Xerxes Xoe

This is a names story, so I did my duty and combed Wordlab, but not a trace did I find.

There was a discussion on John Doe and equivalents in other languages on the FLEFO forum, which still creeps on at Compuserve and is even accessible on the Web – maybe here or here. I was thinking about how I only ever met John Doe and Richard Roe in connection with land law, and I found an article at Verbatim that explains this. It also quotes other languages and the use of John Doe in a wider context, GI Joe, Tommy Atkins, and Otto Normalverbraucher.

bq. Doe and his alter ego, Richard Roe, have been used by English speakers, if not from time immemorial,2 at least for seven centuries: They first appear in writing as names by way of example in an account of a bill providing for the orderly ejectment of tenants by landlords, debated in Parliament under Edward III (r. 1327-77). Modern British law, when additional names are needed, will call upon John Stilesand Richard Miles; a female somebody is given the name Mary Major.3

The article also links to funnyname.com. This has a lot of merely rude names, which pall after a while, but also a category Anonymous, which gives John Doe in other languages.

I also remember once coming across Tommy or Timmy Toe, both an anonymous name in a trial and a singer. Some Googling revealed the following excellent quote via The Volokh Conspiracy:

bq. Most people are familiar with habitual litigant John Doe; I’m told that he’s the grandson of the noted author Anon. Richard Roe is pretty common, too. Paul and Paula Poe occasionally make an appearance, for instance in Poe v. Ullman, the 1961 case challenging the constitutionality of a ban on contraceptives. (That case was dismissed on procedural grounds, though the issue reappeared in the Court in the famous 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut case.)

bq. Less well known, though, are their cousins, who are listed in the caption of Friedman v. Ferguson, 850 F.2d 689, 1988 WL 68404 (4th Cir.). Here’s the whole thing:

bq. Wilbur H. FRIEDMAN, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Thomas B. FERGUSON, Director, Department of Animal Control, a state actor, in his official and individual capacities; Brett Boe; Carla Coe; Donna Doe; Frank Foe; Grace Goe; Harry Hoe; State Actors, Advisors To Defendant Ferguson, In Their Official and Individual Capacities (identities currently unknown); Marta Moe; Norma Noe; Paula Poe; Ralph Roe; Sammy Soe; Tommy Toe; Private Individuals Who Conspired With the Foregoing State Actors (identities currently unknown); Roger W. Galvin, Chairman, Animal Matters Hearing Board; Vince Voe; William Woe; Xerxes Xoe; Members of the Animal Matters Hearing Board, State Actors, In Their Official and Individual Capacities (identities currently unknown), Defendants-Appellees

3 thoughts on “Xerxes Xoe

  1. From a wide-ranging Transblawg post on names of anonymous litigants:Wilbur H. FRIEDMAN, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Thomas B. FERGUSON, Director, Department of Animal Control, a state actor, in his official and individual capacities; Brett Boe; Carla Coe; …

  2. This topic was actually researched for a post on Wordlab, but not completed when it became apparent that Michael Quinion at World Wide Words had done such a good job already. Now you have done one better, adding the link to the Verbatim article, and others which are very interesting. In the end, we might just add that the real name of the Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade fame is Norma McCorvey, who is now an anti-abortion and pro-life activist. Who knew?

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