Abandoned in Napoli….

The research I did for Patricia in Naples ended on both male lines with not one, but TWO, foundlings. One had been fostered to a family in Procida, an island off the coast of Naples, the other to a ship’s captain in Torre del Greco.
Information on foundlings in Rome before 1905 is limited to the intake and names of the foster family taken from a large register too big to photocopy. Could we find more from Naples? It was worth a try.
When the documentation came back from Santa Annunziata I was astounded.
Vincenzo’s file was straightforward and contained:-
• A handwritten documentation of his arrival, his foster parents, and the date he was picked up and how much the family was paid. It also noted his marriage even though he was 26 years old at the time.
• A copy of his birth record from the Comune.
• The document of Consignment from the hospital to Santa Annunziata
• A document from the priest in Procida attesting to the suitability of the foster mother and the reason she was applying (her baby died) and if she had other children, and the name of the person who actually picked up the baby on her behalf (her mother).
• A letter from the Doctor who delivered the stillborn baby from the foster mother, testifying to her character and authenticated by the Mayor of Procida.
Domenico’s file was probably a more realistic view of how life was for the poor of Naples, but it seems to have ended well.
A handwritten document detailing his arrival, his foster parents, his return to the orphanage and his second set of foster parents and how much each was paid. The first set of foster parents were paid, but the second set took him without payment.
• The document of Consignment from the hospital to Santa Annunziata (March 1894)
• A copy of his birth record from the Comune. (March 1894)
• A document from Santa Annunziata to the Mayor of Torre del Greco asking him to have Domenico brought to Naples for the court case by Angela and Raffaele. (10 July 1897)
• A document consigning Domenico to a new set of foster parents (Angela & Raffaele) after his appearance in court (27 July 1897)
• An urgent document from Santa Annunziata to the Mayor of Resina begging him to send Domenico with a policeman back to Santa Annunziata stating that Carmela, who was supposed to be feeding him, had not conducted herself well. (15 October 1898)
• A document from the Comune of Resina ordering the return of Domenico to the Orphanage by the local police (18 October 1898)
• A document from Santa Annunziata certifying that Domenico was examined by the doctor and he found no trace of any mistreatment nor illness (19 October 1898)
• A document from the court requesting that Domenico be examined by health worker and to also send for the policeman who went to pick him up after the abuse for a court hearing. Carmela is in jail at this time. (22 October 1898)
• A document referring to the mistreatment of Domenico by Carmela and his return to the orphanage ( 25 October 1898)
• A document from Santa Annunziata referring to the October 1898 case against Carmela ( 8 February 1899)
• A document from the court authorizing the forced removal of Domenico from Carmela by the police (March 1899)
• A document from Santa Annunziata to the court stating the whereabouts of Domenico – with Angela and Raffaele, a ship’ (March 1899)
• A document from the Tribunal to Santa Annunziata requesting that Angela and Raffaele present Domenico to the court. (April 1899)
• A document from Santa Annunziata to the Mayor of Torre del Greco asking him to have Angela and Raffaele present Domenico to the Tribunal (April 1899)
• A court document condemning Domenico’s first foster mother (Carmela) to 2 years and 8 months for abandoning a child entrusted to her care, maltreatment and verbal abuse. (April 1899)
One might believe that the real parents of Domenico were actually Carmela and Luciano and although they were married may simply have been too poor to support a(nother) child. It wasn’t uncommon for families in this situation to deliver by midwife in a large city, and then send the child with the midwife to City Hall to be declared as born with unknown parents.
The City Hall birth was declared at 2pm by midwife Vittoria Trini who was then told to take the child to Santa Annunziata which she did, consigning him to the Orphanage at 2:30pm with full knowledge of his given names. The next day he was assigned to Carmela, who was from Resina, and was allocated a monthly amount to take care of him. This money, however small would have been used to help feed the entire family. It’s doesn’t take much to imagine how this new mother, would go to the orphanage asking for a child, saying hers had died in childbirth. It may even have been at the midwife’s suggestion that Domenico was ‘returned’ to his natural mother with an allowance. Life was hard, and times were tough, good parenting wasn’t a high priority, and Carmela no doubt treated her ‘foundling’ son as one of her own. Unfortunately, since she was being paid for raising him, certain standards had to be met and while we don’t know how it came to the attention of the authorities, we do know that the children were checked on when the money was delivered, often by social workers from the Orphanage. Carmela was eventually jailed for 2 years and 8 months for the mistreatment and verbal abuse of Domenico.
At the tender age of three he was returned to the orphanage and one month later fostered to a sea captain and his wife in Torre del Greco, (who took no money for his care), where he followed his foster father’s footsteps and became a sailor, and where he stayed until he married. His son now lives in America.

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Comments
2 Responses to “Abandoned in Napoli….”
  1. Robin Bryant Schoch says:

    Dear Ann, I am really loving the stories and information you have been sending recently. Thank you. Your genealogical skills are very good as I know from the work you did for me on the Salvucci’s and Rufo’s in Sal Danato. Sincerely, Robin

    • Patricia Lawhead says:

      This response is to Robin’s comment above. I’m wondering who you might be with Salvucci and Rufo in the same sentence! Any chance you live in Philadelphia? If so, please let Ann know and I’ll ask her to send you my contact information. These names are in my sons’s father’s lines.
      Pat

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