been natural for the boys, when first learning to walk, to toddle, and for the girls, when old and fat, to waddle.

With the practical union of Scotland and England under James I, the mutual political prejudices of the two countries began to abate. With the reformation in England and later the spread of independency and Presbyterianism their religious prejudices also disappeared. And the Scotch in England were mingled everywhere with the English. Consequently the two peoples became thoroughly amalgamated. The Todds in England have long since become thoroughly English and have lost the last trace of their Scottish heredity. With the Scotch in Ireland, or the Scotch-Irish as they are commonly but improperly called, the case is very different. There the Scotch have been segregated from the Irish, in a few Northern Counties; they have been strong advocates of William of Orange, and the protestant succession, while the Irish have been loyal to the Stuarts, so long as there were any to be loyal to, and since that to home-rule, or anything rather than the established government, and the Irish have been bigoted Roman Catholics, while the Scotch have been not less bigoted Presbyterians. From all this has developed a fierce antagonism, which has kept the races apart, and has manifested itself wherever even in foreign countries, Orangemen and Irishmen have “foregathered.” These Todds, therefore, have no Irish blood, but are as purely Scotch as the people of Scotland itself.

Of the nine distinct and so far as known wholly unconnected families of Todds in this country, three have come from Scotland direct, namely, the New York Todds, the Suffield, Connecticut Tods and (probably) the Philadelphia Tods; three have come from the North of Ireland, Viz., the Maryland Todds, the New Hampshire Todds, and the Pennsylvania Todds; and three have come from England, Viz., the Massachusetts Todds, the New Haven, Connecticut Todds and the Virginia Todds. Of these last three, the first two came from the republican or Puritan party, and the third from the royalist or Church of England party. Of all the Todds in this country the Virginians were at first highest in social rank.

The arms of the Todds, or of such as were authorized to bear them were, with trifling variations, 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”–“One must live” (even if he has to steal for it.)

It must be admitted that the Todds have been better than their motto; but it is not pretended that the Todds in this country have any right, or wish, to make use of these “childish things,” which the manhood of the world has put away.

With a single exception the Todds have all come from the Highlands of Scotland.

The original name of the Irish Todds was O’Shauagh, which is Irish for fox. In consequence of an early English Parliment, which compelled the Irish to assume English names, the family changed its name, the Leinster branch taking the name Fox and the northern, Todd, or Wolfson, corrupted into Wilson. It appears from this that a portion of the Irish Todds are of Irish origin. All other Todds are Scotch.

They have come to this country by three different channels, First there are the Scotch Todds, who have come directly from Scotland.

In the latter part of the first half of the eighteenth century, probably between 1730 and 1740, Adam Todd landed in New York City, coming direct from Scotland, and still wearing the kilt and the tartan. He was twice married. He had one daughter, Margaret, by the first wife, and three children, Adam, James, and Sarah, by the second. Few of the descendants bearing the family name, attained to distinction. But the female descendants became the wives and mothers of eminent men. Sarah, the youngest daughter of Adam, married John Jacob Astor, a native of Waldorf Duchy of Baden, who eventually acquired an immense fortune by trading in furs in the Northwest, and by the rise in value of property in New York. In 1848 he founded the Astor Library in New York at an expense of $400,000. He also established still more useful institutions in his native city. John Jacob and Sarah (Todd) Astor had several children, of whom William B., known to be one of the richest men of his time, and who doubled the Astor Library, and Col. John Jacob junior, are the best known. Magdalen, the eldest daughter married first Gov. Bentzen, a native of Denmark, and Gov. of the island of Santa Cruz, and after his death Rev. John Bristed, of Dorchester, England. Their son, Charles Astor Bristed graduated at Trinity College Cambridge, England, and wrote a book about the union of life which has been much read, and became a literary man, writing under the nome de plume of “Carl Benson.” It is sufficient to show that the Todd family came to be intimately connected with most of the prominent families of New York, that their records contain the names of Astor, Brevort, Springler, Sedgwick, Dodge, Vanderbilt, Aspinwall, Platt, Kane, Roosevelt, and others.

