Friday, February 7, 2014

The Riveli

Riveli are a type of census taken by the church for the purpose of taxing property and animals. If you've ever worked with these records they are amongst the hardest Italian records to understand. They can reveal interesting and surprising things about our ancestors. Let's take a look at a record for Francesco Catanzaro from Termini Imerese, Italy.

This record was found in the 1815 Riveli for the city of Termini Imerese in the Palermo Province. This record set has an index in the beginning so I was able to see that there was a record for a "Capn." [capitano or captain] Francesco Catanzaro. However, these records were not numbered nor recorded alphabetically. They were recorded as the individuals presented themselves and Francesco appeared on 25 September 1815.

Sometimes the names (and ages) of whole family groups are included, other times just the name of the landowner or the head of the sharecropping family is given.

Abbreviations were often used in these records, making them more difficult to translate and evaluate. As you gain experience, you'll know to look for certain words. The name of the subject of the record is often found on top. In this record, we see that this Riveli entry was for land in the contrada [hamlet] of DoVarita.  Francesco Catanzaro did not own the land but was share cropping it.  The names of the landowners are given also.

The title "Capn.," given for Francesco Catanzaro in this record, was the first indication that this ancestor may have had military service.  Further research showed a nine year gap between the birth of his second child and the birth of his third, another indication that he was absent from this family unit. One small notation on a Riveli, led to this possible revelation about this ancestor.  You never quite know where you will find that golden nugget of information!