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Allisonian Firsts: Samuel Seward Toddings

A virtual exhibition celebrating the bold Allisonians who became the "firsts" in their field.

Samuel Seward Toddings

First international student to graduate from Mount Allison University, 1866

Samuel Seward Toddings, [186-?]

Mount Allison University Archives. Hunton family fonds, 7719/10/1 p. 15. May only be reproduced with permission of the Mount Allison University Archives

Samuel Seward Toddings was born on St. David’s Island, Bermuda, on 16 April 1857, the first son of Thomas and Charlotte Outerbridge (Musson) Toddings. Thomas Toddings, a white Bermudan, worked as a schoolteacher, a grocer, and an auctioneer. Seward's mother and grandmother were both born into slavery but were freed prior to emancipation in 1834. Though the one-drop-of-black-blood rule still prevailed in Bermuda at the time, Samuel, who looked white, does not appear to have experienced economic barriers because of his black ancestry.

He was educated at the Military School, St. George’s, Bermuda, and came to Mount Allison in 1860. After attending the Mount Allison Male Academy he entered Mount Allison University. Here he met his first wife, Jane Clarke Allison (1840-1888), the daughter of Professor Henry Burbridge Allison (1801-1890) and Sarah (Abrams) Allison ([ca. 1818]-1893) and the niece of founder Charles Frederick Allison (1795-1858). Samuel Seward Toddings earned his Bachelor of Arts in 1866, then started his writing career as a junior reporter on the staff of the Halifax Herald in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

He returned to Bermuda in 1869 and he and his brother Lindsay Toddings purchased the Colonist newspaper which had been operating in St. George's for three years. Initially, it was a fortnightly publication but owing to its popularity it soon became a weekly. In 1882 Samuel Seward Toddings became the sole owner and soon moved its operations to Hamilton. In 1907, the Colonist Press Company was formed. He left the company in 1911 and established the Mid-Ocean newspaper the same year. He served as a member of the House of Assembly from 1904 until 1911 and returned in 1923 for five years. He was a musician of considerable ability, and after his conversion to Catholicism was the organist at two churches, St. Peter's and St. Theresa’s.

Following Jane's death in 1888,  Samuel Seward Toddings married Agnes Louise Costello (?-1943). The couple had two children: Samuel Seward Toddings, Jr. (1892-?) and Thomas Toddings (1893-1980). His four siblings and his younger son emigrated to the United States. He died on 24 April 1935 and is buried in St. George’s Anglican Parish Cemetery in St. George’s, Bermuda.

According to his biography published in Bermuda Bios, while Todding's black ancestry was never made public, "he did not cut ties to his black family in an attempt to hide it. He was close to his mother and grandmother, and the only surviving Mid-Ocean issues—for the year 1912—point to prominent coverage of black events." [1]


[1] See