orphans & illegitimate children in italy 1850

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orphans & illegitimate children in italy 1850

Postby pangeli » 13 Jan 2006, 10:15

Does anyone know who cared for babies who were foundlings in the 1850s in the Tuscany region if they were not adopted? Were there orphanages or foster homes in existence at this time? thanks for any info

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Re: orphans & illegitimate children in italy 1850

Postby suanj » 13 Jan 2006, 12:44

pangeli wrote:Does anyone know who cared for babies who were foundlings in the 1850s in the Tuscany region if they were not adopted? Were there orphanages or foster homes in existence at this time? thanks for any info

In Tuscany, as in all Italy, in this years around 1850 (and before and after), the infant foundling, when it was possible, was adopteds (if was some adoption request) or entrusted to poor families that raised it by Mayor's payment; if this two possibilities was no possible, only in this case the abandoned infants (normally called: proietti, esposti, trovatelli) was in orphanage.... in the italian archives are only the documents about the hospitals where the infants was abandoned by an particular service called : "ruota degli esposti" ; the same "ruota degli esposti" was also in the convents...
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Re: orphans & illegitimate children in italy 1850

Postby pangeli » 13 Jan 2006, 19:40

If the infant was not adopted then either placed in a foster home or orphanage why would the town where the child was abandoned differ from the town wherein the infant was placed?

Also was there an age when the town would no longer be financially responsible for the child?

Thank you again for the info.

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Re: orphans & illegitimate children in italy 1850

Postby suanj » 13 Jan 2006, 20:57

If the infant was not adopted then either placed in a foster home or orphanage why would the town where the child was abandoned differ from the town wherein the infant was placed?

Yes it was possible, when an child born foundling in an town, well in this town was no an orphanage, so it was placed in an orphanage of another town.. but I let you know that, many times, the abandoned infants, foundlings in an town, really they was born in another and near town ...

Also was there an age when the town would no longer be financially responsible for the child?

Thank you again for the info.

Normally the child that was raised from an family, well this family in first years of child's life was payed, but after no, but the child however was as an son in the family, because it was nursed and raised and so it remained in this family... if the family was an poor but good family the child remained almost until 14 old and in the better case until abt 20 old
(militar service age)....
But really it is impossible to say with precision, because all cases was different .... but normally as above was the normal use... suanj
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Re: orphans & illegitimate children in italy 1850

Postby MauroMags » 13 Jan 2006, 21:52

I've read and have been told that many of these foundlings were given "names of Noblity" after being adopted. Who decided on these names? Was it the adoptive family, the levatrice or the mayor? Or was it just arbitrary?

I'm sure these naming practices led to several family legends that claim orphan ancestors as the illegitimate children of barons and dukes. I have one of these highly doubtful stories in my own family line and I'm just curious to how this process occurred

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Re: orphans & illegitimate children in italy 1850

Postby pangeli » 14 Jan 2006, 03:32

MauroMags wrote:I've read and have been told that many of these foundlings were given "names of Noblity" after being adopted. Who decided on these names? Was it the adoptive family, the levatrice or the mayor? Or was it just arbitrary?

I'm sure these naming practices led to several family legends that claim orphan ancestors as the illegitimate children of barons and dukes. I have one of these highly doubtful stories in my own family line and I'm just curious to how this process occurred


My understanding is that if children were not adopted they were given names that indicated that they were illegitimate. Example D'Ignoto.
Apparently the thinking was to punish the child. Moreover this name follows them throughout life. When one got married in Italy one had to show birth certificate. The record of birth for foundlings was the hospital or convent record when the baby was abandoned. Often there was no report to the mayor's office. On one marriage record I saw it stated the foundling's occupation at time marriage and also included she was s ward of the town.

I do not know if there were baptismal records.

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Re: orphans & illegitimate children in italy 1850

Postby suanj » 14 Jan 2006, 12:32

I've read and have been told that many of these foundlings were given "names of Noblity" after being adopted.


