John Doe: How was this name established for an unknown person?
- WRGLv 71 decade agoFavorite Answer
The first known use of the name was in 1659, in England — "To prosecute the suit, to witt John Doe And Richard Roe" —, and has been perhaps as early as the reign of England's King Edward III.
Other obsolete fictitious names for a litigious person in English law were John-a-Noakes, or John Noakes/Nokes and John-a-Stiles/John Stiles.
The Oxford English Dictionary states that John Doe is "the name given to the fictitious lessee of the plaintiff, in the (now obsolete in the UK) mixed action of ejectment, the fictitious defendant being called Richard Roe".
This particular use became obsolete in the UK in 1852:
"As is well known, the device of involving real people as notional lessees and ejectors was used to enable freeholders to sue the real ejectors. These were then replaced by the fictional characters John Doe and Richard Roe. Eventually the medieval remedies were (mostly) abolished by the Real Property Limitation Act of 1833; the fictional characters of John Doe and Richard Roe by the Common Law Procedure Act 1852; and the forms of action themselves by the Judicature Acts 1873-75."
Secretary of State for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Respondent) v Meier and another(FC) (Appellant) and others and another (FC)(Appellant) and another (2009).
The term 'John Doe Injunction' (or John Doe Order) is used in the UK to describe an injunction sought against someone whose identity is not known at the time it is issued:
"8.02 If an unknown person has possession of the confidential personal information and is threatening to disclose it, a 'John Doe' injunction may be sought against that person. This form of injunction was used for the first time since 1852 in the United Kingdom when lawyers acting for JK Rowling and her publishers obtained an interim order against an unidentified person who had offered to sell chapters of a stolen copy of an unpublished Harry Potter novel to the media". Unlike in the United States the name (John) Doe does not actually appear in the formal name of the case, for example: X & Y v Persons Unknown  HRLR 4.Source(s): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Doe
- tonalc2Lv 71 decade ago
In 1768, the name Richard Roe was originally used as the name of a fictional defendant. By 1852, John Doe was being used for "any man whose name is not known."
The names 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.Source(s): http://www.word-detective.com/112701.html