|Roque Leonardi's Surname and His Point of Origin
by: halsema.org editors with Linda Reinauer editing.
|The Leonardi / Leonardy family arrived in Florida in 1768 with the Andrew Turnbull Expedition. Their destination was New Smyrna, a colony south of the Spanish port city of St. Augustine. Roque Leonardi, a native of Italy, was the bearer of the surname and the first of that name to settle in Florida.|
Baptismal register from San Bartolomeo in Gragnanella, Italy 1612-1815.
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Roque's Baptism recorded in San Bartolomeo parish, Gragnanella, Italy, 9 October 1741.
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Maria Magdalena's Birth record which records the name as Leonardi. She is Roque's Father's sister. Click image for detail. Or follow this link to see other variant spellings.
Roque's signature as recorded in St. Augustine, Florida Escrituras.
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In church and civil documents, in Italy, Menorca, and in Florida, the Leonardi name can be found with a variety of spellings: Leonardi, Leonardy, Lionardi, Lleonardi, Lleonard, Lunardi, and other variants.
The surname appears most often as Lunardi in Catholic Church documents from Gragnanella, Italy. Prior to the 1800s, the name is usually Leonardi or Lunardi on church and civil documents, and sometimes both spellings appear even within a single document.
Roque and his siblings were baptized in Gragnanella, in the parish in which the family lived, San Bartolomeo, where the spelling of the surname is typically recorded as Lunardi. However, the 1713 baptismal document of Roques aunt gives her name as Maria Magdalena Leonardi (Gragnanella Baptisms). That same spelling variation occurs for many of Roques extended family (aunts, uncles, and cousins). It appears that all or most of Roques siblings surnames were recorded as Lunardi on their respective baptismal records. One child, Rocco Pelligrino Lunardi (Roque Leonardi), is the Italian who sailed to New Smyrna with the Andrew Turnbull Expedition. His name is recorded on his baptismal certificate as Rocchus Peregrinus Lunardi (Gragnanella Baptisms). The record of his 1768 marriage, in Menorca, to Esperanza Balle lists him in Latin as Rochus Lionardi (Menorcan Archive Films, 1768, entry 47). After he arrived in Florida, he signed his name (or his signature appears) several times in the Escrituras (notarized instruments) of 1784-1821 as Rocco Leonardy. His signature appears once as Roque Leonardy in the same documents, but is in a different handwriting.
Thus the combination of different languages and their respective dialects (Italian, Catalan, Latin, and later Spanish and English), different ways of pronouncing the surname, lack of codified spelling, and different ways of translating into Latin produced many spelling variants.
The first Leonardi / Leonardy for whom we have documentary evidence is Roque Lunardi who married Maria Nardini in 1701. This Roques place of birth has not been positively determined, although from his marriage record, it appears likely that he was from Gragnanella, Italy; Maria was from Fosciandora, Italy.
One of the children of Roque Lunardi and Maria Nardini was Giovanni Lunardi who was baptized in Gragnanella in 1710. He married Giacoma Biagoini of Castelnuovo in 1736.
Roque Lunardi, son of Giovanni Lunardi and Giacoma Biagoini, and grandson of the first Roque Lunardi, was born in the town of Gragnanella in 1741 and was baptized there in the Catholic Church of San Bartolomeo. This Roque joined the Andrew Turnbull Expedition in 1768. The travelers stopped first in Menorca where Roque married Esperanza Balla that same year.
