Thursday, October 23, 2014

Multiple Given Names for Italian Ancestors

Those ancestors who are found with multiple given names [i.e. more than two] are often found to be from wealthy families. For example, in the record below, the child was baptized with three names, Giuseppe Gaspare Agostino, only one of which was required to be the name of a saint.

It is not unusual for the mother's and godmother's surnames to be omitted within a baptismal record. The title of Magistro within this record was also a sign that the family was wealthy.

Baptismal Record of Giuseppe Gaspare Agostino Tessitore

Giuseppe Gaspare Agostino was baptized on 18 February 1767 in the Parish of San Giorgio Martire in Prizzi. He was the son of Magistro Salvatore Tessitore and Anna [no surname given], a married couple. Salvatore was the son of the deceased Magistro Agostino [Tessitore]. The child’s godparents were Magistro Gaspare Butera and Innocenzia [no surname given], the wife of Giuseppe Orlando.[1]

[1] Parish of San Giorgio Martire, Prizzi, Palermo Province, Italy, “Registro di Battesimi [Register of Baptisms], 1767,” unnumbered, p. 394, 18 February 1767, baptismal record for Giuseppe Gaspare Agostino Tessitore; digitized images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 1 January 2014). 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Update from Portale Antenati

A notification was posted to the Italian government's website, Portale Antenati, on 20 October 2014.

They note that there were errors in the metadata when they uploaded the images for the State Archives in Pescara. They removed the images last week and should have the corrected set of images reuploaded by the end of this week.

UPDATE: On 24 October 2014, the re-upload of these documents were pronounced complete!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Italian Notarial Records Available Through FamilySearch

FamilySearch's collection of Italian notarial records is growing, due to their agreement with the Italian government to digitize the civil records being conserved in the provincial/state archives. A few other types of documents are being caught in the microfilming process. The above image shows the FamilySearch catalog entry for Val Lemina's notarial records and details the type of records one might find within the notarial registers

In Italy, a notary was required to prepare any type of legal transaction from marriage contracts to loans to land transfers. As such, this was a coveted position which brought wealth to a family. As only those with an education would be granted such a position, notaries were usually of the upper class. This job was often passed down through several generations of the same family.

The Notes section of the catalog entry details the types of documents normally contained within these registers or minute books. Another type of document I've seen quite often and which is not listed, is the Atti di Notarieta', prepared when a person had no birth or baptismal record and such document was required for marriage or other such event. These documents required seven witnesses to verbally state their knowledge of the person's birth and events surrounding it. These witnesses were often close friends or family to the person in question.

Name of Notary
Type of Records
(Registers or Minutes)[i]
Time Period
Giuseppe De Paoli
Giovanni (Giovan) Angelo De Paoli
25 February 1677-26 May 1680
28 May 1680-26 August 1685
26 June 1691-29 July 1697
Giuseppe Maria Lucchese
Michelangelo Lucchese
16 September 1770-2 April 1771
21 April 1771-26 December 1775
Giovan Domenico D'Onofrio
2 June 1771-25 August 1775
1771-August 1785
11 September 1775-1794
1795-about 1810
1808-about 1820
Pietro D'Onofrio
1771-about 1814

Above is a table that I created detailing the surviving pre-1800 notarial records of a town in the Lucca province. [The names of the notaries have been changed by request of the client for whom I was working.] This list is a good example of the gaps often seen between what was likely initially created and what still survives after several hundred years.

[i] Within the notarial records, the minutes are where the notary takes down the specifics of the transaction in short form. He then creates a longer legal document, which was placed put in a separate register.