Libertino lo Guasto

Born: about 1796 ~Serradifalco, Caltanisetta, Sicilia

Died: 11 January 1846 ~Serradifalco, Caltanisetta, Sicilia

Meaning of lo Guasto [lu-GWAHS-tu]: the broken one, the lame one

        No baptism or birth record survives for my maternal GGG-grandfather Libertino lo Guasto.  Both his civil and church death records indicate that his parents were unknown.  He was probably left at a church, convent or foundling home, in a 'ruota' or foundling wheel, to be found by a 'receiver of foundlings' and given a made-up first name and surname.  His civil death record of 1846 gives his place of birth as Serradifalco and his age at death as fifty, so he was born in about 1796.  The 1821 civil birth record of his daughter Concetta gives his age as twenty-six (born in about 1795), and the 1834 birth record of his son Salvatore gives Libertino's age as thirty-six (born about 1798).  It's likely the earlier dates are closest to correct.  Concetta and Salvatore's civil birth records may be seen by clicking HERE.
      Typical of surnames given to foundlings at the time, his surname is stigmatic, meaning 'the broken one' or 'the wasted one'.  He may have had a deformity or a twisted limb.  His death records indicate that his first name was Bertino (Bertinus on the Latin church record), but the name on his children's birth records is given variously as Libertino or Alberto.  The birth record of his daughter Concetta identifies him as a contadino (sharecropper), age 26, living at Vicolo Pidduzza Number Three, and gives his name as Libertino lo Guasto.  'Libertino' means 'libertine', a free spirit or one of loose morals.  It may have been meant to reflect the perceived character of the child's unknown parents. 
      The odds against survival for abandoned children were overwhelming.  If they did not die of exposure in the wheel or on their way there, conditions in foundling homes could be horrid, causing their residents to suffer from malnutrition, and from diseases borne by wet-nurses.  In a small town like Serradifalco, Libertino may have been consigned to a foster family.  There he may have been shown some care, but too often these children were 'adopted' simply to be used as servants or workers in the family enterprise.
      Regardless, Libertino overcame these odds; his blood runs in the veins of hundreds of progeny,
and his trials and tribulations no doubt helped formed the family values that have descended to us.
                                                             Click HERE for more about foundlings.


        In 1796, the island of Sicily was part of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, which included the Italian peninsula as far north as Naples.  It was ruled by a son of King Carlo of Spain: Ferdinando, who was variously known as Ferdinando I, III or IV!!!  1796 was the year that Napoleonic forces drove Ferdinando from Naples and the Italian mainland, and he retreated to Palermo on the island of Sicily.  This was the split that was later 'resolved' by the 'unification' of Italy.
        The face of the coin below shows Ferdinando with the inscription 'Ferdinando IV, through the grace of God, King of Sicily and Jerusalem.'  The back of the coin shows the coat of arms of Spain, to whom Ferdinando owed allegiance.

      In the United States in 1796 there were fifteen states.  The capital of the new nation was Philadelphia, where George Washington gave his farewell address.  John Adams was elected the country's second President.





Numero d' ordine 8

L'anno milleottocentoquarantasei, il di Undici del mese di
alle ore Ventuno avanti di Noi Francesco
Antonio Gambuto
ed uffiziale dello Stato Civile del Comune di Serradifalco Distretto di Caltanissetta Provincia di Caltanissetta sono comparsi Luigi Scamacca, di anni Cinquantanove, di professione
regnicolo domiciliato Strada Angilella,
e Leonardo Avenia, di anni quarantaquattro, di professione Corriere, regnicolo domiciliato Strada  Piconotto,
i quali han dichiarato, che nel giorno undici del mese di
Gennaro anno sudetto,
alle ore diciasette
morto nel la casa propria Berti-
no lo Guasto
di anni cinquanta sposo di Francesca
~ ~ ~
nato in Serradifalco, di professione Conatdino,
ivi, figlio di padre d'ignoto,
di professione ~ ~ domiciliato ~ ~
e di
Madre d'ignota domiciliata 
~ ~
       Per esecuzione della legge ci siamo trasferiti insieme col detti
testimonii presso la persona defunta, e ne abbiamo riconosciuto la
sua effetiva morte.  Abbiamo indi formato il presente atto, che ab-
biamo inscritto sopra i due registri e datane lettura al dichiaran-
ti, si
nel giorno, mese, ed anno come sopra segnato da Noi so-
amente avendo detto li testimonii di non sapere scrivere

                                      Il Sindaco                       
Francesco Gambuto



Number 8
Year one thousand eight hundred forty-six, day Eleven of the month of
January at hour Twenty-one before Us Francesco
Antonio Gambuto Mayor

and official of the Civil Record of the Town of Serradifalco District of Caltanissetta Province of Caltanissetta have appeared Luigi Scamacca, age Fifty-nine, occupation
subject of the realm, living at Strada Angilella, and Leonardo Avenia, age forty-four, occupation
, subject of the realm, living at Strada Piconotto,
who have declared that on day eleven of the month of
, year as above,
at hour seventeen has died in his own house Berti-
no lo Guasto
age fifty, spouse of Francesca
~ ~ ~
he was born in Serradifalco, occupation Sharecropper,
here, son of an unknown father,
occupation ~ ~ living at ~ ~
and of an unknown Mother who lives at 
~ ~
       According to the law we went together with the named
to the side of the deceased, and we have acknowledged
being dead. We have today created this document, we ha-
inscribed it on the two registers and have read it to the declaran-
ts on
the day, month and year as above, and it is signed by Us
one, the witnesses having said they don't know how to write
                                      The Mayor                       
Francesco Gambuto


From Serradifalco Registri Stato Civile 1466474,  1846 Deaths, No. 8, Bertino lo Guasto


Though not a strict literal translation, this is factually correct.


