was born in Colen, parish of Scone, Perthshire, on 17 May 1795. He was the
fifth child of Thomas Tod and Elspet Gray and his father was a farm
servant at the time of his birth. The evidence indicates that Tod, senior
died in 1808 – when David was nearly thirteen – and it may be that he left
home shortly afterwards to start an apprenticeship. David Tod married Jane
Walker in Barony Church, Glasgow, on 6th July 1823. She was
born in 1899 in Old Monkland, Lanarkshire. They had eight children, three
of whom – all boys – reached maturity.
was chosen to be chief engineer on board David Napier’s pioneer paddle
steamer ship ‘Rob Roy’, built by Denny of Dumbarton and engined by
Napier from 1818 to 1821.
was about 80 ft long with a beam of 16 ft and had a Napier side-lever
engine of 32 hp which gave her a speed of 7 knots. She was not only the
first regular seagoing steamer in the world, but was also the first
steamer to have had the shape of her hull based on the behaviour of ship
models in an experimental water tank. She left the Clyde early on Saturday
13th June 1818 and, after calling at Campbeltown, arrived at Belfast on
Sunday evening. Among those who wished her well was Charles MacKintosh the
inventor of waterproof cloth. No one expected her to reach Ireland but she
got across, and later in the same year she made some trips between
Greenock and Dublin.
first season Rob Roy normally provided a bi-weekly service between
Belfast and Greenock, with a call at Campbeltown en route. In the winter
of 1818-1819 the Rob Roy had an extensive overhaul. On return to
duty in March 1819 the local newspapers commented favourably on her
improved accommodation which comprised 'separate apartments for ladies and
gentlemen fitted up with beds and other accommodation which experience has
pointed out necessary'. She remained on the Belfast-Greenock crossing
until her transfer to the Dover-Calais route in May 1821,[Irish Passenger
Steamship Services, D.B. McNeill] at which time David Tod returned to
David Napier's Lancefield works.
By 1830 he
was a senior employee of Napiers at Lancefield. By the early 1830s still
under the age of fifty, David Napier appeared to feel that his pioneering
engineering achievements in Scotland were at an end as he considered a
move to London; by 1835 he had disposed of his Glasgow interests and
It has been
said that David Napier offered Lancefield Foundry to two of his employees,
David Tod and John Macgregor. His regard for both of them is set down in a
memoir which he wrote subsequently: “During the latter part of my career,
I was very much assisted by two excellent workmen, David Tod and John
Macgregor”. His offer of the foundry was not taken up, the two perhaps
deciding to start at a more modest level.
One of the
stories which describes the relationship between David Napier and David
Tod relates to the night that Napier first conceived the idea of the
steeple engine. It occurred at midnight, when Napier was in bed. He
immediately got up, cleared his dining room of its furniture and carpet
and drew his rough plans with chalk on the floor. A servant was sent off
for Tod who rushed to the house thinking that his employer was ill. Then
the pattern maker who acted as Napier’s draughtsman was sent for and the
first set of rough plans were completed by morning.
John Macgregor set up business together initially to produce engines, but
later they started to build ships. As a business Tod & Macgregor was
period running up to 1852, David Tod was one of the leading figures in
Partick, who were campaigning for the creation of a separate Borough. The
campaign was successful and on the 17th of June 1852 the
Borough of Partick was created. In the first election, 12 commissioners
were elected. David Tod was elected for the "Iron Bank" ward and was
picked as one of the three "Magistrates" of the Borough. From these three
the "Provost" was picked and it was David Tod they turned to. He remained
Provost for five years until 1857.
died, on 24th January 1859, leaving three sons to carry on the
business – John, aged 32, William, aged 26, and David II, aged 19 years.
John Tod died in the early 1860s and in March 1867, William died at the
age of 34. David Tod II was then left as the sole owner. Following the
sale of the family business in 1872, David Tod II moved house to live in
Eastwood Park, on the south side of Glasgow. It was to be his home for the
rest of his life.
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