The formation and the consolidation of surnames is an important theme not only from the linguistic point of view, but also from the historical one. It concerns the relation between the individual, the family, the community, and the public authorities. In Italy, a decisive turning point occurred with the decrees of the Council of Trent on the parish registry. Yet, still in 1812, the bureaucracy of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy conducted an inquiry on the lack of surnames among the population of the department of Musone (Macerata). To what extent people still identified with the simple patronymic? To what extent was this peculiar to the area of Macerata? This article explores the documents of the inquiry, comparing them with the available demographic data. The articles examines the concept of «regular surname» offering an alternative view to the one purported by the officers of the Kingdom. The article therefore contributes to the history of Italian onomastics as well as to the history of the cultural history of Napoleonic Italy.