Names of Jews in Rome In the 1550's
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Names of Jews in Rome In the 1550's

Compiled by Yehoshua ben Haim haYerushalmi (MKA Zachary Kessin)

2002-2003 Zachary Kessin

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The court of records of the Jews in Rome from the 1550's have suvived these records provide a look into the Jewish community at the time. These records show the life of a community and show buisness partnerships, marages being aranged, and broken divorces and the like. Included in this list of names are a large numer of women's names including widows bringing suits on their own behalf, as well as brides to be and so on.

Sources

These names were drawn from the Archive known as the Nota Ebrei wich cover the period from 1536 to 1558 which is the generation before he creation of the Rome Getto and the first three years of the getto. The Notai Ebrei is a record of the court and notary of the Jews of Rome. Unlike many archives of the Jews in this period this archive was written by Jews, and specifically Rabbis and in Hebrew. Though the Hebrew was peppered with Italian terms.

Men's Names

the most common form of a name in these documents was a given name with a patronymic joined by a ``di'' however both the Hebrew ``Ben'' and the Arabic ``Ibn'' also show up in these documents. Many men are listed with 3 generations of names. Other people seem to show up with bynames and surnames.
There are a number of bynames that show up in the data but by far the most common is ``ha-Rofeh'', meaning Doctor, as that was one of the few trades allowed to Jews by the authorities in Rome at the time. A fair number of men are also identified as Rabbis. In addition the expected tribal names Cohen and Levi show up. In most cases they are simply ``Cohen'' or ``Levi'' with only one or two showing the Hebrew prefix ``ha-''. However it may be assumed that both forms would have been used depending on language group.

Women's Names

Most of the women's names in the list are from documents realated to marriage. A woman's dowry was a large sum of money by any standards, so these deals tended to get recorded. In addition to engagements there were a fair number of engagements broken as well as women's names showing up in disputes of other forms. The women seem to have a mix of classical Italian names and classical Hebrew names. Common names Italian include Allegrezza, Anna, Bella, Donna, Fiore, Fiorina, Gentile, Mirella, Perna, Ricca, Rosa, Speranza, Stella. The most common Hebrew name was Esther, followed by Rachel. Some of the women are listed with a full name, but many more are listed as the daughter, wife, widow or in some cases mother of someone else. In some cases a woman is listed as the daughter of her mother not her father. In these cases the record usually represents a widowed mother arranging her daughter's engagement.
People of both genders seem to be represented frequently in the source data as the relative of someone else. When one person has been definitely identified in a record it seems that his or her close relatives could be identified simply by a first name and a relationship (son, daughter, wife etc). There are enough examples of both genders identified fully that a general pattern can be seen, For men it seems that some men bear a first name followed by a surname and others by a patronymic and some seem to have both.
Given names for men seem appear to be split between normal hebrew forms (Moise, Aron, Jehudah, David etc) and Italian forms of those names such as Beniamino (Benyamin) and Guiseppe (Jonathan). However a number of Italian forms such as Sabato, and Angelo also appear to show up. For women the pattern seems to change. As in other examples of Jewish women's names women seem to be more likely to go by Italian names, of the top 10 names of Jewish women in this set only one (Ester) is of clear Hebrew origin. See list of names.

Table of Names, sorted by Frequency
Table of Mens Names, sorted alphabetically
Table of Womens Names, sorted alphabetically
Table of Names of Christians found in the records of the Jewish court


Sources

Stow, Kenneth, The Jews in Rome Volume 2, 1551-1557(E.J. Brill, Tel Aviv). Research performed in the Library of Brandeis University, Waltham Ma USA.