Recorded in a number of spellings, all quite diverse, this is a surname of medieval Italian origins. It originally described what has been quixotically known as "The babes in the wood" syndrome, and referred to a foundling or deserted child. According to the directory of Italian Surnames these names are generally found as Esposito, Sposito, Esposi (Neapolitan), Innocenti, Nocenti (Tuscan), Ventura, Venturella, Venturoli (Ascona), and Colombini from Pavia, although there are many more including Incogna and Incognito, which were used throughout all regions of Italian speaking. It seems that as recently as 1928 a law was passed (by Mussolini), one of the many good things that he did inspite of his Fascist image, forbidding the use of surnames which may throw doubt on a person's origin. This has prevented any further increase, but has not affected those already in use. In Britain as may be shown by a study of entries in the Dictionary of National Biography, it was quite a normal practice, until gentrification in the late Georgian and Victorian periods, and particularly amongest the nobility, to voluntarily treat a natural child as part of the extended family. Early recordings include Pietro Ventura at Sinalunga, Siena, when he married Maruciana Perrone, on December 31st 1559, and Stephano Innocenti who married Margarita Banci at Borgo, Pistoia, on April 13th 1593.
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