Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Long-lost French Seghieri families coming to Montecarlo for a reunion

It is not only Italian Americans who seek to reconnect to their roots by returning to Italy. In a few days, some distant cousins from France will also be in Montecarlo, looking to visit their ancestral home. They are connected to me on the Seghieri side, and we have only met electronically—through e-mail, Facebook and my blog.

They read about my Seghieri research on my blog, and in the past year, they also contacted Elena Benvenuti to enlist her help in learning how they are connected to the Seghieri families of Montecarlo. Elena is fluent in French, English, German and, of course, Italian. There are at least two distinct branches of the Seghieri family who live in Marseille, and both branches will be represented.

Jean-Paul (far right) and other family members.
I am Facebook friends with Jean-Paul Seghieri and Marcel Seghieri, and I have also corresponded with a second cousin once removed of Jean-Paul, Claude Guillan Romaine, whose mother was Huguette Seghieri. Jean-Paul and Claude trace their Tuscan roots back to Carlo Olinto Seghieri, born in Montecarlo in 1840, and Maria Pasqua Ulivieri, 1847, Montecarlo. Carlo and Maria moved to Marseille prior to 1868 and had 12 children there. Carlo Olinto was the ninth cousin of my great grandfather, so Jean-Paul and I are 12th cousins.

Marcel’s ties to the family are much more distant—so distant, if fact, that we may never discover them. His ancestors lived in Livorno and spelled their surname Sighieri instead of Seghieri. Around the time Marcel’s grandfather moved to Marseille in the early 1900s, the family changed the spelling to Seghieri. I enlisted one of the foremost genealogists in the area, Andrea Mandroni, to see if he could find a Montecarlo connection for Marcel’s family. The earliest ancestor he has found to date is Ranieri Sighieri, born in Livorno about 1763. Before that time, we don’t know how the family spelled the name or from where they came.
This collage was sent by Marcel Seghieri. I haven't met any of these people yet, so I can't name them!

From what I have learned, the Sighieri spelling was more common around the Pisa and Livorno areas, while in Montecarlo and Altopascio, Seghieri was used. Another variation sometimes found in Altopascio is Sevieri. I don’t know when the various different spellings originated, but it could have been prior to the 1300s. If so, it is doubtful that any records exist to tie these long-standing lines together. Prior to the 1300s, there are some documents that list people of importance in Pisa who had the Latinized name Seghierius. Montecarlo historian Sergio Nello states that the Seghieri name has Germanic origins from the occupation of the Longobardi between 568 and 774.

Elena has met some of our French cousins and says they are a lively group, enthusiastic about their Italian heritage and history. They’ll arrive Saturday afternoon, and we’ll go with them to dinner at La Terrazza pizzeria in Montecarlo, along with Davide Seghieri, Elena and their daughter Flavia. My sister Linda and her daughter Corina will still be here, so they’ll get to meet the cousins as well. That evening, Flavia plays in a concert in Montecarlo, which many of us will also attend.

Sunday afternoon will be the biggest event in this informal reunion, when we share a potluck style lunch at Davide and Elena’s house. Beside the contingent from France, several other Seghieri families from Montecarlo will attend. It should be interesting trying to communicate, since I don’t speak any French, and it’s already a challenge for me to get across everything I want to say when I have to speak Italian. The French families don’t speak much Italian or English. I think Davide and Flavia know French, but Elena will probably be exhausted before the reunion is over, since she’s the only one who can speak all the languages easily.

1 comment:

  1. Paul and Lucy, I am constantly amazed at everything you are learning about your ancestry! Love your comments, and look forward to the next ones...VERY interesting.


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