Riassunto della mia ricerca

Gina Piombini aged 18

Sometime during the early 2000’s I started actively carrying out genealogy research into my family. Early during this research, I learned that on my Paternal side, there was some Italian Heritage.

I learned that my great-grandmother Gina Cooke (Pictured above) was Half Italian and her maiden name was Piombini. None of the surviving older generations knew of too much detail and I decided to research this further mainly using publically held UK records.

This would later lead to research into a family tragedy or in fact several!

Most of my research has been carried out on ancestry.co.uk with some content coming from findmypast and other sites such as the British Newspaper archives which would become very useful when researching a particular family tragedy.

Soon after starting, I discovered my Italian Great Great Grandfather Ettore Piombini first appeared as a 25-year-old waiter on UK Census returns in the 1891 Census. He was boarding with many other Italians at 3 Earls Court, London.

The place of birth seems transcribed to be “Leongo” which does not exist, there is however a Legnago which I soon discovered was not his place of birth.

Ettore’s next appearance was in the 1901 Census living as a married man with a young family at 259 Newport Dwellings in Westminster, London

My Great Grandmother Gina is listed as a 3-year-old Italian Subject. Ettore’s name by this time had been Anglicised to the English “Hector” Gina (Luigia) had an English-born brother aged 1 here called Felix.

Ettore had married a Victorina Pyle from Pimlico London in 1896. His father is listed as Antonio Piombini a Hotel Keeper.

I really do want to find out more about Antonio, I currently do not believe he lived in the UK as he never appears on census returns, I also know nothing about Ettore’s mother (Update Feb 2024) I have now identified Ettore’s mother as Luigia Paternoster. Antonio was a hotel keeper in Italy.

Gina was not the firstborn in the marriage. Victorina was already pregnant with their Son Hector who was born prematurely and died at 5 hours old 9, days after their marriage.

There was further sadness in the family when the couple’s daughter Velia Yolanda Piombini who had been born at Newport Dwellings in 1901 died at 1 St Oswalds Road, Fulham in 1908 aged 7 years from Pneumonia.

At this point in my research, I had not been able to confirm the place of birth in Italy of either Ettore or Gina (Luigia). However, access to the 1911 Census showed a growing family now living at 1 Ongar Road, Fulham, London. It is believed by this time Ettore was a homeowner as this property and several others in the Earls Court area seemed to remain in the family for many years. In this Census the place of birth for both Ettore and Gina (Listed now as “Luigina” in this Census) was listed as Lonigo, in the province of Vicenza, Veneto. Also listed at the property at this time were several lodgers including two other married couples.

As can be seen Gina had several Siblings now. These were

  • Felix Antonio Albert b.1899
  • Augusta Violette b.1904
  • Stella Marguerite b.1906
  • Aida Olive Marion b.1909

Sadly Stella also died young after contracting TB she passed away on 9th February 1916, at 21 Lillie Road, Fulham aged only 9 years.

By the time of Stella’s death Gina had begun a relationship with an Alfred Cooke who was from the Portsmouth area. Alfred was 31 years older than Gina, and it transpired through some significant research he was still married and had in fact at least two other families already.

Their first son Leslie Cooke (b.1916) was in fact registered at birth as Leslie Piombini and Gina’s maiden name was listed as “Desmond”, this subterfuge continued with her second son Gerald Cooke (b.1917) until the birth of my own Paternal Grandfather Cedric Douglas Cooke (b.1918) where her maiden name is correctly listed as Piombini. They were, however still not married.

All three were registered in the Paddington district of London and Cedric’s birth certificate lists their address as 9 Shrewsbury Road.

The above picture shows Gina and Alfred on the beach at Lymouth in Devon with their first three boys Leslie, Gerald and Cedric c.1920s.

Alfred and Gina’s family had relocated to the North Devon seaside town of Lynmouth sometime in the early 1920s. Here they had several more children, most of which were born out of wedlock as Alfred we can only assume, was still married to his first wife Alice Paige whom he had married in 1891, six years before Gina’s birth!

Anthony Piombini was born to Gina and Alfred in June 1923.

More tragedy followed the family however, as the 1920s would not be a good decade for the whole family with both Gina & Alfred losing a newborn Son Neville who was born prematurely in 1928, and also losing Anthony to Pneumonia in 1929.

During 1926 Gina lost her younger sister Violette Augusta in the most horrific circumstances.

