Sunday, October 19, 2008


John Cabot was defintely not English. He was a Florentine explorer, just as Amerigo Vespucci.

Cabot's name was anglicized from Giovanni Cabotto. One of my mother's friends Francesca Cabot Lodge was married to Ambassador John Cabot Lodge, brother of Henry Cabot Lodge of the Boston Cabot Lodges. Tis said tht they only spoke to God. Well...they erroneously believed their ancestor the great explorer John Cabot was English and looked upon Italians with disdain. When they discovered that he was indeed not only Italian, but a brilliant Florentine illuminatus. They realized it was just as acceptable to be Italian, perhaps more so (since the Florentines launched the Renaissance) to speak openly about their Italian/Florentine roots.

It's true that there are many Anglo- Saxon last names in the United States. I doubt they are descended from truly English ancestors.

Our dearest Charles Fernley Fawcett was without a doubt of English and French ancestry. They did not come on the Mayflower. They came with the English nobility sent by Elizabeth Rex I. My husband's grandmother was a Page, as in Thomas Jefferson Page. Their ancestor Thomas Page was a first cousin to Jefferson.

The Castilians and the Italians who know about bloodlines define first cousins as brother/ cousins or primo fratello or primo hermano.Many Arabs call their cousins brothers. The ancient Judaics in Judea and Galilee also did not distinguish between full-blooded brothers, step-brothers and cousins.

Many families from Eastern Europe and Jewish families anglisized their names when they did not totally use veddy, veddy English names. The Irish officials at Ellis Island coud not pronounce their sometimes unpronouncable names so they gave them willy nilly the first last names which came to their parochial minds.

A great deal of prejudice existed in America against foreigners. Say what you will, Italians bore the brunt of this hatred. There are documented cases of Italians of Sicilian descent being lynched in the South for daring to court a "white woman."

I know an Apache shaman, a most extraordinary woman from the Chirakahua tribe whose aunt was forcibly sterilized as a child in the Arizona reservation. The practice was stopped by Catholic nuns of the Order of Saint Joseph of Corondolet.

Tying the Fallopian tubes is just one way of sterilizing women. There are worse things perpetrated on women and men to destroy their fertility. I consider that a form of genocide.

Women who do it deliberately of their own free will are murderers. They are condemning their genes to perpetual death. Sad.

I have a bright and accomplished friend who had three abortions performed on her body because she did not like children and was not willing to be incomodated by them. She is now in her seventies and is very ALONE, except for her three cats. Symbolic? Perhaps.


  1. Cara Isabella,

    Thanks for expanding the rationale of why we have so many Anglo-Saxon names in the United States, to include those whose names have been changed to appear more mainstream. I remember when I began modeling and acting in New York many years ago, I was told by agents, casting people, and producers that I should anglicize my French surname, to make it easier for those who struggled to pronounce it. I actually took their advice and adopted a different professional name for a while, until I started writing, when I finally reverted to my far more interesting birth name.

    I always wondered about the Lodge family's Italian roots, because there were hints of it in the press -- Henry Cabot Lodge served as Ambassador to the Vatican and was said to speak Italian. His brother, John Davis Lodge, married an Italian actress and I believe he too spoke Italian. The Lodges, who are related to the Davis family, are possibly related to Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis's author cousin, John H. Davis, another Italianophile who studied in Italy, wrote books on the Mafia, and speaks Italian.

  2. Well the point about Cabot is that he was sponsored by England.

    About the English in America, it's true that the ancestry of most Americans with English-sounding surnames is misty at best, and most of the English immigrants to America arrived before the 1800s. But there was a later, little-known group of working-class English who settled in Philadelphia around the early 1900s. My great-grandfather was one of them. They were mostly skilled textile workers from Northern England - or in my great-grandfather's case, a draftsman and designer of textiles (Queen Victoria commissioned him to design a personal rug for her) - who were in great demand in Philadelphia's (now extinct) textile industry. Most of them rapidly made small fortunes, and most of them moved beyond Philadelphia by around the 1920s, so today that obscure group of the final wave of working-class English immigrants is in diaspora - and in my case, the diaspora is now in Australia, a culture considerably closer to mine than what America has become.

  3. PS, an amusing anecdote about immigrants Anglicising their names: When I was working as a trial lawyer, one of my frequent opponents, with whom I had cordial relations, was also surnamed "Ball".
    But she was a Jew, probably with origins in the Russian Empire. So one day a judge asked us if we were related. I said, "perhaps distantly, like a distance of two thousand miles and two thousand years." :-)


Isabel Van Fechtmann

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