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Why the name John Doe? Why was that name chosen over other more common names?

From the 15th to the 19th century, "John Doe" was, in England, a legal fiction standing specifically for the plaintiff in a dispute over title to real property. For arcane legal reasons, landowners who wanted to establish their rightful titles would use fictitious tenants in an ejectment action. In order to find whether this imaginary tenant had a right to be in possession, the court had first to establish that the supposed landlord was actually the owner, which settled the true reason for the action. This highly technical procedure was done away with in Britain by an Act of Parliament in 1852, but survives in America. The best-known early example is in Sir William Blackstone's Commentaries on the laws of England of 1765-69 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1765-1769). According to the Random House Webster's Pocket Legal Dictionary (Clapp, James E., New York: Random House Information Group, 1996), "John Doe and all its permutations are used today in legal cases and documents, either to conceal a person's identity, or because the person's real name is not known, or because it is not yet known whether the person exists." The choice of the first name is probably because John was one of the most common appellations; no one seems to know where the choice of Doe came from.

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