Alfonso Pacitti

Alfonso Pacitti

Alfonso Pacitti
updated: 13 December 2022
Alfonso Pacitti
Alfonso Pacitti (1887-1940)

Alfonso, the second son of Ferdinando and Mariantonia Pacitti (Ferdinando's second wife), was born on 3rd August 1887 at Cerasuolo, Italy. He emigrated from Italy to Glasgow as a teenager around 1905. He served in the Italian Army during the First World War. At Glasgow he married, raised a family, built a thriving business before being killed during WW11 whilst being sent on internment to Canada.

The earliest documented records of Alfonso are his military record from Campobasso. This indicates that we was called up to the Italian Army as part of his military service requirement. An entry dated May 1907 indicates that he was already resident in Scotland so he would have emigrated prior to that date - probably sometime around 1905 (at that time, young men in Italy were seldom given permission to emigrate under the age of 18). Some of the BMD records at Cerasuolo were destroyed during WWII including his orginal birth records although there is plenty of other documentary evidence for his actual birth date of 3 August 1887.

This census entry in 1911 recorded that Alfonso was boarding with his elder brother Michele at 162 Clydesdale Road, Bothwell and his occupation was given as confectioner. Over the next 25 years or so, Alfonso built a thriving set of business that covered furniture, shop fitting and a café. Given that he came to Scotland not being able to speak the local language and with little schooling, this was typical of the enterprising and hard working immigrants.

In common with all young Italian male citizens at that time, Alfonso returned to Italy to do his military service at Alessandria, Piemonte in northern Italy between 1908 and 1909. He was subsequently posted to Sardinia before returning to Scotland. In 1918, Alfonso was called up as part of Italy's WWI efforts and finally discharged in 1919.

Alfonso initially worked with the Tortolano family in the woodworking business that Enrico Tortolano, his future father-in-law, had set up. He lived at 45 College Street, right in the centre of Glasgow, prior to his marriage; 45 College Street was also the residence of the Tortolano family at that time, as recorded in the 1911 census.

After a successful start to working in the business, Alfonso married the boss’s daughter Giulia Tortolano on 21st August 1913 at St Andrew's RC Cathedral, Clyde Street, Glasgow. Their marriage certificate gives Alfonso’s occupation, who was the aged 26, as ‘joiner’ and Giulia’s occupation (aged 19) as ‘confectioner’s saleswoman’. Interestingly, the entry from the 1911 census gave Alfonso’s occupation as ‘confectioner’ so he was obviously a quick learner.

Alfonso Pacitti Kings Cafe

At a later date, Alfonso also bought the King's Café at 146 George Street from his father-in-law Enrico Tortolano. This photo shows Alfonso standing proudly outside the café, his name above the door, with his two ‘assistants’; daughters Rina and Amy. I would estimate the date to be in the late 1920s / early 1930s.

His wife Giulia and her sister Annie effectively ran the café while Alfonso concentrated on the cabinet making business with his father-in-law. The woodworking business extended into furniture and café fitting and became successful allowing the family to live in reasonable comfort.

In 1927, Alfonso celebrated his 40th birthday and this rather prosperous commemorative photograph of him and his wife Giulia is dated 1st August 1927.

In December 1937, Alfonso was awarded the decoration of ‘La Stella al Merito del Lavoro all Estero’ (Star of Merit for Foreign Work), by King Vittorio Emanuele III. I still have his medal medal and the official citation letter.