Next there are the Irish Todds, a part of whom came originally from Scotland. In the early part of the last century Robert Todd came from County Antrim, and settled on wild lands in the interior of Pennsylvania, whence his descendants spread into New Jersey, Carolina, Georgia and Kentucky.

It was into a branch of this Irish stock that President Abraham Lincoln married, Mrs. Lincoln being the great-granddaughter of Robert Todd, who was a native of Pennsylvania and a general in the Revolutionary Army.

Robert and Andrew Todd came over first from Ireland. Robert the Grandfather or Great-grandfather of Mary Todd, afterward Mrs. Lincoln, settled in Pennsylvania and Andrew at Todds Point below Cambridge, Md. Michael Todd and Levin Todd came over a few years later and settled near Andrew. Hugh Todd may have been their father. Their grandfather’s name was John Todd.

James Todd and his wife were born in Scotland, but emigrated to the North of Ireland where all their children were born. These children were Alexander, Samuel, Elizabeth, and Andrew. Alexander and Samuel were both of them graduates of the university of Edinburgh. Samuel was never married. The others were all married in Ireland. James the husband and father died in Ireland. In 1720 his widow and all her children and children-in-law arrived in Londonderry, N. H., and settled there. The youngest son, Andrew distinguished himself in the French wars of 1744 and 1755, in which he served as Colonel of the provincial forces, and was one of the marked men of the time. The descendants of this family seem to have confined themselves for the most part to the region in which they first settled.

Lastly there are the English Todds, who have come to this country by way of England, where they have been known at least, so far back as the eleventh century. Upon their entrance into England some of the Todds seem to have retained their Scotch name, while others exchanged it for its English equivalent.

Hence the Todds and the Foxes belong to the same stock, and have always borne the same arms. The Todds seem to have settled first in Yorkshire where the name is common to this day.

There was a John Todde, who was high sheriff of York in 1390; and also Sir William Tod, who was high sheriff in 1477, and Lord mayor ten years later. Till within comparatively recent times there was two inscriptions in preservation on the walls of York, which the antiquary Leland thus describes–

“Under a piece of indifferent sculpture of a senator in his robes and a woman kneeling by him, ‘A. Dom. M. CCCC. L.XXXVII. Sir William Tod mair jou-ates some tyme was schyriffe did this cost himself.’ Near this on a table under the city’s arks, is–“A Domini M. CCCC. L. XXXVII. Sir William Tod, Knight L.(???) Mayre this wal was mayde in his dayes Lx yerds.”

Among the more eminent of the Yorkshire Todds was Rev. Robert Todd, a dissenting minister of Leeds. Among other notices of him it is chronicled that during the Great Plague “he preached repeatedly and impressively on Hezekiah’s boil.”

There was also a Sir William Todd, who was High Sheriff of York under Charles I, in 1625.

There are in this country three distinct families of Yorkshire Todds. One of these sprung from Thomas Todd, who settled in Virginia, whence his descendants have spread into Kentucky.

