Why do they use the name Jane/John Doe?

When they dont know the persons real identity? Who thought of these names?

7 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    From the internet:

    In the United States, the name John Doe is used for a defendant or victim in a legal example or for a person whose identity is unknown or is intended to be anonymous. Male corpses whose identity is unknown are also known by the name John Doe. A female who is not known is referred to as Jane Doe. A child or baby whose identity is unknown can be referred to as Baby Doe, or in one particular case, as Precious Doe. Additional people in the same family may be called James Doe, Judy Doe, etc. An anonymous plaintiff is known as Richard Roe, or Jane Roe in the case of a woman (as in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which declared laws restricting abortion in the first trimester unconstitutional). The Oxford English Dictionary states that John Doe is "the name given to the fictitious lessee of the plaintiff, in the (now obsolete) mixed action of ejectment, the fictitious defendant being called Richard Roe". Likewise, the Nuttall encyclopedia states that John O'Noakes or John Noakes is a fictitious name for a litigious person, used by lawyers in actions of ejectment.

    The "John Doe" custom dates back to the reign of England's King Edward III, during the legal debate over something called the Acts of Ejectment. This debate involved a hypothetical landowner, referred to as "John Doe," who leased land to another man, the equally fictitious "Richard Roe," who then took the land as his own and "ejected," or evicted, poor "John Doe."

    These names -- John Doe and Richard Roe -- had no particular significance, aside from "Doe" (a female deer) and "Roe" (a small species of deer found in Europe) being commonly known nouns at the time. But the debate became a hallmark of legal theory, and the name "John Doe" in particular gained wide currency in both the legal world and general usage as a generic stand-in for any unnamed person. "John Doe" and "Richard Roe" are, to this day, mandated in legal procedure as the first and second names given to unknown defendants in a case (followed, if necessary, by "John Stiles" and "Richard Miles"). The name "Jane Doe," a logical female equivalent, is used in many state jurisdictions, but if the case is federal, the unnamed defendant is dubbed "Mary Major."

  • 1 decade ago

    The names "John Doe" and "Richard Roe" became standard generic names in British property law centuries ago.

    The problem was that law for disputes over real estate had lengthy and complicated rules for dealing with cases in which someone occupied someone else's property. These legal systems were descended from feudal roots and allowed extensive delays, partly because the land was always going to be there, however illegally it might be occupied temporarily.

    For disputes over rented property (where the collection of rents meant that someone was subjected to immediate damages) there was a much more streamlined set of legal procedures. Eventually, someone hit on the idea of creating a fictional tenant and landlord to move property-ownership disputes into the landlord-and-tenant process. At some early stage, the names "John Doe" and "Richard Roe" became embedded in the "boilerplate" language used to construct this legal fiction.

    "John Doe" is therefore the most usually fictional name in legal language; "Jane" is the obvious female counterpart.

    Source(s): See "Poetic Diction and Legal Fiction" by A. O. Barfield, in "Essays Presented to Charles Williams," ed. by C. S. Lewis.
  • 4 years ago

    because John and Jane were the most common names some time previous interior the day, Doe, I definitely do not understand. in spite of the undeniable fact that it fairly works. Meg John and Jane common in spite of the undeniable fact that it do not kDoe some thing ....................Joe

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    they use those to identify dead people whose information is not known, they have no family and no one knows them or when and if they were murdered or commited suicide their face was to torn mangled or otherwise to tell who that person was. Plus john and jane are the two most popular names in the world.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Usually Jane or John Doe is used if they don't know the persons identity.

    Here is what Wiki has to say about it...kind of interesting actually:


  • anaise
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    Probably Jane and John Doe or Dick and Jan.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago


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