THIS glimpse into the life and times of Corporal William Todd from 1758 has been sent in by Jim Suggit. Thank you Jim, we are sure readers will find this fascinating!
We publish Jim’s article in full:
On 7 December 1758, Corporal William Todd left his family home in ‘Preston-by-Hedon’ to rejoin his Regiment, the 30th of Foot, in Canterbury. After taking a morning ferryboat from Hull, he landed at Barton at about 10 o’clock, setting off on foot for Lincoln. He and his companions took a break at the Ostrich Inn (?) in Spittle (near Caenby Corner), before reaching Lincoln in darkness at 7 o’clock that night. His march to Canterbury eventually took ten days.
The son of a farm labourer, William Todd was baptized in 1724. He had originally begun his military service with the Yorkshire Blues during Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Jacobite Rebellion of 1745-46. Subsequent regular military service took him to garrison duties in Ireland, expeditions against France and campaigning in Germany. He retired as a Chelsea Hospital Out-Pensioner in 1762 and returned to Holderness.
Todd’s home leave or furlough in 1758 was part business and part personal. As well as seeing his family for the first time in a number of years, he had undertaken to enrol a number of recruits – including a drummer – who would help replace battle casualties from a recent engagement with the French at St Cass, when he had, for a short period, been taken prisoner of war. Recruiting involved attending market days in Hedon and Hull and visiting quite a lot of local hostelries hereabouts.
Todd was not the only one recruiting at that time. A sergeant of the Marines was trying to fill the ranks needed aboard HMS Temple, a 3rd Rate ship of 70 guns, recently built by Blaydes at Hessle Cliff. The Marine was not averse to slipping a King’s shilling into a beer bought for the unwary local, a recruiting subterfuge (known as trapaning) resisted by Todd, who prevented a young Hedon lad employed by a Mr Bell being whisked away after being caught by the ruse in William Thorpe’s drinking house in Hedon.
Todd did this by arranging for a ‘smart money’ purchase of release of a guinea and a crown (£1.30p in modern coinage) to be paid. This was generously met by Mr Bell, Mayor Fairbridge, Mr Richard Jackson and other prominent Hedon citizens.
Todd celebrated the event with a ‘Crown bowl of punch’ in a local hostelry. I wonder if this had the same recipe as that of the Haven Commissioners?
Amongst other names, events and places mentioned during his 4th November to 6 December 1758 home sojourn are: the Hedon Sittings of 8 November, George Chumley’s public house in Preston, William Kerby, Henry Cook, Robert Wright (Proctor of Preston), Mr Francis Hardy, Henry Nelson and William Etherington (blacksmith).
We know these details because William Todd could read and write, having benefited from schooling in Preston under Schoolmaster and Parish Clerk John Smith and endowed by the benevolence of Thomas Helme, onetime Proctor of Preston. Todd kept a short journal throughout his military service, which he subsequently narrated to his daughter Peggie, adding anecdotes and other detail. This was set out in four manuscript volumes, two of which remarkably still exist in the Record Office at Leigh.
William Todd married Elizabeth Wetherill in 1764. He was buried on 8 December 1791 in Sculcoates parish.