Born in New England, Todd Gray has been fascinated by Devon’s history since a school trip in 1973. After completing his degree in London, he moved to Exeter in 1984 to study for a PhD. He completed his doctorate in 1988 and has been a Research Fellow at the university ever since.
He became a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 1992, in 2006 he became a British citizen and was awarded an MBE for voluntary services to Devon’s history in 2014. He has organised numerous exhibitions, more than 50 history conferences and has given nearly 2,000 public lectures in Britain, North America and Asia. He is, or has been, a committee member, chairman or president of Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries, the Devonshire Association, Devon History Society, Devon & Cornwall Record Society, Devon Gardens Trust, Devon Family History Society, the Centre for South-Western Historical Studies and the Friends of Devon’s Archives. He is currently co-organising the first Exeter History Day to be held in 2019.
Todd has examined every document collection in Devon’s three public archives - 16 linear miles of papers. This extensive use of archives has allowed him to shine a light on previously forgotten or overlooked parts of Devon’s history such as slavery in the late 1600s, the rise of fascism in the 1930s and the outbreak of looting in 1942. He has also examined lighter aspects of history – two years ago he discovered forgotten Tudor swear words used in Devon and another Exeter word, quilling, is currently being considered for inclusion in the Oxford English Dictionary.
During the Cathedral Yard fire in Exeter two years ago Todd acted as an expert for journalists, explaining the history of the area during more than 50 interviews. He later organised two public meetings in the city for people to discuss the impact of the fire and his book, St Martin’s Island, written with Sue Jackson, is a lasting account of the fire and its aftermath.