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Margaret (f) Gaelic Mairead (Marghrad in Lewis).
‘The national Scottish female name,’ as Charlotte Yonge
rightly called it in her History of Christian Names (1863).
Introduced to Scotland from Hungary by Queen Margaret
(c. 1046-93), the name has remained an outstanding
favourite until very recent times. In 1975 a sample count
showed that it was still being used intensively in Scotland, but that it was no longer number one name, a position it held in 1858, 1935 and 1958. The old habit of naming children after parents, grandparents and other relations seems to be breaking down, with the consequent introduction of new names. However, in Scotland in the late 1970’s one woman in every eighteen was called Margaret, irrespective of her age. Also there are many women called Margo, Margot, Margarete, Margaretta, Margarette, Margarita, Marguerita, Marguerite, Greta and Rita, all of which are closely connected with Margaret.

Many of the name’s diminutive forms are also used as independent names. These include Margery, Marjorie, Marjory, Maisie, May, Maggie, Madge, Meta, and Peggy. The origin of this ‘Scottish’ name is thought to be Persian, a word that meant ‘pearl.’ This accounts for the occasional use of Pearl as a nickname for Margaret. Another nickname is Daisy, because the daisy or marguerite generally blooms round about St Margaret’s Day, February 22nd. Sir Walter Scott named many of his characters Margaret, or variants of the name. There is Mysie in The Bride of Lammermoor (1819), Meg Merrilies in Guy Mannering (1815), Peggy in Old Mortality (1816), Maisie and Margaret in his ballads.

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