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The origin and meaning of the name Toiviainen

What is the origin of the Toiviainen surname, which sounds oddly winding even to the ear of a Karelian? There are two theories. The older of these two theories, supported for instance by the writer of "Suomen nimikirja" (the book about Finnish names), Sirkka Paikkala, M.A., is based on the fact according to which the Toiviainen surname comes from an ancient Finnish name of a person. She writes about this name as follows (Sukuviesti 2/1985):

”In his collections from the early decades of the twentieth century A. V. Koskimies (former Forsman) refers to additional name variations of Toiva-group. First of all he tells that long ago Toivia or Toivio was quite a common male name in the Kemi district of Lapland. In Sodankylä he found the names Tåijuato (= Toivottu), Töwtesson 1569, Hans Toiffuisson (= Toivinpoika ”Toivi’s son”) 1567, Hans ja Peder Tåiwijosson or Toiuiasson (= Toivionpoika tai Toivianpoika ”Toivio’s son or Toivia’s son”) 1565, Oluff Tåijuasson (= Toivanpoika ”Toiva’s son”) tai Tåijviasson (= Toivianpoika ”Toivia’s son”) 1565, Tåijviosson (= Toivionpoika ”Toivio’s son”) 1566, Toijuatasson 1564 (=Toivotunpoika ”Toivottu’s son”). In Kuolajärvi he found, among others, the names Toijwio Toijwiosson (Toivio Toivionpoika ”Toivio Toivio’s son”)1566 and Toijuara Toiuarsson (= Toivara Toivaranpoika ”Toivara Toivara’s son”) 1570.

The examples don't only show how people used different name variations of the same person, they also prove that these "ancient" Finnish names were really also used as first names. In Lapland our old pre-Christian nomenclature over private persons has survived longer than anywhere else and written information exists about it. Other notes found elsewhere in Finland also refer to a name originally having been a "first name". In Padasjoki a person called Anders Toiwanpoika (Anders Toiwa’s son) was registered in 1480 and in Tuulos Nicki Toifuan was registered in 1468. - - -

A. F. Forsman has listed in his doctorate thesis (p. 161) variations of male names belonging to the Toiva-group, like Toiva, Toivakka or Toivakko, Toivali, Toivara, Toivari, Toivas, Toivatto (?), Toivettu, Toivi, Toivia or Toivio, Toivikka, Toivo (< Toivoi), Toivottu and Toivolempi (in Estonian Toyvelembe). I have also agreed to this in Suomalainen nimikirja by refering Toiviainen to the article Toiva, which clarifies the content of these linguisticly associated names. The following surnames appearing in Suomalainen nimikirja, Toiva, Toivainen, Toivakka, Toivanen, Toivari, Toivio, Toivo, Toivola, Toivonen and Toivettula, are of the same linguistic origin - not of the same family origin, which is a different matter - although part of these names contain younger layers."

So speaks Sirkka Paikkala. But the surname Toiviainen did not become existing in Lapland. According to the available information the first inhabitant with the name Toiviainen settled down there as late as in the beginning of the twentieth century, coming from the south and belonging to the Toiviainen family from the Lake Ladoga Karelia. Neither do the researchers seem to agree about the indisputability of lumping together the male names included in the Toiva-group. Viljo Nissilä (Suomen Karjalan nimistö, p. 124) points out in his explanation concerning the ancient Finnish name clusters like Toiva, Toivia, Toivo, that "the meaning and the logical connection of all these is far from being cleared up"

Jaakko Toiviainen (1917-1981) presented a totally different theory about the origin of our name in his study "The origin of the Toiviainen family". He writes the following: "My teacher of Finnish language, master Arvo Suominen, explained to me for 40 years ago that the surname Toiviainen refers to a man who has made a pilgrimage (pilgrimage in Finnish: 1) toivioretki, 2) pyhiinvaellusmatka).

In the 1977 Toiviainen family meeting I explained the origin of the Toiviainen surname on this basis. Without change of this basis I have later come to a more accurate result.

Toiviainen would be a logical name for a man who has made a pilgrimage, if it had not been so common during the catholic period to make pilgrimages to monastries and religious festivals that it hardly gave a reason to a new surname. Except maybe, if the one and same man caused a sensation by perpetual pilgrimages. If again a man decided to stay for good at a monastery after his pilgrimage he did not need a surname as a monk, and Toiviainen as the name of his children left behind does not sound credible.

The history of sailing at Lake Ladoga indicates that since early times a connection from the mainland to the Heinsimä and Valamo monastries could only be maintained by seaworthy Ladoga boats, which were not owned by just anybody and not just anybody mastered sailing with them. This connection has probably been maintained besides Sortavala and Kurkijoki also from the densly populated Ladoga sailing center Tiurala at Hiitola coast. As the early home of the Toiviainen family was located at Hiitola coast in the Tiurala villages I presume, their progenitor was a Ladoga sailor, who lived in Tiurala in the fourteenth century, and who either as a parish worker or of other reasons transported pilgrims to the Valamo monastery and was therefore given the surname Toiviainen."

It can be added to the beforementioned text of Jaakko Tuomaanpoika (Jaakko, son of Tuomas), that in the tax documents from the year 1500 a reference is made to an inn owned by the Valamo monastery and located in Tiurala (= Hiitola), on the south coast of Kilpola island. Additionally, the Valamo monastery owned also another inn there, just as did the Iivana monastery located in Käkisalmi. This proves that travellers certainly took this route from the Ladoga Karelia to the monastries a long time ago.

Here are the two explanations for the origin of our name. We hardly need a third one. These two give enough reason to ponder over what kind of a person was the man, whose descendant bears the name Toiviainen.

Written by Mr. Martti Toiviainen for the book ”Toiviaiset – suku Karjalan meren rantamilta” (pages 14-15) published in 1998 by the Toiviainens’ family society. ISBN 952-90-9770-0.
Translation by Päivikki Halleen 2000.