25b-Serrapede and Muro Families-Agropoli and America-Patterns in naming the children


As Uncle Sammy and I delved deeper into the charts of descent at ImaginesMaiorum and our family tree we noticed over and over the recurrence of certain first names in our direct line and branch family lines. It turns out that during the time our ancestors lived very strong traditions existed in the selection of a name for a child.  We note them in the next section and then examine how this tradition was at work for Uncle Sammy’s paternal line (Serrapede).

Traditional Naming Patterns in Italian Families of the Past

In the past Italian families followed a traditional pattern of naming their children as follows:

Who was named after paternal Grandparents:

**The first son in the family was named after his paternal Grandfather.
**The first daughter was named after her paternal Grandmother.

Who was named after the maternal Grandparents:

**The second son was named after his maternal Grandfather.
**The second daughter was named after her maternal Grandmother.

The Naming Patterns within Uncle Sammy’s branch of the Serrapede family

Names in bold show the recurrence of a name in Sammy’s direct line. The label “First Generation” is used for the earliest ancestors we have records for through ImaginesMaiorum.net

First Generation

Location: Agropoli

Ancestors: Luigi and Angela Maria Serrapede (Sammy’s Second Great Grandparents)

Children of Luigi and Angela Maria:
Sabato (1834-1893) (Sammy’s Great Grandfather)
-Gennaro (1843)

Second Generation

Location: Agropoli

Ancestors: Sabato and Filomena Serrapede (Sammy’s Great Grandparents)

Their children:
-Luigi (b. 1860)
-Angela Maria (b. 1861)
Gennaro (b. 1867) (Sammy’s paternal Grandfather)

Third Generation

Location: Agropoli

Ancestors: Gennaro and Emilia Serrapede (Sammy’s Grandparents)

Their children:
-Filomena (1895)
Sabato (1900-2002)(Sammy’s Father)
-Italia (1904-)
-Luigi (1908-)
-Anna (1909-1911)
-Alfonso (1913-1997)

Fourth Generation

Location: U.S.A.

Ancestors: Sabato and Josie Serrapede (Sammy’s parents)

Their children:
Emily Leatrice (Emilia Letizia)
Gerry (Gennaro)
Sammy (Sabbatino)

Discussion with Uncle Sammy Sunday, 5/17/2015 11 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.

Josie and Sam took a creative approach to naming their daughter. They combined the names of her paternal Grandmother (Emilia) and maternal Grandmother (Letizia).  Thus in Italian her name was Emilia Letizia.  Then Josie anglicized it to Emily Leatrice.

We do not recall middle names being used by the older generation but it was a common practice amongst the second generation to give the third generation Italian-American children a middle name. It was considered a way to distinguish a child if they were named after a relative and it was also a way to add more individuality to the child’s identity.  Among many third generation Italian-American girls the middle name of Ann was very popular in the 1950s.  You could meet many girls named Mary Ann  (Marianna in Italian).  Another popular middle name was Marie.  You could have several Ann Maries in class(Anna Maria in Italian).

Uncle Sammy was baptized Sabbatino, which is a variation on his father’s name Sabato. Amongst the family he was called Junior until he was in his 30s and nicknamed Sammy by everyone else.  These name patterns fell into disuse after the third generation of descendants began their own families.  Succeeding generations of descendants of Italian immigrants to America chose names that they liked or felt expressed a unique quality they wanted for their child.



Italian Naming Traditions






4 thoughts on “25b-Serrapede and Muro Families-Agropoli and America-Patterns in naming the children

    • Glad you enjoyed it. These types of naming patterns also existed on the Jewish side of my family. They came from what is now known as Eastern Europe. There must have been deep psychological forces behind these traditions. I wonder if it was caused by a heightened sense of mortality. Because of that the desire to remember the loved ones of the past caused the parents to name their children following these customs. Today we live longer lives and the focus is more on the individual which I think is why these patterns fell out of use. Let me know what you find in your own family.

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  1. I do a lot of Scottish research and their naming pattern is similar with two notable differences. Priority matches gender and it’s longer.
    1st – maternal grandmother
    2nd – paternal grandmother
    3rd – mother
    4th and on – other family members in any order
    1st – paternal grandfather
    2nd – maternal grandfather
    3rd – father
    4th and on – other family members in any order
    Additionally, they weren’t just named for the person’s first name. They were given their entire name as their first and middle name. It’s very helpful to understand the naming pattern so missing children can be identified and so you can verify the tree.

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