I was born in a time when every single girl was named Ashley, or so it seemed. There was this Ashley and that Ashley. There were just Ashleys coming out of everyone’s ears. Today, there are a lot of baby Emmas and baby Elenas. If you meet a woman named Jennifer or Ashley, you have a pretty good determining factor in guessing their age. Of course there are women that fall outside of the birth range of 1975-1995, but for the most part, if you meet a woman named Ashley she was born in that time period.
In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s time there were lots of Marys and it reflected in his works. The Sherlock Holmes stories alone are filled with multiple Marys. Our main Mary is Mary Watson, but there are so many Marys mentioned. There are also quite a few Johns.
According to the US census records of 1890, Mary was the most common female name and John was the most common male name. This is in the United States of course, but the trend seems to be reflected in England as well.
The photo for this post is Mary Josephine Foley Doyle, otherwise known as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s mother. That’s great and all. She’s named Mary, big deal you say, but let’s keep going. Arthur was married twice. His first wife was named Mary Louise Hawkins, he called her Louisa. Sure, lots of men marry women named the same thing as their mothers, right? Well, not usually. Usually men don’t marry women named the same things as their mothers. The generational names are usually so different that there is pretty much no chance in Hell that a man is going to marry a woman named Phyllis or what have you.
Going further, Arthur had a few kids. One of which was named Mary Louise. She was born to Mary Louise Hawkins. So both mother and daughter were named Mary. The grandmother was also named Mary.
It is common for sons to be named after their fathers, the Jrs in your life; it’s not quite as common for a daughter to be named after her mother. It is more common for a granddaughter to be named after her grandmother though, but to be perfectly clear, Mary Louise Doyle is named after her mother seeing as she has the same first name and middle name. What all of this comes down to is that Arthur’s life was just full of Marys.
Historically, this makes sense because like I said Mary was the most common female name in the 1890s. There were just Marys coming out of people’s ears. Familiarly, it’s a little odd that so many people were named Mary so close to Arthur. You mom, your wife, and your daughter are all named the same thing…kind of weird. Does Arthur have mommy issues? I wonder if Freud would have anything to say about this. I’m just glad his other children were not named Mary as well.
Mary has always been a popular name, well, it’s been a popular name for a long time, mainly since the Catholic church has been a thing, or Christianity in general. Mary is the mother of Jesus, supposedly her sisters were also named Mary. Mary’s mother is St. Anne. Mary was the ultimate woman as far as any Christian was concerned. Nobody liked Eve because she ate the fruit. Nobody dared named their daughter Jezebel. There were Rebecca’s floating around, but it’s never been quite as popular as Mary. Mary was the mother of Jesus and people thought that was great. They thought that Mary was someone to look up to and an example of all a woman should be. As a result, a lot of daughters were named Mary.
Honestly, though, it still kind of weirds me out that Arthur was surrounded with so many Marys. It sounds like some kind of cult. All the women are named Mary here.
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Essays, Sherlock Holmes