Anthony, wife of Henry?
July 12, 2005 8:46 AM   Subscribe

Wandering a cemetery, I came across this gravestone. "Anthony, beloved wife of Henry"? I'm pretty sure there wasn't a lot of gay marriage up in northern Ontario during the late 19th Century, but I've never heard of Anthony being a woman's name... what gives?
posted by Robot Johnny to Society & Culture (16 answers total)
A (female) friend of mine has Anthony (with the 'th' pronounced as in 'thin') as her second middle name - an old family name, I think. This is in the UK - I've never heard of it as a first name for any woman living or dead, but it must have come from somewhere to be her middle name.
posted by altolinguistic at 8:54 AM on July 12, 2005

ANTHONY is the #2130 most common female name. 0.003% of females in the US are named ANTHONY. Around 3825 US females are named ANTHONY!

It's common enough .
posted by Plutor at 8:56 AM on July 12, 2005

Response by poster: I guess that sorta settles it, but every 'male' name I entered into that website said that there were thousands of females with that name... Richard, Henry, Matthew, Donald, Steven, John, David, Harold, Edward... and then there's this:

Man is the #3307 most common female name. 0.001% of females in the US are named Man.
Around 1275 US females are named Man!
posted by Robot Johnny at 9:08 AM on July 12, 2005

That reminds me of Major Major Major Major.
posted by Plutor at 9:13 AM on July 12, 2005

Best answer: I've known several women (mostly grandmothers, great aunts...i.e. older people) who have wound up with male names for a number of reasons:

* It's a traditional family name (sometimes the preservation of a last name that happens to be a common male first name.)
* Because Aunt Billy (or whatever) was supposed to be a boy and the parents decided to go with the name they'd already picked.
* Because Grandma Joe (or whatever) was the first-born and got Dad's name regardless of gender.
* 'Cause the parents are a little kooky and decided they wanted their girl to be named Anthony (or whatever.)
posted by desuetude at 9:15 AM on July 12, 2005

for some reason i thought there was an old tradition of sometimes naming women with a man's name, but giving a more "normal" second name and using that in practice. that's just a vague memory - does it ring a bell for anyone else? i have no idea what to google for.
posted by andrew cooke at 9:22 AM on July 12, 2005

(i took a while posting there, so didn't see desuetude's comment, which is the kind of thing i'm taking about).
posted by andrew cooke at 9:24 AM on July 12, 2005

I suppose "Ann" could be short for "Anthony"...
posted by five fresh fish at 9:58 AM on July 12, 2005

Maybe she was a foreign Antonia or Antoine or Antoinette or something, and they anglicized the name?
posted by occhiblu at 10:15 AM on July 12, 2005

Andrew Cooke: A prime example would be "Ronald-Ann" from Outland.
posted by inksyndicate at 10:27 AM on July 12, 2005

Various google searches ("Anthony as a girl's name," "Female Anthony", etc.) seem to show it showing up mainly among black slaves and the Irish and Welsh in the 1800s.
posted by occhiblu at 10:27 AM on July 12, 2005

Perhaps you could contact Michael Learned or Glenn Close, who may be able to offer some insight.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:47 AM on July 12, 2005

Another data point - Sidney Wolff, a rather famous astronomer (and, later, astronomy politico/administrator) is a woman. In fact, she may be my boss's boss's boss's boss. Or was, at some point.
posted by andrew cooke at 10:58 AM on July 12, 2005

I have a female ancestor named "Dude". Haven't been able to figure that one out.
posted by LadyBonita at 2:58 PM on July 12, 2005

The Oxford dictionary of given names says that women were often given male names but called by the female equivalent. Not sure why this was done - maybe they wanted to name them after particular saints.
posted by zadcat at 8:10 PM on July 12, 2005

I was just about to suggest naming after Saints - it seems reasonable that a girl born on a male Saint's day would take that name in particularly religous communities (like Ireland in the 1800s).
posted by jack_mo at 8:40 AM on July 13, 2005

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