A Note on Names.

Surnames. (SURNAM1, SURNAM2):

The use of surnames was peculiar in Florentine practice, and was in part related to the requirements of the periodic scrutinies and drawings of candidates for office. Those whose close ascendant paternal kin had previously been drawn for office could be admitted to scrutinies as ‘benefiziati’, whereas newcomers were voted on separately. Families (casate) established in the office-holding group generally had surnames, although it might take a few generations for a stable surname to develop. In the Catasto of 1427, only 36 per cent of the household heads reported were listed with surnames., but among records in the Tratte data file 83 per cent appear with surnames. A larger percentage of men drawn from the major guilds had surnames than of men from the minor guilds. All individuals were identified by patronymics (sometimes as many as three: father, grand-father, great-grandfather), but some did not seem to have surnames. Individuals with the same surname generally had an at least distant blood relationship, and they were generally all scrutinized in the same quarter and gonfalone (although individuals, or branches of families, could also change their quarter and gonfalone association).

Surnames were often derived from patronymics (Alberti from Albero, Capponi from Cappone, Ridolfi from Ridolfo), although this was not automatic. The Capponi for instance, whose first prior was in 1287, adopted a stable surname only toward the middle of the fourteenth century. In this one particular instance (since the genealogical relationship among members of the family was clear and earlier priorists [Rastrelli] had called them all Capponi), all the Capponi appear in the data file with the SURNAM1 of Capponi, although the original documents identified some only with patronymics or with the surname ‘Del Cappone’, which we recorded as SURNAM2. (Further on Florentine names see Anthony Molho, "Names, Memory, Public Identity in Late Medieval Florence" [G. Ciappelli and P. Rubin, eds. Art, Memory, and Family in Renaissance Florence. Cambridge University Press, 2000].) Sometimes family casate with no blood relationship but similar patronymics were carefully distinguished in the original records by different surnames (such as the families Degli Alberti [sometimes called Alberti del Giudice] who appear in the Tratte file as ‘Alberti’, and the Alberti di Luca, who appear in the data file as ‘Lucalberti’.) The Ridolfi present another kind of problem. There seem to have been three branches of the family in the fifteenth century, the Ridolfi di Piazza, the Ridolfi di Borgo, and the Ridolfi di Ponte. They all have the name ‘Ridolfi’ in the Tratte file (the scribes of the Tratte did not distinguish among them), and they all appear from the Santo Spirito quarter, although not all from the same gonfalone in Santo Spirito. (The Priorista Mariani in the Archivio di Stato [ASF, Manoscritti, 248-53] makes many such discrete distinctions among branches of families, which are often not clear from the Giornali registers.) In coding the data, it was often difficult to distinguish between patronymics and established surnames, not so much for the great casate that appear frequently (Strozzi, Medici, Albizzi, and the like) as among more peripheral families, and we have been careful not to make patronymics into surnames in cases that were not clear. Thus not all individuals who may have had a surname appear with a surname in the data file. The Migliorotti, for instance, a family from the minor guilds in the San Giovanni quarter, gradually established a surname. A search of the data file for the surname ‘Migliorotti’ will retrieve only some Migliorotti. Fortunately, this family had a typical given name, ‘Migliorotto’, so that a search of the file for the surname ‘Migliorotti’ or the given name or the patronymics ‘Migliorotto’ will assemble more of the family: (Search where SURNAM1=MIGLIOROTTI, OR NAME1=MIGLIOROTTO, OR NAME2=MIGLIOROTTO, OR NAME3=MIGLIOROTTO, OR NAME4=MIGLIOROTTO). By this means you will see their typical given name gradually evolve into a surname.

Sometimes families hesitated between more than one surname. You may be familiar with the often-told story of a branch of the Tornaquinci family (‘magnati’ and thus excluded from office), who transformed themselves into ‘popolani’ to gain eligibility, and changed their name to ‘Tornabuoni’. There are a number of instances in the data file of families, and sometimes single individuals, who were divided between two surnames. Sometimes, when it appeared, the second surname was coded in the data file as SURNAM2, but this was generally not reported for all individuals. We have not attempted to distinguish, or prioritize, among double surnames. Prominent examples are the Niccolini family, of which some members appear with the SURNAM1 of Sirigatti, and the ‘Dietisalvi’ who sometimes appear as ‘Neroni’. The attached list of Surname variants in SURNAM1 (click here) contains a number of such instances. We have arranged the search procedures for the data file so as to allow you to list individuals who might have more than one surname together, so that you can attempt to more fully assess this little-explored situation: (Search were SURNAM1=X, OR SURNAM1=Y). A particularly complicated example, both of a family adopting a surname and of being divided between two surnames is the Buonarroti-Simoni (the family of Michelangelo). Sometimes they were recorded as Simoni, sometimes as Buonarroti, sometimes without a surname. Fortunately, they had a typical given name: Buonarrota. If you carry out the following search correctly, you will be able to re-assemble them, and also discover a little known fact about Michelangelo. (Search where SURNAM1=SIMONI, OR SURNAM1=BUONARROTI, OR NAME1=BUONARROTA, OR NAME2=BUONARROTA, OR NAME3=BUONARROTA, OR NAME4=BUONARROTA.) In general, we advise you in searching the Tratte records for an individual, to first do a search for the assumed SURNAM1, and then a second search for the given name and first patrinomic (NAME1 and NAME2) to see if any records appearing with that name and patronymic, but no surname, had a patronymic that might be the surname you were initially seeking.