N.B. Many researchers have identified Roque's point of origin as the city of Modena, Italy or in the current region of Modena, Italy. While there are many Churches of San Bartolome in the Modena Region, and one or two in the city of Modena itself, this essay establishes that neither the current region of Modena nor the city of Modena is the proper point of origin for Roque Leonardi.
|Locating Roque Leonardi in Italy
Census and Catholic Church Sacramental records were essential in determining Roque Leonardis actual place of origin. Clearly, as indicated in many of the records, he was a native of Italy, probably from the Modena province. (As to why he was not specifically from the Modena Province, see The Duchy of Modena below.) It is possible to pinpoint his place of birth even more precisely by examining the 1784 Spanish Census of Florida, the 1786 baptismal record for Roques daughter Jacoba Antonia, and the 1788 baptismal record for his daughter Maria Margarita. These three records, discussed below, are among the most important documents that define Roques origins in Italy.
|The 1784 Spanish Census of Florida (Census microfilm, St Augustine Historical Society Research Library, St. Augustine, Florida, see also Rasico) is the earliest record located thus far that indicates a more specific location for Roques birth. The entry for Roque Leonardi describes him as Natural del Ducado del Granela en Italia, i.e., Native of Dukedom of Granela in Italy (Jarvis, Translation of 1784 Census). On this 1784 census entry, one word is crossed out under Granela which may serve to indicate the census taker may have had difficulty transliterating what he was hearing as the point of origin. That is, Granela = Gragnanella as described in the following two paragraphs.
|The 1786 baptismal record for Roques daughter, Jacoba Antonia reads, Roque Leonardy of Grananella de la Garsona, Italy (WPA, Translation and Transcription, p. 17). The actual document was written by Fr Thomas Hassett, and is much more important than the WPA version of it because it points not only to a more specific region in Italy but to the Catholic Parish as well (CPR, #72, p. 35), describing Roque Leonardy parrochio San Bartolomeo vulgo de Grañenella de la Garsoña Italia. Roselli quotes this record as, Parrochiae Sancti Bartolomei vulgo de Granañella de la Garsoña, Italie (Roselli, p.33). The Latin word vulgo is often used in Latin church records when writing the non-Latin equivalent of a word or name which in this case is Spanish. On the microfilm, it is unclear whether or not the letter ñ is intended for the first or second n in the word Granenella. Perhaps it should be the first n which would sound phonetically a bit more like Gragnanella, for gn in Italian makes the same sound as the Spanish ñ (Wiki Books). Therefore, in all likelihood, this is actually San Bartolomeo, of Gragnanella, which is within the province of Garfagnana, Italy. Perhaps when Fr Hassett heard the pronunciation of the province of Garfagnana by Roque, which would include Roques local dialect, he heard Garsoña, for a slurred f can certainly sound like s, and local dialects typically drop the proper pronunciation of the end familiar words.|
|The 1788 baptismal record for his daughter Maria Margarita (CPR, #240, p. 133) points to the same church parish, town, and province as Jacoba Antonias 1786 record. The 1788 record for Maria reads: Roque Leonardy natural de la parrochia de la San Bartolomeo de Grañenella de la Garsoña Italia. Hence, this record supports the proposition above for the correct placement of the letter ñ on Jacoba Antonias 1786 record. The WPA Transcription of the same record reads of San Bartolomeo de a Granenella de la Garsona en Italia (WPA, Translation and Transcription, p. 61).|
|In addition to the three crucial records just discussed, the following are some of the more significant documents relevant to Roque Leonardis place of origin.
Roques 1768 marriage to Esperanza Balla lists the following: Rochus Lionardi son of Joannes and Jacoba Biajoni (part illegible) Parochia san Bartholomas de Modena (Menorcan Archive Films, 1768, entry 47).
|The entry for Roque Leonardi in the1786 Spanish Census of Florida lists him as labrador, de Ytalia, 44 anos (Rasico, p. 187), that is, farmer, of Italy, age 44 (translation by Doug Halsema).
The 1787 Spanish Census of Florida indicates that Roque was a native of Modena in Italy (Mills, p. 49).
