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Subject: Dutch lullaby about Toby
(21 juni 2019)

Hello Rozemarijn,

I have just spent quite a while on your website and I enjoyed reading the many lovely Dutch songs for children. I am a Beppe and I so enjoy learning about by Dutch ancestry to pass on to my precious Dutch grandchildren. I am especially in love with the songs in your website for Sinterklaas!!

I have a question, Rozemarijn, that perhaps you can help me with. This is a story that comes from my family:

In 1930 my great-grandfather Teunis (who came to America from South Holland, The Netherlands in the 1897) sang a lullaby to his sick grandson as he held him in his arms swaying back and forth. Teunis sang softly to the crying child singing the word "Toby" "Toby" along with other words over and over. The lullaby calmed the baby and this little boy who was given the name Teunis at birth was then called Toby all of his life.

In America, we say the name Toby pronouncing it "Toe Bee". I have searched and searched for a Dutch lullaby named Toby and I could find nothing. Any information you might know would be so appreciated.

I am fascinated by the beautiful Dutch names in my ancestry. It is sad that many of these names are no longer given in our family for new babies. I think that your name is so beautiful in the Dutch spelling. Thank you for the work that you have done in your website..!

Most sincerely,


Answer     (23 juni 2019)

Hi Debbie,

thank for your kind compliments for my website!

I'm very sorry, but I don't know a Dutch song with the name 'Toby' in it and I couldn't find it anywhere. I searched the Dutch Song Database, the DBNL (digital library of Dutch Literature) and Google Books, but found nothing. I also searched for children's songs with an often repeating name (of two syllables) in it, nothing. And I also searched for Frisian children's songs with the name Toby (or similar) in it - because you mention the Frisian word 'beppe' - but unfortunately again nothing.

Searching for a children's song with only one word, a name, is very tricky. The problem is, that names in children's songs, very often change, by time, or by an individual singer. Mostly the name is changed into the name of the child one sings for. So maybe the grandfather 'anglicised' the name Teunis into Toby.

The name 'Toby', furthermore, is not completely unknown, but very uncommon in Dutch and 'sounds' English in our ears. So it's a bit unlikely that that name was in the original Dutch song. Songwriters mostly choose common Dutch names of the time to begin with, like Jantje (little John) or Marie (Mary). That makes me guess, that the grandfather himself chose an (English) name to use in that Dutch song, in that very moment - or that he sang an English lullaby.

I'm afraid the only way to search on, is with at least one other word of the songtext, or perhaps with a melody line. It's a pity that the source of one's name is lost in time. My mother gave me my name based on a very beloved children's book of her youth, 'Rozemarijntje' by Van de Hulst, about a bright, endearing and a bit naughty little girl and I still have that book and also gave it to all my nieces. So I understand that it would be very special to pinpoint one specific Dutch song and know it's rooted in the culture of that time.

So I'm sorry I leave you empty-handed. I wish you good luck finding out more about your ancenstry!

With kind regards, met vriendelijke groeten,


Dutch songs with English translation  (

Answer     (30 juni 2019)

Hello Rozemarijn,

Thank you so very much for your kind response to my inquiry about the lullaby 'Toby'. I appreciate the time you took to search for a song to this name.

I never even considered that my great-grandfather may have sung a little tune to his baby grandson that might have been English. I just assumed it was in Dutch. Thank you for this new idea! He spoke very good English and perhaps this is a possibility.

Thank you Rozemarijn for writing back to me. I will search now for a possible American song with the name Toby.

I enjoyed reading about your mother's choice for your name from the children's storybook! A very sweet choice indeed.

Thank you and may you enjoy a wonderful weekend.



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