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Mardi Gras Names: Fantastic Names from New Orleans

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In this week’s dispatch, Abby Sandel of AppellationMountain uncovers a treasure trove of wonderfully unique names from the history of Mardi Gras.

Tomorrow is Mardi Gras, and in New Orleans, that means one thing: a parade featuring Rex, King of Carnival.  Mardi Gras parades begin days earlier, and every parade organization – called a krewe – has its royalty.  But Rex and his Queen, along with their court of Maids, Dukes, and Pages, occupy a special place in the revels.

Rex traces its roots to 1872, and their royals have been drawn from the most prominent of New Orleans families.  The men named Rex are accomplished civic leaders; their consorts are chosen from the season’s debutantes. 

Over the years, Rex and his court have worn some fascinating names – a mix of old Southern tradition and French influence.  Here are some of my favorites, drawn from decades of Mardi Gras’ reigning royals:

 GIRLS

Southern Doubles – Early days, plenty of Maids were listed as Lulu or Bessie.  Over the years, the listed names became more formal.

Bonny Lorette

Cherry Thalia

Constance Claire

Emmy Lou

Lee Logan

Maria Lisette

Marie Celeste

Mary Nell

Nancy Eugenie

Shawn Ruth

Family Surnames – While the widespread popularity of choices like Madison and Taylor is a recent phenomenon, Southern girls have worn family surnames for generations.

Hanton

Ingersoll

Lanier

Sedley

Townsend

Wilder

Les Mademoiselles – French influence is evident in many of the names.  Delphine, Perrine, and Arthemise repeat over the years, suggesting that they’re family heirlooms.

 Anais

Arthemise

Clemence

Delphine

Felicie

Leonie

Marcelle

Perrine

Sidonie

Other Notable Names

Amoret

Amory

Baylissa

Calla

Cecil – Yes, on a girl.  There was also a Queen Malcolm and a Maid Joel.

Ellenore

Flores

Joby

Leda

Lolita – From the 1959 court.  If you’re counting, that’s a year after the novel of the same name was first published in the US.

Maridel

Odessa

Rosary

Roselle

Rosemonde

BOYS

Les Garçons

 Arsene

Augustin

Devereaux

Gervais

Lucien

Pierre

Ulisse

Family Names – If they’re popular for girls, they’re almost de rigeur for boys.  Many of these appear in combination over the decades, making it possible to trace a family by their names.  I stopped counting after I found my fourth Alden.

 Audley

Ballard

Barrett

Clarendon

Crutcher

Fletcher

Ford

Gray

Hughes

Kemper

Markham

Paxton

Pendleton

Porter

Truman

Welles

 Other Notable Names – In more recent years, you can also spot modern favorites like Bryan, but they’re in the minority.

 Eben

Erasmus

Ivy

Stirling

Winston

 A few names are missing from this list.  2011’s Rex and his court won’t be announced until today, when they make their traditional entrance from the Mississippi River.  I’ll post them in the comments as soon as they dock!

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