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Cavaliere Anthonly Lascio

Cav. Anthony Lascio Chapter - PIP 1
Ancestral Marriage Records

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by Cav. Anthony Lascio

There are a variety of record sources pertaining to Italian marriages.  Let’s examine them one by one.  First, the civil marriages in Italy a century or two ago consisted of the future bride and groom entering into a solemn promise to wed.  This was done before a civil authority in the local town, usually in the hometown of the bride.  Remember, however, the soon to be joined couple were generally from the same comune.  Four witnesses accompanied the couple, most often, siblings, close relatives or best friends of each of the parties.  This record contains valuable data important to the Italian genealogists.  The specifics are: the date the couple appeared at the town hall; name, age, birthplace, occupation, and current residence of the groom; groom’s father’s name, age, occupation, and current residence; and the groom’s mother’s maiden name, age, and current residence.  The same data is requested and recorded for the bride and her parents.  Finally, the witnesses also provide their names, ages, occupation, and residences.  This record is called “Record of the Solemn Promise to Celebrate Matrimony” or “Atto della Solemna Promessa di Celebrare il Matrimonio”.

 Since the preceding is not the official record of marriage, just the solemn intention, it is the Catholic Church which possesses the actual marriage record for over ninety-five percent of Italian marriages for this is where the actual ceremony was performed.

There is also a record called the Atto di Matrimonio which is the actual record of the marriage.  This is not always available for a given Italian town but if it isn’t, the previously described record will be.  Both provide the same data, therefore, only one is sufficient to satisfy your genealogical quest.

A third document is the processetti. This form contains all of the information which was provided by each of the parties to be married. There were many steps the couple had to take before uttering that famous “I do”.  Marriage in Italy a century or two ago was a strict and methodical process.  Although the processetti contains many very valuable layers of genealogical data, it is not easily or commonly found in Italy.  But do not be dismayed.  The other documents referred to earlier will more than satisfy your research requirements.

Now, on to the marriage records of the Catholic Church.  A church marriage in Italy at the time period of our interest constituted two steps; the wedding banns or announcement known  in Italian as  the Pubblicazioni di Matrimonio and the actual Atto di Matrimonio, meaning literally, marriage record.  Both are usually available on LDS microfilm, if your ancestral town’s church ledgers have been copied by the Mormons.  Each document includes extremely valuable data for the genealogist. In addition to recording the exact time and place it was recorded, the names, ages, occupations, birthplaces, and current residents of both of the parties to be married.  The same data for the parents of the couple is recorded. What is also interesting are the signatures of those ancestors of yours, provided they could write.

The actual wedding document more or less contains similar data as the wedding ban document.

While there are a number of Italian documents concerning the act of marriage, many offer a duplication of information. Therefore, do not spend a lot of time and expense chasing them all down. Both the civic and/or church actual marriage documents should be sufficient to provide you with all the information you require to fill your pedigree chart.

For those pursuing family history in addition to the pure genealogy data of names, dates and places, marriage records are valuable because they offer information such as occupations, previous marriages and parental data to name a few. This information will help to “know” who these ancestors were.

Other key data which are extracted from marriage documents include: birthplaces of spouses who did not originate in the place where the wedding was conducted; parents who may have been born elsewhere; ages of the couple who were married, just to highlight a few examples.

With the preceding, it is quite simple to extend the blood lines of the couple.

Remember, the civil records of marriage are posted in Italian and the church records are in Latin.  Remember also, the civil record can be located at the town hall and the church record at the parish where the wedding ceremony took place.

Once you have obtained or viewed the actual documents concerning the marriage of any ancestral couple, you have taken a giant step toward the process of delving back deeper into your genealogical history.  Too bad you weren’t around for the banquet which followed the wedding ceremony. You’d really have something to write about!                                                     


© PIP Chapter 1, 2003 ~ Webmaster:  ~  page last updated on Tuesday, April 22, 2003