The Maltese title of Marsa.
Footnote: This title was purely nominal and did not have any property attached to it. In their general observations, the Royal Commissioners observed that most of the titles granted by the Grandmasters were merely honorary and had no relevance on property tenure “although it appears that those titles (granted by the Grand Masters) have derived their different denominations from several feudal lands existing in these islands, this annexation, however, is in most cases purely nominal, for those lands were never in reality conveyed to the grantees, but they remained as they are still Government Property.” The Commissioners also identified the only three exceptions to this purely nominal phenomenon, where tenure of property was a prerequisite namely Bahria, delle Catene, and Senia, the last being a divisible property. See:- “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. 82).
Published sources show the title of “Barone della Marsa” as extinct, as in fact it is.
From a historic point of view, and for the better understanding of other titles granted by the Grand Masters during their reign in Malta, it may be worthwhile recalling the reasons why this title became extinct. (See:- “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. 39-40 AND Paras. 91-96)
The actual report says the following:
“The title of ‘Barone della Marsa’ was conferred by Grand Master Fr. Emmanuel de Rohan, by a patent dated the 10th March 1775, upon Gio Francesco Dorell Falzon, with succession to his male issue. The same title ha been previously granted by Grand Master Manoel deVilhena, by a patent of the 12th June 1725, to the nobleman Ferdinando Castelletti, and to such of his male or female children and successors as the holder of the title in perpetuumshould appoint. By the death of Ferdinando without issue the title was extinguished, and it was once more, by another diploma of the same Grand Master, bearing date the 4th December 1753, granted to Giovanni Antonio Azzopardi Castelletti and to one of his descendents, in the same terms as the preceding patent. The second grant having also been determined by the death without issue of Giovanni Antonio, the title was for the third time, conferred upon Gio Francesco Dorell Falzon, in the following terms: - Tibi Magnifico ac Nobili D. Joanni Francisco Dorel Falzon tuisque descentibus masculis tribuimus concedimuset donamus, hujusmodique Baronis titulo insignimus, ac Baronem dicti feudi della Marsaconstituimus, et ita nominari posse et debere....
The aforesaid Barone Dorell having left on his death no issue, the title of “Barone dellaMarsa”, became for the third time extinct.
However the Royal Commissioners noted that at the time of the report, two persons were claiming this title. These were the Marchesa Maria Francesca Apap and the Barone Alessandro Sceberras D’Amico Testaferrata Inguanez. Both claims were dismissed as unfounded. The actual report says the following:-
1) in regard to the claimant Maria Apap: “Nevertheless the Marchesa Maria Francesca, widow of the Marchese Dr. Filipo Apap, whose name is not included in the committee list, has laid before the Commission an application accompanied with several documents, claiming this title as the only surviving daughter of the testamentary heir of the said BaroneDorell. But the latter, destitute of any issue, did not, and could not, transmit to him, as a collateral, the title of “Barone della Marsa”, granted only to the male issue of Dorell, by the death of whom it became extinct. Paolo Sceberras could not consequently convey that title to the claimant, who, moreover, being a female, would not be comprised in the grant, even if she descended form the said Dorell. We are therefore of opinion that she has failed to establish her right to the title, and her name will not therefore be included in our list.
2) in regard to the claimant Alessandro Sceberras: “In the list of the Committee the above-mentioned Alessandro Sceberras is also referred to as “Barone della Marsa”, in virtue of a grant of Grand Master Manoel, on the 12th June 1725. But this grant has, as already noticed, become extinct (#39, 40). The same title regranted in 1753, was in 1775 determined by the death of the grantee without issue. The claim of Alesandro Sceberras cannot therefore be admitted.”
This title is extinct.