Wednesday, April 26, 2017

300. The Baptismal Record of Cornelia

To celebrate the three hundredth contribution for 'Charles Ricketts & Charles Shannon', J.G. Paul Delaney wrote a guest blog about Ricketts's mother. A sequel to our series of discoveries: the real biography of Cornelia, the place of her grave in Genoa, and now the baptismal record.

Recently, the discovery of the tombstone of Ricketts’s mother in a neglected part of the Staglieno Cemetery in Genoa tied up a loose end at the end of her life.  Now, we can tie up a loose end at the beginning of her life. We have found the baptismal record in Rome of Cornelia Marsuzi de Aguirre (note 1).

Baptismal Record of Cornelia Marsuzi de Aguirre, Ricketts's mother

Cornelia was baptized in the Church of Santa Maria in Campitelli, which is located not far from the famous Campidoglio, then the centre of the papal Roman administration, where her father and grandfather worked. Santa Maria in Campitelli is a splendid Baroque church. Here, all the children in her family were christened.

Santa Maria in Campitelli
The following is a transcription of the baptismal entry in the original Latin with its abbreviations (see note 2):

Anno Domini 1824 Dio 4 Martii Ego subscriptus baptizavi pueram, natam die tertia huijus hora 8 ex legitimis conjugibus Rom. Illmo. D. Adv. Aloysio Marsuzi filio B. M. Adv. Jacobi, et Illma D. Candida Stambrini de Aguirre filia Illmi Adv. Scipionij, eique nomina imposui Cornelia, Fausta, Felix, Pia, Adeodata, Magd.a cum cognam.e nobilis familiae de Aguirre. Patrinus fuit Illmus Octavius Dionigi, filius B.M. Adv. Parochiae S. Maria in Via,  Matrina (scored out) Obstetrix vero Maria Leopardi, Parochiae S Laurentius ?ad Montij. J Ma Crescini Paroch:

Translated into English with the names put into Italian, it reads:

In the year 1824 on the 4th of March, I undersigned baptized a girl born on the third of the same month at 8 o’clock from the legitimate marriage of Illustrious Roman Lord Advocate Luigi Marsuzi, son of Advocate Giacomo, of blessed memory, and Illustrious Lady Candida Stambrini de Aguirre, daughter of Illustrious Advocate Scipio, and the names given were Cornelia, Fausta, Felix, Pia, Adeodata, Maddalena, with the surname of the noble family of de Aguirre. The Godfather was Illustrious Ottavio Dionigi, son of Advocate Domenico, of blessed memory, of the parish of Santa Maria in Via, Godmother (scored out). Midwife, Maria Leopardi, of the parish of San Lorenzo ai Monti. Giuseppe Maria Crescini, parish priest. 

The use of the title ‘Illustrious’ indicated a member of the nobility, and the word ‘Roman’ is also used as if it were a title. As only one godparent was really necessary, the fact that Cornelia had no godmother is not unusual. Indeed, eight of her siblings had only one godparent.

Cornelia was the last of fourteen children (note 3). From the birth of the sixth child, the same two names occur  among the multiple names given to most of the following children. The name ‘Felix’, which means ‘happy’, had been given to six of her siblings, both male and female, while the name ‘Adeodata’, which means ‘given to God’, or its masculine form ‘Adeodatus’, had been given to seven of her siblings. Giving these names had evidently become a pious practice in naming the later members of the family.

By the time that Cornelia Marsuzi de Aguirre was married in Paris at the Church of Sainte-Madeleine (known as ‘La Madeleine’) on 30 May 1844, she had dropped several of these names. Her marriage record gives her names in French as ‘Cornélie Pie Adéodat Marie’ and her parents are also named in French as Louis Marsuzi and Candide Stambrini.

This later version explains why Ricketts told the Fields that his mother’s names were: ‘Hélène Cornélie Pia Diodata’ (note 4). ‘Hèléne’ was an alias, but the others correspond closely to those of Cornelia Marsuzi de Aguirre. 

1. I would like to thank Andrea Presutto, whose valuable advice led to the discovery of the baptism.
2. Archivio Storico Vicariato di Roma, Santa Maria in Campitelli, Battesimi 1824, p 219.
3. One had died at birth without being named in 1808.
4. British Library, Add Ms 46792, fol 69v.

Of the moving biography of Charles Ricketts's mysterious mother a few copies are still available. Please order your copy here.