Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Todd, Alpheus

TODD, ALPHEUS (1821–1884), librarian of the parliament of Canada, son of Henry Cooke Todd, was born in London on 30 July 1821, and went with his family to Canada in 1833. He produced an ‘Engraved Plan of the city of Toronto’ in 1834, was employed on the staff of the House of Assembly of Upper Canada, and in 1836 became assistant librarian to the house. In 1840, four years before the publication of May's well-known treatise, he compiled a manual of parliamentary practice for the use of the legislature, which he issued under the title of ‘The Practice and Privileges of the two Houses of Parliament,’ Toronto, small 8vo. This was formally adopted for the use of the members, and the cost of production defrayed out of the public funds. Upon the union of the two provinces of Canada in 1841 Todd was made assistant librarian to the legislative assembly, in 1854 succeeded Dr. Winder as principal librarian, and subsequently was appointed constitutional adviser to both houses of legislature. In 1856 he was sent to Europe to spend 10,000l. on books for the library. He printed at Ottawa in 1866 ‘Brief Suggestions in regard to the Formation of Local Governments for Upper and Lower Canada, in connection with a Federal Union of the British North American Provinces.’ After the provinces of Canada and North America were federated in 1867, Todd was appointed librarian at Ottawa to the parliament of the Dominion, an office which he retained up to the time of his death. The library grew with him; he was a zealous and efficient custodian, as well as a diligent compiler of catalogues and indexes. In 1867 appeared the first volume of his well-known work ‘On Parliamentary Government in England: its Origin, Development, and Practical Operation,’ described in the ‘Edinburgh Review’ as ‘one of the most useful and complete books which has ever appeared on the practical operation of the British constitution’ (April 1867, p. 578). The second volume came out in 1869. A second edition, edited by the writer's son, A. H. Todd, was published in 1887–9, and a ‘new edition, abridged and revised by [Sir] Spencer Walpole,’ in 1892, 2 vols. In the opinion of Sir William Anson, ‘of books dealing with the subject [of constitutional law] in its entirety, I have found the fullest and most serviceable to be the work of Mr. Alpheus Todd’ (Law and Custom of the Constitution, 1892, vol. ii. pref. p. vii). A German translation by R. Assmann appeared in 1869–1871, and one in Italian in 1884. In 1878 he wrote a pamphlet ‘On the Position of a Constitutional Governor under responsible Government,’ a forerunner of his treatise on ‘Parliamentary Government in the British Colonies,’ 1880, of which the second edition, edited by his son (A. H. Todd), appeared in 1894. In 1881 he received the honorary degree of LL.D. from the university of Queen's College, Kingston, and was also created C.M.G. by the queen.

Todd had a strong bent towards biblical and theological study. In 1837 he entered the ministry of the newly constituted ‘Catholic Apostolic Church.’ He engaged in church work with so much earnestness that at one time he resolved to retire from his secular employment, but was dissuaded by the authorities of his church. For ten years before his death he was in charge of the apostolic congregation at Ottawa. He died suddenly at Ottawa on 21 Jan. 1884, leaving four sons and a daughter.

[Rose's Cyclopædia of Canadian Biogr. 1886; Morgan's Dominion Ann. Register for 1884, pp. 247–8; Appleton's Cyclopædia of American Biogr. vi. 125; Times, 7 Feb. 1884; Toronto Weekly Mail, 24 Jan. 1884; Toronto Globe, 23 Jan. 1884; Bourinot's Intellectual Development of the Canadian People, 1881, p. 113; Morgan's Bibl. Canad. 1867, p. 373; P. Gagnon's Essai de Bibliographie Canadienne, Quebec, 1895.]

H. R. T.