I am slightly confused by this (atto di nascita) birth certificate (link below) of my grandfather, since I was always told his first name was Paolo. However, it appears on his birth certificate his first name is really Francesco. ??
Can someone tell me the order of his name on the birth certificate? Is it surname, first, middle or surname, middle, first? Or simply put, what is the first name of my grandfather, Paolo or Francesco.
It's not easy to read but my take is Francesco Paolo - Francesco 1st name, Paolo 2nd. Possibly there were 2 Francescos as brothers so yours used his 2nd name in the family to distinquish himself from another Francesco.
Having two first names is quite usual inItaly, particularly where Francesco is concerned. Myown father is named Francesco Paolo!
The reason why some first names are sometimes the second name and not the firstname is the naming custom of giving the first son the male grandfather's name or the female grandmothers name relating to the father of the child and the second child to the mothers parent name be it father or mother as well. In some families there were many children and you wound up with many cousins all being called Francesco while others were called Paolo so as to minimize confusion of who your talking about, particularlyin small towns.
Consequently even among my own cousins half were called the second name while others were called Peter the firstname.