In 1664 Thomas Todd came from England and settled in Ware Parish, Gloucester Co., Va., bringing with him his wife and one or two children born in England. He was a ship master and died at sea in 1676. His wife was Ann Gorsuch, dau, of Rev. John Gorsuch, Rector of Walkham, Hertfordshire and his wife Anne, dau. of Sir William Lovelace. Their children were Thomas, Christopher, James, William, Philip, Joanna, Anne, Frances and Isabella. One of the descendants of Capt. Thomas Todd, the eldest child, was the distinguished jurist, Thomas Todd of Kentucky, who after filling the highest judicial offices in that State was appointed by President Jefferson one of the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, and held that office from 1807 till his death in 1824. His abilities and character won him the personal friendship of Chief Justice Marshall, and of the foremost men in the country. His eldest son, Charles Scott Todd was graduated at William and Mary College, practiced law in Frankfort, Ky. In the war of 1812 he was appointed Secretary of State of Kentucky by Gov. Madison; he was sent on a confidential mission to Colombia by the United States Government in 1820, and was appointed minister to Russia by President Tyler in 1841. Judge Todd’s second wife was Lucy Payne sister of Mrs. President Madison; but when he married her she was the widow of George Steptoe Washington, youngest son (by the fourth of his five wives,) of Samuel Washington, brother of George Washington first President of the United States. Isabella the youngest child of Capt. Thomas Todd the immigrant, married John Madision the son of a wealthy planter of the same name, who was the original immigrant of that family. They had two sons, Ambrose and John, the latter was the father of the Right Rev. James Madison, President of William and Mary College, and first Protestant Episcopal Bishop of Virginia, and of his brother George Madison, Gov. of Kentucky. Ambrose married Frances Taylor sister of Zackary Taylor, who was the grandfather of Gen. Zackery Taylor, the thirteenth President of the United States. The wife of President Madison was Dorothea (commonly called Dolly) Payne, though when he married her she was the widow of John Todd, a promising and wealthy young lawyer in Philadelphia. She and her sister Lucy (Judge Todd’s second wife) were daughters of John Payne and Mary Coles, a first cousin of Patrick Henry, and grand-daughter of John Payne who came to Va. early in the eighteenth century, and Anna Fleming, grand-daughter of Sir Thomas Fleming, one of the early settlers of Jamestown, Va. Their family belonged to the society of Friends, and their mother and Grandmother had been as celebrated as they were for beauty and charming manners. The Jefferson and Madison families were very intimate, and as President Jefferson was a widower, and his daughters were married and had duties elsewhere, he was accustomed to ask Mrs. Madison to preside at the social functions in the White House. For President Jefferson’s two terms, and for her husbands two terms, therefore, in other words for sixteen years she was virtually mistress of the presidential mansion. During her long tenure of this elevated position she became widely known and universally admired and beloved. In some respects she was the most remarkable woman which this country has produced.

The second family sprung from John Todd, who came to Charleston, Massachusetts, in 1637, and two years later settled in Rowley, Mass. His antecedents are not yet discovered except that he came from Yorkshire. The Rowley Todds are found in Massachusetts, Vermont and the West and have furnished a general in the Revolutionary army and many men of ability and distinction.

The third family sprung from Christopher Todd, who was one of the original settlers of the New Haven colony, in Connecticut, in 1639. He came from Pontefract, West Riding, Yorkshire.

The register of the old parish church in Pontefract is still in existence and contains the records of the marriage of William Todd and Isabel Rogerson, the grandparents, and William Todd and Katharine Ward, the parents of Christopher.

William Todd the youngest “was killed in sort of a duel,” when his son Christopher was but an infant, and Christopher was but about twenty years old when with his wife, Grace Middlebrook, he joined the New Haven colony. Here he became a farmer, miller and baker. He seems to have been at first one of the less prominent of the colonists. He signed the “General Agreement” modestly with his mark and quietly took his allotment in the “Yorkshire quarter” and when the “meeting-house” was “dignified” he had his place assigned him, not in one of the honorable “middle seates,” but in the “third side seate” though “sister Tod”–for they worshipped in those days “the men apart and their wives apart”– was a little more fortunate. It was not long, however, before Christopher Todd began to make another kind of mark. He bought a grist-mill, which the town had built where Whitney’s gun factory now stands; and it was long known as “Todd’s mill.” The records of the “General Court” show that he was continually adding to his real estate. He even rose to the dignity of a “viewer of fences.” In 1650 he bought an acre and a half on Elm Street in the more aristocratic “London quarter” on a part of which St. Thomas’s Church now stands, and occupied a house on the eastern part of it. This ground, known in after-times as “the Blue Meeting house Lot” remained in the family for nearly a hundred years.

Christopher Todd died at a good old age, leaving a will which is a model for sense and wisdom. He had three sons and three daughters of whom the whole earth around and in distant states has been overspread.

Of the daughters, Mercy, the eldest, married John Bassett, and became the mother of a large family; Grace, the second, seems to have been mentally deficient, and though married, was soon, deserted by her husband and was specially provided for in her father’s will, as “incompetent to take care of herself or any estate.”

Mary, the youngest daughter, was married to Isaac Turner, son of Captain Nathaniel Turner, “the right arm of the New Haven colony,” who afterward perished in the “Phantom Ship.” Her husband’s sister Mary was the wife of Thomas Yale, the mother of Elihu Yale, the founder of Yale College.