It should be noted that the translation of names from Latinate to Italian versions, and the degree of standardization we have done of names, does not make the data file fully useful for those seeking the exact linguistic evolution of names. However, it will provide you with a list of all the occurrences of a name, with the register and page numbers, should you wish to pursue further research in the original records. Inclusion of more variants of names in the data file itself was prohibited by the already-established coding format, and by the very large number of cases.

In general, our procedures for checking and editing surnames followed those initially established by David Herlihy: 1) The Latinate version of surnames was translated into an Italian version, 2) Considering the restriction to eleven characters for surnames (‘Guicciardini’ appears as ‘Guicciardin’), particles (Da, De’, Dell’, Degli) were often omitted, especially for casate that appeared the most frequently. Thus ‘De Medici’ always appears as ‘Medici’; ‘Degli Albizzi’ as ‘Albizzi’. 3) To facilitate computer searches, obvious variations in the spelling of surnames was standardized (sometimes by choosing the variant that appeared the most frequently). Thus ‘Compiubesi’ and ‘Compiobbesi’ are both ‘Compiobbesi’; ‘Da Diacceto’ and ‘Da Ghiacceto’ are both ‘Da Ghiacceto’; ‘Del Vernaccia’, ‘Vernaccia’, and ‘Vernacci’ are all ‘Vernaccia’. We have been very cautious, and we hope we have not made many errors here. The list of SURNAME1 Variants provides some corrections that went beyond minor changes in spelling. You will need to refer to the List of Surnames found in the Tratte Data File for the exact spelling of surnames to use in searches. The surname in the data file may appear in a slightly different form from the one you are most accustomed to. 4) The variable SURNAM2 was seldom used. It was used to record second surnames, when these appeared in the records, and to record the second part of a name appearing as SURNAM1 when we thought that the truncation after eleven characters would make the first part of the surname unrecognizable.

A further caution: The procedure ‘Search for information about a family or individual in the data file’ depends chiefly on the variables SURNAM1, NAME1, NAME2, and YDRAW. In the result screens, records will be sorted by NAME1 BY NAME2 BY SURNAM1 BY YDRAW. The reason for avoiding searches using the second or third patronymics, is that although the scribes of the Tratte always reported the given name, and usually the first patronymic, they often omitted the second and third patronymics. Thus searching for NAME2 and NAME3 is likely to produce limited results. Also, since Florentine practice was often to repeat given names and patronymics generation after generation (Piero di Antonio di Piero di Antonio), a search on the surname, given name, and first patronymic will often retrieve records for more than one individual. However, the fact that the records are also sorted by YDRAW will usually list the records for the first individual together followed by the records for the second. You should be attentive to the RDRAW codes ‘05’=a minor, and ‘09’=dead. These are the demarcations between one generation and another. Often an office-holding history will begin with records where the individual was rejected because he was ‘too young’, and end when he was found to be ‘dead’; the second individual in turn will begin as ‘too young’ and also end as ‘dead’.

Given Names. (NAME1, NAME2, NAME3, NAME4):

The individualism of Florentine culture produced a plethora of given names (there are nearly as many distinct given names in the data file as there are distinct surnames). They appear as the first name, and as the first, second, and third patronymics. As with the practice for surnames, given names were translated from their original Latinate version into Italian, and they were standardized to some extent so as to facilitate searches of the data file. Thus ‘Aghinolfo’, ‘Agnolfo’, and ‘Arnolfo’ all appear as ‘Arnolfo’; ‘Adovardo’, ‘Adoardo’, and ‘Averardo’ all appear as ‘Averardo’; ‘Angelo’ and ‘Agnolo’ both appear as ‘Agnolo’; ‘Ghino’ and ‘Gino’ both appear as ‘Gino’; ‘Paolo’, ‘Pauolo’, ‘Paolino’, ‘Pagolo’ all appear as ‘Paolo’; ‘Piero’ and ‘Pietro’ both appear as ‘Piero’. [The attached list of Variants in NAME1 (click here) list the most common corrections.] There was less standardization of NAME3 and NAME4 (which less affected the sort order). The variants in NAME2 are similar to those in NAME1.