The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2148 Monday, 10 November 2003
From: John Briggs <
Date: Thursday, 6 Nov 2003 17:22:18 -0000
Subject: 14.2123 Palmers and Shadows, Spirits and Ghosts
Comment: Re: SHK 14.2123 Palmers and Shadows, Spirits and Ghosts
Douglas Galbi wrote:
>On the other hand, the use of Mary as a given name in England rose from
>less than 3% of females prior to 1535 to more than 15% after 1650.
This is somewhat misleading. For a start "Mary was not common in the
Middle Ages... After the Marian persecution it quite lost caste, but
came back with William and Mary." (Ernest Weekley - yes, *that* Ernest
Weekley! - Jack and Jill: A Study of Our Christian Names, 2nd ed,
London, 1948, p.66.) [In the Middle Ages the diminutive or 'pet' forms
Marian or Mariot were almost more common.] "..Mary was in danger of
becoming obsolete at the end of Elizabeth's reign, so hateful had it
become to Englishmen, whether Churchmen or Presbyterians." (Charles W.
Bardsley, Curiosities of Puritan Nomenclature, 2nd ed., London, 1888, p.
113.) [In fact, the revival of Mary may have been a little earlier than
William and Mary, possibly thanks to Queen Henrietta Maria.]
(I'm sorry about the age of these references, but personal-name studies
is a slow-moving field, and these are probably the most accessible!)
It should be pointed out that although the Latin forms of baptismal
names were usually used formally, in everyday speech the English forms
would be used. Hence:
Maria: "My name is Mary, sir." (TN, Act 1, Sc. 3)
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