This Italian surname is believed to be a short form of the better known 'Paternoster'. This is an occupational surname for a maker of rosaries, chaplets and beads. However it may equally have had some religious or even civil roll in its own right, with 'pater' being used not in the normal sense of a 'father', but perhaps as a status name to imply leadership, or even some religious activity. On the other hand it may also have been a simple nickname for a person who looked like a father figure. The medieval times everywhere in Europe was one of those periods in history when 'robust humour' was all the rage with little regard for personal squeamishness. There are few straight lines with surnames, and even fewer with those of Italian origins, where different meanings were ascribed to the same word or in this case surname, in different parts of the country. We are fortunate with this surname in that we have been able to find good recording examples in different regions, as again the Italian records are notorious for their erratic or non existent content. These recordings include: Benedetto Paterno, a witness at Erice, Trapano, on October 28th 1584, and Pietro Paterno who married Maria Calalano at Adelfia, Bari, on November 18th 1612.