Italian Language/Italian Names



I'm researching family history on my husband's side.  He has an ancestor named Peter Moss, born in Italy approx. 1800-1806.

I believe that Peter could be Pietro or Piero in Italian, but is there an Italian equivalent for Moss?

Sorry, I'm probably asking too many questions, but if possible, could you also let me know how difficult it would be to trace Italian ancestry?  What kind of records etc do they have pre 1800?

I would really appreciate any help that you are able to give.

Many thanks in anticipation.



I think that the surname that you are looking for is “Mosso”.

In Italy in fact there is a hilly  village called “Mosso”, close to the city of Biella, about 70 kilometres  from Torino (Turin)  in the Italian region Piemonte (Piedmont).

Such a place name “Mosso” is pronounced as “Moss” in the piemontese dialect, i.e. in the dialect spoken in Piemonte, which is a region of Northwest Italy.

So, it seems likely that the surname of  your husband’s ancestor  was “Mosso” which however was pronounced as “Moss” by  Piero/Pietro Mosso  in his regional dialect, since in the mid-nineteenth century  Italian  people spoke their regional dialect rather than the standard Italian language.

Therefore it is likely that your husband’s ancestor  Piero or Pietro Mosso, born in Italy approx. 1800-1806,  when arrived  in the UK, had pronounced his surname as “Moss” instead of “Mosso”: hence “Peter Moss” in English.

As for  how to trace Italian ancestry and   what kind of records do people have pre 1800, it would need to know the exact date and place  of birth of an ancestor in order to consult records of births, baptisms, marriages, burials that are in the parochial  registry of the parish church of the place  of birth in Italy,  since  before 1861 the registers of births, marriages and deaths pertained to the parish churches, not to the Italian State, whereas after 1861, i.e. after the unity of Italy, the registers of births, marriages and deaths began to pertain to  the Italian State.

In short, if you  want to trace Italian ancestry of  Piero or Pietro Mosso, alias “Peter Moss”, you must know  the exact date and place  of  his birth .

Lastly, note that in Italy we have the surnames “Mosso” and “Mossi” that are common especially in Piemonte (Piedmont) and Lombardia (Lombardy), i.e. in northern Italy, as you can see at:

Hope this can be helpful to you.

Best regards,


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Italian is my mother tongue and I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning Italian Language.


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