Giovani Lamnea

“Lamnea” is spelled in Greek as Λαμνεα, or λαμνεα (all lower case), or ΛΑΜΝΕΑ (all  upper case).


These are pictures of him as a young man and, later in life, with his wife Rovenner.

Giovani Lamnea was a sailor for most, if not all, of his working life. For 13 years – from 1 July 1898 to 6 Sept 1911 (when I think he retired) - he was with the SS (SS = Steam Ship) Sunlight, official # 62402. For 4 years before that - from 4 Aug 1894 to 30 Jun 1898 - he was with the SS Talbot, official # 97795. Before the Talbot, he was with the SS Muncaster (ON 69372) for 2 1/2 years – from 5 Feb 1892 to 27 Jun 1894.

The Sunlight and the Talbot were coastal steamers, engaged in the “home trade”, carrying passengers, mail and light freight between Liverpool, Milford, Swansea and Bristol – and occasionally also Wexford and Port Talbot.  See the advertisement in The Cambrian for Jan 1st, 1873. This is a picture of a coastal steamer of about the same size as the Sunlight.

The Muncaster was engaged in “foreign-going” trade. Ships of this type generally sailed on longer voyages outside British coastal waters.  Giovani crewed the Muncaster on five voyages.

The Muncaster, Talbot and Sunlight were all registered in the port of Liverpool and were all owned by John Bacon Ltd. whose headquarters were originally at 14 Water Street (later at 3 Rumford Street) near Liverpool's dockside. The following table describes these ships physically:


Date of Registry

Gross tons

Net tons


















(BTW, Gross Tonnage measures how much a ship can carry if you fill all enclosed spaces; Net Tonnage measures how much a ship can carry if you fill all spaces designated as “cargo space”. Neither measure the wt of the ship itself but GT gives an indication of the ship’s size.)

Much useful information can be obtained from the crew lists (or crew agreements) of these ships. Every captain of a British ship engaged in “home trade” – such as the Talbot and Sunlight - was required to prepare a crew list on June 30 and December 31 of each year, listing the men who had served on her in the previous half-year. In the case of foreign-going vessels, such as the Muncaster, a crew list was prepared at the end of each voyage. This table summarizes the available crew list information.

I made several attempts to discover what Giovani was doing before 1892:

Attempt # 1

The crew list for Giovani’s first voyage on the Muncaster indicates that his previous ship was the Sussex, registered on London, and that he left the Sussex in “1892” - early 1892 because he joined the Muncaster on 4 Feb 1892. This date may not be accurate because it is a “ditto” of the previous man’s date. Even if he left the Sussex in early 1892 he surely would have joined it in 1891. So we’re looking for crew agreements in 1891 or earlier. Seamen signed on to the Muncaster on 4 Feb 1892 in Liverpool; so presumably he disembarked from the Sussex in Liverpool. He disembarked from the Muncaster on 9 Jul 1892 in Garston, which is a district of Liverpool.

According to the online Crew List Index Project (CLIP), the following ships named SUSSEX were registered in London before 1893:




Official number

Registration according to CLIP

Registration according to The Mercantile Navy List 1890


Lgth (ft)

Gross tons

MHA 1890

MHA 1891



Liverpool 1874

Liverpool 1874








Liverpool 1890

Liverpool 1890








Glasgow 1868

Liverpool 1870








London 1847









London, 1853









Newhaven 1862

London 1888








London 1866

Glasgow 1866








London 1866

London, 1866






SUSSEX (according to MHA, this is the ON of the WELSHMAN, not the SUSSEX)


London 1872

Hull 1872

Steam (Paddle)







London 1883
















E2 means that the MHA have the crew list for a voyage(s) of a foreign-going ship in that year









G2 and U2 mean they have them for one of both half-years of a home-trade ship in that year









Official numbers 7912, 23238 and 87064 were apparently no longer active after 1889, because they don’t appear in Mercantile Navy List of 1890. The remaining ships were:

(a)   ON 54732. This was a foreign-going sailing ship. The Maritime History Archive (MHA) in Newfoundland has crew lists for 1892, 1890 and thirteen earlier years. The MHA informed me that Lamnea was not on the 1890 agreements (for voyages from 2 Oct 1889 to 4 Jan 1890, and from 5 Jan 1890 to 16 Dec 1890), nor on the 1892 agreement (for a voyage from 28 Feb 1891 to 25 Feb 1892). (The Public Records Office (Kew) does not have any crew lists between 1879 and 1894, and there don’t appear to be any crew lists elsewhere for this ship.)

