The Maltese title of San Marciano.


Footnote: The title of “Barone di San Marciano” was conferred by Grand Master Vilhena, by patent of the 14th June 1726, on Diego Antonio Galea Feriol. The title is purely nominal and does 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).

This title was conferred on Isidoro Viani with power given to him and his descendants of nominating a successor, and in failure of such nomination with automatic transmission to the first born descendant in the primogenial line. The grant is described as being like the titles of Gomerino and Budack (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. 29-30).

Altogether the Grand Masters created six titles which are disposable by nomination, namely Gomerino (Perellos), Budack (Perellos), San Marciano (Vilhena); Tabria (Vilhena), Culeja (Despuig)  and Benuarrat (Despuig). 


The actual report says the following:

“The third title, in order of date, is that of ‘Barone di San Marciano’, in Gozo, conferred by Grand Master Manoel de Vilhena, by a patent dated the 14th June 1726, on Diego Antonio Galea Feriol, and on such of his descendents as each holder of the title should name in perpetuum, and in failure of such nomination on the first born descendent, as in the preceding grants of the title of ‘Barone di Gomerino’ and ‘Barone di Budack’. The following is an extract from the diploma: -. "Tibi Nobili Didaco Antonio Galea Feriol et post tui obitum, uni ex filiis vel filiabus legitimis et naturalibus ex te legitime procreatis vel procreandis, quemvel quam omni futuro tempore et in perpetuum. Tu et quilibet ex tuis legitimis successoribus in dicta Baronia constitutus seurespective constituta, malueritis eligendum vel eligendam. Et in casu tui vel tuorum in infinitum decessus, absque ullanominatione vel electione successoris in dicto titulo, ex nunc censeatur nominatus et electus primogenitus nisi erit ad sacrosordines promotus, aut in religione professus, et in defectu marium, foemina primogenita... The present holder and claimant of the title is Pietro Paolo Galea, who proves by documentary evidence his descent from Barone Diego Antonio Galea Ferriol, and the regular transmission of the title through the first born male descendents, successively down to his person. His claim is called in question by no one, and he will consequently be referred to in our list as Pietro Paolo Galea, Barone di San Marciano. 

Today it is no longer possible to effect any nomination. In the Gieh ir-Repubblika Act (ACT XXIX of 1975), the lawdictates that it is “the duty of every public officer or authority, and of every body established or recognised by law and of every member thereof, to refrain from recognising in any way, and from doing anything which could imply recognition of, any title of nobility”. A similar duty is imposed in regard to other foreign honours which have not obtained approval by the local authorities. By reason of this ACT, it is therefore legally impossible (an offence?) for any notary to receive an instrument by which somebody can be ‘nominated’ to succeed a title simply because such nomination would be made contrary to law. It therefore reasonable to assert that it is impossible for any ‘possessor’ of the aforesaid title to make use of the faculty to nominate a successor.


It follows that one may disregard any ‘nomination’ purportedly made at any time after 1975, and instead follow the general remainder of the grant. 


According to the Code de Rohan of 1783, a primogeniture is a regular individual entail consisting of chattels which devolved from first-born to first-born in the descendental line. It can pass on to collaterals, the determining criteria operating in the following order: line (the first line excluding all the others), degree (the closer degree of relationship excluding the remoter) sex (the male sex being preferred to the female), and age (the elder being preferred to the younger). Accordingly, it follows that regardless of any nominations that may have been made in the meantime, in terms of the grant made out to Diego Antonio Galea Feriol, any succession happening after 1975 should be reckoned in accordance with the primogenial descent from Diego Antonio Galea Feriol.