Profession-"possidente", "proprietario/a" etc.

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TerraLavoro
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Profession-"possidente", "proprietario/a" etc.

Postby TerraLavoro » 16 Sep 2014, 17:58

Apologies if this has been covered before, but would the fluent Italian speakers (especially residents in-country) please explain the nuance in these professions that I find in the historic records of my ancestors?

In many atti, I read possidente, proprietario, benestante, (among much more humble as well as more elevated professions), and I wonder if it means that the individuals own the land that they farm, or own land/buildings that others work, or is there really any standard distinction?


If it helps, I will mention that the records are all from comuni in todays's provinces of Naples, Latina and Frosinone. Any thoughts? Thanks in advance.
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erudita74
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Re: Profession-"possidente", "proprietario/a" etc.

Postby erudita74 » 16 Sep 2014, 18:28

The distinctions I can offer you are from a book called Fate, Honor, Family and Village by Prof Rudolph M. Bell-p. 227

Benestante-well-to-do

Civile: civilized; used in the south, mostly between 1860 and 1930 for non-noble large holders who even left the supervision of their estates to others

Possidente: landowner, generally owned more (or was more pretentious) than a proprietario and less than a civile

Proprietario-landowner

from the author(Dr Nicholas La Bianca) -proprietari (plural of proprietario) were small landowners who worked their own fields as opposed to contadini who were peasants who worked in the fields for wages.

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Re: Profession-"possidente", "proprietario/a" etc.

Postby Italysearcher » 16 Sep 2014, 21:24

In the Frosinone area contadini were also persons who rented land and worked for themselves **SPAM** their produce in the markets. (My own mother in law and ancestors going back) I have a rent receipt book with receipts dating from 1862 -1882 for rent paid to the local 'nobile' (and signed by him) for land they worked on their own behalf.
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ANNOYING THE SAINTS - Stories of my Life in Italy. http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-b ... ly/7731505

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Re: Profession-"possidente", "proprietario/a" etc.

Postby TerraLavoro » 16 Sep 2014, 22:08

Thank you erudita and Italysearcher.

So for the most part the different terms would turn on the size of the land holdings. Sounds reasonable. And "benestante".....I understand the dictionary definition, but is there also a more idiomatic or dialect meaning? For instance, does it mean well-to-do from any source, or is it still tied to prosperity derived from work related to agriculture? Thoughts?
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