Conclusion: He did not crew this ship before joining the Muncaster on 5 Feb 1892.

(b)   ON 56737. This was a sailing ship engaged in home trade. The Maritime History Archive (MHA) in Newfoundland has crew lists for 1891, 1890 and eleven earlier years. The MHA informed me that Lamnea was not on the 1890 and 1891 crew agreements. According to CLIP, the Public Records Office (Kew) does not have any crew lists after 1884, and there don’t appear to be any crew lists elsewhere for this ship.

Conclusion: He did not crew this ship before joining the Muncaster on 5 Feb 1892.

(c)   ON 65715. (On 7 July 2016 Tanya McDonald of the MHA ( informed me that this ship changed its name to the Welshman in July 1891.) This was a steamship engaged in home trade. The Maritime History Archive (MHA) in Newfoundland has crew lists for 1892, 1891, 1890 and six earlier years. The MHA informed me that Lamnea was not on the 1891 or 1892 crew agreements.

Conclusion: He did not crew this ship before joining the Muncaster on 5 Feb 1892.

(d)   ON 45651. This was a steam ship. Tanya McDonald informed me on 7/7/2016 that he was not on the crew agreement terminating 30/6/91 and another one dated 10/7/91 – 21/7/91. Nor was he on any of 1892 crew agreements.

Conclusion: He might have crewed this ship between 21/7/91 and 5/5/92 but there are no crew agreements for this period (second half of 1891).

Note: The CLIP website carries this warning . . .

“Not all archives in the U.K. have provided us with a list of crew agreements in their collections. In particular, we do not have any list of agreements from the National Archives or the National Maritime Museum. Both institutions hold a considerable number of crew agreements. Please visit their web sites for more information.”


. . . but . . .

The National Maritime Museum only hold crew lists for years ending in 5, e.g. 1885, 1895.


I did an online search of the National Archives but they don’t appear to have the crew agreements for ON 45651 for the second half of 1891.


Attempt # 2

I tried to find him in the Census of England and Wales of 5 April 1891. This census has a record of his family (wife and two elder children, but not him) at 50 Miers St.,  St Thomas, Swansea. I posted this question on the MARINERS and BRITISH-MARINERS mailing lists in RootsWeb:

Could someone tell me how I can check the census of ships in the 1891 Census of England & Wales? Specifically, I am looking for a sailor named GIOVANI (or "JOHN") LAMNEA. At the time of the census I believe he might have been working on a ship called the SUSSEX. His last name is unusual and was often not transcribed correctly.”

I got these replies:

(a) From Jan Holmes

“Hi David,

I've had a look through the vessels and haven't been able to find your John. There seem to have been only 2 vessels called Sussex, both in Kent, and he wasn't on either of them.

I have several mariners in both my side and my husband's side of the tree and don't have a full set of censuses for any of them. I don't know why this is...maybe they were out of British waters (though most were watermen travelling on the canals) or maybe the master just didn't bother to fill in the form. In your case (as in some of mine) the unusual name leads to all sorts of problems in itself with transcription and the enumerator's original spelling.

As for your original question of how to search the census, I'm sure there must be a better way, and hope you get an answer better than mine. I went into the 1891 census and brought up the page containing the counties. Then I went into each county in turn and found vessels, after clicking on that I searched for "District Sussex". It would obviously have taken me longer than an hour had you not specified a vessel!!! I also entered the name John Lamnea and found him in 1901, used the details from that to search "John" "John Lam*" using the keyword “vessels”. Everything I tried from that angle came up with nothing, as did adding place of birth either Turkey or Syria.

Sorry I couldn't have been more help.

Regards, Jan”

(b) From Carol Thomas

“Hello David,

On for 1891, the censuses for ships are listed under the district
'Vessels' but each one is within the broader category of the county of the
port they 'belonged' to. I am not sure what this means exactly - maybe it is
where they were moored or where they last sailed from immediately before
census night; it isn't always their home port.  It would be a matter of
browsing through each county which had a coastline then look under the
district 'Vessels' to see if there was a 'Sussex'. I did see one Sussex that
was within Kent, but there were only five crew, and none sounded like your
Giovani. I don't know if this makes sense to you.  The alternative is to
search on his name, putting 'vessels' in the keyword section.  If you don't
have access to Ancestry, let me know, and I can have a look further some

Best wishes, Carol”

Incidentally, his family is recorded in the 1891 census but he must have been at sea on the census date. A very thorough search for Giovani or Giovanie or Giovanni or Giovannie or John Lam* or John Lem* failed to reveal him.