Of the sons, each became the head of a large branch of the family. The descendants of Samuel, the second son, have been the most numerous. One of these was Rev. Samuel Todd, the impulsive but able first pastor of the North Parish in Waterbury, Connecticut.

Another was Rev. Abraham Todd, who was for forty years pastor of the West Church at Horseneck, Greenwich, Connecticut, which stood on the hill afterward made famous by Putman’s desperate ride. Many amusing stories are told of this simple minded but respected preacher–

“Although a general favorite throughout the whole of his ministry he may have had some, though few enemies. It is related that during his ministry many of his hearers were outspoken men, even expressing themselves publicly during worship, as to the merits or demerits of the doctrines advanced. Among this class of persons was one Palmer, who was present during the service on an occasion when an Indian missionary preached to Mr. Todd’s congregation. He preached fluently, and we presume well, and so great an impression did his logic make upon Palmer, that at the close of the sermon he exclaimed with great vehemence “Lets swap Todd and buy the Injin; he does a good deal the best.” Mr. Todd himself was present on the occasion. The length of his pastorate, however, is a sufficient guarantee of his ability, as well as his excellence of character.

Another preacher of this line of descent, whose worth is established by similar evidence, was Rev. Ambrose S. Todd, D. D., rector for nearly forty years of St. James Church, in Stamford, Conn. His father before him had been a clergyman of the Episcopal Church, and he inherited more than the abilities and succeeded to more than the reputation and influence of his father. In all branches of the family in every generation the Todds have been inclined to the ministry and have risen to eminence in the clerical profession more than in any other, unless the medical.

To the line of Samuel Todd, however, belong George Todd, late Judge of the Supreme Court of Ohio, with his son, ex-governor of the same State; also Edward Todd, of New York city, who has won fame, not by his pen but by his pens.

The descendants of Michael, the youngest son of Christopher Todd, have also been very numerous. Like the descendants of the other sons, they have been mostly farmers.

One of them, S. Edwards Todd, is well known in our own day as a writer on agriculture. Another descendant of this line, in a former generation was Doctor Eli Todd, of Farmington, Conn., who was one of the founders of the Retreat for the Insane at Hartford, Ct. and acquired celebrity in connection with it. Ex-governor James E. English is also a descendant of a female branch of this line.

The descendants of John, the eldest son of Christopher Todd, continued for a time to till the paternal acres at New Haven; but at length one of his grandsons named Jonathan feeling the hereditary ministerial impulse, was graduated at Yale College in 1732 and ordained in the fall of the following year when scarcely twenty years old “having that part of the Church of Christ committed unto me which is in the East Guilford” now Madison, Conn. His pastorate continued for more than half a century. He was naturally accompanied in his migration from New Haven by his younger and only surviving brother, Timothy, who settled near him and became a merchant and magistrate, the father of a large family and the grandfather of Rev. John E. Todd who compiled the major part of this genealogy. He too was a graduate of Yale.

Extracts from the register of the Parish Church, Pontefract, West Riding, Yorkshire, England.

1592, Sept., the 24 dai Wyll Todd and Isabell Rogerson were married.
1593, June the 29 dai Wyll ye sone of Wyll Todd was baptized.
1594, October the 18 dai John ye sone of Wyll Todd was baptized.
1593, Julie the 22 dai John Warde and Isabell Bruster were married.
1596, November ye 29 dai, Katherine ye daughter of John Ward was baptized.
1614, May the 22 dai Willm Todde and Katherine Ward were married.
1614, October the 15 day Mary the daughter of Wm. Todde was baptized.
1617, January the 12th day Xrofor the sone of Willm Todde was baptized.
1617, May the 8th day Willm Todd was buried.

Extracts From An Old Family Record

Mr. William Todd was born in Pontefract, in York, in Great Britian and had two children, Christopher and Mary, and was killed in a sort of duel.

Mr. Michael Middlebrook lived at Hold Mills, who had five children, Matthew, Michael, Mary, Hester and Grace. Mr. Edward Wigglesworth married Hester, and the above named Christopher Todd married Grace.

From these documents it appears that William Todd and Isabel Rogerson married Sept. 24, 1592, had two sons, William, who was baptized June 29th 1593, and John, who was baptized Oct. 18, 1594.

