Howard Slatter's page

The Bregazzi link

Written by Howard Slatter.

My father Francis Slatter (1906-1997) was never allowed by his family to know much about his grandfather, who he simply knew to be Charles Slatter. He had picked up a few hints that he was Italian, and changed his name, but no more than this. He also gleaned that the Slatters came from Oxford. When his older sister, my maiden aunt Winifred, died in 1989, my brother Andrew and I went down to Littlehampton to go through her things for our entitlement of her jewellery and items of family interest, before the house and contents went to one of her friends. Deep in the back bedroom, full of packages still wrapped from when she went down to the south coast from London about 15 years previously, I found a small briefcase with a few photographs (all unnamed, of course) and a scrap of paper in it. On the paper, in our grandfather's (Charles Edward Slatter) handwriting was a little family tree:

  Slatter father of Miss Slatter m. Huggins, Miss Slatter m. Count Carlo Bregazzi Major General, Rev John Slatter

On the back of this paper were a few notes (torn off at one edge):

ch Oxford (Infirmary)

This was my first sight of the name Bregazzi. I could find no marriage for my great-grandfather in the GRO indexes, but on a hunch (again following something that my father had heard, that his grandparents spent some part of their married life together in Ireland) in 1992 I wrote to Dublin. About six weeks later I got a copy of the marriage certificate between Carlo Slatter Bregazzi and Louisa Carrington Breward (I knew this was my great-grandmother's name) at Monkstown, Co Dublin on 1st August 1865. They both claimed to be resident in Kingstown, and Carlo's father appears as Carlo Slatter Bregazzi, profession General in the Army (though which army is not specified!). No clues in the witnesses, who are the local schoolmaster/parish clerk and the sextoness (according to the 1865 edition of Thom's Dublin Almanac). And I know that Louisa, claiming to be of full age, was actually only 18 (born in Leicester in Dec 1846). All very mysterious - why Ireland? Where had they met? Irish records are notoriously incomplete following the burning of the Four Courts in 1922.

Their (Carlo & Louisa's) first two children were born in 1866 (Leicester) and 1868 (Manchester) with the surname Bregazzi, and both died in early infancy. The first child to survive was my great-aunt Florence Slatter (no Bregazzi), born in 1869. Charles Slatter (as he was by now) appears in the 1871 and 1881 censuses as born "in Italy, a British subject". I can find no records of immigration or a formal change of name.

I started to pursue the Bregazzi surname, with some addresses picked up from UK phone books. Before long the trail led me to an Australian living in Queensland called Kelvin Williams, who had done a lot of research on Bregazzis and had established quite a network of people world-wide who were connected by the name. He told me of a family who lived in a small village, Stazzona, above lake Como in northern Italy, and who had produced several phases of emigration to England, the Isle of Man, Germany and Ireland. He had never come across my Carlo, though.

Sadly, Kelvin died in 1999. As by then I had built up a substantial database of Bregazzis (at the latest count numbering over 1300 people) I offered to take on the role of "coordinator" of the different branches and their researches. I had done my own research too, helped by a Maurizio Brigazzi in Rome who had sent me an extract from the Stazzona parish registers that we had not seen before. That had established the connection between Stazzona and the Irish branch (much later than Carlo's marriage), and also a family in the east end of London. There are now no Bregazzis at all in Italy, though several Brigazzis and Bragazzis. There are Bregazzis, though, in at least 9 other countries.

So no connections yet that I can be sure of between me and either the Slatters or other Bregazzis. But I'm working on it!

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