Attempt # 3

The 1881 census was conducted less than one year before his marriage on 7 Oct 1882 so he could well have been living in Britain or working on a British ship.

I looked for him without success in the 1881 census (FHC film # 1342293) of Swansea: on Edward Street where he was living when he married in 1882, and the streets (Inkerman and Jersey Streets) where his first children were born), and Rosser Ct where his wife-to-be was living. Jeff Coleman couldn't find him on any of the ships enumerated in the census (the SS Talbot hadn't been built then).

Attempt # 4

The Muncaster, Talbot and Sunlight were all owned by John Bacon Ltd. 

A man called Rodger Haworth ( in New Zealand has built the Miramar Ship Index of ships and their owners. I asked him to send me a list of the ships owned by John Bacon Ltd. that were built before 1894, and this is what he sent me:








Main Owner










































































Somehow (I can’t remember how) I discovered that John Bacon Ltd. had also owned the Sovereign (ON16200), Montagu (ON22612) and the James Kennedy (ON 19969). Of these, only the Montagu appeared to be still in operation in 1892. My intention is to look through the crew lists of the Montagu, working back from Feb 1892. I haven’t done this yet.

Attempt # 5

Try checking the ships named Sussex that were not registered in London, in the hope that that was a mistake, such as: ON 87692 registered in Glasgow. I haven’t done this yet.

Attempt # 6

I was told that that any sailor arriving at a British port was legally required to leave on the vessel he arrived on, unless some kind of accident or delay prevented this. So I tried to see whether any ships, which might have had Giovani on board, were delayed, damaged or wrecked in the vicinity of Swansea before the year of his marriage (1882).

By the most incredibly lucky chance, our problem of tracing the origin of Giovani Lamnea caught the interest of a Swansea family historian named Jeff Coleman (, 01792-290214 ) who, with volunteers, is indexing old issues of the Swansea weekly "The Cambrian" (which is held on microfilm in Swansea Central Library 01792-516758). According to The Cambrian and Lloyds's List two vessels arrived in Swansea in 1873 that might have had Giovani on board and which were delayed in port:

1.     An article in The Cambrian on 25 April 1873 and Lloyds's List reported that a Greek brig (two-masted sailing vessel), the Zacharias (captain Zachariadis) had capsized in Swansea harbour on April 20 and the crew had to be taken off the ship. It was righted on April 29. It needed extensive repairs before it was able to sail for Rio de Janeiro on Sept 25. According to Lloyd's Register the Zacharias was a wooden brig, 279 tons, built 1871 by M. Sarimbalakis, in Scopelos, owned by D. Lazopoulos, port of registry Scopelos, Greece. Since the ship was Greek she might have had Giovani aboard.  Incidentally, a brig is a two-masted sailing ship, square-rigged on both masts. See this picture of a typical brig.]

Subsequently, I noticed an article in The Cambrian of May 2, 1873 that mentioned that the ship that had toppled over in Swansea harbour two weeks earlier was the Romeo, not the Zacharias. I haven’t checked out the Romeo thoroughly yet. The CLIP project lists the following sailing ships named ROMEO that were built before 1873, but this does not include foreign vessels:


Official number

Port of registry

Date of registry








Appropriation books, Registry of Shipping and Seamen, Cardiff



Halifax, Nova Scotia



Appropriation books, Registry of Shipping and Seamen, Cardiff






Appropriation books, Registry of Shipping and Seamen, Cardiff






Appropriation books, Registry of Shipping and Seamen, Cardiff

(The Miramar Ship Index does not list any other ships named Romeo built before 1873.)

2.     The Cambrian of 19 December 1873 contains an announcement of an auction to take place in Swansea on Dec 24, 1873 of the Greek brig “Erimupolis” (this is presumably a misspelling of Ermopolis).  According to Lloyds's List, the Ermopolis (Captain Hadoulis Caduli) had sailed from Taganrog in the Black Sea with a cargo of wheat in August. It called at Malta, then Falmouth on Oct 18 and sailed for Belfast on Oct 27. Lloyd's List has no record of how/when it got from Belfast to Swansea. Obviously, the crew who sailed her to Swansea must have been taken off the ship while the ownership changed. It is conceivable that Giovani was one of her crew, since she had come from the Eastern Mediterranean, and her name is the principal town in Syros which was also where most of Greece’s ships were built in those times.

