Community archaeology

The story of Andrew Todd.
The story of Andrew Todd.
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It appeared that the hunt for details about a 19th-century Crookham man had hit a brick wall, until a serendipitous meeting in a village church.

When Val Glass, a member of Till Valley Archaeological Society (Tillvas), began researching the schools in Crookham, she quickly picked out Andrew Todd, born 1844.

The story of Andrew Todd.

The story of Andrew Todd.

The son of an agricultural labourer, he was educated at Crookham Presbyterian School, before remaining there as a pupil-teacher in 1861 when he was just 13.

By 1871, he had graduated from Glasgow University, having studied Latin, Greek, physics and mathematics and had become maths master at Amersham College in Oxfordshire - ‘no mean feat for a farm labourer’s son in those days’, as Val pointed out.

However, by the 1881 census, he appeared to have disappeared and the trail to track his whereabouts had gone cold.

Cold that is until last month when Heather Pentland, chairman of Tillvas, happened upon some visitors in Ford Church.

The story of Andrew Todd.

The story of Andrew Todd.

To her astonishment, one of them was the great-grandson of Andrew Todd - Joe Bartas, who had travelled from San Francisco and came to north Northumberland accompanied by his relative Vivien Wilcock, from North Yorkshire.

And so, his absence from the 1881 census was explained. He had sailed for New Zealand in 1874, not to find his fortune, but on his doctor’s recommendation that it would improve his health. During the voyage, he kept a diary which has survived for 140 years.

Once there he married an Englishwoman, Blanche Jones, who had followed him.

In 1883, the family emigrated to America and settled in Hubbard, Oregon.

The American and English sides of the family have kept in touch with Mrs Wilcock being a descendant of Andrew’s older brother, James, who moved to Byker.