(f) The Latin form of a Greek name meaning
‘chaste,’ but a Scottish name by adoption. It has
especially Scottish in the twentieth century. Use of the
name has drastically declined since 1900 in every English-
speaking country, but Scottish parents remained faithful
to it until very recent times.
the name of one of the most popular saints, Agnes
enjoyed international favour for centuries. In Scotland the name
was also associated from the fourteenth century onwards with the
Countess of March, known as ‘Black Agnes.’ Scott,
in Tales of a Grandfather (1827-9), explains the nickname of this
‘Brawling, Scottish wench’
by referring to her dark complexion. Others (e.g. Brewer)
say that she earned her name ‘through the terror of her
deeds.’ All agree that she made a spirited defence of Dunbar
against the English. The name’s intensive usage in Scotland
has led to many diminutive forms, including Aggie, Aggy, Nessa,
Nessie, Nesta, which are occasionally given as independent names.
Perhaps the most extraordinary compliment to the name has been
the use in Scotland of its reversed form, Senga, which is still
to be found. There are also reports from the Western Isles on
the use there of Agnesina.
To Scottish Christian Names