Yesterday I was helping to check our transcription of Newbold Parish Registers when we came across an unusual entry. It was a marriage between William Bucknall and Mathewe Anson – as this took place in 1620 it caused some amusement.
It is not generally known that what we would consider male names were, at one time, used for women. In this case it is probably a form of Martha. I have also come across women called Philip and Richard.
Suppose you are transcribing a parish register and providing an index which shows the sex of a person; what would you do if you came across, for example, the burial of Mathewe Bucknall? Would you assume it was a man?
Unless the entry states that he/she was a wife, daughter or son of someone, you cannot be sure.