A common rendition of the Latin female name Verginia, a name applied to female members of the Roman gens Verginii.
When used to refer to a specific Virginia/Verginia, the reference is to a story told by Livy (3:44-58) and later retold by Petrarch and Chaucer (in The Doctor's Tale).
In this traditional Roman legend, supposedly occurring during the time in Roman history when the decemviri were in session in Rome, working out a code of laws (the Twelve Tables), Verginia was a daughter of L. Verginius, a centurion. One of the decemvirs, Appius Claudius, became infatuated with her. In order to possess her, he had one of his clients claim her as slave - then, judging the case himself, pronounced judgement in favour of his client.
Upon hearing of the false judgement, L. Verginius stabbed his daughter, killing her to save her from indignity. Carrying the bloodstained dagger, he then proceeded to the army camp, where he incited a rebellion which overthrew the decemviri.
A classically Roman tale, this story offers justification for a political reorganisation, couched in terms of redress for an outrageous act of injustice by the overthrown party. History is written by the winners, a fact of which the Romans were ever aware.