Names of Jews in Rome In the 1550's
Compiled by Yehoshua ben Haim haYerushalmi
(MKA Zachary Kessin)
© 2002-2003 Zachary Kessin
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.
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.
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.
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
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 Name Frequency
Table of Names
Table of Names of Christians found in
the records of the Jewish court
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.