Recorded as Do and Doe, this is an English surname, which is far better known in the United States of America. It originates from the Olde English word 'da' meaning a female deer, and has the associated surnames of Stagg, Roe, and Roebuck. The precise meaning is obscure, but pre 10th century it was a baptismal name of endearment for a girl, and therefore as the later surname, probably a metronymic. This is a surname which descends from the mother, not the father. Although there are fewer metronymics than patronymics, such a source is by no means unusual. In the Middle Ages lives were very short, and plagues frequent. As a result when a father died during the mothers pregnancy, it was quite normal for the resulting child to take the mothers name. A popular example is Marriott, or 'son of Mary', but there are many others of which this surname is probably one. Early examples of the surname recording include John le Do, of Somerset in the register known as 'Kirby's Quest' for 1273, and Walter Do of Devonshire in the same year. The surname is very early into the USA, being one of the very first settler names. Thomas Doe and his wife (name unknown) being recorded as 'living at James Cittie, Virginia' on February 16th 1623. The surname was originally used in England as the name of a plaintiff suing for wrongful possession,- but is used publically in America to identify an unknown deceased person.
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