Different surnames between Italian records

+4 votes

I'm working on some Italian records and ran across this weird situation.  Why would a mother's surname change from record to record? Here's the FamilySearch profile I'm looking at -- the woman's name changes between Bellitti and Ciaffo almost at random over the course of two decades, including one case where the birth record for a child used Bellitti, but the death record seven days later used Ciaffo. It's too deliberate to be a mistake.

Bellitti does seem to be the family name -- her parents appear on her marriage record, and I don't see anything indicating she was adopted, and no clue as to where the name Ciaffo came from.  And unfortunately I can't get to the actual records themselves to see if this is some sort of transcription error.

I've seen a couple unusual examples where somebody starts using a different name -- usually an orphan, but I don't think I've seen another instance where they bounce back and forth between names.

in Genealogy Help by Ryan Torchia G2G Crew (450 points)
The link is to the sign in page of family search, not any of the sources.
I've seen this once for a Sicilian relative and eventually found out that the individual had 2 Middle names and the second one was being recorded as a last name.

I can't state that this is the case for you, but just a possibility.

~Brian Kerr
That is the way FamilySearch works. You have to sign in to see content. Once you sign in you go directly to the referenced item, which in this case is a FamilySearch/Family Tree profile for Maria Bellitti.
I was signed in already, so was perplexed as to why it would want me to do it again.
I don’t have an answer for that.

I was not logged in at that time, and it worked as I expected.

1 Answer

+2 votes

I just looked up the birth of Maria Campo in 1832 (http://dl.antenati.san.beniculturali.it/v/Archivio+di+Stato+di+Agrigento/Stato+civile+della+restaurazione/Sciacca/Nati/1832/2398/007860579_00600.jpg.html) and it's not a mistranscription. Mother's surname is Ciaffo.

Unfortunately, there are no marriage processetti files for the marriage of Vincenzo Campo and Maria Binetti so her baptismal record isn't available. If you found the marriage record of any of their children (although on the FS profile only two may have survived past childhood) it would be interesting to see how she is listed. Or on her death record, for that matter.

If I had to guess, Ciaffo might be a sopranome (family nickname).

by Frank Santoro G2G6 Mach 3 (37.7k points)
Thanks (to you and the others who responded).  After more work, I found that some descendants continued doing this for a few more generations.  It looks like it being a sopranome is the most likely explanation -- I just have never had to deal with one before.

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