from Barb Mullen, Australia
Descendants of Alessandro Mattei and his wife Catherine Mulcahy understand very well why Mattei’s matter! It’s self evident.
Alessandro Mattei, Born: 31 August 1838
But, the need for a regular publication linking Mattei people interested in their families has become apparent. And so, here is what we did.
For a few months now, some Mattei cousins have been collaborating on research into the Mattei family. Building on their work over many years, this effort is going towards the production of the story of the life of Alessandro Mattei and the family he and Catherine had.
This newsletter is to link the current Mattei descendants, to share the work of all researchers and hopefully to enrich the research already undertaken with contributions from other cousins.
In this edition the focus is on the beautiful village of Cevio where Alessandro was born.
If you have any Mattei information you would like to share, please let us know.
Written contributions for this newsletter should be no more than 200 words in length. Please reference all sources of information, including oral histories.
Photographs or documents are eagerly encouraged.
If you wish to be put on the mailing list, contact me through this website.
Cevio is a picturesque little village in the Swiss Alps. It is in the centre of the Valle Maggia, a narrow valley surrounded by the steep mountains on all sides except where it opens onto Lake Maggia. The people of Cevio speak Italian as their first language. In Ticino the first language is Italian. One other Canton, Grigioni has native Italian speakers, but most of Switzerland is German and French speaking. The people of Cevio are Italian by culture and have close links with the north of Italy, but they are proud to be Swiss.
The family in the mid 1700’s-the fifth generation.
The earliest records of the Mattei family show that Antonio MATTEI(5) would have been born in Cevio in the mid 1700s, as was his cousin Giovanni Batista MATTEI(5). Antonio(5) we know was married and had at least two sons. Giovanni Batista(5) was the father of at least one daughter.
Meanwhile, a neighbour, Martino CHRISTOPHINI(5), had at least one daughter. We will meet his family again later.
They all lived in interesting times. At the start of the 1600s, the population was about 700, and by the time of the next census of 1801, the population had dropped to about 490. This massive drop in inhabitants of Cevio is an indication of traumatic times. The Mattei’s that are written of here lived through invasions, wars, famines, civil unrest and political upheaval.
These three great, great grandfathers of Alessandro MATTEI(1) were born into this world.
Cousins Giuseppe and Antonia marry: the fourth generation.
Domenica MATTEI(4), daughter of Giovanni Batista MATTEI(5) and her cousin, Giuseppe MATTEI(4), son of Antonio MATTEI(5), married in the later 1700s.
Change was in the air, this Mattei family, including Antonio MATTEI(4), Giuseppe(4)’s brother, were a part of that change. Antonio(4) married Antonia CHRISTOPHINI(4) daughter of Martino CHRISTOPHINI(5). Antonio(4) and Antonia(4) had at least one daughter of whom we will learn more.
Meanwhile, a neighbour, Carlo TRONI(4) was the proud father of at least one daughter who will become important to this family.
The Guiseppe(4) and Domenica(4) family would have felt the future was promising. A notary is a person of some significance, Giuseppe(4) held a position of authority. The Mattei’s were doing well.
WHY DO COUSINS MARRY?
In the times we are speaking of, cousins marrying cousins was not unusual.
Giuseppe Mattei(4) was a notary. This was an important position in society. He was a man of education and wealth. He would have wanted to consolidate his position for his family and his choices were limited. It made sense to marry his cousin. He and his wife, Domenica would have had significant status in the small community.
In this period of time, the later 1700s was a time of upheaval. There were revolutions throughout Europe and Napoleon was walking his army across the continent. Marrying cousins was a way to keep the family intact and wealth within the family.