William Todd 2nd, married Katherine Ward May 22, 1614, and had two children, Mary, baptized Oct. 14th 1614, and Christopher, baptized Jan. 12, 1617, and was killed in York, England, in a duel less than four months after the birth of his son Christopher, having been buried May 8th 1617.

John Todd who was baptized Oct. 18, 1594, was born at Pontefract, York County, England, and married in 1620, Alice. Clayton of Bradford, York County, England, where their son John was born and who married in 1643, Susanna Hunt who was born at Bradford, County of York, in 1621. He emigrated to America, settling first in Charlestown, Mass. and shortly afterwards went to Rowley, Mass. where he became a prominent citizen. He was elected as a representative from that town to the General Court. They had the following children, viz.:

John, b. 1655; left descendants.
Catharine, b. 1658.
Thomas, b. 1665.
Timothy, b. 1668.
Samuel, b. 1670.
James, b. 1672.

It is thought probable that William Todd who married Isabel Rogerson was a son of Reginald Todd, freeman of York, 1605, and a collateral descendant of Sir William Todd, Lord Mayor of York, 1487.

Christopher married Grace Middlebrook, daughter of Michael Middlebrook of Hold Mills, Yorkshire–her sister Hester being married to Mr. Edward Wiggles-worth.

As the record was taken down from the lips of an old woman, a long time ago, it is possible that “Hold Mills” was “Old Mills.” The title “Mr.” indicates superior position, as also does the story of a duel.

Christopher Todd and Edward Wigglesworth and their wives came to this country together and settled in New Haven Colony. They were not among the first settlers, 1638, but were among the first additions. Their names appear several times in the records of the Colony. Edward Wigglesworth was a cripple and a shoemaker.

The somewhat famous poet was one of his descendants and the family have been somewhat distinguished.

Christopher Todd became a planter, miller and baker. He owned several tracts of ground. His mill was where the gun factory now stands at Whitneyville. In 1650 he bought the house built by Jasper Crane, where St. Thomas’ Church now stands on Elm Street, and the place remained in the family for a hundred years. He seems to have been a bright, level headed business man, but without much education. His will, signed with his mark, is still to be seen among the New Haven County records.

NOTE: We are presently reworking this collection into more manageable searchable pages. In the meantime, feel free to read the digital version of this manuscript: The Todd family in America: or, The descendants of Christopher Todd, 1637-1919

  • Todd Family Genealogy Index 1 (Adams – Joy)
  • Todd Family Genealogy Index 2 (Kane-Ticknor)
  • Todd Family Genealogy Index 3 (Todd, Abner – Todd, Ithamer)
  • Todd Family Genealogy Index 4 (Todd, Jacob – Todd, Zerah)
  • Todd Family Genealogy Index 5 (Totman – Zuller)


Todd, George Iru. Todd Family in America. Gazette Printing Company. 1920.

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1 thought on “Todd Family Genealogy”

  1. Hello, my name is Todd Goble. My mother’s name was Ruby Venita Todd, daughter of Rothwell Ruppert Todd. His father was Peter L. Todd (1856-1903). I have traced this line back to John Benjamin Todd (1709-1769) who was born in Philadelphia, PA, and was married to Judith Breeden Todd (1704-1729), also born in Philadelphia. They had a son, Benjamin John Todd (1728-1812) who was born in Bucks County, PA, and was buried in Fort Boonesborough Cemetery in Boonesborough, Kentucky. My grandfather always referred to himself as Irish, was a Protestant, not Catholic, and I was told that somehow our family was related to Mary Todd. Since Peter Todd died of drowning when my grandfather was very young, maybe 7 years old, I never learned much about the Todd side of the family until recently when I was able to trace it back to John Benjamin Todd. Can you help me tie John Benjamin Todd to the Todd family in America? I think it somehow ties to the Robert/Andrew branch of Todd’s. As I am now 74 years old, I am truly excited to finally know my roots on my mother’s side of the family. A cousin has traced the Goble side back to Thomas Goble, who was born in Sussex, England in about 1590, who came to the colonies in 1634, settling in Charleston, Massachusetts.

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