3.     There is a third possibility, not mentioned in The Cambrian: On there is a PDF file entitled “A Chronology Of Bristol Channel Shipwrecks compiled by Ron Tovey” which lists a large number of wrecks. But I only found which might have had Giovani on board:  “3 March 1873: The Greek barque “Odysseus”, Dublin to Swansea in ballast, ran aground on Pwll Du Point. The crew got ashore safely but the vessel was wrecked.”  Pwll Du Bay is on the south Gower coast about 10 miles from Swansea, so the crew would probably have been taken to Swansea. (A brig has two masts whereas a barque has at least three masts.)

Some of the other basic information about him is also uncertain:

 ( a ) His first name

On his 1882 marriage certificate and the birth certificate of his first child his first name is spelled "Giovani" but on his 1928 death certificate it is "Giovanni". Less formally, he went by the name ”John”.

(On the baptismal register of his two eldest children his name is given as Giovani James Lamnea, like his eldest son. I’m not sure whether to fully trust this because the mother’s name is incorrectly given as Rovenia in the same register.)

On the baptismal register of his other three children – all at St John juxta Swansea Church – his first name is written as “Iovanny”.

In the crew list for the S.S. Sunlight for the second half of 1908 his name is written in his own hand as “G. P. Lamnea”. This is the only crew list in which he indicates that he has two first names. I’m not sure how much importance to place on this.

He always claimed to have come from Greece but Giovanni is an Italian name, not a Greek one. The Greek equivalents are Ioannis, Gianni, Giannis, Ioannes, Yanni, Yannis, Yianni and Yiannis.

 ( b ) His surname

In 2005-2007 I searched the following sources for the name LAMNEA : the Internet using Google, the website of the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), RootsWeb, U.S. White Pages, U.K. White Pages, and the Greece telephone directory. But the only people I was able to find with that last name were his direct descendants.

(Incidentally, a transcription of the UK 1861 census states that a stationer called "John Lamnea" from "Slaley" was living at 4 Bromsgrove Street, Birmingham, with his wife Anne in 1861. However, a close study of the original 1861 census record and of the same address in the 1871 census (FHC film # 839574) shows that the 1861 census had been transcribed inaccurately and the man was in fact a John Zambra from Italy.)

(Also incidentally, the official transcription of the 1891 census purports to show a “Julia Lamnea” – an 18 year old housemaid working in Brompton, Middlesex – but the writing in the original is not clear; it looks more like “Lemner” to me. Since there is no record of a Julia Lamnea before or since 1891, my inclination is to assume this is a miss-transcription.)

It seems likely, therefore, that “Lamnea” was a name he assumed or was given when he arrived in Swansea. Perhaps he didn’t speak English well or had a strong accent which was difficult to understand. Others may have had to write his name for him initially. What they heard as “Lamnea” may have in fact been something similar but different, such as Lamania, La Mania, Lamani, Lamaniye. As noted below, he did not sign his name fluently on his marriage certificate. Even in later years he didn’t appear to sign his name fluently; he did not connect the letters – as can be seen in the later crew lists. So it is possible that once he learnt to write his name as Lamnea, it was simplest to keep writing it that way.

Whether his real name was Giovani Lamnea or something that sounded like that, it was clearly Latin (Italian), not Greek. Commonly, Greek male surnames end in -s, which is the common ending for Greek masculine proper nouns in th e nominative case. Exceptionally, some end in -ou, indicating the genitive case of this proper noun for patronymic reasons. (Greek women’s names may end in “a” but they would never be used by a man.) However, he could still have been an ethnic Greek, as this obscure article explains (Chapter 5 “ ‘To Whom Do You Belong?’ Catholic and Orthodox Names at Syros” by Olga Sapkidis, in the book “Name and Social Structure: Examples From Southeast Europe”, edited by Paul H. Stahl).

There are very many known surnames that sound somewhat like LAMNEA. I have checked the following :

§  LAMANIA or LA MANIA : There are 11 people with this name in the U.S. White Pages. I was only able to reach one of them by telephone, a lady in New Jersey (856) 985-5090. She told me that her husband (now diseased) came from Italy.

§  LAMANIA: RootsWeb Surname List indicates that one US immigrant came from Garaguso, Italy

§  LAMNIA:  A person called Yooub Lamnia arrived in New York in 1883, according to a book called  “Armenian Immigrants” by Linda L. Avakian, 1996.

§  LAMANA: RootsWeb Surname List indicates that one US immigrant  came from Italy

§  LAMAINA: RootsWeb Surname List indicates that one US immigrant  came from Italy

§  LAMANI: There is a lady in the London phone book with this name. She comes from Kosovo. This is intriguing because Kosovo is fairly near Italy.


