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Agnes

Agnes (f) The Latin form of a Greek name meaning
‘chaste,’ but a Scottish name by adoption. It has been
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.

As 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.

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