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Martha (F)>

Martha (female)

Variants:Marta (F) Marte (F) Marthe (F) Matthia (F) Moireach (F)
Pet Name(s):Marnie (F) Marti (F) Martie (F) Marty (F) Mattie (F) Matty (F) Pat (F) Patsy (F) Pattie (F) Patty (F)
Source(s): English Parish Register
FreeCEN 1841 Census of Aberdeenshire
The Oxford Names Companion, OUP
"Scottish Forenames" - Donald Whyte, FGH, FSG
Personal correspondents [DR2, MB]

English and Scandinavian from Aramiac: "lady"; NT Luke 10:38-42, John 11:1.

Despite the Aramaic origin suggesting the genteel life of a lady, Martha in Puritan English usage has usually been associated with hard domestic work [see Luke 10].

Martha occurs very often in the 1841 Census of Aberdeenshire. Martha and Matthia are Latin forms of Martha, used in old documents in Latin, with appropriate case endings. Note that, while Matthias is used for Matthew, there appears to be no connection between Martha and Matthew.

A US correspondent [MB] sent us a note:

"Throughout the southern colonies (pre 1776) and states, Patsy was a common pet name for Martha."

We are unable to formally determine the true etymology for this but note that Patty is a well-known pet name for the Gaelic Moireach, equivalent to Martha [Whyte]. Patsy is a clear variant of Pattie/Patty and we think it might have been adopted for Martha via the pet name Mattie/Matty in the same way that Molly has transformed to Polly.

An Australian correpondent [CG] confirms the use of Pat, Patty/Pattie and Patsy as pet names for Martha.

Another US correspondent [DR2] has a family sequence of women called Martha, the youngest of whom is known as Marnie.  Although this is an unusal pet name, it is worth noting as it could be missed in searches.