More DNA

Well, I might have hit a dead end in my Civil Registration records for the De Grandis side for now, after a little growth spurt in my tree. But the good news is that progress is being made, albeit not by me, on the Morianti side of things.

A male descendant of Arnaldo Morianti is having both his autosomal and Y DNA tested. Great news! Not only is he one generation closer to Arnaldo than my father is (meaning he inherited more DNA straight from Arnaldo, containing more potential information from that line) but he is also testing his Y chromosome, meaning that the search for the true paternity of Arnaldo, a foundling orphan, could be very easily uncovered – if luck is on our side.

Either way, since I now have the De Grandis side fairly well mapped, any shared matches between my father and his Morianti relative (and me, potentially! Though I am a few generations removed) that are not obviously from that side, could be excellent hints at the true parentage of Arnaldo.

This could be the second paternity mystery that is over a hundred years old that DNA might be able to solve for me this past year – previously, a close cousin match on my mother’s Latvian side strongly pointed to a local baron being the father of an illegitimate girl born to an unwed mother in rural Latvia, 1893.

Fingers crossed for some good matches!

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My Italian Surnames

Much like the surnames of other countries and ethnic groups, the origin of Italian surnames can mostly be summed up in a few different categories – Patronyms (son of Pietro “Di Pietro”), Occupational (“Contadino = farmer”), Geographical (“Genovese” = from Genoa), Personal Traits(“Russo” – red hair, “Basso” = short) and Nature (“Colombo” = pigeon). I’m finding a heavy emphasis on the patronyms though, probably due to the great variety in how they are used. A great many of them are based on short forms, and nicknames – for example Cecchetto is derived from Cecco, a short form of Francis or Francesco.

Some areas of Italy also used an alias – “detto” – much like French Canadian “Dit” names. The purpose of these was to distinguish between different branches of a surname.

Here’s my Italian surnames, so far:

De Grandis – Personal Trait “large”

Lucato – Patronymic “son of Lucca”

Ambrosi – Patronymic “son of Ambrogio”

Cecchetto – Patronymic “son of Francesco”

Tognon detto Magiollo – two patronyms, Tognon is from Antonio and Magiollo from a very old given name “Magiolus”

Peron detto Basso – Patronym, based on the name Peter, plus Basso “short”

Morianti – Entirely made up for foundling orphans. Exploring it’s possible origins though, “Mori” is of the same name family as “Moro”, and “Morosini” – the name of a largish family from the area and the surname of a DNA match. There is also a Morandi family in Castelfranco Veneto. Whether or not you would make up a surname so close to an orphan’s real family name though, is questionable.

As I was leafing through pages in the civil records, I started noticing some familiar names, people I know from near me, locally. Being fairly exotic names, I checked a few to see whereabouts in Italy they can be found, and overwhelmingly they were concentrated around Venice. It then dawned on me that Castelfranco Veneto is a twin city to Guelph, Ontario – a city where I currently spend 5 days a week. I already obviously knew Guelph had a large Italian population, but apparently many here descend from Castelfrancians as well! What a coincidence.

A few other surnames that caught my eye just for being interesting, in the Castelfranco area were Rebellato, Del Dio Loco, Squizzato and Stangberlin.