§  The following names appear in the Athens, Syros, Thessaloniki and/or Chios white pages: LAMONI, LAMA, LAMANI, LAMANIS, LAMNIAS, LAMNEAS, LAMA, LAMAN, LAMANNA and LAMNI.


§  However, when a search was done on the Mormon’s website ( for “GIOVAN* LAM*” or “GIOVAN* LEM*”  virtually all of the hits came from Italy, including these last names: LAMNIA, LAMNA, LAMINA, LA MINA, LAMANNA, LA MANNA, LAMAGNA, LA MAGNA, LAMANE, LAMANTIA, LA MANTIA, LAMANDE.


My best guess is that although Giovani may have been born on Syros his ancestry was primarily Italian. He was probably an ethnic Italian.

Friends of a Greek friend (Phokion Kolaitis) of mine went to the town hall of Ermoupolis, the main city on the island of Syros, and inquired about the name "Lamnea" or "Lamnias". There is a registry of males there that dates back to 1845 but no such name was found. They said that one can petition in writing to have a more elaborate search done (Phokion got the impression that more fragmentary information was available), but his friends were not able to pursue that further. I have not been able to find out how to do this.

According to this transcription of Giovani and Rovener’s 1882 marriage certificate his father’s name was Efstate Lamnea. At my request, Jeff Coleman very kindly went to the West Glamorgan Archives and examined the photocopy of the original register of St Mary's, Swansea. He told me that the upper part of the certificate had presumably been prepared in advance by the priest conducting the service, from information supplied. “Efstate” is written as on the transcribed copy. The signatures were clearly original.  Rovener wrote clearly and fluently, but Giovani signed with a small g and rather a large space between L and the rest of the surname:  giovani  L amnea. The dots of the two i's in “Giovani” are more like vertical strokes than real dots, a bit like acute accents. (I wonder whether this because he was used to writing the “acute accent” that is used in modern Greek to identify the stressed syllable of a word.)

“Efstate” is a highly unusual name. After quite an extensive Google and Yahoo search I have only found three people with exactly that name and, intriguingly, they are all Romanian: an author called Efstate Sorentin, someone called Efstate Mircea who is listed on the website of Colegii Mei (which is apparently a Romanian college of some kind), and “Cristea (Efstate Burnuz) Cristina” who is listed at Colegiul Psihologilor din Romania.

On the other hand, a similar name, Efstathios, is a relatively common Greek name (277,000 hits in Google). (It is a variant spelling of the Greek name Eustathios (Ευστάθιος) composed of the elements eu "good" and stenai  "to stand," meaning "good stability" or "good standing".) On the Welsh Mariners’ Index I found a Welsh mariner called Efstathios Vlassopulos) who had been born on the Greek island of Ithaca in 1868. And in the same index I even found Efstathios Cutsubellas who was born in 1911 in Syros to a Greek Orthodox family who owned boats. So I strongly suspect that Giovani’s father’s name was Efstathios, but it sounded like Efstate when Giovani pronounced it.

 ( c ) His birth date

The stated year of his birth on official documents ranged between 1843 and 1852; specifically, it was about -

§  1846 according to his 1882 marriage certificate,

§  1843 according to his 1928 death certificate,

§  1850 according to the 31 Mar 1901 UK census when he was a member of the crew of the Sunlight  in Nelson Docks, Liverpool.

§  We can also approximate the year of his birth from the age he gave in crew lists. These give estimates of 1846 (from 3 crew lists), 1847 (5), 1849 (1), 1850 (5), 1851 (3), 1852 (5), 1853 (1), 1854 (2), 1856 (1), 1856 (3). On the whole, he tended to shave a few years off his age as he grew older. In the first three crew lists he gave 1846 as the year of his birth.

It seems from the above that he was most likely born in 1846, which means he was 36 when he married, 65 when he retired, and 82 when he died. He was 12 years older than his wife. I wonder whether he was born on or about September 6, because that was the day he retired in 1911, aged 65.

 (d) His birthplace

His place of birth appears in various official documents :

§  It is given as “Syria - Greece” in the 1901 UK census on SS Sunlight and the 1901 UK census of Lamnea family in Swansea and then the word “Greece” is crossed out by someone else - presumably a census checker - and replaced by the word “Turkey. This alteration is initialed. Note that in the case of the census of his family in Swansea, it seems likely that neither parent was in when the census taker called because the last name is spelled incorrectly (Lamea) and the wife’s first name is given simply as “N”. (This census states that he spoke both English and Welsh but I think this must be a simple mistake.) Incidentally, this is a picture of the Lamnea family home at 45 Phillip St, Swansea in 1901.

