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Toy family page


Charlotte 'Lottie' Jane Rivers Toy, daughter of John Matthew and Mary Elizabeth Hodge

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Origins of surname

References for this surname on otherwise very reliable websites are somewhat vague. The Surname Database, which we regularly refer to, says: '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'.

This seems to be nothing more than guesswork, and there appears to be no evidence to link the family name to the word commonly applied today to a child's plaything. Several other sources suggest that 'toy' was a Medieval nickname for a light-hearted or frivolous person. dates the origin of 'toy' about 1275-1325, and suggests that it is 'of obscure origin'. The Surname Database suggests that this is one of the earliest of all surnames, which can trace its origin to a personal name around 200 AD. It refers to a record for Aldwin Toie of Devon, in the 1184 Pipe Rolls.

The North-Western Hotel was on the St Mary side of Greve de Lecq bay in 1852. It only had this name for a short time. A year earlier it is listed in the census as Greve de Lecq House, and it soon became known as Greve de Lecq Hotel. In the middle of the 19th century it was run by John Matthew Toy, who came to Jersey from Cornwall and lived at the hotel with his wife and 13 children, the last five born in Jersey.

Much research of the Toy families of Cornwall was done by The Venerable Thomas Barfett in his book The Toy family of Cornwall. He was Archdeacon of Hereford from 1977 to 1982, but spent the greater part of his ministry in Cornwall. Thomas Barfett was married to Edna Toy. He had been involved in some 50 years of family research and was a past president of the Cornwall Family History Society.

He raised questions regarding the origin of the Toy/Toye/Toit/du Toit family of Cornwall, with possible ties to the French Huguenots who arrived in England after 1574. One belief is the family name Toy is of Norman/Viking Origin, descending from a Viking of Normandy named Toui le Prud, who has been well researched. Another belief is the name originates from the 'Toye' French Huguenots who arrived in England after 1574.

We have to conclude that 'nobody really knows'.

Early records

John M Toy (what the M stood for seems to have been lost) was shown as 'hotel keeper' of the Greve de Lecq Hotel in the 1851 census. He appears to have arrived in Jersey about 1845 with his wife Elizabeth Hodge and eight of their 12 children, having moved from Helston in Cornwall, where he was born in 1814, the son of Stephen and Anne Secombe. We are not certain whether he owned the hotel. An advertisement in 1852, when the establishment was called the North-Western Hotel, describes him as proprietor, a term which was often used in the mid-19th century to describe a person running a business, whether or not they owned it.

His family tree is linked below. He was not, however, the first to bear the name in Jersey. John Robert, the son of John and Marie Toy, was baptised in Grouville in 1750, and there were further baptisms of Ann, the daughter of John and Mary and Edward, son of Henry and Sarah, in St Helier in 1806 and 1808 respectively.

Three births of Toy daughters were registered in St Mary between 1842 and 1861, before John and Elizabeth's final five children were born in St Peter and St Mary between 1845 and 1860.


  • Toy
  • Toye
  • Toie

Family records


Family trees


Church records


Great War service

  • Frederick Edgar Toy (1871- ) (St O) son of Charlotte Jane, CSM, Labour Corps

Family album

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