“Margaret and Peggy are the same person,” is probably one of the most common phrases in my vocabulary. I have to say it to bank tellers, ticket takers, insurance agents, police, lawyers, doctors and more. As a child I had to tell school teachers. When they asked how did they ever get Peggy from Margaret the simple answer was that it got messed up between Gaelic and English somewhere.
Having the name Margaret was inevitable for me. My cousin Barbara Ann had been born four months before me and she got the name of the year. Barbara Ann Scott had won the Olympic skating gold for Canada. I got the second round in the family and with three great grandmothers named Margaret and a mother and a great aunt named Marjorie my fate was sealed. Just to put the final touch on it one of those great grandmothers, Margaret McConachie (nee Peart) died three weeks before I was born.
I am forever grateful to my mother who, wanting to please her father, gave me his mother’s name but on the same day began calling me Peggy. She and the red headed grandmother who raised her, never got along well, so Mom was not pleased to call me Margaret and wanted me to have a name which my own so Peggy it was.
Like most kids I went through the stage of wanting to be called by another name, in my case Margaret, but my mother would have none of it so I had to carry it with me along with my explanation to border guards. My solution in the past few years has been to sign my drivers license Peggy even though it says Margaret and then I don’t get so much argument.
One site, “The Straight Dope” explains the name this way. “Never underestimate human ingenuity. Margaret has spawned an amazing variety of names, some of which you wouldn’t connect with the original in a million years. For example: Margot, Marguerita, Rita (!), Greta, Gretel, Gretchen, Marjorie (originally Margery), Margie, Maggie, Madge, May, Maisie, Daisy (!!), Maidie, Meg, and Mog. As for Peg, one historian writes, “the nicknames Mog and Meg later gave rise to the rhymed forms Pog(gy) and Peg(gy).” Can’t say as I know a lot of Poggies, and can’t say as I want to. But you see how Grandma Margaret wound up with Peg.”
This explanation along with many others seems to blame the origin on bad poetry. Please don’t call me Poggy unless you are doing so in a love poem, which I believe might be an impossible chore with that derivation of the name. I am also not a fan of being referred to as Peggy Sue and I don’t come from Nova Scotia’s Peggy’s Cove.
So now you know that Margaret and Peggy are the same person. Next time you meet a Peggy you will look awfully smart if you ask if her name is Margaret. Be careful though because there are some Peggys who will look at you blankly because their name is and always has been Peggy. There are also few people who go by Margaret who would like to be called Peggy. Not sure why.
Cecil Replies in the Straight Dope