The record of Roques death in 1801 (CPR, #311) lists him as Don Roque Leonardi Natural del ducado de Modena en Italia, or, Native of the duchy of Modena in Italy (translation by Doug Halsema).
|These documents are important for the point of origin clues and vital statistics they provide. Furthermore, these documents and others demonstrate different spellings of the surname and first names. In Menorca the surname was spelled Lionardi (Roque and Esperanzas marriage record), and Fr Camps seemed to consistently spell it Lleonardi or Lleonard (GBM). Fr. Thomas Hassett spelled it Leonardy on CPR baptisms and deaths, but used the spelling Leonardi on his 1786 census. In the Escrituras, Roque seemed to sign his name Rocco Leonardy. On Roque's CPR death record, Fr. Miguel O'Reilly spelled the surname Leonardi. The 1784 Spanish Census also reads Leonardi, but the same family is recorded in the 1793 Census as Leonardy.|
Italian Naming Patterns
|In the Catholic Church Sacramental records from the parish of San Bartolomeo, in the town of Gragnanella, within the province of Garfagnana, Italy, we see that one particular priest recorded most of Roques immediate family as Lunardi. Follow this link to view some of these Gragnanella records.
When tracing Roques surname to its earliest appearances in historical records, it is obviously important to recognize the Italian naming patterns. The patterns for this Roque Leonardi (Rocco Lunardi) and his family from Gragnanella are close to the patterns by which they named their sons and daughters in Florida (Fucilla).
The names of Roque Leonardis parents listed on his church death record also match the names of these parents from this Lunardi family in Gragnanella, although the language on his death record is Spanish, not Italian or Latin. Therefore, once again some discrepancies occur in phonetics, and thus transliteration and translation.
Roques parents, as listed on his church death record:
Juan Leonardi = Giovanni Lunardi
Jacoba Biachoni = Giacoma Biagoini
Furthermore, Roques parents listed on his church marriage record to Menorcan Esperanza Balla match the names of the parents from the Lunardi family in Gragnanella, although the language on the marriage record is Latin interspersed with Catalan.
Roques parents, as listed on his church marriage record to Esperanza Balla:
Joannes Lionardi = Giovanni Lunardi
Jacoba Biajoni = Giacoma Biagoini
Center of the Cupola located inside of the dome at San Bartolome Catholic Church, Gragnanella, Italy depicting the martyrdom of San Bartolome.
Follow this link for more on Gragnanella.
|The Places of Origin
At least three generations of the Leonardi family lived in Gragnanella, apparently arriving there in the late 1600s or early 1700s. They worshipped there at the Catholic Church of San Bartolomeo. Documentary evidence dates the church to at least the twelfth century: a Papal Bull by Pope Alexander III in 1168 mentioned San Bartolomeo by name. Gragnanella is an ancient medieval town surrounded by cultivated fields and forests of chestnut trees and rises to an altitude of about 480 m.
The baptismal records of Roque and his family were found, not in Gragnanella, but in the Franciscan Convent in Castelnuovo, a town about 5 km from Gragnanella. Both Gragnanella and Castelnuovo lie in the region of Garfagnana. When Roques maternal grandfather died, Roques mother, Giacoma Biagoini, inherited her fathers home and property in Castelnuovo; consequently, the family moved from Gragnanella to Castelnuovo. As a result, when Roque left the area to go to Menorca and Florida, he may have actually departed from Castelnuovo. Additional research must be done in order to determine that.
Fortress of Ceserana Fosciandora, within the Fortress is the Romanesque church of San. Andrea, which is included in the defensive perimeter.
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Beautiful Ceserana Countryside with Church of San Andrea in background and road out of Ceserana in foreground.
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Follow this link for more on Fosciandora.
Earlier documents point to the Fosciandora and Ceserana area as the Leonardi family homestead during the 1600s.
Fosciandora is a border area between Tuscany and Emilia, between Garfagnana and Lucca, on a hill on the bank of the Serchio River. The town itself lies on the left slope of the Media Valle, dominating the Apennine chains. The immediate surrounding territory boasts of many fortifications built by the Longobardi, Lucchesi, the Este of Ferrara, Modenesi, Massa and Pisa. A primary point of interest is the centuries-old Fortress, or Castle, of Ceserana (Rocca di Ceserana).
Ceserana Castle is an interesting structure. The natives of Garfagnana used it as a stronghold in a line of defense against Lucca. According to Internet research, the interior of the castle has come down to the present day completely unaltered. The fortified boundary wall of the castle goes along the ridge over the village. In the village is the Romanesque Church SantAndrea, mentioned in documents as far back as the twelfth century.