This info is incorrect, because it is illegal this fact...

however the surname in birth registration was an fantasy surname thought from Officer.. and for an royal law of 1810, the fantasy surname it could not contain no referring to the real or presumed parents .. after being adopet the surname was the same of adopting family... so if the family was of noble surname, in this case the child also had noble surname.. (..... but i have most doubts on the possibility that an rich and noble family it can to adopt an foundling)... suanj
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Re: orphans & illegitimate children in italy 1850

Postby suanj » 14 Jan 2006, 12:56

My understanding is that if children were not adopted they were given names that indicated that they were illegitimate. Example D'Ignoto.
Apparently the thinking was to punish the child.


No, no... no for punish the child... absolutely no...
it depend from culture of officer, and also from fantasy officer.. so the surname of foundlings was: Proietti (=thrown), Esposito(=esposto/foundling), Di Dio, (of God), Del Sole (of sun), Della Luna (of moon), or as month names or flower names etc...

Moreover this name follows them throughout life. When one got married in Italy one had to show birth certificate.


The fantasy surname of an foundling , when the foundling( male foundling) married, it become an household surname ... so we can see that some family are roots only back 1800/1900 years and no before, because was new surnames...

and as all people, when it married it must to show the birthact... the illegitimate births was most frequents...

The record of birth for foundlings was the hospital or convent record when the baby was abandoned. Often there was no report to the mayor's office.

No, however it must be the civil record of Officer almost from birthregistrie's age ( south Italy from abt 1809; north Italy abt 1871) .. so was an rapport where are wrote from who and when and where the child was found.. if before of this years was baptism act...

On one marriage record I saw it stated the foundling's occupation at time marriage and also included she was s ward of the town.

I do not know if there were baptismal records.


The occupation was wrote for all people and no only for foundling, as other notations... the baptism act was showed before of marriage act with all documents necessary for the wedding as they are in "Processetto Matrimoniale" or "Pubblicazioni"....
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Re: orphans & illegitimate children in italy 1850

Postby pangeli » 14 Jan 2006, 20:29

It is my understanding that the illegitimate child was not given a nobility name but rather the unwed mother/family sometimes explained the illegimate birth by reporting that the father was a person of nobility.


I consider the naming of illegitimate children to be an important topic for those interested in genealogy. My interest is with the foundlings who were illegitimate because the parentage was either unknown or kept secret.

I have been told in northern italy, at least in the 1830s, that there was no birth record other than the entry in the hospital records. I would like to know if there was any other record that would provide date of birth. Also I would appreciate any info on how to obtain such a record.

Also, a marriage certificate that I have personally examined included in the occupation section not only the occupation but also that the individual was a civitdina which I believe means town person or ward of the town.
I cannot understand why this information was necessary and I imagine it was somewhat embarassing.

Thanks for any info on this subject.

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Re: orphans & illegitimate children in italy 1850

Postby suanj » 14 Jan 2006, 21:07

It is my understanding that the illegitimate child was not given a nobility name but rather the unwed mother/family sometimes explained the illegimate birth by reporting that the father was a person of nobility.

Also this it is an common legend.. when, really, an abandoned child was an son/daughter of noble person (mother or father), well only in this case was some object, some jewel, some thing of noble family; no the surname, no an mother declaration( very ususal and it is no a prof..) but an precious object, because was an payment shape for the person that will find the child or for the nurse...also this noble persons, however they don't forgot the child's contact, never , also if the baby don't knowed whio was the parents...


I consider the naming of illegitimate children to be an important topic for those interested in genealogy.

Yes could be interesting..

My interest is with the foundlings who were illegitimate because the parentage was either unknown or kept secret.


Normally the foundlings was always also and only illegitimate... otherwise if legitimate well in this case was only orphans. In Italy with equal foundlings word we understand only the illegitimate child... Moreover for the illegitimate child is very hard to descover something; and the secret was because especially was child borns from prostitutes, adulteres, or from sexual violence on an woman (especially farmer women), also sexual violence in own family... really was an problem... the Ruota degli Esposti was an carity act for the child, because in this way the women no killed the babies...
If an person can think how much illegitimate child was in all ages of History, and the same person think how much noble man was in same ages, it can understand that, perhaps only someone really was an noble and illegitimate child, and the others.. only common people..


I have been told in northern italy, at least in the 1830s, that there was no birth record other than the entry in the hospital records.

and yes, because the civil registry was from sep. 1871(in the better cases), otherwise only hospital record and baptism act...

