Mardi Gras Names: Fantastic Names from New Orleans

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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14 Responses to “Mardi Gras Names: Fantastic Names from New Orleans”

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Sarah Says:

March 7th, 2011 at 8:28 am

I know an Odessa as a child. She was a really sweet older woman (definitely from the south). I’ll always have a soft spot for the name.

Anne Says:

March 7th, 2011 at 8:55 am

I love this list! It makes my home sick. My grandmother was Mary Nell. I’ve been loving Clemence and Delphine a lot lately.

Elisabeth@YCCII Says:

March 7th, 2011 at 9:35 am

What a splendid idea! Amazing discoveries Abby. Love me some Nancy Eugenie.

Abby Says:

March 7th, 2011 at 11:19 am

Delphine is an old favorite of mine,too – but since my last name ends in -del, we couldn’t consider it!

Lola Says:

March 7th, 2011 at 11:35 am

I like so many off these I’m only going to mention my absolute favorites:
Rex: flat out handsome, and easily my #2 name!
Wilder: family surname for me. Will be used if I ever have another boy.
Clemence, Flores, Rosemonde (I prefer Rosemond, but still).
Augustin, Lucien, Eben, Sterling (I’d spell it Stirling, for my favorite forest), Winston, Clarendon & Welles. I love Clarendon, wish it was a surname in my tree! *sigh* Clarence will have to suffice.

Amanda Says:

March 7th, 2011 at 12:40 pm

This was very fun to read Abby! I had no idea that Mardi Gras even had a royal court – how fun 🙂

I love Delphine as well, I even pitched it to my DH but he says no because it reminds him of Dolphins 🙁

JackieBlue Says:

March 7th, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Everyone look pointedly away from ‘Devereaux’ that’s my favorite name. I love them all though, I definitely have southern tastes

Abby Says:

March 7th, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Lola, Clarendon is a Metro stop here in DC, so we couldn’t use it – but I do LOVE the sound of Clarendon.

Amanda, actually there are LOTS of royal courts for Mardi Gras. Most of the Krewes (parade organizations) have them, in some form. Rex is among the oldest, and has official duties on Mardi Gras, but it’s not the only one. The Mystick Krewe of Comus is equally prestigious, but they’re super-secret and don’t reveal the identities of their members – so no name lists to pour over!

JackieBlue, Devereaux is dashing!

Elisabeth, Nancy Eugenie is officially one of my new favorite combinations, but Cherry Thalia has me wondering, too.

Whitney Gigandet Says:

March 7th, 2011 at 10:15 pm

Ooh, I am loving Baylissa! How utterly gorgeous is she. An instant favorite for me 🙂 I also like these… AKA, a lot! What a phenomenal list 🙂

Girls:
Arthemise
Calla
Clemence
Delphine
Ellenore
Felicie
Ivy
Maridel
Odessa
Rosary

Boys:
Audley
Augustin
Ballard
Devereaux
Eben
Ford
Gray
Lucien
Stirling
Wilder
Winston

Abby Says:

March 8th, 2011 at 11:37 am

Baylissa was one of the real finds, Whitney! Never heard her before. 🙂

Quick update for 2011: this year’s queen is named Jane Yvonne. Her great-grandfather, Edgar, was Rex in 1956. This year’s Rex is Herschel! No word on the court yet.

Abby Says:

March 8th, 2011 at 11:40 am

Oh, I take it back! Here they are:

MAIDS: Kathryn, Sarah, Caroline (x2), Rita, Laine, Jeanne, Evelyn.

DUKES: Oliver, Alexander, Matthew, Michael, Millard, Charles, George, Patrick

PAGES: William, Stephen

Nell Says:

April 5th, 2011 at 10:20 am

Blanche and Beulah are to beautiful Deep South names that I think are underused elsewhere…

wishiwereajules Says:

December 28th, 2011 at 5:17 am

I saw Audley and thought “Man, middle school must of been tough”

I love Lanier, Townsend, and Arthemise.

New Orleans Logan Meaning In Hebrew | Home Says:

May 1st, 2015 at 10:10 pm

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