Southern Italy Genealogical Research Center

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  • Catasti onciari e Riveli (Civil Census)

Foto 6 - Catasti Onciari e RiveliThe adoption of the Catasti Onciari (Civil Census) in 1741 by King Charles III Bourbon, intended to introduce a modern taxation system on properties and industries. The citizens of Naples and of its territories were exempted from the payment of these taxes and were therefore not obliged to form the land register. In the rest of the kingdom, all "Universities" (at that time, this was the name given to the village administrations) were forced to correspond the due taxes and therefore to contribute to the formation of the registers; taxes were divided into various segments, according to the type of possession. They were basically divided into: 1) citizens including widows and virgins; 2) members of the clergy; 3)churches and religious places of the country; 4) non resident owners; 5) religious owners; 6) foreign churches and religious places. The register was named Onciari since for the evaluation of the taxes to be paid a new currency called Oncia (ounce) was introduced. The Oncia is no longer in use.

Foto 7 - Catasti Onciari e Riveli

Catasti Onciari are documents of primary importance in the reconstruction of a genealogical tree of a family, since they represent a great source of information not only related to its economic status but also to its composition at the time of filing. It includes the name of the householder, his age and his place of birth (if foreigner); sometimes it is possible to find also the name of his father and mother; in addition to this, it also registers the given name, the family name and age of his wife, the names and age of children and all the information concerning relatives, servants and personnel working for him. Catasti Onciari (whose biggest collection is held at the State Archive of Naples) allow us to reconstruct the economic and social history of all villages of Southern Italy during the 18th century. In Sicily the equivalent of Catasti Onciari was called “Riveli di beni ed anime" (Register of goods and souls); they were filled by single villages administrations on behalf of the "Magna Curia dei Maestri Razionali” that, as from 1569, was called Tribunale del Real Patrimonio (Court of Kingdom patrimony), that was the main control and juridical organism for financial issues. In 1682, all competences of the Court concerning the “Riveli” were passed on to the Deputazione del Regno (Deputation of the Kingdom). The numerous registers kept at the State Archive of Palermo concern all Sicilian villages and cover periods from the 16th to the 18th centuries: it is possible to find registers filed in 1548, 1569, 1584, 1593, 1607, 1616, 1623, 1636, 1651, 1682, 1714 and 1748. “Riveli” are therefore a huge source of information in addition to the information available on parish registers but also in replacement of those perish registers that are partially unavailable or gone forever.

The Center started indexing of Catasti Onciari and Riveli (Civil Census) by creating a database of all the householders in all the municipalities of Sicily and Southern Italy. The list of available locations is continuously updated.