Genealogist Anthony Vermandois has conducted extensive research into the families of several towns in Campania, Italy. At his site, Imagines Maiorum, are compiled the dates of birth, death, marriage and immigration for these families. The data is organized into charts of descent for each branch of a family. We have used the charts for the Scotti family of Agropoli to prepare this week’s posting.
The earliest ancestors we know of in our direct Scotti bloodline were Aniello and Anna Maria (nee Baldi) Scotti. Aniello was a landowner (possidente). His sons Giuseppe and Francesco inherited that title from their father. Aniello’s descendants saw a change of fortunes as Italy went through unification and periods of disease and natural disasters. By the late 19th century his descendants were no longer landowners.
Before studying the changes to our own direct line ancestors, we reviewed the continuation of the landholdings in the family of Giuseppe and Antonia Scotti. Their descendants fared much better than those of Francesco, our direct line ancestor. Even when Giuseppe’s family no longer were landowners the professions that his grandsons engaged in were of a higher professional and social status than those of Francesco’s sons and grandsons.
Family Chart for Giuseppe and Antonia (nee Cuoco) Scotti.
Giuseppe and Antonia Scotti were:
—Sammy’s Second Great Aunt and Uncle
—EmilyAnn’s Third Great Aunt and Uncle
Giuseppe and Antonia’s son Fillipo was:
—Sammy’s First Cousin 3 times removed
—EmilyAnn’s First Cousin 4 times removed
The Children of Giuseppe and Antonia Scotti
Giuseppe’s wife was Antonia Cuoco. We do not have a date for their marriage. Their children were:
Born: c.1824 Died: 11.05.1908, Agropoli
Married: No, Single
Born: c.1835 Died: 25.11.1916, Agropoli
Married: No, Single
Born: bef.1840 (to Giuseppe Scotti and Antonia Cuoco?)
Married: Maria Rosa Scorzelli
Children: Giuseppe b.c.1856, Antonia b.c.1862
Born: c.1839 Died: 27.01.1912, Agropoli
Married: Maria Antonia de Vita di Carmine
Children: Carolina b.1874, Francesco b.1876, Giovanbattista b.1878, Angela Ninfa b.1881, Ferdinando b.1883, Aniello, Giuseppe b.1889, Giuseppe b.1892
Occupation: Notary, Landowner
Born: c.1840 Died: 22.08.1888, Agropoli
Married: No, single
We discussed what the circumstances might have been that enabled a younger son to inherit his father’s landholdings. We also had to research the role of the notary in Italy during the time period in which Filippo lived.
The role of notaries in Ascoli, Puglia Province
We were not able to find any English language material on the role of the notary in 18th-19th century Agropoli. There is, however, a report on the role of the notary in the town of Ascoli at the CSAC Ethnographics Gallery Information Page-University of Kent. It includes translations of documents, contracts and settlements that the notaries were called to witness and put their stamp on. Some offer insights into the kinds of problems the townspeople had and the manner in which they arose or were settled. What follows is a summary of the key points we obtained during our reading and discussion of the report.
Ascoli is a town in the southeast of Italy.
–Italy is known to be a notarial culture. Even though in the early 18th century literacy rates were very low, the citizens of towns made use of notaries to get a wide variety of agreements and contracts registered.
–Of interest to us is that notaries registered the leases and sales of buildings and land. They also registered building contracts, plans of houses and estates.
—The legal traditions followed in Ascoli were based on local custom and the legal traditions of Lombardy. I think that since Italy in the late 18th and early 19th centuries was still not united, the manner in which law was practiced and administered was determined by region.
—Townspeople had their agreements notarized and formally registered in case of future disputes. People who could not afford a formal legal contract could still register and notarize their agreements.
—A notarial office was usually inherited as follows:
- Father to son
- Sometimes Father-in-law to Son-in-law
- Mother’s brother (Uncle) to sister’s son (nephew
—Training to become a notary was through local apprenticeships.
—Notaries had to have a reference library of books from which to work. According to the report such reference material could come into dispute when an inheritance was contested.
—In the pre-unification period of Italian history the instability of life necessitated a need for written agreements. As the country came together, national laws redefined how a notary could practice and the requirements to become one.
—After 1808 standardized civil codes were introduced. The cost of notarial services increased and their use entered a period of decline.
Discussion with Uncle Sammy on Sunday, March 1, 2015
Subject: Inheritance and Choice of Professions in the Scotti Family
We considered some possibilities that might have caused Giuseppe to leave the landholdings to Filippo:
—Giuseppe and Antonia’s first born son became a priest. The family had other sons that would carry on the family name. They did not need to leave the landholdings to the church as a way to perpetuate the family’s name through a gift.
—Giovanbattista never married. We do not know what his choice of profession was but since he had no heirs he was not considered in line for the property.
—Francesco is the next child in the household but Anthony questions if he was the son of Giuseppe and Antonia. Although he did get married and have children, the property did not go to him either. He may have been an adopted son or a relative that came to live with Francesco and Antonia.
—As a notary Filippo was the one who would understand the recordkeeping, management and local laws which would enable him to effectively fulfill the responsibilities of a landowner. He also had several sons who would carry the lineage forward into the future. A father concerned with his legacy and the perpetuation of the family name and property would leave the bulk of his estate to a son like Filippo. We believe this is one way of looking at a possible reason why only Filippo inherited the title of possidente from his father Giuseppe.
We discovered a divergence from the patterns of inheritance we previously held about this period in Italy. The older generations in the Serrapede and Muro families always said that when times were tough in Italy, the oldest son inherited whatever possessions and property belonged to the father. The other sons went into a trade or performed manual labor. The younger sons were encouraged to enter the priesthood. Filippo Scotti, as the third son, inherited his father’s title of possidente while his eldest brother Aniello became a priest.
CSAC Ethnographics Gallery Information Page-University of Kent
Ascoli Project page: http://era.anthropology.ac.uk/Era_Resources/Era/Ascoli/marriage/marrfr.html