My Italian Family. A call of "Help" from New Zealand

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My Italian Family. A call of "Help" from New Zealand

Post by SebastianMNZ » 15 Jul 2012, 16:04

My name is Sebastian, i'm 18, and i'm from New Zealand.

Since going to Italy on an exchange, and learning Italian, i have wanted to find out more about my Italian heritage which no one in my family can seem to give me any information, that corresponds to each others information.

I know i had a great great.... something grand father named

Benetto Louis Pirani, (I'm quite certain this was his name), and i believe he was from Florence. I think he was lived in the period 1750-1860 sometime, this part is quite inaccurate because of how much argument there is between the family.

He had a wife definatlu called either Regina, or Reyna Abecasis. And they moved to Gibralter sometime before i think 1815, becuse they had 8 children in Gibraltar, however some of them could have been born in Florence, also one of their sons, named tone of their sons after him that is "Benetto Pirani" so not to get confused.

I need ALL THE HELP I CAN GET PLEASE...................... i can't seem to find any sold infomation on births deaths, or anything. Anything you find please share with me

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Re: My Italian Family. A call of "Help" from New Zealand

Post by Romano1970 » 15 Jul 2012, 18:01

Hello Sebastian,

Was your G G Grand Father on your mother side or your fathers side?

Do you have any information on your family's transit to New Zealand?

This may help in the creation of the trace backwards to your relative from Florence.

Gathering all the information that you now to be factual first will also help in the trace.
Mother and fathers birth place, Dates, Addresses, Possible birth certificates. The will show the names of the parents.....Etc.
Michael Romano

Chi va piano va sano e va lontano

Those who go slowly, go safely and go far

Looking for family history in Piazza Armerina, Aidone, and Musomelli Sicily.
Names researching: Romano, Nigrelli, Ristagno, Piazza Maida Triolo.

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Re: My Italian Family. A call of "Help" from New Zealand

Post by palmerjillm » 09 Aug 2012, 05:30

Hi Sebastian

I'm in NZ and am replying to put you on the right track. I have done a lot of research into this family and have sorted out some of the legends through certificates and other documents.

Your ancestor Benetto Louis Pirani was born 29 Oct 1857 in Melbourne, Australia. He married Louisa Armstrong Porter 1 Nov 1904 in Melbourne, Australia. His sister, Lucie Rita Pirani, is my great grandmother, so that’s why I am interested in this family.

Benetto Louis Pirani’s ancestry is as follows:

Parents: Henry Charles Pirani born 13 Jan 1818 in Gibraltar. He died 27 Sep 1894 in Napier, NZ. He married Louisa Levy 29 Oct 1856 in Melbourne in a Jewish ceremony. Louisa died 7 July 1901 in Melbourne (after Henry C Pirani’s death she moved back to Melbourne to live with her son Benetto Louis Pirani.) Louisa was a music teacher. They had 8 children, all but one being born in Melbourne and the final one in NZ. They came to NZ ca 1868.

The family were definitely Jewish.

When Henry Charles Pirani was born, his name was Aron Cohen. His father was Benayahu or Benetto Cohen and his mother was Reyna Abecasis. Benayahu or Benetto was born ca 1785 (don’t know where). He married Reyna Abecasis ca 1813 probably in Gibraltar but the Jewish records for marriages do not go back quite that far in Gibraltar. While Aron was born in Gibraltar, two other sons were born in London. The family seemed to live in London most of the time, and I found Benetto C Pirani, merchant, in a London directory in 1841.

Reyna was born ca 1787 in Gibraltar. Her parents were Aaron Abecasis born 1754 in Gibraltar and Esther (surname ?) born ca 1762 in Gibraltar. Aaron’s mother’s name was Meshoda b ca 1831 in Gibraltar. They were Sephardic Jews of either Spanish or Portuguese origin.

About 1841 the Cohen family added the surname Pirani, possibly for business reasons. Pirani is not really an Italian name. It is likely that Benayahu or Benetto’s family came from Piran in Slovenia in north-eastern Italy; adding the “i” to the name means from Piran. Someone who my mother corresponded with said he’d been to Florence and had seen the wine merchant business that he was supposed to have run. But this person has since died. Benayahu or Benetto may have come from Florence at some stage but more proof is needed. Stories of his and Reyna’s 3 sons being educated in a Florence university are probably untrue. But their grandchildren were well educated – briefly, your ancestor Benetto Louis Pirani was a lawyer, two of his brothers owned newspapers (one of these became an MP in NZ), and another grandson was educated at Oxford and had a chair at Melbourne university….

The names are confusing. To summarise, Aron Cohen’s name became Henry Cohen, then Henry Cohen Pirani, then Henry Charles Pirani. Louisa Levy Pirani’s maiden
surname later was changed to Wyatt. All their children changed any Jewish names they had, possibly when they started to go to Christian churches.

There is additional information on all these families but I don’t have time to give it to you this way. If you go to and go to their Family Tree section, you can see all that I gave my cousin W. Skilton - he put it onto Ancestry. Type in Henry Charles Pirani and that should bring up the tree. As you live in NZ, you can get free access to by going to a public library or to one of the Latter-day Saint Family History Centres near you – go to to see place and opening hours

In doing family history you need to work backwards from yourself. That’s the only way to go!



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Re: My Italian Family. A call of "Help" from New Zealand

Post by jamiecapaldi » 10 Aug 2012, 15:01

Hello, Just to let you know Pirani is an Italian name, and you can find it in the following regions of ITaly
NAMES: Capaldi-Tedesco-Tamilio-Minchella-Verrecchia-Tomasso-Franchitto-Innelli-Arpino-Caringi-Colacicco-Macari-Pinchera-Salera-D'Orazio-Ambrosino-Di Mambro-Sigliocolo-Masello
PLACES: Cassino- UK, USA, Ireland, Canada & Australia

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Re: My Italian Family. A call of "Help" from New Zealand

Post by montclaire » 10 Aug 2012, 18:30


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