§  The crew lists give several different versions of his place of birth:

Birth place






Syria, Greece








Syra, Greece



The island of Syros (or Siros) in the Greek Cyclades was called “Syra” in the 19th century – and is still sometimes called Syra today. It has always been considered a part of Greece. This view from Google Earth shows where Syros is located. The name of the island's main town and port (and ships named after it) can be spelled in several ways: Ermoupolis, Hermoupolis, Ermoupoli, Ermopolis, Ermopoulis, Ermopolis. Syros is the richest and most populous of the Cyclades. During the Greek War of Independence (1821-29) the island remained neutral, and many Greeks took refuge on it. See here for a brief history of Greece and Syros.

By the mid-19th century the island had considerable commercial importance and was the ship-building centre of the eastern Mediterranean. It was a very important and lively place. See here for more information.

So, there seem to be two possible ways of interpreting these official documents:

EITHER he came from Syria and the word “Syra” is a misprint; but then it is hard to explain why he said on 8 occasions that he came from Greece. Syria has never been considered a part of Greece. It did not become a separate country until the 20th century. It was part of the Ottoman Empire from the 14th century until the Ottoman Empire was dissolved after Word War I. I suppose it is conceivable that “Syria - Greece” was intended to mean that he was born in an enclave of ethnic Greeks living in Syria, and considered his nationality to be Greek. Even today there are about 500,000 Greek Orthodox and 100,000 Greek Catholics in Syria and these numbers were larger in the past. Since both Giovani and his father were mariners, one would assume that if he did come from Syria, the most likely place would have been Syria’s main port of Latakia (or Lataqiya), which is a diocese of both the Greek Orthodox and Greek Catholic Churches. A “small number” of Greeks still live in Latakia.

OR      he came from Syra and “Syria” is a misprint. This seems much more plausible to me. It is quite likely that he had a strong foreign accent. When he said “Syra - Greece” people thought he meant “Syria - Greece” because they had never heard of “Syra” but had heard of “Syria”. Later, more educated census checkers altered “Greece” to “Turkey” because they knew Syria was part of the Ottoman Empire.

The Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) has microfilms of these Syros records that cover the period 1831 through 1879:

(i)     Records of the Catholic Church of Saint George, Ano Syros:

1038608:  Baptisms 1831-1934. I searched this from 1829 through 1852 but found no name remotely like LAMNEA.

1038599: Marriages 1802-1879. (Not searched.)

1038601 Items 1-4:  Deaths 1817-1959. (Not searched.)

(ii)    Records of the Catholic Church of Saint Sebastian, Ano Syros:

1038604 Items 2-5: Baptisms 1829-1925. I searched this from 1829 through 1850 but found no name remotely like LAMNEA.

1038605:  Marriages 1829-1929 & Deaths 1829-1913. (Not searched.)

FORTH – which stands for Foundation for Research & Technology – Hellas (Hellas = Greece) – contains several institutes, one of which is the Institute for Mediterranean Studies (IMS). The IMS has developed several relevant databases (from the IMS website click the Union Jack for English, then History Studies on the right-hand-side, then click Databases at the bottom of the page. A more detailed description of these databases can be found here:

1.    Municipal register of Ermoupolis (19th C – 1945) (45,000 entries) For each citizen the following details are entered: first name and surname, age, occupation, date when s/he first took up residence in the town, etc.

