The civil vital records

The registration of births, marriages and deaths by municipal officers began, for the Kingdom of Naples, in 1809. In Sicily these registrations began in 1820. These acts were drawn up in duplicate, one of which was to be sent every year to the clerk of the court competent for the area. Therefore today it is possible to find these registers both in the single Municipalities and in the State Archives, which keep the copies already kept in the courts. Since the reconstruction of a family tree proceeds backwards, starting with the current family members, it is clear that the consultation of the civil status records is the first step of the research.

The parish archives

Due to the antiquity of the documents they preserve, the parish archives represent the main source of all genealogical research. In 1563 the Council of Trent established the obligation for all parishes to fill in the registers of baptism, marriage and death. In general, the parish archives have been diligently preserved but sometimes war events, fires and natural disasters of the past affect their current state of conservation.

Notarial deeds

The notarial documentation that is kept in the State Archives and Notarial Archives is very useful for the reconstruction of a genealogy. Sometimes these are much older documents than ecclesiastical ones and therefore allow us to reconstruct family history even further back in time. In fact, some acts, such as testaments or dotal contracts, are rich in genealogical information. Furthermore, the consultation of notarial deeds allows us to know the social and economic status of the family.

The "Catasti Onciari" and the "Riveli of goods and souls"

Established in 1741 by King Charles III of Bourbon, the Catasti Onciari were real censuses carried out for fiscal purposes. They are documents of primary importance in the reconstruction of the genealogical tree of a family as they represent a valuable source of information not only on its socio-economic status but also on its composition. For each family, in addition to the description and value of the assets owned, the name of the head of the family, the age and place of birth, and sometimes the indication of paternity and maternity are reported; also names and ages of the wife, children and any related and non-related cohabitants (servants and various personnel). In Sicily the equivalent of the Catasti Onciari is represented by the "Riveli of goods and souls", compiled by every municipal administration on behalf of the “Magna Curia dei Maestri Razionali” (since 1569 Court of the Royal Patrimony) which was the supreme body of control and jurisdiction in financial matters. In 1682 the jurisdiction of the Court passed to the Deputation of the Kingdom. The numerous registers concern almost all the Sicilian municipalities and cover the period between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries: the Riveli drawn up in the years 1548, 1569, 1584, 1593, 1607, 1616, 1623, 1636, 1651, 1682, 1714 and 1748 are preserved. The Riveli of goods and souls are therefore an irreplaceable source of research to supplement that carried out in the parish archives but also in its replacement, when the parish archives are very incomplete or even no longer existing or inconsultable.

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