Sophia Dorothy Todd was born 1831 in London, Middlesex, England to Francis Todd (1791-1852) and Mary Ann Bradshaw (c1803-1839) and died 20 September 1916 Glenmaggie, Victoria, Australia of unspecified causes.
Sophia arrived in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, on 10 January 1833 at the age of 18 months aboard the "Palambam" with her mother and elder siblings. There they joined her father who had arrived in Sydney as a free settler about 2 months earlier aboard the "Planter". The family had been unable to sail together.
Sophia and her elder brother Richard were baptised 3 days before their father had sailed on 13 June 1832. Sophia and her mother & siblings sailed on 24 August 1832.
Sophia's first marriage in Sydney, at the age of 18, was to Thomas Lansdown in November 1850. It is noted on the marriage register of St Phillips church in Sydney that Sophia married with the consent of her father. A witness at the wedding was her younger sister Edith Ellen (aka Ellen) who had married James Giles earlier in 1850 at the age of 16. Edith Ellen, whose married name was Giles, appears in the marriage register as Ellen Gyles(sic). Both Sophia and her husband Thomas Lansdown were illiterate and signed the marriage register with their mark (that is with a cross).
For a long time it was believed that Sophia had married Thomas Lansdown (1817-1885) and that either Sophia had died shortly after the wedding with her death being unrecorded, or that the marriage had broken down as Thomas Lansdown (1817-1885) had a child with another woman in September 1851. It is now known, however, that Sophia did not die shortly after her wedding but moved to Victoria. It is also known that she did not marry Thomas Lansdown (1817-1885) but married another man by the name of Thomas Lansdown as Thomas Lansdown (1817-1885) was literate (as proved by a court case in 1857), and Sophia and her husband Thomas Lansdown were both illiterate.
By 1852, Sophia and her husband Thomas Lansdown had moved to Melbourne. In a Victorian Government Gazette dated 1852 Sophia Lansdown appears as a recipient for uncollected mail. It may seem strange that an illiterate woman would be receiving mail> Illiterate people, however, did receive mail and had it read to them by another person.
When Sophia and her husband Thomas Lansdown moved to Melbourne they were joining Sophia's elder brother, Richard Todd (1829-1886), who was already living there. Sophia's brother Richard Todd (1829-1886) had moved to Melbourne in 1846 at the age of about 16. Richard married in Melbourne in 1854 before moving out onto the Bendigo goldfields where his first child was born. Soiphia and Richard's younger sisters Edith Ellen Giles (nee Todd) (1833-1875) and Harriet Emma Todd (1835-1893) are also known to have moved to Victoria. Edith Ellen moved to the Bendigo goldfields with her husband and 2 children in about 1854 before moving on to the Ballarat goldfields. Harriet Emma had her seven childen on the Maryborough goldfields in 1859-1870. Other siblings have been unable to be traced.
Sophia and her husband Thomas were not to be blessed with children. For this reason, with no recorded births to tell us where they were living in the period 1852 to 1858, we cannot know if they joined in the goldrush like Sophia's siblings and their spouses. It can be reasonably expected, however, that they did so. In late 1858, if not earlier, Sophia and her husband were living in Melbourne.
- In "The Argus" newspaper of Tuesday 12 October 1858 an advertisement was placed by a friend trying to contact Sophia's husband Thomas Lansdown. Again it may seem strange for a friend to place an advertisement in the newspaper for an illiterate Thomas Lansdown. Advertisements of this type, however, were placed in newspapers as it was expected that a literate friend or aquaintance would read the advertsiement and inform the illiterate person about what it said. The advertisement reads:
- If Thomas Lansdown calls at the Yarra Dining Rooms, Flinders Street West on Thursday next he will see a friend from Sydney.
- A report in the Police Gazette shows Sophia Lansdown living in Bedford Street, Collingwood in May 1860. The report states that stolen from her yard on 16 May 1850 had been "2 ducks, a metal boiler, and a tablecloth".
It is unknown when Sophia's husband Thomas Lansdown died as no record of his death has been found. After his death, however, Sophia remarried. Sophia married grazier James Shaw (c1840-1920) in 1877. Sophia then lived and farmed at Glenmaggie with her new husband.
When Sophia died at Glenmaggie in 1916 she died without a will. She owned 3 acre of land worth £18. Her husband James Shaw (c1840-1920) applied to inherit this land that had been purchased with his money. He stated that Sophia had no children. He named 3 nieces of deceased sisters of Sophia. He named Christine Foslon of Newcastle (married), Elizabeth McNaught of Sydney (married) and Mary Jane Sorenson of Tumut (widow). Mary Jane Sorenson is the only niece that has been able to be traced. She is Mary Jane Giles (1850-1929) the daughter of Sophia's younger sister Edith Ellen Giles (nee Todd) (1833-1875). It is not known who the mothers of the other two named nieces were.