Sunday, 10 August 2008

In the beginning

Here in Spain we have identity cards and about 10 years ago I went to renew my ID card, when it came to my turn the person dealing with the renewal said that I had to add my second surname which is my mother’s maiden surname. So OK I had my second surname added to my ID card.

What did I know about the history behind my mother’s maiden surname …………. Not a lot, I knew that my grandfather was born in Como, Italy and when I added his surname to my ID card I found out that it was Desio, until that day I didn’t even know that much.

One afternoon I typed the letters “Desio” into the computer and among other options I got back several genealogical pages, “God what are these?” I opened Rootsweb and came across a list of Desio’s in the USA, some of these could belong to my family but I didn’t even know Grandfathers full name. So back to my mother and a talk about the past, it was time to learn about who he was.

It is important to find out as much as you can from family members, jot down any information that they give you or tape the conversation especially if stories from the past are going to be told.

I was told that Mum’s father was called Jo Desio but his real name was Giuseppe Desio, he was a merchant seaman and came from a rich family who lived besides Lake Como, they had a villa with a swimming pool and they had something to do with the newspaper business. She was pretty sure that her grandfather was called Edward and her grandmother Eleanor. Jo had escaped from a monastery where he was being prepared to become a priest and his family had disowned him, so he ran away to sea. She thought that there was a brother who had gone to live in America and bred pigs and made gloves!!!!!!!!

Well she got her father and her grandfather’s names right and that the family came from Como, the rest was a bit of an exaggeration to say the least, told to her by her father. Time was on my side and patience is a virtue, which is something you need to have lots of when it comes to genealogy.

Don’t take everything that you are told as gospel truth, memories can get mixed up; stories told over the generations get changed, keep an open mind and don’t close your eyes to anything that might present itself.

First names and surnames especially foreign ones often got changed or misspelled, sometimes they were changed to sound more English, many even changed their surnames by deed poll and these can often be found in one of the three gazettes, the London, Edinburgh or Glasgow.
The Gazette has a brilliant search of their archives on their website and goes back as far as the early 1800’s, I have added the address to my “helpful links” keep your search simple, I find using one word is almost the best way and easy when it is a foreign surname and you can be sure that less articles are going to found. If nothing comes up with the surname try the first name as the person would have been called in Italy, try variations of the spelling of the names and as a desperate last try write in “Italy".

Details to be found in the Gazette are naturalization records, news about businesses that may have needed to be published here, military lists, deed poll and bankruptcy.

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