Maltesenobles18

Notes on various aspects of certain foreign titles in Malta as published 1981-1992.

 

 

INDEX

  1. Introduction and legislation of 1739 and 1795.
  2. Criteria on pre-1798 foreign titles, as set by the 1878 Report.
  3. Criteria on foreign titles, as set by recent publications.
  4. Re-assessment of recent criteria.
  5. Two-fold classification of foreign titles.
  6. Foreign titles in particular.
  7. Foreign titles originating pre-1798 which are within the first classification.
  8. Sources and References.

 

 

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Introduction and legislation of 1739 and 1795

 

In this paper we look specifically at those titles of nobility which are considered in Malta to be “foreign titles” and we dismiss any erroneous understanding of the term “recognized title”.

 

The local Fount of Honour (Fons Honorum) is the Sovereign and therefore all local titles must emanate from him. It is the Sovereign who can create, extend, amend, grant anew or even revoke any title of honour. For official purposes, only titles granted by the Sovereign exist. 

 

In the context of Malta, during the period 1530-1798, the local sovereigns were the Grand Masters of the Order of Malta and the oldest extant title granted by them is one granted only as late as 1710. 

 

A foreign title as its name implies, is a title which originates outside the jurisdiction of the Sovereign. Thus, to remain consistent with the general rule, any title that was not granted by the Grand Masters had no legal standing. Like any other Sovereign, the Grand Master did not allow his subjects to bear titles of another country. 

 

Historically, there is good reason for this rule, namely the "divided loyalty" argument. A classic illustration is that expressed by Queen Elizabeth I in 1597 in connection with a certain Thomas Arundel. Arundel had distinguished himself in the service of the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire at the capture of Esztergom in Hungary in 1595, and was made a Reichsgraf (Count of the Empire). The Queen declined to recognize this title, and famously said: “As a woman should not follow any man but her husband, so a Subject should not receive any thing but from his own Prince. I would not my sheep should be branded with another’s mark: neither would I have them to be at another’s call or whistle”.

 

But unfortunately for Queen Bess, many of her subjects sought their fortune abroad and they continued to be ennobled by foreign princes. 

 

In time, later writers considered that the highest and lowest dignities being universal, if a king was recognized as king everywhere, then logically a knight should be so recognized but not without some control. 

 

In England, a system started around the mid-17th century, with the case of the Duchess Dudley (a duchess in Tuscany), allowing a local to apply for “recognition” of a foreign title of nobility. If the Sovereign was pleased to assent, he would give the foreign-title holder a “Royal License”. England has many well-recorded instances for example:- Duchess Dudley, Duchess in Tuscany (Royal Licence, 23rd May, 1644), Marquis d'Albyville, Knight, Baron and Marquis of the Holy Roman Empire. (7th April, 1679) Count (Granville) of the Holy Roman Empire (21st July, 1684) Sir John Le Blon, Knight of the Holy Roman Empire, (6th December, 1750) Count Lockhart, Count of the Holy Roman Empire (May, 1785)  Prince (Cowper) of the Holy Roman Empire (19th August, 1785), Count D'Alton, Count of the Holy Roman Empire (26th October, 1785), Baron Wolff, Baron of the Holy Roman Empire (9th January, 1792) Prince (D’Auvergne) Successor to the Duchy of Bouillon (27th February, 1792), Count of Rumford, Count (Thompson) of the Holy Roman Empire (January, 1794) Baron Dillon, Baron of the Holy Roman Empire (1800), Duke of Bronte, Duke (Nelson) in the two Sicilies (9th January, 1801), Count of Maida, Count (Stuart) in Calabria in the two Sicilies, (23rd September, 1806), Duke of Bronte (Nelson) (21st October, 1806), Omrah or Noble (Warner) of the Mogul Empire, Hindostan (17th November. 1806), Count de Salis, Count of the Holy Roman Empire (4th April, 1809), Conde de Vimiera, Count (Wellington) in Portugal, 18th October, 1811, Conde de Francoso, Count (Beresford) in Portugal (18th October. 1811), Count St Paul, Count (Paul family) of the Holy Roman Empire (7th September, 1812), Baron Dimsdale,  Baron  in  Russia (29th July, 1813), Baron de Hochpied, Baron and Magnat of Hungary (27th September, 1819), Baron Freemantle, Baron of Austria (22nd January, 1822), Marquis of Heusden, Netherlands (6th August, 1824), Conde de Cassilhas, Count (Thornton) in Portugal (10th October, 1825), Baron Grant, Baron of Austria (9th April, 1832), Baron Rothschild, Baron of Austria (16th June, 1838), Baron de Goldsmid and da Palmeira, Baron of Portugal (6th June, 1846), Baron de Worms in Austria (10th August, 1874),  Baron Craignish in Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (4th January, 1883), Count Bentinck, Count of the Holy Roman Empire (22nd April, 1886) Baron Campbell von Laurentz in Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (14th February, 1887), Baron William von Schroder, Baron of the Kingdom of Prussia (13th May, 1890), Baron  Halkett of  the  Kingdom   of  Hanover (19th March, 1891), Baron von Reuter in Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, (6th November, 1891), Baron (Kusel) in Italy (5th November, 1892), Baron (Kusel) (8th February, 1893), Baron de Bush, Barony of Saxe-Coburg (29th July, 1896), Baron de Forest, Barony of the Austrian Empire (6th October, 1900), Baron Boxall, Barony of Saxe-Coburg (17th October, 1900), Baron de Teissier, Barony of the Kingdom of France (16th September, 1905), Count Riccardi-Cubitt. Count of the Kingdom of Italy (16th December, 1905),  Baron Nugent, Baron of the Austrian Empire (22nd July. 1908), Marquis of Sarzano, Marquis of the Duchy of Modena (22nd August, 1910), Count de Bury, Count of Austria (19th November, 1910), Baron Bentinck, Barony of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (12th September, 1911), Count von Gurowski, Count of the Kingdom of Prussia (9th November, 1911), Baron William von Schroder, Baron of the Kingdom of Prussia (6th November, 1912), Baron de Rutzen, Baron of the Kingdom of Poland (23rd May, 1918), Marquis d'Hautpoul de Seyre, Marquis of the Kingdom of France (6th June, 1923) 

