ANCESTRAL MARRIAGE RECORDS
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”.
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
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
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
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: LPRoots@yahoo.com ~ page last updated on Tuesday, April 22, 2003