Famous bearers include the uncrowned English queen Lady Jane Grey (1536-1554), who ruled for only 9 days, British novelist Jane Austen (1775-1817), who wrote Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, British primatologist Jane Goodall (1934-), and American actress Jane Fonda (1937-). This is also the name of the central character in Charlotte Brontë's novel Jane Eyre (1847), which tells of Jane's sad childhood and her relationship with Edward Rochester.
It has been common as a given name in the English-speaking world only since the 18th century. A famous modern bearer is American actress Julia Roberts (1967-).
This is the name of several New Testament characters, most importantly Mary the mother of Jesus. According to the gospels, Jesus was conceived in her by the Holy Spirit while she remained a virgin. This name was also borne by Mary Magdalene, a woman cured of demons by Jesus. She became one of his followers and later witnessed his crucifixion and resurrection.
Due to the Virgin Mary this name has been very popular in the Christian world, though at certain times in some cultures it has been considered too holy for everyday use. In England it has been used since the 12th century, and it has been among the most common feminine names since the 16th century. In the United States in 1880 it was given more than twice as often as the next most popular name for girls (Anna). It remained in the top rank in America until 1946 when it was bumped to second (by Linda). Although it regained the top spot for a few more years in the 1950s it was already falling in usage, and has since dropped out of the top 100 names.
This name has been borne by two queens of England, as well as a queen of Scotland, Mary Queen of Scots. Another notable bearer was Mary Shelley (1797-1851), the author of Frankenstein. A famous fictional character by this name is Mary Poppins from the children's books by P. L. Travers, first published in 1934.
The Latinized form of this name, Maria, is also used in English as well as in several other languages.
The name was very popular until the 15th century in England, usually in the vernacular form Maud. Both forms were revived by the 19th century. This name appears in the popular Australian folk song Waltzing Matilda, written in 1895.
This was the name of the first English baby born in the New World: Virginia Dare in 1587 on Roanoke Island. Perhaps because of this, the name has generally been more popular in America than elsewhere in the English-speaking world, though in both Britain and America it was not often used until the 19th century. The baby was named after the Colony of Virginia, which was itself named for Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen. A more recent bearer was the English novelist Virginia Woolf (1882-1941).