The town of Fosciandora, now divided into five hamlets, was the site of many historic events. The towns economy for centuries was based upon the harvesting of natural products, primarily chestnuts. At this writing, the outlying wards that make up the municipality of Fosciandora are all situated on the hills, along the scenic road that climbs up the steep slopes and gives visitors the opportunity to admire the castles of Perpoli, Palleroso and Fiattone. Fosciandora became the administrative center only in 1846; before that time, the territory was governed by the Castle of Ceserana (today one of the wards), allodial estate of the Countess Matilde of Tuscany. The castle and the church lend a medieval aspect to the small town.
Map of Italy and its various regions in 1718. Note location of the "Modena Duchy" at that time, 23 years before Roque's birth.
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This map of the Garfagnana province clearly shows that in 1733, just 8 years prior to Roque's birth, Gragnanella, was in the region of Modena as stated on many of Roque's records. Today Gragnanella is in the region of Tuscany.
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Aerial view of a typical small town, in the Province of Garfagnana, in the mountains.
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Follow this link for more maps and photos of Garfagnana.
|The Duchy of Modena
Most of the research currently available on Roque Leonardi describes him as a native of Modena (Roselli, pp.33-34) and rightfully so. Roque was from the area of Garfagnana that had been designated, just prior to his birth, as being on the outskirts of the Duchy of Modena. At his birth it was actually part of Lucca, and today is in the area of Tuscany. Follow this link to view maps of the area.
A brief, contemporary description of the area follows as written by David Leibowitz :
The Serchio river curves due north after passing the city of Lucca, winding its way through some of the most stunning scenery in Tuscany. Upstream from the old spa and casino town of Bagni di Lucca, the river valley narrows as it becomes surrounded by steep cultivated hills. Great mountains dominate the eye as one enters the heart of the ancient, rustic realm known as the Garfagnana, whose name derives from great forest; indeed, even today vast beech and chestnut forests cover much of this very mountainous terrain. Nestled between the Apennines to the east and the Apuane Alps to the west, the rough topography of the Garfagnana has never made it easy to live here, farmers having to actively mold the land to make it suitable for farming.
To make life even more difficult, the Garfagnana has a long history as a border region: for centuries it was subject to numerous bloody power struggles: the Empire, the Papacy, Florence, Massa, Pisa, and Lucca, which dominated the Middle Ages, all sought control of the territory. The Garfagnana was finally taken by Modenas Este dynasty (which ruled the zone from the early 15th century to the Italian unification of the mid-19th century, interrupted only by the Napoleonic era). Notwithstanding its medieval turmoil the region's historic capital, Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, has managed to retain its ancient core; numerous important villages and churches also dot the hills and valleys.
Recently the Garfagnana region, located in the extreme northwest corner of Tuscany along the border with Emilia-Romagna, is witnessing a new prosperity thanks to growing appreciation by both travelers and gourmands.
| Working Hypothesis for Continued Research
1613: Biagio Lunardi is born in Sillico, and in Sillico he marries Pietra Gela Biagioni. The early children are born, among whom is Giovanni Francesco Lunardi.
Before 1674: The family goes to Ceserana, where Pietro and Rocco are born.
1682: Biagio and Pietra have died, and their are children young. Pietro and Rocco, go to Gragnanella where their married brother, Giovanni Francesco, lives.
1702: Rocco marries Maria Nardini, from Fosciandora (where the marriage is celebrated).
1710: Giovanni Francesco is born, son of Rocco and Maria Nardini.
1736: Giovanni Francesco marries Giacoma Biagioni, from Castelnuovo (where the marriage is celebrated). They live in Gragnanella.
After 1753: The Giovanni Francesco family moves to Castelnuovo, where Giacoma's mother has died and Giacoma has a house as an inheritance. Rocco leaves the family from Castelnuovo as he makes his way to Menorca and Florida.