This is an Italian locational surname. It is very unusual in that it not only means what it says and describes a (former) citizen of the ancient city of Salerno, but quite remarkably and particularly for an Italian surname, it appears to have retained its exact surname spelling since the begining of public records in the country. That said, whilst such records are on record in the British Isles from the 12th century or in some instances earlier, Italy was a loose federation of separate states until 1860, and most of them paid little attention to record keeping, being too poor to care. As a result only the royal and noble families kept personal records, and even these were at best prone to inaccuracy. To our surprise we have been able to find some 18th century records in surviving church registers. The first is the marriage of Anna Maria Salerno to Domenico Consentino at Cardinale, in the province of Cantanzaro, in 1753, although the exact date is not recorded. Later during the Napoleonic Wars we the recording of Isabella Salerno, the daughter of Guiseppe Salerno, who was baptised at Flavetto, Cosenza, on July 1st 1810. The meaning of Salerno is believed to be the saltworks, or at least a place where salt was collected.
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