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Toy Name Study

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Location: Englandmap
Surnames/tags: Toy Toye Toi
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This very unusual and interesting name is of Olde English origins, and one of the very first of all surnames to be recorded anywhere in the world. The first example shown below may not have been hereditary, although this is not proven. Either way it is an excellent example of the irrepressible early medieval habit of creating a 'sire-name' from a baptismal name or a nickname. The precise medieval meaning of 'toi' is obscure. It may have been a form of endearment, certainly it was found as a baptismal name as in the recording of Godfridus fillius Toye of Lincoln in the year 200. The nickname when applied was apparently given to someone who was particularly light-hearted or frivolous in his behaviour, although a further and more logical suggestion is that it may have applied to people who were good at sport and games.

Early examples of the surname recordings include Aldwin Toie of Devon, in the 1184 Pipe Rolls, Alan Toye in the 1274 Hundred Rolls of Suffolk, and Warin Toy of Cambridge in the 1275 Hundred Rolls. Later recordings taken from church registers include the marriage of Edward Toye to Elizabeth Chittis at St Botolphs Church, Bishopsgate, London, on May 2nd 1654, whilst Hannah Toye, the daughter of Samuel and Sarah Toye, was christened on January 26th 1694 at Sedgley village in Staffordshire. The parish register of St Michaels, Barbados, for 'Ano 1680' records the rare name of (Kathryn) Toyer. 'Toyer' maybe the Sussex/Kent form of 'Toy(e)', although we believe that 'Toyer' is the occupational form of 'Toy(e)', and describes a maker of playthings. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Aluric Toi, which was dated 1086, The Domesday Book of Hampshire, during the reign of King William I, known as 'The Conqueror', 1066-1087.[1]


This name is almost exclusive to Cornwall, with moderate numbers also in London. A distribution map can be seen here.

Famous and Infamous Toys

16th Century

  • Sir Edward Toye (~1503-1558), vicar of Cleobury Mortimer, Shropshire ~1542 to 1588
  • Humphrey Toy (~1537-1577), first to publish the New Testament in Welsh

19th century

20th century

  • Barbara Toy (1908–2001), Australian-British travel writer, theatrical director, playwright, and screenplay writer
  • Sam Toy (1923–2008), American industrialist; chairman of Ford Motor Company 1980–86
  • Camden Toy (b. 1957), American actor and script writer

External Links

How to Join

Please contact the project leader Rob Judd or leave a comment at the foot of the page. If you have any questions, just ask. Thanks!

Add Toy to your list of followed tags. That way you'll see all our discussions in G2G.


  1. Origins: SurnameDB

Task List

  • Origins of name - DONE
  • Geological distribution - DONE
  • Famous / infamous persons - DONE
  • Clean and source all non-US TOY profiles - IN PROGRESS

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Comments: 5

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Hi there

I would like to join the TOY family group. My maiden name is Toy and I have been able to trace back the Toy tree to about early 1700's and maybe a little earlier. One of my forefathers was Joseph Toy from Cornwall but went to the United States and made a bit of a name for himself in manufacturing better fuses (I think it was) for the mining industry.

Regards Wendy MacLeod nee Toy

posted by Wendy (Toy) MacLeod
Hi Wendy,

Thanks for your interest. There is a specialist Toy Facebook group run by Darryl Toy in the UK. Not much to do on WikiTree except add follow tags, which is described above.



Rob Judd

posted by Robert Judd
Thanks Robert. I have only recently discovered that Facebook group and have joined it and Darryl has helped with some information already quite quickly. Turns out we are sixth cousins. It is a good site for any Toy's out there.


Wendy MacLeod

posted by Wendy (Toy) MacLeod
I have a few relatives with surname Toy, all from Cornwall. I will be putting the name study sticker on them.

Wondered if you’d consider adding Charles Sidney Toy-297 to the list of famous Toys. He was a “renowned” architect.

posted by Kim Williams
Excellent! No, I didn't know about CS Toy. Will look him over! -- Rob
posted by Robert Judd