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The Messinese Patricanship (Testaferrata).

 

The Messinese Patricanship of Testaferrata.  The dignity of Patrician of Messina (Testaferrata (1553)

Footnote: The “Dignity of Patrician of Messina” was granted to Mariano Testaferrata on the 20th December 1553 by the Jurats of the City of Messina. 

In 1878, this dignity was claimed by Pietro Paolo Testaferrata-Abela-Moroni, Augusto Testaferrata Abela, Monsignor Salvatore Grech-Delicata-Testaferrata Cassia-De Piro, Emmanuele Testaferrata-Bonici-Asciack, Lorenzo Antonio Testaferrata, Gio. Paolo Testaferrata-Olivier de Puget, Lorenzo Antonio Cassar-Desain, ne’ Testaferrata, IgnazioTestaferrata Bonici, Enrico Testaferrata, and Francesco Gauci Testaferrata.

However, in this case, although it appears that the claimants presented various documents in proof of their claim, the Royal Commissioners  dismissed all the claims because, the same Commissioners decided not only that the claimants did not provide proof of the dignity ever being registered or recognized by the local sovereign BUT ALSO because the same Commissioners held that this dignity was a mere municipal honour and not one emanating from a foreign sovereign, or fons honorum. (“Correspondence and Report of the Commission appointed to enquire into the claims and grievances of the Maltese Nobility”, May 1878, presented to both Houses of Parliament by Command of Her Majesty (C.-2033.) (See Report Paras. 237-238))

Thus, as far as the Commissioners were concerned, once they regarded this dignity as a municipal honour, it did not fall within the remit of the Commission because the Commissioners were of the opinion that once it is a municipal honour it does not qualify to be registered in accordance with the rules of 1739 and 1795 as enacted by Grand Masters Despuig and Rohan. 

The actual report says the following:

“Several gentlemen belonging to the Testaferrata family, have moreover, in the committee list, laid a claim to the dignity of Messinese patricians, and have in support of that claim produced the following documents, viz 1st a personal privilegium conferred on the 20th December 1553, by the Jurats of the city or municipality of Messina, on the nobleman Mariano Testaferrata, registered in the Royal Secretairerie of Messina, on the 17th April 1554, and recorded in the Inquisitorial Office of Malta, on the 27th August 1689. The said Mariano is the most distant ancestor to whom the claimants have been able to trace the pedigree of the Testaferrata family. By the said privilegium, Mariano obtained the citizenship of Messina, and he became thereby entitled to all the rights of a Messinese citizen, and to the exemption from certain taxes which were payable by strangers”. 

Now, independently of the circumstance that the distinction of Messinese Patrician is a municipal concession, and that it is not derived from the Crown as the fountain of all honours, the said instruments were never registered in the Court of the Castellania or in the Cancelleria of the Order; nor have the claimants produced any proof of its having ever been recognized by the local sovereigns

“For the reasons already stated we refrain from making any inquiry in order to ascertain whether the claimants descend or not from the said grantees.”

However, upon a more detailed analysis about the nature of this dignity, it appears that contrary to what was held by the Commissioners, that the 1553 dignity is in fact a conferral of nobility because the city of Messina acted as a fons honorum (fountain of honour. See also http://cilialacorte.com/Patriciates.htm.

 

It appears that the 1553 dignity in favour of Mariano Testaferrata is the basis of a similar dignity granted on the 28 August 1792 by the Senate of Messina to Marchese Don Mario Testaferrata Castelletti, Don Daniele and Don Pandolfo Testaferrata De Noto, and the Barone Pietro Paolo Testaferrata Abela. The later dignity is described elsewhere in this section.

 

It appears that the later 1792 dignity was only granted to four of Mariano Testaferrata’s agnatial descendants. This consideration therefore raises the inevitable question whether this dignity is transmissible to the non-agnatial descendants of Mariano Testaferrata. It is to be noted that of the ten persons asserting a claim in 1878 to this dignity, it appears that only two were descended in the female line.

Footnote: The “Dignity of Patrician of Messina” was granted to Mariano Testaferrata on the 20th December 1553 by the Jurats of the City of Messina. It is not an honour derived from a Crown but a mere municipal honour. 

Valid as it may be, this municipal honour does not qualify to be registered in accordance with the rules of 1739 and 1795 as enacted by Grand Masters Despuig and Rohan. It is also irrelevant if any Grand Master accorded some form of recognition to this honour because the aforesaid enactments only refer to foreign titles obtained from a foreign sovereign. 

In this case, it appears that the claimants presented various documents in proof of their claim, but the Commissioners correctly dismissed them. (“Correspondence and Report of the Commission appointed to enquire into the claims and grievances of the Maltese Nobility”, May 1878, presented to both Houses of Parliament by Command of Her Majesty (C.-2033.) (See Report Paras. 237-238)).

The actual report says the following:

“Several gentlemen belonging to the Testaferrata family, have moreover, in the committee list, laid a claim to the dignity of Messinese patricians, and have in support of that claim produced the following documents, viz 1st a personal privilegiumconferred on the 20th December 1553, by the Jurats of the city or municipality of Messina, on the nobleman Mariano Testaferrata, registered in the Royal Secretairerieof Messina, on the 17th April 1554, and recorded in the Inquisitorial Office of Malta, on the 27th August 1689. The said Mariano is the most distant ancestor to whom the claimants have been able to trace the pedigree of the Testaferrata family. By the said privilegium, Mariano obtained the citizenship of Messina, and he became thereby entitled to all the rights of a Messinese citizen, and to the exemption from certain taxes which were payable by strangers”.

Now, independently of the circumstance that the distinction of Messinese Patrician is a municipal concession, and that it is not derived from the Crown as the fountain of all honours, the said instruments were never registered in the Court of the Castellaniaor in the Cancelleria of the Order; nor have the claimants produced any proof of its having ever been recognized by the local sovereigns

“For the reasons already stated we refrain from making any inquiry in order to ascertain whether the claimants descend or not from the said grantees.”