Esposito is one of the most frequent surnames in Italy, because of the abandoned children normally left in front of charity places, such as churches, monasteries, parishes. It comes from Latin expositus, meaning “exposed”, but its full meaning is “exposed to the protection of the virgin.”
The abandonment of new born children was a common phenomenon, widely used in some ancient societies. Around 1800, the rates of abandoned children took on enormous proportions in Milan and in other European cities, accounting for a third of births. The reasons for abandonment were mainly poverty (more than 70% of the population was poor), prostitution, unequal relations between bosses and servitude, parents who did not recognize and did not want to protect the child. In the cities, families of workers could not maintain more than four or five children at the same time and a new birth was a problem for the family economy. Women also worked and did not have much time to devote to raising children. Birth control was unknown. Therefore, abandonment was a common practice.
To alleviate this situation, hospices dedicated to collecting abandoned children were created; the circumstances in which they were found were recorded, giving the possibility to identify the children if the parents wanted to recover them. On that occasion they were given an invented name and surname, thus Esposito became a very frequent surname.
Esposti, Espositi, Esposto, Degli Sposti, Spisto, Sposto