Here is a list of some common foundling surnames which were often given to abandoned children prior to 1928.  Children were often named by record keepers or officials in the town.  However, sometimes wealthy members of the town or even those who accepted responsibly for the child (such as a god parent or guardian) were known to name them.  Often they were given surnames that identified them as a foundling such as Esposito (exposed), Innocenti (innocent), Salvati (saved) or given the name of the town itself but this practice was forbidden post 1928.   It is important to remember that even though one of your ancestors may have one of these surnames it does not necessarily mean they were a foundling but it could indicate that an ancestors further back may have been one.

It is important to read records carefully when extracting information for foundlings as it will usually document where the child was found, what the child was wearing or what he carried with him should a person who previously abandoned a child change their mind and choose to recognise/legitimise him in the future.  In that case there will be a second document created with the details of the event – although that record may be created several days, months or even years later making it very tricky to locate.

List of Some Common Italian Foundling Surnames

  • Arfanetti
  • Armandonada
  • Bardotti
  • Bastardo
  • Colombini
  • Dati
  • de Alteriis
  • della Donna
  • della Femmina
  • della Fortuna
  • della Gioia
  • della Stella
  • Dell ‘Amore
  • dell’orfano
  • del Gaudio
  • Diodata
  • D’Amore
  • D’ Ignoto
  • Esposto
  • Esposito
  • Esposuto
  • Fortuna
  • Ignotis
  • Incerto
  • Incognito
  • Innocenti
  • Innocentini
  • Mulo
  • Naturale
  • Nocenti
  • Nocentini
  • Proietti
  • Ritrovato
  • Salvati
  • Sposito
  • Spurio
  • Stellato
  • Trovatello
  • Trovato
  • Ventura
  • Venturini


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2 thoughts on “FOUNDLING SURNAMES”

  1. Thank you Nuccia. This is very interesting information. This happened to my adopted grandfather. Here is his story:
    I am searching for my adopted (paternal) grandfather’s biological family. He was left on church/convent steps in Orsogna, Chieti, Abruzzi in 1882, was given the name Elio or Elijah Camerario by the government, and was adopted by the Sacramone family in Orsogna. The Sacramone family called him Joe Sacramone/Giuseppe Sacramone. He was born on November 15, 1882. He married Rosalinda Iacomini (daughter of Francescapaola Ceccarossi and Filippo Iacomini) in 1909 and moved to the United States via Ellis Island in 1913, then lived in Everett, Massachusetts, USA. Rosalinda had three sisters, Esperanza (moved to Argentina), Maria Nicola (moved to New York) and Carmela (who moved to Canada). Esperanza and Maria Nicola married two brothers, Nicola and Michele D’Alleva. Elio and Rosalinda had four children, Maria (Mary), Vincenzo (James), Alfredo (Alfred), and Louigi (Louis) Camerario. Also, he was married once before marrying my grandmother. Maria married Daniel Mastrocola. James married Rita (Bucci) Ciampa (my mother – maternal side of my family). Louis married Beatrice Silva. Alfred married Mary Bastardi. Any information you can provide of where your ancestors are from would be greatly appreciated. Please ask the elders in your extended family if they know anything. It is important for medical history, etc.

    Here is the information I received from the Chieti Town Hall:
    “Number eighty seven Camerario Elia

    The year one thousand eight hundred eighty day of November 15 in the afternoon four in the Town Hall, I advocate Nicola de Horatiis commissioner appointed by the Mayor with place November 19 thousand eight hundred eighty-one, duly approved, officer of the civil state of the town of Chieti having received from ‘office delivery of exposed ancient copy of the birth certificate, I fully and accurately transferred the copy above the wording of which is as follows:Chieti them November 15 thousand eight hundred eighty-two. In November 15 of the current year was exhibited in this office delivery a male baby recently born, wrapped in tattered clothes, as appears from the record of delivery, without visible signs on the little body, declaring that the child was by the exhibitor born of illegitimate parents. Having received by this office waif under the number six hundred ninety-nine of the general register pursuant to Article Sixteen of the regulation issued by the board of Provincial Abruzzo Citra to twenty-four thousand eight hundred eighty September, is transmitted to your lordship this statement in fulfillment of ‘Article three hundred seventy-eight of the Civil Code, significandole the same time that the name to be given to the child who is Elijah Camerario. That will have the inspection performed on vital records, your Lordship will courtesy of apporne noticed on the back of this that send in duplicate so because that fulfilled both returned to the undersigned. The officer signed delivery – Luigi French – Mr. officer of civil status of the City of Chieti.Once the transcript, I have about visa and entered the copy above the volume of the annexes to this register.”
    If none of this sounds familiar, then you are possibly related to me by my grandfather’s biological family! Please email me at if you know anything or would like to connect! You can friend me (Jody Camerario Roberts) on Facebook or Linked In. Also, please let me know what your full name is as I only see your screen name. Where do you live? I live in Danvers, MA and would love to meet my newly found relatives.

    Thank you.

    Jody (Camerario) Roberts
    9 Kenmore Drive
    Danvers, MA 01923

  2. My Great Grandmothers name was Rosa Gugliemnccia but the baby she had,my grandfather, was given her surname, Salerno. They came to the U.S. in 1895 with those names. I was told that she wasn’t married when she had him but can’t figure out where the Gugliemnccia name came from and can’t find anyone in Tursi or Campania or Naples with that name. Can you help please?!

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