How did Delphin Delmas influence baby names in the early 1900s?

California attorney Delphin M. Delmas (1844-1928)
Delphin M. Delmas

The baby names Delphin and Delmas first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1907 and 1906, respectively:

Boys named DelphinBoys named Delmas

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

Usage of Delphin (SSDI)Usage of Delmas (SSDI)

(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?

California attorney Delphin M. Delmas.

In late 1906, Delmas was hired to defend millionaire Harry K. Thaw in a highly publicized murder trial. Thaw, a wealthy playboy, was accused of murdering architect Stanford White in Madison Square Garden (which White had designed, ironically). White was an ex-lover of Thaw’s wife, chorus girl Evelyn Nesbit.

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 Delphin 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.
Image: California attorney Delphin M. Delmas (via LOC)

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