The Quilietti Family

The story of a Scots Italian family


‘Prince Charles Edward Stuart’ – the most famous of all the Scots Italians

With a name like Charles Edward Louis John Casimir Sylvester Severino Mario Stuart, it is little wonder that this legendary Scottish figure is best known by his nickname: Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Throughout his lifetime, Bonnie Prince Charlie was also known as ‘the Young Pretender’ and ‘the Young Chevalier’, or referred to simply as Charles III. He was the elder son of James Francis Edward Stuart, and the Stuart claimant to the throne of Great Britain after 1766.

Bonnie Prince Charlie was born on the 3rd December 1720 and lived until the age of 67, when he died on the 31st January 1788. Charles was born in Palazzo Muti, in Rome, Italy, on 31 December 1720. Rome was also the City where he died and he is interred in St. Peter’s there.

This is because, after being deposed in 1688, James II and VII went into exile in Europe for the rest of his days, along with his family – including the infant prince, James Francis Stuart. He was welcomed as a guest by his cousin, King Louis XIV of France, and from here the Stuarts established a court in exile.

After the failure of the 1715 rising, Charles’ father, James Francis Edward Stuart, James III and VIII in the Jacobite line, was obliged to leave France and finally settled in Rome in 1719. He was given a palace by Pope Clement XI, and as a result Bonnie Prince Charlie spent almost all his childhood in Rome and Bologna.

Bonnie Prince Charlie’s mother was  Maria Clementina Sobieska, the granddaughter of John III Sobieski, who is most famous for the victory over the Ottoman Turks in the 1683 Battle of Vienna.

This childhood in Rome was a very privileged one, Charles was brought up Catholic in a loving but riven family. As, according to Jacobite succession, the family were the legitimate heirs to the thrones of England, Ireland and Scotland, the family lived with a sense of pride, and staunchly believed in the divine right of kings.

During his life he spent just 14 months on British soil, in 1745-6, and a brief clandestine return visit in 1750

Many years later, Bonnie Prince Charlie, by then a hopeless alcoholic, died in Rome of a stroke on 31 January 1788, aged 67. At first he was buried in Frascati Cathedral near Rome, where at the time his brother Henry Benedict Stuart was bishop. After Henry’s death in 1807, both his and Charles’s remains were moved to the crypt of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, where they were laid to rest next to their father. 

This spot over the three male Stuart’s remains is where the monument to the Royal Stuarts was later erected in 1939. Charles’ mother is also buried in St. Peter’s Basilica. But when they removed the prince’s remains from their original resting place in Frascati Cathedral, his heart was left behind, where it is contained in a small urn beneath the floor under a monument.

Bonnie Prince Charlie

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  • During the 19th Century lots of Italians came to the UK for trade reasons: as craftsmen, artists and performers. The Unification of Italy in the mid 19th Century saw a breakdown of the feudal land system which actually left many poor people without any land. Catholic Emancipation had freed many Italians. Craftsmen were allowed to build churches and many were hired to take on this type of specialist work in the UK. Some never left. Italians gained a reputation for craftsmanship in sculpture and design and also in the creative perfoming industry such as singing.In the late1880s many Italians came to the UK to escape poverty in rural Italy as a temporary measure. Many brought with them a desire to set up modest businesses such as ice cream parlours, barber shops and fish ‘n’ chip shops. All were poor and had to work very hard to make a modest living. Many came to Scotland to find even more opportunities awaiting them.
  • Unfortunately many Italians were recruited as cheap labour by unscrupulous agents in London and found themselves exploited, working long hard hours for little pay. Many were also sent to the North of the UK and in Scotland as ice cream vendors in the street. In 1901 the Commissariat of Emigration was created which outlawed and controlled the unscrupulous practices involving Italian immigration.

