Delmas & Delphin – Lawyer-Inspired Names

Delphin Delmas

Speaking of Evelyn Nesbit

The baby names Delphin and Delmas debuted on the SSA’s baby name list in 1907 and 1906, respectively:

Name 1904 1905 1906 1907 1908 1909
Delphin 13
Delmas 8 19 11 11

But the SSA data for the early 1900s skews low, so here’s the corresponding data from the SSDI, to give you a better picture of how trendy these names got:

Name 1904 1905 1906 1907 1908 1909
Delphin 1 5 14 80 15 17
Delmas 2 11 60 199 61 51

(A handful of Delphins even got the middle name Delmas, such as Delphin Delmas Chapman, born in 1906.)

So where do these two names come from?

From California attorney Delphin M. Delmas. In late 1906, he was hired to defend millionaire Harry K. Thaw in a highly publicized murder trial. It was the very first trial to be dubbed “the trial of the century” by the press.

Here’s how the New York Times described Delmas in early 1907:

Delphin Michael Delmas, the “Napoleon of the California Bar,” was brought into the limelight of metropolitan life for the first time last week, when he assumed active charge of the defense of Harry K. Thaw. Everything seemed to be against him. […] Seldom is a lawyer put to such a supreme test under adverse circumstances. The result was entirely to his credit. The externals of the man–his appearance, courtly speech, and little mannerisms–left a final impression of a strong, though somewhat elusive, personality.”

Source: “Delmas, Legal Napoleon of San Francisco.” New York Times 10 Feb. 1907.


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