Church Death Record

From Serradifalco Registri Ecclesiastici 2013010,  1846 Deaths, pp. 241-242, Bertinus lo Guasto


Die 11 Januarii 1846              

Bertinus lo Guasto Filius ex igno
tibus ortus, Vir Francesca Saetta
quinquaginta extremis munitus Sacramentis obiit cuius cadaver per Rev Nicodemus Ro
capellanus Palermi delatum fuit in Orato
rium Animarum Purgm ibique sepultum

Day 11 of January 1846 

Bertino lo GuastoSon of unknown origin, Husband of Francesca Saetta
 fifty, he died fortified by the finalSacraments his body was taken by Reverend Nicodemo Ro-
ma chaplain of Palermo to the Orato-
ry of 
the Souls  of Purgatory, Here he is buried.

        On both the civil and church records of the death of Bertino lo Guasto, his widow's name is given as Francesca Saetta.  However, the birth records of their children give her surname as Lattuca (or Lattuga, or Lettuca) [see Concetta lo Guasto].  Sicilians often use "nciurii", or nicknames, in place of surnames.  'Saetta' means 'arrow', and it may have been given to Francesca Lattuca because of her thinness.  On the other hand, her actual surname may have been Saetta, and the family may have been given the nickname 'Lattuca', meaning 'lettuce', if her father was a vegetable farmer or a greengrocer.  Francesca's 1878 death records state that she was the widow of Bertino Loguasto, and give her surname as Lattuga.  Pick the version you like best.


        There was very little formally written about average citizens in 19th century Sicily, much less about foundlings.  But there are some scraps of information form other church and civil records, an example of which is shown below.


Church Baptism Record

From Serradifalco and Sommatino Registri Ecclesiastici 2012918  1834 Baptisms, p. 2176, No. 81, Calogerus Ricotta


   Ricotta/  Die 20 Mai  1834  N. 81

  Ego Sacds Dn Joseph Arancio Capnus bavi Infantem hodie

    natum ex Fidele Ricotta, et Maria Narese Jgus cui

   impositum fuit nomen Calogerus.  Patrini fuere

   Albertus  lo  Guasto,  et  Francisca Lattuca ejus



   Ricotta/  Day 20 May  1834  No. 81

I Priest Don Giuseppe Arancio Chaplain baptized an Infant, today

  born, of Fedele Ricotta and Maria Narese , married, to

whom was given the name Calogero.  Godparents were

   Alberto  lo  Guasto,  and  Francesca Lattuca, his


     Civil records of birth of Libertino's children indicate that he was a capraro, a goatherd who lived at Vicolo Pidduza No. 3 in Serradifalco, in 1821 through 1824. His death record states that he was a contadino, a peasant sharecropper.

      The baptism record of Calogero Ricotta, shown above names 'Albertus' (Alberto) lo Guasto and his wife Francisca (Francesca) Lattuca as the infant's godparents.  Libertino and Francesca named a daughter Maria and a son Fedele, which implies that Maria Narese and Fedele Ricotta were their relatives or good friends.  Ricotta is a surname that appears in the Coniglio ancestry.

      It can be assumed that the godparents of their own children were also relatives or friends.  The surnames in italics also occur in the Coniglio ancestry:
  • in 1821, Giacomo Rizzo and his wife Concetta Calabrese baptized their daughter Concetta Maria;
  • in 1824, Salvatore Pindolino and his wife Antonia baptized their daughter Antonia;
  • in 1826,  Leonardo Calabrese and his wife Giuseppa Tramontana baptized their daughter Maria Anna;
  • in 1929, Stefano Marino and his wife Rosa Dinato (aka Mariarosa Donato) baptized their son Vincenzo;
  • in 1834, Vincenzo Avenia and his wife Maria Anna Calabrese baptized their son Salvatore;
  • in 1837 Fedele Ricotta and his wife Maria Narese, whose son Calogero was baptized by Libertino and Francesca in 1834, baptized their son Fedele; and
  • after the son named Fedele died in 1838, they had a son in 1840, and also named him Fedele, baptized by Giacomo Rizzo and his wife Leonarda Petix.

Libertino lo Guasto married Francesca Lattuca before 1821

Known Children

Concetta lo Guasto: 17 Sep 1821 - after 1869
(Married Antonio Cimino) [my ancestors]
Antonia lo Guasto: 10 Jan 1824 -
Maria Anna lo Guasto: 6 Oct 1826 - 15 Dec 1830
Vincenzo lo Guasto: 10 Dec 1829 - 14 Jan 1857
Salvatore lo Guasto: 29 Aug 1834 - 17 Nov 1896 (Married Serafina Nicosia)
Fedele lo Guasto: 28 Feb 1837 - 23 Aug 1838
Fedele lo Guasto: 13 Mar 1840 - after 1901 (Married Giovanna Insalaco)

Click HERE for a list of Libertino and Francesca's descendants.

Click HERE for more about foundlings.


The Lady of the Wheel is a fictional account of events in the life of one foundling. Click on the book's cover below for more about the book.






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