A wee bit of Italian

Parla Inglese? Do you speak English?
Grazie Thank You
Prego You are welcome
Per favore – Per Piacere Please
Buon Giorno Good Morning – Good Afternoon
Buona Sera Good Evening
Buona notte Good Night
Come sta? (singular) How are you?
Come state? (plural) How are you?
Mi scusi / Scusi Excuse me
Ciao Hello / Goodbye
Quanto costa? How much does it cost?
Arrivederci Goodbye
Dov’è ….? Where is …?
Gabinetto/Bagno Lavatory/Toilet
Mangiare To eat (verb)
Stazione Train station
ristorante restaurant
francobollo stamp
busta envelope
cartolina postcard
Dove posso trovare un…/ Where can I find a…
Ho una prenotazione / Abbiamo una prenotazione I have a booking/we have a booking
Vorrei qualcosa da mangiare I would like something to eat
Vorrei qualcosa da bere I would like something to drink
Come posso andare a… How can I go to….
Qual’è la strada per… Which way for…
Accettate carte di credito? Do you accept credit cards?
Posso pagare in anticipo? May I pay in advance?
Posso pagare al check-out? May I pay at check-out?
C’è la connessione ad internet nella stanza/hall/albergo Is there internet connection in the room/lobby/hotel
  How much does it cost? / How much does this costdomenica—Sunday
  • O.K.  Here are some really famous Scots/Italians

OK then we can only but wonder you know how these Italian immigrants managed to get their tongue around our language.   Especially the words with the double meanings, the double whammy words

Here are some “ordinary” words and phrases which can be used colloquially in Scotland to mean something entirely different!