  1. Censuses of Ermoupolis in respect of the years 1860, 1870, 1878 (approximately 19,000 entries). These censuses were carried out on the spot, by going from door to door, and provide a wealth of information: dispersion of individuals and groups in the area (based on economic criteria, place of origin, et al.), number of persons in family, presence of simple or extended family, ages, occupations, servants, changes from one census to the next, etc.
  2. Municipal register of refugees who came from Asia Minor to Syros in 1922 (approximately 7,800 entries). Of the 7,000 who disembarked on the island and were registered, about half settled down in the end, and they not only boosted the population of Ermoupolis but also contributed to the creation of new social and cultural realities.
  3. Register of births of Ermoupolites, 1828-1922 (continually up-dated).
    This database, which contains many thousands of names will facilitate searches for demographic data.
  4. Registry office certificates of the residents of Syros, 1939-1945 (continually up-dated).
  5. Death certificates of the residents of Athens [do they mean Ermoupolis or Syros?] 1941-1942 (continually up-dated). Among other things, the following are sought to be established: the precise number of deaths due to hunger and other hardships resulting from the Occupation, their social origin, the attitude of the people to this extreme coercion, the possible difference in the number of dead among Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox residents of the island, the veracity of the associated “myths” which have grown up, et al. During this period Syros lost 1/5 or possibly ¼ of its population (at least 4000 – 5000 residents).
  6. Recording in summary form and on computer of the minutes and resolutions of the Municipal Council of Ermoupolis (1st phase: 1840-1900, 2nd phase: 1900-1940). All the information from the minutes are recorded in brief and key words are selected to facilitate searching for names and subjects contained in them. The wealth of information released is due, among other things, to the fact that the local authority played a substantial part, at least in the 19th C, in almost all the social functions of the town. Also, the strategy of the ruling groups, representatives of whom are members of the municipal council, regarding all matters concerning the local community, is thrown into relief.
  7. Libraries of Syriot scholars Stavros I.Vafias, Andreas Drakakis and Manos Eleftheriou. Among other things, it includes rare 18th and 19th century documents and a valuable collection of Ermoupolitan publications.
  8. Population census of Nafplion. (1825) This consists of two volumes listing not only the residents of the town, but also the refugees who sought refuge there because of the threat from Ibrahim.
  9. 19th-20th century election registers of Greek cities: Corfu (1871), Ermoupolis (1889), Piraeus (1866, 1878, 188, 1895), Kea (1902, 1910, 1928, 1946); continuous feed from election registers of other cities (the relative material exists in the form of photocopies). Among other details listed are the profession, origin, and age of the electors.
  10. Registers of jury members of Greek cities. 1867 They contain names, mainly from the second half of the 19th century, of representatives of the middle and upper classes of almost all the municipalities and communities of the kingdom of Greece. Apart from the profession, the annual income and/or value of real estate is listed.

12. Census of 1928: it lists the professions in respect of all the towns in Greece (both refugees and non-refugees).

  1. Two data bases, Register of Patients of the Hospital of Ermoupolis and Notary Publics of Syrus, have been created and data is being entered.

14. Archives 14 and 15 (see computerized archives) have an analytical introduction which attempts an initial assessment of the data contained in them. Something similar is in preparation for the rest.
Diagrams relating to the initial processing of the origin-related data of the municipal register of Ermoupolis (see computerized archives).

I emailed Andreas K. Lyberatos, Assistant Researcher ( who passed me on to Spyros Dimanopoulos, a Ph.D. student at the IMS. I asked Spyros to look for Lamnea or anything remotely like it. He finally sent me the following email:

From: "_ dimanopoulos" <>

To: "David Kohler" <>

Sent: Wednesday, October 07, 2009 1:07 PM

Subject: lamnea

Dear Dr. Kohler,
The databases that the Institute of Mediterranean Studies has are:  the 19th century municipal roll of Ermoupolis and the censuses of 1860, 1870, 1878. I didn’t find any register for the name that you have sent me. I called the General State Archives in Ermoupolis (Syros or Syra as it was previously called) and after they searched in Municipal Men’s Register they answered that nothing was found. I have also called the Catholic Church Archive where there is another Men’s Register and they didn’t find anything. I don’t know any other archive that could help your query.   
Best wishes, Spiros Dimanopoulos


(e) When did his family come to Syros?

The Greek War of Independence, also known as the Greek Revolution, was a successful war of independence waged by the Greek revolutionaries between 1821 and 1832 against the Ottoman Empire.

(i) Before 1821

Before the War of Independence Syros was almost entirely Catholic. It was ostensibly part of the Ottoman Empire but the Turks paid scant attention to it and it was mainly controlled and influenced by Venice. The main town was Ano Syros, built on the hill of San Giorgio. They did not build on the bigger Vrodado Hill because it was too close to the island’s natural harbor and therefore too vulnerable to attacks by pirates. The town of Hermoupolis did not exist then. The records of births, marriages and deaths were kept by the (Catholic) churches in Italian or Latin. The records in the main churches have been filmed by the Mormons. They show that the surnames of the Syros population were almost entirely Italian at that time, e.g. Varthalite, Russo, Paliologi, Delagio, Sargologo, Vueino, Brindesi, Vuccino, Cappello, Dappolla, Tanda, Attara, Armano, Brindisi, Bossolato, Archangelo, Altuva, Xenopulo, Grimaldi, Lavonari, Gad, Vitali, Rossi, Luvari, D’Ajello, Luvaro. A particular name could be spelled in different ways, e.g. Vuccino, Vucino, Vacino.

