I always liked the name Martha. Partly, it’s because my first girlfriend was named Martha. I used to serenade her with the song Martha My Dear by the Beatles [LISTEN], from the white album. It was only later I discovered that Martha was Paul McCartney’s English sheepdog.

Martha Dandridge Custis Washington (pictured), of course, was the first First Lady of the United States, though she wasn’t so dubbed at the time. Martha is one of those classic girls’ names that, while extremely popular in the US in the 1880s (#14 in 1882), never lost at least a core of support; it didn’t leave the top 100 until 1966, and was still at #709 in 2010.

I’ve heard the slightly derisive term “being a Martha.” This referred to Luke 10:38-42 when Martha of Bethany and her sister Mary “offered hospitality to their friend Jesus…Mary sat and listened to him as he talked, but Martha objected to the fact that she was left with all the work. Jesus told Martha not to worry about small things, but to concentrate on what was important.” This proved to be an key concept in Christian hospitality; don’t NOT invite someone over, just because your home is not immaculate.

My daughter is fond of a PBS TV program called Martha Speaks, which “is an animated children’s television sitcom based on the 1992 children’s book of the same name by Susan Meddaugh about a talking dog named Martha…who is owned by ten-year-old Helen… When Helen feeds Martha some alphabet soup, the soup travels to her brain instead of her stomach, resulting in her ability to speak. The show focuses on synonyms and vocabulary, with each episode featuring an underlying theme illustrated with key words.” LISTEN to the opening title theme song, which features these lyrics: “Martha Speaks and speaks and speaks and speaks and…Communicates, enumerates, elucidates, exaggerates, indicates, and explicates, bloviates, and overstates and (pant, pant, pant) hyperventilates!” And here is a video guide to the episodes.


ABC Wednesday – Round 9

41 Responses to “M is for Martha”

  • When I saw the title of this post, I was half-expecting Martha Reeves to feature!

    Martha is a lovely name that isn’t so common these days, at least in the UK. It was my 5x great-grandmother’s name, born 1750, but abbreviated to Matty.

  • Roger says:

    SP- I didn’t, only because I wrote about Martha Reeves 3 months ago: http://www.rogerogreen.com/2011/07/18/martha-reeves-turns-70/

  • Denise says:

    Martha – such a lovely name – yes i would be the Martha if Jesus came for tea I guess – flapping about in the kitchen!!!! Our hen is a Mabel – quite similar. Love the introduction to the programme – what complicated words for children!!! Lydia could explain them to me sometime! lol!
    Great Stuff Rog, as ever.
    D xxx

  • Interesting words for a name not much used nowadays.

  • Gigi Ann says:

    Martha is a familiar name, that’s for sure. Who doesn’t know at least one Martha!

  • Mar says:

    `My husband always remembers his aunt Martha!
    lovely post for all Martha’s ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Wayne John says:

    Beatles white album…not sure why this is the only one I have never actually heard all the way through. It’s not even in my collection…for whatever reason, it just never happened upon me and I’ve never picked it up. Funny enough, I was thinking about this just last month (I remember because there was something on it that I was told to listen to).

    Martha, to me, is one of those classic, old-timey names that I would expect one of my grandparents friends to have. I don’t know any Martha’s that I can recall.

    Glad to see you’re still rambling, Roger. Cheers!

  • Reader Wil says:

    Strangely enough the name of Martha is not so popular in the Netherlands, I think because it is linked to that biblical woman you mentioned.It’s also an oldfashioned name!

  • Carver says:

    Interesting post for the letter M. Oddly I can’t think of anyone I know with the name Martha.

  • photowannabe says:

    The talking dog named Martha sounds like a wonderful program. I guess I’m out of the loop on kids PBS programing. I like the premise of this one.
    Martha isn’t one of my favorite names perhaps its because of a reminder of a certain person.

  • Hi Roger

    Great post – I don,t think I know any Marthas at the moment -but there was at least one in my past – a great aunt twice removed or sort of ! Janr UK

  • Martha is a name I like very much. I can remember when Jessica and Jennifer were considered old-fashioned. I bet Martha will make a comeback too!

  • Kim,USA says:

    I can relate the name of Martha to one of the sisters of Lazarus. And I only have known one woman whose name is Martha. ^_^

    ABC Wed-M

  • Dhemz says:

    what a great choice Rog…now wonder!….kidding…:)

  • Dias Spot says:

    Martha sounds like a fine lady name…love that song!

