# Where did the names "John Doe" & Jane Doe come from?

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John Doe and Richard Roe (the standard names for anonymous defendants and plaintiffs) traditionally come from ejectment proceedings, basically the forerunners of possession proceedings in civil case law. Jane Doe came into usage when specifically referring to an anonymous or fictitious female.

However, the usage of a generic name (such as John Doe, John Smith, Boy A) for anonymous or unknown persons in court proceedings is a fairly widespread phenomenon, you can check out a country-specific list of this phenomenon at the link below. One of the earliest usages were the ancient Romans Numerius Negidus (literally, one who denies he should pay) as we recognize a defendant and Aulus Agerius (a play on the verb *ago*, to put into motion) as a plaintiff.

• 4 years ago

initially used from the 13th century on criminal documents as an alias to guard a witness, John Doe obtained the sense of "trouble-free individual" contained in the 1800s. The variations date from the 1900s. Jane doe extra later