I’m not sure many younger people use the phrase ‘on your tod’ meaning on your own, and maybe it will die away, but it has a very interesting origin which I couldn’t have guessed at.

I supposed it might be rhyming slang, or that ‘tod’ might be an archaic word which has long since vanished, and in fact there is an archaic word, long since vanished which meant a weight of something, particularly wool, or a clump of something such as a bush or shrub… but tod as in being on your tod has a very different origin.

In fact Tod was a person – James Forman Sloan, an American; he was born in dire poverty in 1874 and, abandoned by his parents, lived on the streets. He had a wonderful gift though, and that was riding horses and he became the greatest jockey of his time, and with it came wealth and celebrity. He was famous for a style of riding he invented and developed, known as the monkey crouch where the jockey literally crouched over the horse’s neck.

He became very rich and because, according to him, his middle name was Todhunter, he became known as Tod, Tod Sloan. So Tod Sloan – on your own, was indeed rhyming slang, and sadly Sloan did end up on his tod. After great success in the USA he came to Britain and became the Prince of Wales’ jockey; however things went disastrously wrong. He was not popular, and maybe because of his lack of education, or his rough childhood, he had no social graces, was rude and seemed arrogant. There was also a suggestion that he may have placed illegal bets on himself. it seems however that it may have been that those in a position of power, the toffs of the Jockey Club just didn’t like him and he wasn’t allowed a license. returning to the USA he also lost his American license.

He died in poverty of cirrhosis of the liver in 1933, all his fabulous clothes, cars, jewellery long gone… he truly was ‘on his tod’.

6 thoughts on “On your tod

    • Thank you… yes, and sometimes people just don’t help themselves – however, for poor Tod, his terrible start in life didn’t let him help himself… Have you heard the Australian saying, on your pat? I’m going to be writing about the original Pat soon!

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  1. We have a lottery in Canada and a few years ago it was won by a hobo who used to play his fiddle outside a pub to get money for beer. He went on a bender and treated all the people who had been kind to him. A year later he was broke and was back on the street playing his fiddle again. The caption about him in our paper read [ He fiddled away a Fortune] Back where he was happiest I guess.

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