  • Lisa says:

    Serenading your girlfriend with a song about a sheepdog. Perfect, Roger, just perfect. ๐Ÿ˜€ Martha is one of those *old-world* classic names that will probably never completely go out of fashion.

  • Kay Davies says:

    I love this post, Roger! Great stuff.

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittieโ€™s Guide to Adventurous Travel

  • Yue says:

    martha is a wonderful name. i remember my grade school teacher.

  • chrisj says:

    I know and have known quite a number of Marthas. I know I would be the biblical Martha — not complaining, but being too busy! Another old fashioned name I like is, Emily.

  • ann says:

    Paul McCartney didn’t marry a Martha? May be his 4th? LOL.
    Was watching Ellen show, and she and her guest Jennifer Garner was talking about the other Martha, Martha Stewart.

  • Nonizamboni says:

    Both good choices for MforMartha. Lovely name.
    Thanks for the soundtrack too.

    p.s. Fellow Libra Paul Simon turns 70 tomorrow.

  • Karen says:

    I always thought Martha was such an old fashioned name. It’s making a come back.

  • Hazel says:

    When I was a kid we had someone come to help with household stuff. She was called Lydia. Sometimes her sister would come along. Her name was Martha. The Bible stories I listened to as a kid always included Martha and the context is the same as this one you mentioned here. “don’t be a Martha…” (Was it some fame by association with Jesus of Nazareth, for her?) Martha Washington is a beautiful lady.

  • Martha says:

    What a lovely “Martha” post.

    When I asked my husband for an “M” word, he suggested Martha. I rejected his suggestion, but I did enjoy yours. Very much. I was not thrilled with my given name as a child. Perhaps the name was common somewhere, but not in my circle. It was, however, better than Edna. That was my mother’s first choice. I was rescued by my dad.

    In case there is any question with the Biblical sisters, there is another story with another Martha verse. I’ve decided it is my favorite. Rather than the “Martha, Martha…” verse of Luke 10:41, I’ve claimed John 11:15 for my life verse. “Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.”

    PS. One day I’m going to find a sign that says “Martha Lives here.”

  • Hildred says:

    I hope that Martha makes the cycle and becomes popular again, – I think it is quite a lovely name. One of our sons had as girlfriend named Martha, – she was a great wit and we called her Mirtha!

  • Rose says:

    Hahaha you remind me of my father Roger. I was named after his first girlfriend wahhh.

  • I’m still lingering on that lovely engraving of Martha that you have here…you always come up with great post topics!

  • Rajesh says:

    Very well put together.

  • magiceye says:

    that was interesting!

  • Gattina says:

    I had a aunt named Martha. I never heard this Beatle song and Mrs. Washington on your picture looks much better than the one in Wikipedia, lol !

  • Meryl says:

    Sweet post! Something tantalizing, inviting, fascinating, interesting, tasty, (pant, pant) for everyone!

  • Martha says:

    My daughter in law’s father is a Beatles fan and she sings “Martha My Dear” to me.

  • Linnea says:

    Lovely picture…Martha is a nice name, one we don’t hear too often around here! Thanks for visiting my “m”.

  • Joy says:

    My Grandmother was called Martha, didn’t know she shared it with the first ‘first lady’.

  • Wanda says:

    Ha Ha Ha, Roger, I would have loved to hear your song….especially picturing Martha the Sheep Dog…

    My mother had a saying that reminds me of your Mary and Martha story.

    “If you come to see ME, come anytime, if you come to see my HOUSE, make an appointment.” I have lived by this rule, and it brings a lot of freedom from having a perfect house…Step over the piles of sorted laundry, and lets chit chat over a cup of coffee….I like that!

  • Tumblewords says:

    Masterful post of many Martha’s. Oddly enough, I surfed past the talking Martha Dog this morning and almost lingered even though there are no children here. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Kate says:

    You have shown us that “Martha” is indeed an historical name of great significance.

  • fotografaire says:

    A classic and lovely name…a lovely photo with nostalgic overtones in many ways.

  • jabblog uk says:

    That looks like an amusing and educational series – great for extending vocabulary:-)

  • Hello. Great job. I did not expect this on a Wednesday. This is a great story. Thanks!

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