I would like to know if there was any other record that would provide date of birth. Also I would appreciate any info on how to obtain such a record.

If the child was born in nothern Italy, AFTER sep 1871, it is possible to request the photocopy of birthact and to analyze it, because, normally are always an dossier on foundlings.. always... this dossier are always top secret.. but on original birthact are wrote the condition of foundling, and also some other thing that can suggest if is good idea to ask an judge the dossier copy... some time in the dossier are some parents trace, many times no.. ; but if in the original birthact are " child born from an woman that don't wish be named" in this case it is impossible, but, however always it is an judge discretion and opinion, and however are necessary many money and many time...

Also, a marriage certificate that I have personally examined included in the occupation section not only the occupation but also that the individual was a civitdina which I believe means town person or ward of the town.

this is normal .... for all.. was and is usual...


I cannot understand why this information was necessary and I imagine it was somewhat embarassing.


because in Italy all it is most precise, and all must be so... I read the UK record.. the USA record.. I cannot understand because this acts are very short, only little info...

in Italy all infos are very important, because the person is important....
the Italy have very ancient history, and all infos about an person was and are necessary for to better to indetify, and with max precision the person... we will must to thanks this gorgeous job of italian officer in the acts, and for this job, that we have NOW the traces, the roots, the infos that can be very helpful for to descover the truth in the back time..

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Re: orphans & illegitimate children in italy 1850

Postby 4gvduro » 19 Jan 2006, 06:49

I consider the naming of illegitimate children to be an important topic for those interested in genealogy.


This is definitely a topic of interest to me. My husband's great great grandfather was a "foundling" and family stories say that he was named "Duro" because he was "tough". He was supposedly left at the doorstep of a convent and was not adopted, but grew up in an orphanage.

in Italy all infos are very important, because the person is important....
the Italy have very ancient history, and all infos about an person was and are necessary for to better to indetify, and with max precision the person... we will must to thanks this gorgeous job of italian officer in the acts, and for this job, that we have NOW the traces, the roots, the infos that can be very helpful for to descover the truth in the back time...


Since these records tell so much more information than US records. I wish there were better access to them. I have tried to write to the town where my husband's ancestors are from, but have gotten no replies. :(
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Re: orphans & illegitimate children in italy 1850

Postby pangeli » 19 Jan 2006, 19:43

What years are you looking for. I have had good luck with the towns that I have requested info from. Also the few churches that I have contacted have also been responsive. In fact, the last town and last church provided me far more info than I requested.

First, I would suggest that you first determine whether LDS has filmed your area of interest. I know that all the provinces have been filmed in the Tuscany region with the exception of Arezzo which they intend to film in the near future.

Second, if your ancestor was married in Italy search for this record first. The marriage certificate probably will specifiy the hospital wherein either the baby was either born in or abandoned.

Third, if the ancestor was born prior to 1841, LDS has filmed the 1841 census for several of the towns. Look for the name in all households of the possible towns where the baby would have been placed in foster care. A good percentage of the abandoned babies were not illegitimate in that the parents were married but too poor to take care of the baby and so left the child in the orphanage. In many cases, families later retrieved their babies.

Any thoughts you may have as to other strategies to find at least the baby's maternal family would be appreciated.

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Re: orphans & illegitimate children in italy 1850

Postby belcaro » 21 Apr 2009, 14:02

I have been using LDS to research my family name in italy.
I have reached a dead end at my Great great grandfather's marriage announcement, from 1886. In this document he states, "genitore ignoti", family unknown, however he does not indicate that he was a civitdino. Our family name Belcaro does seem to fit into the "fantasy name" idea.

He was 24 years old and would have been born in early 1860's, before the civil registry in 1871.

Where do I go from here? I've read about the dossier's for abandoned children. Were there any prominent orphanages, hospitals in Foggia area ( or southeastern italy) in the 1860's?

How do I begin searching for the dossier for him?

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Re: orphans & illegitimate children in italy 1850

Postby suanj » 21 Apr 2009, 14:05

In Foggia area, as a well in southern Italy, the civil records starting from 1809 abt.....
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Re: orphans & illegitimate children in italy 1850

Postby belcaro » 21 Apr 2009, 14:08

Ciao Suanj, i just sent you an email...


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