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