A-Z Challenge Surname J

“J” for JUGALI !

How’s that for a weird surname?!

Since I only have two J surnames and one of them is JONES from a woman who married a brother in our line, I chose the other surname for two reasons…

  1. It’s so unusual and intriguing!
  2. It’s from the direct line backwards on my mother’s side.


maddalena matias_b_1707

Baptismal Record for Madalena Mattias, 1707 daughter of Domenico Mattias and Lucia JUGABI

My mother’s side was researched for me by a professional genealogist in Italy. It took him 2 years to go from parish to parish and personally check parish records. He diligently photographed every baptism, communion, confirmation, marriage and death record for me. It was hugely expensive but I now have a CD with every entry digitally photographed and documented. There is NO way I would have had the time or ability to do this on my own. Even though I’ve travelled to Italy a dozen times, I’d never be able to go to the churches in the 2 weeks AND visit relatives at the same time. Money well spent as far as I’m concerned!

Her side has the most unusual names like GON, DEL DEGAN, JUGALI, SCUBLA, D’ANZUL and CANTON DEL PIN….how cool are these?

Part of the reason I became so enthralled with genealogy was because when I received my family tree from my aunt at my wedding these names fascinated me. I needed to know more about them.

Now that I’ve done my mother’s DNA and found we have Jewish DNA on both her maternal and paternal side I want to know more about that too. None of these weird names show up as Jewish surnames but I DID find that where her family came from in Italy (GORIZIA) is exactly where a lot of the Slovenian (where she was born) Jews went to around 1709!


The above link tells the story of this migration.

Now I have another mission. To find out how the surname JUGALI ended up in north eastern Italy or if it’s a weird spelling of a local Italian name. I tend to think it’s the former as I can’t find anything even remotely similar in sound or spelling in my research.

Post script: After more research, I discovered that Jugali is not, in fact, a surname. It’s a derivative of giugali which is a way of saying “spouse” in Italian. There is no letter J in the Italian alphabet and yet they use it in this area of Italy (as in the town where my GON family came from called Jalmicco). There IS the letter J in the Slovenian language so maybe they adopted it into some of their words.

So it seems that the above Lucia doesn’t have a surname recorded at all. It just says she is the spouse of Domenico Mattias.

That means that I now only have one J surname in my tree and it’s not from the direct line.

I’m loving this A-Z challenge. It’s made me take one surname at a time and really look at it. It’s made me have to think about not only the name but how it came about, and where it comes from. Fascinating and a great idea!

About tiesthatbindsite

I'm a genealogist with a passion for Scottish and English ancestry. I'm trilingual so I can also do research in French Canadian records and Italian records. My love for family history began 35 years ago and continues to grow every day. My family is very important to me and I hope to instill in them a love for "where they came from" so that they can better understand who they are. I also want to share my love of family history with anyone who understands how important it is to not lose site of their ancestors. They all have a story to tell.
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5 Responses to A-Z Challenge Surname J

  1. Scotsue says:

    You certainly have such unusual names amongst your ancestors, which makes for fascinating family history. Mine are all very ordinary- the most unusual Hawkysrd which seems to imply someone eagle eyed, sharp nosed and stern!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Scotsue says:

      My typo – the surname should have read “Hawkyard”!


      • I just did an edit. I found out that Jugabi is Jugali which is a derivative of Giugali which means spouse! There is no J in the Italian alphabet. Lesson learned. Just because Jugali was written immediately beside Lucia, I assumed that it was her last name (that and it started with a capital J). Turns out that the word jugali is used in Italian documents meaning spouse.


  2. floridamom says:

    Wow, that’s fascinating. I’ve wanted for a long time to research my Italian ancestors and I actually have the immigration papers from when my great-grandmother’s family came to the U.S. in the late 19th century. The names I know are correct are Taiano and LaVecchia as they were written on the papers in Italy. Cappasola and Covino are questionable. Family lore says they were changed when the children were enrolled in school

    One of these days I will try harder to track those families down in Italy.



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