I have a family document from 1783 in which an unmarried son is referred to as Dominum Conradinum (last letters of surname)...um, and the father is referred to as Domino Jacobo (last letter of surname)...o, and the mother is referred to as Domina Malgarita (last letter of maiden name)...a. Often the last names would end with the letter ....i, ie: Tognoni or Biveroni. Please help me to understand the convention of the time as the explanation will greatly assist to understand the origin of my surname.

Here is a copy of the letter of introduction:

Letter of Introduction

  • 2
    If you could include the actual text, as well, that would help a lot!
    – Draconis
    Mar 15 '20 at 23:06
  • Welcome to the site! As others have mentioned, the actual text would make it far easier to explain what is going on. It's okay if it's a lot of text; we can recognize the essentials if you can point to some of the confusing words. Let me know if you have trouble editing your question, attaching images, or anything else.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Mar 16 '20 at 7:18
  • I edited the letter from your answer to the question. Feel free to edit further by clicking the little "edit" button under the question!
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Mar 16 '20 at 17:24

The names as they appear in that document seem to be "Dominum Conradinum Tognionum", "Domino Jacobo Togniono", and "Dominâ Malgaritâ Biveronâ". The first is inflected into the accusative case, the second two are inflected into the ablative case.

When mentioning a Latin name in English, the usual form used is the nominative case form. In the nominative case, these names are: (Dominus) Conradinus Tognionus", "(Dominus) Jacobus Tognionus", and "(Domina) Malgarita Biverona".

Dominus and domina are the Latin words for lord/master and lady/mistress. Words that end in -us and -a in the nominative case like these constitute two common categories of Latin nouns and adjectives. Nouns in the -us category (the "second declension") are generally masculine and nouns in the -a category (the "first declension") are generally feminine, and they often come in pairs like this. The name Tognionus is a masculine form and would have the feminine counterpart Togniona. The name Biverona is used here a feminine form and most likely would have the masculine counterpart Biveronus (I say "most likely" because a small portion of -a names in Latin are used as masculine).


The short answer is this;

The -i ending is used to indicate a group of people, when they are the chief participants. There is a useful check, that the verb will end in -nt or -ntur.

The -i ending is also used to indicate possession (genitive): 'the house of,' the 'the gift, donum, of;' and relationship, as Filius Tognoni, 'Son of Tognonus,' Mater Biveroni, 'Mother of Biveronus;' and also the recipient of a gift (dative): Libros Tognoni dedit, 'he gave books to Tognon.'

Those are the first answers to try, but only the context would show. The singular words might be ablatives or locatives. The groups may be families, tribes, or alliances.

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