Author’s Note: I will continually be adding and editing this page, as I continue my research and collection new information. One day, I might even find the answer.
When I started doing genealogy, I often wondered who was the FIRST Chinappi.
The surname Chinappi, is not common. It is in fact a very unique surname that anyone with the surname Chinappi is most certainly related. It is not a question of IF they are related…it is a question of how closely or how distantly.
Was the Chinappi name a made up name, given to a foundling (a children that was abandoned and given up to an orphanage)?
Was the first person to use Chinappi trying to make a fresh start in life with a new identity, and changed his name to distance himself from his past? If so, for what reasons did he do it?
Was the Chinappi surname originally spelled and pronounced differently, and somehow evolved from what it was to Chinappi? If so, what was the name originally and why did it evolve?
In theory, if the Chinappi surname was created sometime in the last 5 centuries, then the Chinappi family tree is finite and eventually, it will be able to document all the Chinappi’s around the world.
The largest group of Chinappi all have roots leading back to Gaeta. I wondered just how far back the name would go. Recently I made a discovery.
I found a census online that was taken in Gaeta around 1747. In it was some information.
First, the name Chinappi was not present in this census. The closest name that was listed was CHINAPPO. I studied the census more and discover that because some members of the same family spell their names differently (for example, some might write Vasti and some might write Vasto, but they could all be part of the same blood family), that the misspellings should not be taken as meaning a different family and often names ending in “I” will all be taken in the census as ending in “O”.
So, that answers that issue.
Next, I spend quite some time, going through the rather long index of names which were only the Heads-Of-Household names.
I went looking to see how many Chinappi households there were in Gaeta in 1747.
Out of nearly 2000 households I ONLY FOUND FOUR
Yes, just four.
There were only two heads of households with the last name of Chinappi (spelled Chinappo) and one Chinappi dependent of a third household. and fourth household of a group of Chinappi step-children (where the widow of a Chinappi had re-married).
Just two Chinappi heads-of-households Each one was married and each one had 3 children. Of each group of 3 children, 2 were girls and 1 was a boy. In fact one of the boys (Francesco Chinappo was already in my tree, and based on the info I already had, I was able to deduce that the census took place around 1747)
One Chinappi wife with 4 children not carrying the Chinappi surname,
One widow who had 4 Chinappi children (3 boys and one girl) that later remarried. It seems that the 4 Chinappi step-children did not take on the new husband’s last name.
Now this is where it gets interesting.
If the Chinappi name did get started in Gaeta, and if there were only these 4 households of Chinappi in Gaeta in 1747, we can likely predict how far back the name goes.
Maria Chinappi (the Chinappi wife) was 60 at the time of the 1747 census means she was born in 1687.
Bernado Chinappi was 53 at the time of the 1747 census which means he was born in 1694.
Carlo Chinappi (a name referred to as the husband of the widow Anna Rosa d’Oviddio) is assumed to be about the same age as her, which I will assume means he was born around 1703
Gioacchino Chinappi was 35 at the time of the 1747 census which means he was born in 1712.
Lets consider that perhaps the 4 of them were siblings (and yes, back in the 1600-1700s it was possible to have siblings 25 years apart. (This is possible with the same wife if the first child was born around the time the mother was 16 and the last child born around the time she is 41). Young marriage and large families as such were the norm.
Another possibility could be that their father may had had two wives. If his first wife died young, and he re-married and had more children, that could also explain how these siblings (now possibly half-siblings are so distant in age and the large age gaps in between them.
The census does mention Bernardo Chinappi having to make payments of some kind “with his Chinappi brothers”. So this supports the idea they were siblings or half-siblings. Quote: “Bernardo e fratelli Chinappo pagano annui docati quattro e Carlini sette, per Canone di vigna e Possessione a Santo vito”
If they were siblings, then we can calculate that their father was likely born around 1660. If there were no Chinappi before him, then their father could have been the FIRST Chinappi.
If Maria, Bernardo, Carlo and Gioacchino were 1st cousins of some kind, then their grandfather would have been born sometime around 1625-50 and he could have been the FIRST Chinappi.
Something else that comes up in the census. It mentions that in March of 1745, Bernardo Chinappi was responsible, in addtion to a widow Dorodea Capomaccio, for the administion of some kind of payment for an estate. Usually the oldest son and his mother (now a widow) would take on such a responsiblity. This would mean that Dorodea Capomaccio was the mother of the Chinappi siblings AND the estate of the deceased is referred at different times to an Erasmo (or Erasm’Antonio Chinappi). One of the children of Carlo Chinappi was named Erasm’Antonio. It is possible that the child of Carlo was named after Carlo’s father. This is an Italian naming tradition).
This would make Erasm’Antonio Chinappi the first Chinappi. He likely died around 1745 as per the note in the census, and he was likely born between 1625-1650.
If Maria Chinappi (born around 1687) was the daughter of Erasm’Antonio and his first wife, that could potentially make Erasmo the first Chinappi. If Maria and Erasm’Antonio were siblings, that would make their father (as yet unknown name), the possible First Chinappi.
Eventually, I will have to find the census of Gaeta that covers the 1600s. Also, it is possible that the Chinappi surname did not start in Gaeta. If these Chinappi moved to Gaeta and were the first Chinappi to settle in Gaeta, it is possible that another village in Italy is the origin of the Chinappi surname. The other two villages in Italy that have a Chinappi population and that are close to Gaeta would be the cities of Formia and Sperlonga. It is possible that one of those cities had the first Chinappis and that this Chinappi family listed above moved to Gaeta and started the Chinappi lines that still exist in Gaeta today.
Since writing this article, I have found more records.
Iacono Chinappi (spelled Chinappe) was born 28 Feb 1623 in Borgo di Gaeta
Raimo Chinappi (born around 1600)
Silvestre Francesco Silvestro Chinappi (spelled Chinappe) was born 13 Jan 1630
Silvestre’s father is listed as Marco Chinappi (Chinappe) with no dates of birth or death
and a record listing a woman named Olympia Chinappi who was a godmother to someone. This record existed sometime after 1575 but before 1600
Maria Antonia Chinappo (Chinappi) was born 3 Jul 1586. Her father is listed as Gelardino Belardino Chinappo with no birth or death date. If he was 30 when Maria was born that would mean he was born around 1550.
Further to the above newly discovered records, there is a rumor that all Italian names that start with CHI may have indicated an Italian man having children with a Chinese mother. This is just rumor and stories passed down through the generations. We do have tiny traces of Chinese DNA, so it could be possible.
More research is needed.