The Journal of Corporal Todd is a remarkably rare ‘Other Ranks’ record from a period when most common soldiers were illiterate. Corporal William Todd served in the Associated Companies of the East Riding of Yorkshire during the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745 and then in the Regular Army, in Loudoun’s 30th Foot and Napier’s 12th Foot, from 1749. Due o his good fortune in being brought up in a parish endowed with a school for poor children he was both literate and numerate to a degree quite unexpected in a soldier of the eighteenth-century British Army. Allied to these skills Todd exhibit’s a curiosity and a power of observation that brings his experiences to life in a way quite unlike any other military journal of this period.
Todd’s service commenced in the ‘Yorkshire Blues’ and he retired as a Chelsea Out-Pensioner in 1763. His flowing narrative gives not only record of what his regiments were doing, but his own views on his fellow soldiers, his officers and the countries - Ireland, England, France and Germany - in which he served. His intelligence and powers of observation make him an extraordinary chronicler of his time.