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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