It is possible that Giovani’s family lived on the island before 1821. Certainly, in Italy one can find many names that sound somewhat like Lamnea; e.g. Lamnia, Lamna, Lamina, La Mina, Lamanna, La Manna, Lamagna, La Magna, Lamane, Lamantia, La Mantia, Lamande. However, I was not able to find any surname remotely like Lamnea in my survey of Catholic church records between 1800 and about 1850 (see Researching in Greece.doc).

(ii) 1821 - 1832

During the War of Independence, Syros stayed neutral because they were perfectly happy with their status quo under the Turks. As a result, Syros became a secure shelter during the Revolution, attracting many Greek refugees from Asia Minor, Chios, Spetses, Psara, Aivali, Smyrna, Kydonia, Kassos and other places. They founded the new town of Hermoupolis on Vrodado Hill. These refugees were mostly Orthodox and they built several Orthodox churches in Hermoupolis; e.g.

If these Orthodox churches kept BMD records, they have not been filmed by the Mormons. Giovani’s family could have come to Syros as Greek Orthodox refugees, in which case they would have had a Greek name that sounded like “Lamnea”.

A native Greek Ph.D. student at Stanford University told me he thought my great grandfather’s name might have been Lamnias, because that was a known Greek surname.  I checked the name on and it found 13 people named Lamnias, all living in Greece (but not in Syros), and a Google search revealed several more people named Lamnias on Facebook and elsewhere

(iii) After 1832

When the War of Independence ended the island returned to peace and tranquility. The Catholic population of the island was hellenized and changed their Latin family names to Greek ones, (e.g. the family name Vuccino to Voutsinos, Russo to Roussos, Vacondio to Vakondios, Daleggio to Dalezios, Salsa to Salsapoulos, Freri to Freris just to mention a few. However, there was no problem of integration between the old residents of Syros, mostly Roman Catholics and the newly arrived refugees, mostly Greek Orthodox. Catholics now constitute some 47% of the population. The majority of the population are Greek Orthodox. They live peacefully side by side. Intermarriage between Churches is very common in Syros.

When peace returned Hermoupolis became a booming maritime and ship-building centre – the biggest in the eastern Mediterranean. The population of the island swelled, and the newcomers, mainly mariners and tradesmen, gave the island a new dynamic, which along with its demographic and economic development, turned it into an administrative and cultural centre. Newcomers flocked to the island and founded the town of Ermoupoli, which rapidly became the leading port of Greece.

Giovani’s family could well have come to the island during this period because both he and his father were seamen. His father was a sea captain (“master mariner”).

If you go to and search for “syros” you get a lot of hits, some of which lead to a 24-page llst of individuals living in Syros. I checked every name in this list. The closest names to Lamnea were Lampoy, Lemonakis, Lemoni, Lenara. There were only about 3000 names on this list so it’s not the whole population, but maybe it’s the whole population who have phone numbers. (There were many people called Royssos (the original Russo), and other pre-1831 names like Gad and Rossini.)

(f) His religion

Someone in Swansea (I can’t remember who) told me that after Giovani and Rovenner were married in Swansea in 1882, they went to Cardiff to have the ceremony repeated in the Greek Orthodox church there. I attempted to corroborate this but the Greek Orthodox Church in Cardiff has no records before 1918. Before 1918 Greek Orthodox ceremonies in Cardiff were performed in the Norwegian Church. I have emailed the Norwegian Church to ask if they have records back to 1882 but they do not.

However, based on his name it seems more likely to me that Giovani was a Catholic, not an Orthodox. It is quite possible that he was a Catholic because Syros was almost exclusively Catholic until the Greek War of Independence in 1821, when large numbers of Orthodox Greeks took refuge on the island. If it is true that he had a Greek Orthodox marriage ceremony, this might have been because he wanted it in his own language rather than because he was Orthodox. Perhaps in the 1880’s the Greek Orthodox Church in Cardiff served both religious groups.


Miscellaneous facts:

In his home he had Turkish and Greek swords over the mantelpiece. I was told that when he died, Jack (I think this means his grandson) took them.

He had a sister Helena in Greece who used to send presents and letters in Greek to her nephews and nieces, which Giovani translated for the children.

An addendum to the Dec 1903 crew agreement (addendum 1, addendum 2, addendum 3, addendum 4) states that on the 22 Sep 1903 the Sunlight  was in a collision in the Mersey and the Sunlight was dragged ashore by tugs before it sank. The captain and several of the crew were "detained to attend trial". It doesn't seem likely that Giovani was among those detained because he was discharged the next day, whereas the captain and several others were discharged in December. At that time the Sunlight was the only ship operated by its owners; earlier, in 1873, they had operated many ships on this route.