Rhoda is Rose

By | 19 April 2014

A few months ago, when I solved the mystery of Daniel Toy’s final resting place, I uncovered a new mystery, found in the inscription on the stone, which begins “This stone is Erected by Rhoda Toy In memory of her Husband…”

Daniel Toy Headstone

Rhoda?  In all the records I have, Daniel’s wife is identified as either Rose or Rosanna Coyle.  Where does Rhoda come from?

TSaint Nameshe first part of the mystery was fairly easy to solve. Several online baby-name references point to Rhoda as another name for Rose, either of Latin origin or Greek, although the Greek name may also mean ‘from Rhodes’ (which is the ‘island of roses‘). Thomas W. Sheehan presents even better evidence for the Rhoda and Rose association in the his Dictionary of Patron Saints’ Names.  At left is an excerpt from the book.  At the 20000 Names website, we find that Rhoda is the biblical Latin for the Greek name Rhodē, meaning ‘Rose’.

In the New Testament this name was borne by a maid in the house of Mary the mother of John Mark.  In Acts 12:13 we find: “And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda.”

So I’m satisfied that Rhoda does refer to Rosanna Coyle, wife of Daniel Toy, but why put Rhoda on the tombstone? The answer to this came up  while doing research on the Bogans, another branch of the Toy family, when I came across a reference to Hugh Bogan who died around 1920 and whose headstone read “Hugo” Bogan.  A little more research turned up the fact that ‘Hugo’ is the Latinized version of “Hugh’.  It turns out this this is a custom brought to the US from Ireland, where Parish records were customarily written in Latin.  Although the given name is recorded in Latin, this was only used in the written form and never used in every-day speech.

I think the mystery is solved.  Rhoda is a biblical Latin form of the name Rose and was used on Daniel’s tombstone because of Irish Catholic custom.

Daniel Toy (1789 – 1832)

Rosanna Coyle (1789 – 1878)


7 thoughts on “Rhoda is Rose

  1. Nancy Van Dyke-Dickison

    Bravo again! You could not have provided a more definitive answer to the mystery of “Rhoda.”

    Reese, I have trouble printing off your information–the right side is cut off. The heading of the e-mails sent to notify me of your entries is in the right place but the text of your information is too far to the right. I don’t think it is my page set-up but then again, you may think it is. You always post such gems that I like to keep them in my files.

    1. Rhys Post author

      Thanks Nancy! It was the emails you sent me that got me digging deeper into this. I’m sorry to hear that this doesn’t print well. Let me investigate…

    2. Rhys Post author


      See how you like this – At the bottom right of each article you will now find a little PDF icon. If you click on this, it will generate a PDF document of the article and download it to your computer. The result is not a perfect match for the article, but it’s includes all the information and pictures. Let me know what you think.

  2. Mike Toy

    Interesting, and again good job! You’ve put in a lot of work, and have found a lot of great information about my family history. Thanks.

    1. Rhys Post author

      The thing is, you have a very interesting family history!

  3. hanne huisjes

    Ha, wonderful job. I had put the Rhoda bit down to illegability of the stone. You cleared it up. Thank you Reese.

    1. Rhys Post author

      Thanks. This one has been gnawing at me for some time.


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