Gina’s mother and younger sisters had been running a Guest House in Thundersley Essex whilst her father still worked as a waiter in a Restaurant known as CafĂ© Monico which we believe was in Piccadilly, London and owned by the  brothers Giacomo and Battista Monico.

It was in May 1926 at Thundersley that Violette Augusta died due to having her throat cut with a razor. I will not go into too much detail here, I document it more fully here. However, the case resulted in a Dutch Painter and Decorator known and employed by the family being found guilty of murder and subsequently sentenced to Death in a very public trial.

Gina lost her only remaining brother Felix during 1933 to TB. Felix was sometimes a humourous character to research especially regarding court cases where he got himself into trouble. He had been an Omnibus Proprietor in London and later a motor mechanic. His Belgian-born wife Eugenie also seemed to be an interesting and lively character!

Gina and Alfred had two further children, Nigel b.1931 and Sonia b.1936. Just after Nigel’s birth Gina and Alfred were Married in Barnstaple Devon. However, we cannot confirm that Alfred had divorced his first wife or been widowed at this point.

In 1934 at Thundersley Ettore died aged 69. The location at that time was referred to as “Kit Cat House”.

Later the remaining family in Lynmouth were evacuated due to the massive flood disaster that devastated the town in 1952. Gina and Alfred were relocated to Bristol where Alfred died in 1955 and Gina in 1964 two years before my own birth.

Aida Olive Piombini lived to 65 and died in 1974.

Nigel Cooke 1931-2022

A couple of years into my research I discovered that Nigel had also been trying to research the family and we collaborated on the project occasionally until his death in 2022. Sonia had died quite young in her 50s and after the passing of Nigel all of Gina’s children had died.

My research took a pause for almost a decade before I took it up again in late 2023. I had discovered the Italian public archives at antenati.cultura.gov.it I really wanted to delve deeper into the Italian source of this side of my family. Sadly as Nigel had passed away in 2022, and I was never able to share my breakthroughs with him.

This initially was very frustrating as I could not find any relevant Piombini’s in the searches. Not all names are indexed and therefore I needed to manually search.

This initially proved to be fruitless until I discovered the 10-Year Indexes (indici decennali). I really wanted to confirm that Gina was born in Lonigo as at this point I was not certain those early UK censuses were actually factual.

Whilst trawling through a birth Index I found her, so Lonigo was in fact the correct location!

Luigia Lilli Piombini is a valid match and the year is correct. Excitement was short-lived as I soon found the Lonigo comune does not have a complete set of birth registers online. I was therefore not able to find her actual birth record. I have also searched the LDS Familysearch.org held records and have yet to find a single relevant birth or death record for any of the Piombini’s found in the indexes.

I then decided I wanted to confirm the presence of other Piombini’s in Lonigo during the 1870s – 1900.

I found quite a few!

Ida Piombini 1872
Adelina Piombini 1874
Attilio Piombini 1877
Guido Piombini 1879

These I thought had the potential to be either Ettore’s younger Siblings or possibly Cousins or Nieces/Nephews.

Deaths were then considered another valid search.

Ida Piombini 1877
Attilio Piombini 1887
Guido Piombini 1887

Another 3 Piombini’s dying young I had hopes for Adelina!

Marriages next.

Adelena again now married at age 18! https://antenati.cultura.gov.it/ark:/12657/an_ua35876854/LynoWv4

Some new names for slightly earlier marriages. https://antenati.cultura.gov.it/ark:/12657/an_ua35876853/LpeNPJq

Ausonia Ermin, Cesira and Emilio

Hopes for Adelina Dashed! As she died 7 years into her marriage. Is it feasible to imagine that Ettore and his wife named their daughter Velia Yolanda Piombini who was born in 1901 as some sort of tribute?


I initally created a set of non-connected (Floating) Piombini’s on my Ancestry Public tree using these newly discovered names in the hope that eventually some hints will pop up in the future.

I had assumed for the sake of tidiness that the above Piombini’s are related. I soon found at least with the marriages they are all Ettore’s Siblings! I used the LDS familysearch site and found the documents for all of these marriages including Adelina’s. Which is shown below.


The next stage is to try to locate actual records for a number of Births, Marriages, and Deaths. Such as the births listed below.

Lonigo Comune seems to not provide records for this type of research. So for the time being, research will have to be remote, and slowly I will build on this story.

Wayne Weedon February 2024