John Tod

John Tod's comfortable circumstances belie suggestions that members of the Whig opposition were impoverished in this period, although indications of a busy solicitor's practice does suggest that those who did not benefit from government salaries had to work for their money. The tone of his and his wife's wills share an appealing appreciation of the value of material things: the good which could be done by a gift to charity; the worth which could be invested in an object by the loving associations it held.

9 March 1773 - 24 December 1856
Thomas Tod, 1726-1800, Writer to the Signet.
Jean Gartshore, d.1815, daughter of James Gartshore, WS.
From 1809-1813 the Tods lived at 43 Castle Street, when they moved to 46 Charlotte Square
Kirkhill, Midlothian. This was an eighteenth-century mansion which Tod had extended in 1828 by Thomas Hamilton.
Political views
The Tods were among the supporters of the Whig, Gilbert Eliot of Minto who won the hotly contested Roxburgh election of 1807 in which Alexander Keith, John Pringle and Walter Scott supported the unsuccessful Tory candidate Alexander Don (7). Scott wrote,
I am return'd from the election as sulky as a Bear with a headache, for we were most completely beaten -- lost the day by seven. I had only two topics of consolation -- the one that Raeburn whom the Tods had instigated to the unnatural attempt of running down my vote sunk his own in the attempt -- so the disappointed squire returnd on his grey palfrey over Lilliards Edge voteless and disconsolate... My other comfort is that Don spoke most exceedingly well ... while Elliot made but a stammer of it. (4)
John Tod was on a committee in 1814 along with Henry Cockburn and other prominent Whigs to further a petition to parliament concerning the abolition of the slave trade.
Religious views
He was charitable in his will, giving £50 to the Destitute Sick society, £19 to the Senior Females society, £19 to the Junior females society, £60 to Mr Veitch's ragged schools, and £50 to his wife to distribute amongst charities (11). He also owned shares worth £300 in Pilrig Model Buildings and £100 in the Edinburgh Association for improving the dwellings of the industrious classes (12).
John was apprenticed to his father and joined the Society of Writers to the Signet in 1796. His tax assessment of 1811 suggests he was living in rather wealthier style than other whig lawyers of his generation (Cockburn and Aytoun). He may have inherited some money or acquired some from his wife, but his chief source of income appears to have been his work as a solicitor. His name appears frequently in newspaper advertisements in connection with property sales in Edinburgh and around the lowlands. In 1801 he handled the sale of Sydney Smith's house in Queen Street (10). His will suggests he lent money in the form of bonds to the aristocracy (11)
Wealth at death
Assessed taxes 1811
His house in Castle Street had 22 windows and a rental value of £80. He had one male servant, a four-wheeled carriage, one horse 'for own use' and two 'horses/mules', and two dogs. He paid hair powder duty. His business (Messrs Tod and Romanes) employed 4 clerks. (6)
Like his wife, who outlived him by almost twenty years, John Tod's will suggests a high awareness of the value of material things. He made the most of intimate possessions such as his watch, to provide a keepsake for two of his children, asking his executors,
to deliver my superior gold watch with its seals (but not the chains) to my son John Robert, to deliver the said chain used by me to suspend my watch to my daughter Charlotte Maconochie thinking she will like to have it, as having been worn by her father (11).
Chapel connection
1810, baptism
Helen Duff
Thomas (1809, m. Amelia Cumming), Alexander (1810), Helen Clementina (1812) married David Mure, advocate depute for Scotland, John Robert (1814-1856 m. Jemima Wharton Duff), Mary Jane (1821-1901 m. G. Ross), Charlotte Joanna (1828-1901 m. J. Maonochie), Caroline Jane (1823-1901 m. Thomas Graham Murray), Louisa Garden (1828, m. Charles Fellowes), and Joanna Helen (1871, unmarried during her mother's lifetime but m. Thomas Abdy Fellowes in 1876), four others who died unmarried.
Related to
Thomas Tod, brother; Alexander Tod, uncle. Their brother Archibald married the sister of John Pringle, a neighbour in Roxburghshire.
He was on Marten Dalrymple's committee which conducted a survey to build a railway in 1809 (5), and involved with Daniel Sandford in the Lancastrian Schools project (8).


  1. Registers of Charlotte Chapel (NAS CH12/3)
  2. Edinburgh Post Office Directory 1818
  3. Register of The Society of Writers to Her Majesty's Signet, ed. Ronald K. Will (Edinburgh, Clark Constable, 1983)
  4. Letters of Sir Walter Scott vol. 3 (1811-1814), ed. H.J.C. Grierson (London, Constable and Co. 1932) p.192.
  5. Caledonian Mercury 5 August 1809
  6. Assessed taxes for the Burgh of Edinburgh year ending at Whitsunday 1811, National Archives of Scotland E327/51
  7. Caledonian Mercury 7 November 1812
  8. Caledonian Mercury 12 July 1813
  9. 'Kirkhill Hotel, Formerly Kirkhill House' in British Listed Buildings (Online, accessed 12 January 2012
  10. Caledonian Mercury 5 March 1801
  11. John Tod's will, National Archives of Scotland SC70/4/50/717
  12. John Tod's inventory, National Archives of Scotland SC70/1/93/807

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