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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2016

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Venice, one of the oldest and most beautiful island regions of Italy, is the esteemed birthplace of numerous prominent families, including the family that bears the surname Ferrara. Although people were originally known only by a single name, it became necessary for people to adopt a second name to identify themselves as populations grew and travel became more frequent. 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 are characterized by a profusion of derivatives coined from given names. Although the most common type of family name found in Venice is the patronymic surname, which is derived from the father's givenname, names derived from occupations are also found. Occupational surnames, which are less common than other types of surnames in Italy, date back to the feudal era. However, under the Feudal System, occupational names did not become hereditary until the offices themselves became hereditary. It was only after an occupation was inherited by several generations in lineal descent that occupational names came to be applied to entire families, and so became a hereditary surname. The surname Ferrara comes from the Latin word ferro which means iron. The family likely were blacksmiths.

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The surname Ferrara was first found in Modena (Etruscan: Mutna; Latin: Mutina; Modenese: Mòdna), where records can be found in 1271 of the Ferrari family living there at the Villa Mugnano.

There are many variations of most of those Italian names that originated in the medieval era. Some of these come from regional differences, like the tradition of ending northern names in "o" and southern names in "i". Others come from inaccuracies in the recording process, which were extremely common in the eras before dictionaries standardized spelling. Some of the spelling variations of Ferrara are Ferraro, Ferrari, Ferrario, Ferraris, Ferrai, Ferrero, Ferrarese, Ferreri, Ferrèri, Ferreli, Ferriero, Ferrieri, Ferrerio, Fevrero, Fevriero, Ferrer, Fer, Ferr, Fare, De Ferrari, Deferrari, Defferrari, De Ferraris, Ferrarello, Ferraretto, Ferrarini, Ferrarin, Ferrarotti, Ferrarone, Ferraron and many more.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Ferrara research. More information is included under the topic Early Ferrara History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 355 words (25 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Ferrara Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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In the immigration and passenger lists a number of early immigrants bearing the name Ferrara were found:

Ferrara Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Andre Ferrara, aged 28, arrived in New Orleans, La in 1829
  • Jose Ferrara, aged 20, landed in New Orleans, La in 1842
  • Maria Ferrara, who landed in Puerto Rico in 1851
  • Adamo Ferrara, aged 1, who landed in America, in 1897

Ferrara Settlers in United States in the 20th Century


  • A. Andrea Ferrara, aged 17, who landed in America from Tufino, in 1903
  • Agostino Ferrara, aged 2, who landed in America from Palena, Italy, in 1904
  • Abele Ferrara, aged 26, who emigrated to the United States from Sarno, Italy, in 1906
  • Achille Ferrara, aged 20, who emigrated to the United States from Lucera, Italy, in 1907
  • Alessandro Ferrara, aged 56, who landed in America from Pianella, Italy, in 1909


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  • Napoleone Ferrara, Italian-American molecular biologist awarded a Lasker Award in 2010
  • Adam Ferrara (b. 1966), American actor and comedian
  • Abel Ferrara (b. 1951), American movie screenwriter and director
  • Franco Ferrara (1911-1985), Italian conductor
  • Rosina Ferrara (1861-1934), popular Italian model for painters of that era


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  1. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  2. Rasmussen, Louis J. . San Francisco Ship Passenger Lists 4 Volumes Colma, California 1965 Reprint. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1978. Print.
  3. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
  4. Di Crollalanza, Goffredo. Enciclopedia araldico cavalleresca Prontuario nobiliare. Pisa: Presso La Direzione Del Giorale Araldica , 1878. Print.
  5. Rolland, and H.V. Rolland. Illustrations to the Armorial Général by J.B. Rietstap. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today, 1967. Print. (ISBN 0-0900455-209).
  6. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  7. Rietstap, Johannes Baptist. Armorial Général. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  8. Gheno, Antonio. Contributo alla Bibliografia Genealogica Italiana. Bologna: Forni, 1924. Print.
  9. Stiens, Robert E. Passenger list Italy to New York 1893 In Italian Genealogist. Torrance, CA: Augustan Society No 3, 1983. Print.
  10. Di Crollalanza, G.B. Dizionario Storico-Blasonico Delle Famiglie Nobili e Notabili Italiane 3 volumes. Pisa. Print.
  11. ...

The Ferrara Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Ferrara Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 14 June 2015 at 15:14.

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