Are Mary and Polly the same name?

+4 votes
114 views
I see a lot of "Mary Polly"s  in Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee lineage 1700-1800; i.e.  Mary Polly Brown, Mary Polly Smith, Mary Polly Jones, etc. Was Mary Polly an unusually popular combination of names, or are "Mary" and "Polly" synonymous in the way "William" and "Bill" are?
in Genealogy Help by Bryan Lawson G2G6 Mach 1 (18.0k points)
I have seen cases where nicknames get turned into middle names. This could be due to limitations of the software, not realizing that this is a nickname, or lack of knowledge of the researcher. This is somewhat similar to appending suffixes on ancestors names that were not used.

In your examples “Mary Polly Brown” would probably be better as “Mary (Polly) Brown.”
Sometimes such names may have originally been Mary "Polly" Lastname, but importing, or exporting, or software limitations stripped the " around "Polly".  (Wikitree strips " on image names, but allows the apostrophe.)

4 Answers

+2 votes
I think it depends on family heritage. I grew up with Molly being alternative for Mary. Polly for Margaret (Peggy). Sally for Sarah.
by Marion Poole G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
+3 votes
In the past they were often interchangeable.
by Kathie Forbes G2G6 Pilot (431k points)
+7 votes
Polly is a common nickname for Mary. This is an interesting little read, "Explanations for Common Nicknames that Don't Seem to Make Any Sense" https://dustyoldthing.com/common-nicknames-that-dont-make-sense/
by NJ Penny G2G6 Pilot (146k points)
+6 votes
As NJ said, Polly is indeed a nickname for Mary, at least in my family during the early 19th century.  I have a many-great grandmother who was known as Polly Alexander in family oral history. Knowing her name was probably Mary enabled my mother to find her in old records.  In the early 1960s, mama even tracked down the family bible which recorded her as Mary.  Unfortunately, since then, people on Ancestry started listing her as Mary Polly Alexander and some even went so far as to assume that Polly was her maiden name!  One of the many reasons I migrated to Wikitree.
by Art Black G2G6 Mach 4 (46.8k points)
Oh goodness -- I feel your pain there. I've untangled so many of the Mary Polly, Sarah Sallie messes on Ancestry that I've lost count! ;)

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