The dowry deed in genealogy research
Categories of Articles
The Dowry in Roman Times
- the "dotis profectitia", coming from the father's line. This dowry was to be returned in case of dissolution of marriage.
- the "dotis adventitia", coming from other sources.
The Dowry in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies
- according to the quality: mobiliare (objects, jewels, clothes, kitchen tools) and immobiliare (land, houses)
- according to the quantity: generale, including all the properties of the wife, in the present and future; speciale, with reference to one or more items
◊ Dote Mobiliare
◊ Dote Immobiliare
◊ Beni Parafernali
Forms of Dowry Assignment
- By "tradizione" (from the Latin verb "trado" meaning to transmit) when the dowry is actually delivered to the husband.
- By "enunciazione" when the father, or a lawful male tutor of the bride, expresses in words the value or items of the dowry.
- By "promessa" when the items were not actually delivered but remained a promise.
The Beni Parafernali
The dowry properties are only those included in the dowry contract, with the exception of those goods mentioned under the special title of parafernali. From the dowry contract all goods that in any form come in the property of the woman as gifts, inheritance or other, are not dowry property, but parafernali, which means the woman can dispose of them as she likes. The dowry instead is inalienable, and only a judge or feudal lord may give the woman consent to use the dowry to pay, for example, the husband's creditors.
The Parafernali in Genealogy Research
After the declaration of the parties appearing in the notary deed, there usually follows the list of all dowry items, with their equivalent in money. Usually the witnesses to the deed were also "apprezzatori" (estimators) that is, they evaluated if the money equivalent was correct. After this list with its total in ducati, there is often a section under the title of "parafernalia" " bona parafernalia" or "beni parafernali" and each of the items listed will include the name of the person giving the gift ant often its relation to the bride. Rarely even relations of the bridegroom may give gifts.