English. Jane is one of the feminine equivalents of John [q.v.], from Hebrew "God has been gracious", as are Joan, Joanna and Jean.
In Scotland Jane and Jean are fully interchangeable.
Janet is derived from Jane and was, as early as the beginning of the Middle Ages, an accepted diminutive for Jane. The most common Scottish synonym for Janet is Jessie [q.v.] and two correspondents [AB, RA] have reported examples of Jessie being used for Jane. However, as Jane is thus one stage removed from being linked to Jessie, we have classed this link as a lesser synonym.
GCB has reported a tombstone in Banchory-Devenick, Kincardineshire, Scotland, which records:
"Erected by JOHN BREBNER in memory of his daus. JEANNIE & JESSIE who died in infancy."
It is probable that these daughters were not alive at the same time so the second might have been named Janet in memory of her elder sister Jane, but unfortunately the parish records do not record the births.
Jane appears in old documents in Latin as Jana, with appropriate case endings.
- A correspondent [LA] has pointed out that many [?most] earlier manuscripts used a common script for capitals "I" & "J". Thus Jane may have been written and then transcribed as Iane. Many on-line services have transcribed original documents faithfully so this version might be the one to look for in the indexes to earlier records. [NB We have not seen any documentary evidence of the occurrence of Iane but believe that the possibility should be borne in mind.]
Jane is traditionally equated with the Irish Gaelic forename Síne. However, we have a report [MA2] of Sinéad also being used interchangeably with Jane in modern times. This usage is not reflected in our source books so any further examples would be welcome.