  • “Back” – when someone says they will see you “at the back of five” they mean roughly 5.15. There is no equivalent “front of five” for 4.45!
  • “Ball’s up on the slates” – plans have come apart.
  • “Bite someone’s ear” – long before Mike Tyson, this phrase was used to describe speaking nicely to someone to gain a favour.
  • “Blue nose” – not someone who is feeling the cold but a supporter of Rangers football club (whose main team colour is blue).
  • “Body swerve” – means to dodge or avoid something as in “The wife wanted me to go to see her mother but I managed to give it a body swerve”.
  • “Bubble” – means to weep, as in “What are you bubbling for?” Sometimes used to describe some who is sulking as in “Stick, bubbly!”
  • “Bucket” – a good quantity of alcohol, as in “Her husband takes a right bucket!”
  • “Check” – to look, often with astonishment, as in “Check the new jacket!”
  • “Chin” – used as a verb, it can mean to go to someone to complain (perhaps sticking your chin out in the process).
  • “Click” – establish a relationship with the opposite sex, as in “Jimmy was the only one with a click after the jigging” (“jiggin” is dancing).
  • “Close” – not the verb to shut but the open entrance-way and common stair to a block of flats (tenements in Glasgow). In Edinburgh, it is applied to a narrow lane or passage from the main street. The word can also be applied to weather which is warm and muggy.
  • “Desperate” – if someone says they are “desperate” they are trying to tell you that they are in urgent need of the toilet!
  • “Don’t act it” – don’t behave in a deliberately misleading way, as in “If he says he didnae ken about it, he’s acting it!”
  • “Dot” – means to go somewhere quickly as in “I’ll just dot into the paper shop”.
  • “Drawing in” – as in “The nights are drawing in” means that the days are getting shorter and darkness is falling earlier as we head into autumn and winter.
  • “Duster” – as in “he went his duster” meaning that he worked hard.
  • “Hammer” – if someone asks you to “Give the TV the hammer” don’t take it literally – they just want you to switch it off!
  • “Heavy” – in a bar, you may hear someone ask for “A pint of heavy” which is a heavier beer than lager and is roughly equivalent to the English “bitter” beer. “Export” is an even stronger and darker beer. Although originally brewed for sale abroad, it is nowadays found on draught in most public houses.
  • “Hems” – not the stitched edge of a cloth, but if you “put the hems on” someone you have forced them to behave or restrained them as in “He couldnae go tae the pub, his wife put the hems on him.”
  • “Hen” – not a farmyard animal but a friendly way of addressing a girl or a woman, often when you don’t know their name. For example “Can ye tell me when the next bus will be, hen?”
  • “Jag” – in addition to the usual meaning of pierce, the word also can mean an injection as in “The doctor gave the kid a jag.” Not to be confused with “The Jags” who are the Partick Thistle football (soccer) club.
  • “Jotters” – not a school writing book but a worker’s employment documentation which has come to mean the sack, as in “Ah goat ma jotters and signed on at the burroo” (the employment exchange).
  • “Keys” – when said with thumbs raised, this is the traditional way in which children withdraw temporarily from a game, as in “I’m keys!”
  • “Kilt” – if you hear someone in Glasgow say that “Ah wis nearly kilt” it has nothing to do with Highland dress but is the local pronunciation for “killed”.
  • “Knock” – a euphemism for stealing as in “Hughie knocked a motor car.”
  • “Lend” – no borrowing involved here. If you “take a lend” of someone you take advantage of their gullibility.
  • “Lose the rag” – can mean to lose your temper.
  • “Mask” – to “mask the tea” is not to hide it but to wait until it has infused.
  • “Messages” – if someone is “going the messages” they are going to the local shops.
  • “Mince” – while finely chopped minced beef is a popular dish in Scotland the word has also come to mean rubbish or nonsense as in “He was talking a load of mince.” and someone who is as “thick as mince” is extremely stupid.
  • “Miss yourself” – you missed having a good time as in “You missed yourself last night – we all got blootered.” (“blootered” means “drunk”).
  • “On the bell” – when someone says that they are “On the bell” or “It’s my bell” it means that they acknowledging that it is their turn to buy the drinks.
  • “On the Panel” – absent from work. The “panel” is also a Scots legal term meaning the accused in a criminal trial.
  • “Piece” – a sandwich, which could be the classic “jeely piece” of bread and jam.
  • “Plank” – nothing to do with wood, but if you plank something, you hide it somewhere safe so that it can be used at a later time.
  • “Refreshment” – a well known euphemism for any alcoholic drink.
  • It’s like “Sauchiehall Street” – it is very busy (as in this Glasgow street, before the days of pedestrianisation).
  • “Special” – used to describe a strong beer as in “McEwan’s Special”
  • “Scratcher” – another name for a bed as in “I couldnae get oot ma scratcher.”
  • “Shed” – the side or middle parting of the hair as in “Is my shed straight?”
  • “Shy” – the throw-in from the touchline in a game of football (soccer).
  • “Steaming” – one of the (many) words to describe someone who is drunk.
  • “Supper” – not a meal at the end of the day but anything served with chipped potatoes in a fish and chip shop is a “supper”. So haggis and chips served at lunchtime is a “Haggis supper.”
  • “Tank” – to beat the other team soundly as in “Scotland tanked Spain 48-0 in the rugby game today.”
  • “Waste of space” – describes someone who is proving to be worthless or useless.
  • “Well on” – what happens when you have imbibed too much “refreshment” and become a bit drunk.
  • “Winch” – this word is used to describe a romantic involvement with someone, as in “Are ye winchin?” The origins of this word come from “wench”, the old fashioned word for woman.
  • “He looks like a half shut knife” – describing someone who looks depressed.
  • “Am Ah right, am Ah wrang” – literally “Am I right or am I wrong” but usually said in a rhetorical fashion which is really expecting agreement.
  • “Punny eccy” – used by school children to describe a punishment exercise or written piece of work for wrong-doing in class.
  • “Polomint city” – the slang name for East Kilbride, one of the first “new towns” built outside of Glasgow. The planners provided many, many traffic roundabouts – which looked like a well known circular, mint “sweetie”
  • “Hameldaeme” – at first sight, not a phrase, but pronounce it more slowly and you will see/hear it stands for “Hame will do me” – once a popular response to the question “where are you going for your summer holidays?” before half of Scotland went to Spain for their holidays (sorry, “vacation”).
  • “Mak a kirk or a mill o’ it” – make a kirk/church or a mill of it, or “the choice is yours”.
  • “Steps and stairs” – a large family, evenly spaced out, so that when a family photo is taken with the children sequenced by age, they look like a set of stairs.
  • “Doon the Dee on a digestive” – this is the Abedonian equivalent of “Do you think I came up the River Clyde on a banana boat?” in other words, do you think I’m daft?
  • “Auld claes and cauld porritch” – when you are out of money, particularly after spending a lot on Christmas or a holiday, it’s back to basics with “old clothes and cold porridge”.
  • “Days here and there” – people who could not afford to go away on their summer holiday/vacation would often have odd days here and there.
  • “Dinna droon the miller” – don’t put too much water in the whisky (the miller being the supplier of the grain which went in the whisky).
  • “By-the-way” – Billy Connolly has made this Glaswegian addendum to sentences well known around the world. “That wis a right stupid thing tae dae, by-the-way” or indeed any other comment or observation can have this phrase added to it. So much so that other parts of Scotland sometimes refer to Glaswegians as “By-the-ways.”

