Origins of Toby
I know already. Just about everyone I meet has an aunt who has a dog named Toby
So where did I get that name and why are so many dogs also named Toby. And what about those mugs?
The Book of Tobit or Tobias
The name 'Toby', comes from the Book of Tobit (also Tobe). Tobe was an Israelite
who spends his whole life doing acts of charity and goodness and is rewarded by
winding up a blind beggar living in exile in the land of Nineveh. Wanting to die,
he prays to God for death but is refused. Recalling that he is owed money in the
distant land of Media, he sends his son, Tobias (Tobiah), to collect the debt
from a friend. Tobias is guided by the angel Raphael. With the help of Raphy, Tobias catches a fish with curative properties. While on the way to collect the debt, Tobias also manages to
save King Raguel's daughter from a demon. Tobias collects
the debt, marries the daughter,and restores his father's eyesight with the fish! not bad for a the son of a blind beggar..
The Book of Tobit is not found in every version of the Bible. For some reason some people doubt
its validity. Oh well. Here is the story from the New American Bible. The Book of Tobit
But this does little to explain why so many dogs are named Toby.
Enter Punch and Judy.
Punch & Judy
Punch & Judy is that ever popular puppet
show, which I believe, started in Italy, but made its way north to England
where it is still considered a major art form. What is not widely known
(in the U.S. of A., that is) is Punch had a bull terrier that was named Toby. Sometimes Toby was a puppet but more often than not it was
an actual living, breathing, dog. Toby would often be painted up with make
up similar to the Our Gang known as Pete. He would also wear a costume
that almost always included a frilly collar. Some Punch & Judy performers
trained Toby to pass the hat after the show! At one time Toby became
so important and so recognizable that the shows were often referred to as Punch & Toby shows. The dog is not used as often anymore, and when
he is, he is typically a puppet. However this does answer the question of
why Toby is such a popular name for a dog!
More about Punch and Judy
Punch or more correctly, Punchinello or in Italian Pulcinella, was hook
nosed, humpbacked character (hey, wait a minute, let's not get personal
here!), the most popular of marionettes and glove puppets and the chief
figure in the Punch-and-Judy puppet show. Brutal, vindictive, and deceitful,
he is usually at odds with authority. His character had roots in the Roman
clown and the comic country bumpkin. More modern origins can be traced
to Pulcinella, a character who appeared in the Italian Commedia Dell'Arte
in the 17th century.
It is not certain who was the first Pulcinella, although claims
have been made on behalf of Silvio Fiorillo, a professional comedian who was performing
at the beginning of the 17th century. In early pictorial representations,
he is depicted as large, shambling, and stupid-looking, dressed
in a loose white shirt and very full trousers.
The Italian actors soon began to travel throughout Europe, bringing
with them the puppet showmen. Polichinelle, the French adaptation of the
character Pulcinella, became firmly established in France by the middle
of the 17th century. The origin of the grotesque, humpbacked, and hook
nosed marionette Polichinelle may have resulted from a fusion of the Italian
character Pulcinella with an earlier French tradition of humpbacked fools.
A similar tradition of the humpbacked fool existed in England when the first Italian puppeteers arrived
after the restoration of Charles II in 1660. Two years later,
the first references to Punchinello, soon shortened to Punch,
appeared in the writings of the English diarist Samuel Pepys.
By 1700 practically every puppet show in England featured Punch,
and his wife, Judy, originally called Joan, was also a well-known
figure. Traveling showmen carried these plays to country wakes
(festivals) in the summer and visited London for the fairs in
August and September. Early in the 18th century Punch became
famous in political circles through the use of the name by Martin Powell,
a marionette showman, in a scurrilous attack on Robert Harley
entitled A Second Tale of a Tub (1715).
In the 1790s the marionettes lost their popularity at the fairs.
There was, however, a new interest in the humbler glove puppets,
and in this form the Punch-and-Judy play became a success. Plots
varied, but the principal players were Toby the Dog, the Baby,
the Doctor, the Negro Servant, the Beadle, the Clown, the Hangman,
the Ghost of Judy, Mr. Jones, Hector the Horse, the Crocodile,
and the Devil. The hooked nose, the humped back, the tendency
to wife beating and outrageous lawlessness typical of the English
Punch were established characteristics by the 19th century.
In England in the second half of the 20th century, more than
50 professional puppeteers carried on the vigorous tradition
of Punch's humor. His influence survives in such common phrases
as "pleased as Punch."
In France the puppet Polichinelle had a similar history. His
popularity, however, declined during the 19th and 20th centuries,
and he has disappeared as a comic figure, being replaced by
Other puppets have developed from the same origins as Punch,
such as Petrushka (Petrouchka) in Russia.
Lastly a magazine devoted to political satire and humor was started in the late 1900s and was titled Punch in an attempt to capitalize on the famous puppet. The magazine remained in print for over one hundred years
So how did the show go? See an edited script based on the original that first appeared in Henry Mayhew's London Labour and the London Poor
Toby in Merry Ol' England
Barry Delaney in "The Subject of Jugs" explains that in 18th- century England,
a common street mugger was known as a Low Toby, and a mounted highwayman was called a
. Toby mugs are ceramic mugs sold in Britain. The mugs have caricatures
of old salts wearing tri-corn hats. They are quite popular in the collecting
There are several different- opinions as to the origin of the toby mug got it's name.
Some people say it was named for Sir Toby Belch, a boisterous and comic knight in
Shakespeare's comedy, Twelfth Night. Others cite Uncle Toby from Laurence Stern's novel
Tristram Shandy, published in 1759.
The general consensus, however, is that the toby mug was named for Toby Fillpot,
a character in the song "Toby Filpot" or "The Brown Jug" composed in 1761 by the Rev. Francis Fawkes
and adapted from an old Italian poem by Geranimo Amelto.
Toby Filpot or The Brown Jug
Dear Tom, this brown jug that now foams with mild ale
In which I will drink to sweet Nan
of the Vale
Was once Toby Filpot, a thirsty old soul, As e're drank a bottle or fathom'd
In boozing about 'twas his praise to excel
And among jolly to -pers he bore off the bell... he bore off the bell
It chanc'd as in dog days he sat at his ease
In his flowe'r-woven arbour as gay as you please
With a friend and a pipe puffing sorrow away
And with honest stingo was soaking his clay
His breath-doors to friendship to mirth and mild ale
So here's to my loveley Nan of Vale
His body, when long in the ground it had lain
And time into clay had resolved
it again, A potter found out in its covert so smug
And with part of fat Toby he form'd
this brown jug
Now sacred to friendship, to mirth and mild ale
So here's to my loveley Nan of Vale