From the historical and enchanting Italian region of Tuscany emerged a multitude of noble families, including the distinguished Ferrante family. During the Middle Ages, as populations grew and travel between regions became more frequent, the people of Tuscany found it necessary to adopt a second name to identify themselves and their families. The process of adopting fixed hereditary surnames was not complete until the modern era, but the use of hereditary family names in Italy began in the 10th and 11th centuries. Italian hereditary surnames were developed according to fairly general principles and they were characterized by a profusion of derivatives coined from given names. Although the most common type of family name found in Tuscany is the patronymic surname, which is derived from the father's given name, the nickname type of surname is also frequently found. Nickname surnames were derived from an eke-name, or added name. They usually reflected the physical characteristics or attributes of the first person that used the name. The surname Ferrante is a name for a person associated with the color gray having derived from the Old Italian word "ferrante" which means gray. This surname may also have been a habitational name taken on from Ferrante, a place name in Cosenza province.
Italian surnames come in far more variations than the names of most other nationalities. Regional traditions and dialects are a decisive factor in this characteristic. For example, northern names tend to end in "o", while southern in "i". Also important, but not unique to Italy, was the fact that before dictionaries and the printing press most scribes simply spelled words according to their sounds. The predictable result was an enormous number of spelling variations. The recorded spellings of Ferrante include Ferrante, Ferranti, Afferante, Ferrantello, Ferrantelli, Ferrantino, Ferrantini, Ferrantin and many more.
^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
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