Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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TOY , HUMFREY (d. 1575 ), Carmarthen merchant .

The first New Testament in Welsh ( 1567 William Salesbury ), and the first Welsh translation of the Book of Common Prayer (also 1567 bishop Richard Davies ) were printed in London by Henry Denham ‘ at the costes and charges of Humfrey Toy .’ It has been suggested that the latter was Humfrey Toy of Carmarthen and not his nephew, also Humfrey Toy , who was a bookseller in London and became under-warden of the Stationers' Company ; on the other hand it is known that the London Humfrey Toy had Salesbury as his guest in his London house in 1567 . Particulars taken from the will of Humfrey Toy , Carmarthen , are given in Trans. of the Carms. Antiq. Soc. , xi, 76-7; from these it is learnt that he was a wealthy merchant and tanner who lived at Carmarthen and who owned much property in the town itself and outside it. He is mentioned in official documents as early as 1542/3 , and his will, dated 1 March 1575 , was proved by his son Robert on 2 May the same year. His wife, by whom he had a large family, was Jane , daughter of David ap David , who was mayor of Carmarthen in 1523 . Toy was mayor in 1557 . He would naturally come to know Richard Davies , bishop of S. Davids , when the latter lived at Abergwili , and become acquainted with William Salesbury when the latter visited the bishop at Abergwili . Toy 's interest in the Welsh language is further proved by the fact that he made provision in his will for the giving of a sermon or lecture three times a week for a year, some of the sermons to be in English and some in Welsh .

It has to be borne in mind, however, that William Salesbury took up residence in Humfrey Toy the printer 's house in London in 1567 , in order to see through the press his Welsh translation of the New Testament and that Humfrey Toy printed, in the same year, the second edition of Salesbury 's A playne and a familiar Introduction, teaching how to pronounce the Letters in the Brytishe Tongue, now commonly called Welshe ; at the end of the preface to this work are the words ‘ Soiourning at your house in Paules Churchyarde .’ All this appears to prove that it was the London Toy who was responsible for ‘the costes and charges.’


  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ;
  • G. Tucker Thomas , ‘Humfrey Toy, Mayor of Carmarthen, A.D. 1557,’in The Carmarthen Antiquary , xi, 76-7;
  • J. Ballinger and J. Ifano Jones , The Bible in Wales (1906) (London, 1906 );
  • Journal of the Welsh Bibliographical Society , ii, 238-43;
  • D. R. Thomas , The Life and Work of Bishop Davies and William Salesbury (1902) ;
  • R. B. McKerrow , etc., A dictionary of printers and booksellers in England, Scotland and Ireland, and of foreign printers of English books 1557-1640 (London, 1910) (London, 1910 );
  • Heraldic Visitations of Wales and Part of the Marches (1846) , i.


Sir William Llewelyn Davies, M.A., LL.D., F.S.A. (1887-1952), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959