  • “Furryboots are ye fae?” – this is an Aberdonian phrase, by-the-way. Translated, it means “Where abouts are you from?” It is so identified with Aberdeen that Aberdonians have been known to be called “Furryboots.”
  • “Keep a calm sooch” – the ‘ch’ in sooch is pronounced as in ‘loch’ and the word “sooch” means “wind”. So the phrase is used to encourage someone to keep calm or hold their tongue.
  • “Away in a dwalm” – a ‘dwalm’ is a daydream so someone who is away in a dwalm is certainly not concentrating on the job in hand!
  • “He’s awa on the ran-dan” – having a riotous night out on the town.
  • “Twa bubbles aff the centre” – derived from the bubbles on a spirit level, someone who is “twa bubbles aff the centre” is regarded as a bit simple or stupid.
  • “He wis fairly gaun his dinger” – he lost his temper
  • “Ahm spewin’ feathers” – I’m very thirsty
  • “He’s goat mair degrees than a thermometer” – he’s very clever (and has the “varsity” or university degrees to prove it)
  • “You’re at yer auntie’s hoose” – help yourself and tuck in
  • “Whit are ye mollachin aboot” – why are you wandering about aimlessly? Said to derive in the North-East of Scotland from the mole, the animal whose mole-hills pop up in random places.
  • “Haud up yer heid like a thistle” – hold up your head like a thistle – and be a proud Scot!
  • “Ah couldnae care a docken” – although a docken (a broad-leaved weed) is useful for reducing the effect of stinging nettles, anything which is “nae worth a docken” is said to be worthless.
  • “It’s not worth a tinker’s curse” is another phrase describing something which is of no value.
  • “A tongue that would clip clouts” – literally speech which would leave a cloth in tatters, describes someone who is very abrasive and gives a good account of themselves in an arguement.
  • “Awa ye go” – not really telling someone to go away but used to register disbelief.
  • “Hale jing bang” – everything, the whole lot.
  • “A fly cup of tea” – in this case “fly” means illicit or surreptitious. On the other hand, if you are “fly for” someone, you are too wise to be taken in by them. Occasionally, the word reverts to its meaning as an insect as in “Let that fly stick tae the wa'” – say no more about a topic.
  • “There’s aye a something” – a phrase which is frequently used in the North-East and indicates an acceptance of adversity. Recount a catalogue of disasters and tragedy to someone in that part of Scotland and a response of “There’s aye a something” is quite likely.





5 Responses to “SCOTS/ITALIANS”

  1. web3d says:

    I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your site. It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more enjoyable for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a developer to create your theme? Fantastic work!

  2. Billy McKirdy says:

    I really enjoyed reading this article Helen, every day is a new discovery on this site for me, you make me so proud of my heritage with every new lesson learnt about the ancestors and their journeys, thank you 😀

  3. Marie FRANCHI says:

    I was raised in the east end of glasgow. It was rough my parents were holy and very hard working we had no other relatives. We I feel were the best immigrants to Scotland

  4. Helen says:

    Yes you had to be tough to get through the last century. We, and I was born in 1953, don’t really know what hardship was

  5. sivana politi says:

    Very well done Helen.

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