 

This exception was also adopted in Malta. In this way a subject who was made a baron in a foreign land, could be so recognized. In fact, compulsory registration came into effect in 1739 and we find amongst the very first to be registered the titles of Marquis De Piro(__)and the extension of the Count of Mont’ Alto.

 

The Grand Masters who paved the way for recognition of foreign titles were Despuig and Rohan who stated that “It being a principle universally acknowledged that the lustre of Nobility principally depends on its greater antiquity, nothing is more just and reasonable than that the older Nobles should have precedence over the more recent……………..whether that title had been granted by ourselves or by our predecessors, or by foreign princes”

 

The criteria for recognition varied from country to country, because the receiving Sovereign necessarily needed to control the matter. 

 

During the Government of Malta by the Knights of Saint John (1530-1798) we find two pieces of legislation which regulated how a foreign title could be recognized. This legislation, one dated 1739, the other 1795 is discussed elsewhere, but the most salient point is that for a foreign title to enjoy precedence in Malta, it had to be registered twice against the payment of a fee. 

 

This meant, in effect, that if a foreign title was not registered - and not paid for - then it was of no consequence to Malta. For example, the very old and valid Sicilian title of Barone di San Paolinocreated on the 16th July 1638 in favour of Matteo De Ribera by letters patent issued at Palermo, by the President and Captain-General of Sicily, by authority vested in him by Philip IV, King of Spain and Sicily (__) which eventually came to be enjoyed by the Attard Montalto family does not appear to have been registered and was therefore deemed not “recognized”.

 

A fundamental difference existed between Malta and England in the treatment of Papal titles. Not only is Malta a Catholic Country but the Order that governed Malta between 1530-1798 always regarded the Pope as its Supreme Head in all matters. It is therefore not surprising to note that Papal titles were well known to Malta and in fact in 1750 we find registered in Malta the title of Conte Fenech Bonnici(__)It appears that this title had become extinct by the time the British appointed a Commission to investigate various claims.

 

On the other hand Protestant England has a long history of not recognizing Papal Authority. As far as the British are concerned, the Pope is not an independent Sovereign and therefore has no power to confer titles and orders. - This may be the underlying motive why the foreign title of Count enjoyed by the family of Wzzini Paleologo was considered by the British-appointed Royal Commissioners as a title created by a private letter in 1722, rather than as a papal title created in 1711. 

 

Another aspect of recognition was that the local Sovereign was not bound to accept all of the original remainder. Thus, if a recognized foreign title were have a remainder in favour of the grantee’s ulterior progeny, the receiving state was not bound to accept the remainder. In England, there are many instances of a Royal License being given to the grantee only, irrespective of the remainder stated in the grant.

 

This limitation was very apparent in the Maltese law. In fact the 1795 legislation only gives precedence to the registered-foreign-title-holder and not to his descendants. This consideration is significant when one considers that a local title does, in terms of the 1795 legislation, extend a precedence to all ulterior male-to-male descendants of a local title-holder. 

 

Similarly the receiving sovereign could at any time revoke the recognition. Britain took a very serious attitude in its home country, and we find documented examples of titles being identified as of enemy origin, resulting in a formal revocation by Royal Warrant. In one instance, no less than four enemy titles were revoked on the 17th January, 1920 namely the titles of Baron de Worms in Austria, Baron de Forest, Barony of the Austrian Empire, Count von Gurowski, Count of the Kingdom of Prussia, Baron William von Schroder, Baron of the Kingdom of Prussia. This right to revoke a recognition confirms the absolute discretion enjoyed by the receiving Sovereign. Although it does not appear that Malta ever had any recorded instance of revoking a recognition of a foreign title, there is nothing that could prevent it from doing so.

 

The bottom line about “recognition” and “recognized titles” is that here one is talking about foreign titles which can only be enjoyed in the receiving state under such conditions and for such time as the receiving state allows it. On the other hand, a local title does not need to be “recognized”, because such local title finds its origin in a local legislation.

 

This is why great surprise is expressed at certain Maltese Nobiliary groups who say that their locally-created titles are “recognized”. There are historical instances where certain foreign titles were recognized at some point in time, but to use that term in the context of a home-grown title is completely erroneous. Thus to say that the title of Conte di Ghajn Tuffieha(__) is a “recognized” title is a nonsense because that title was already created in Malta, but to say that the Sicilian title of Barone di San Giovanni (__) was “recognized” is correct.

 

  • Criteria on pre-1798 titles, as set by the 1878 Report

 

In 1878, a British-appointed Royal Commission appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility (__)presented its report to the British Parliament. The stated terms of reference of the Royal Commission were to identify those titles which were granted by the Grand Masters (i.e. local titles) or otherwise registered with or recognized (i.e. foreign titles) by the Government of the Maltese Islands by the Order of Saint John (1530-1798). It was not within the Commission’s remit to identify those titles which were created or recognized by a later Government. For example, in 1819 a Maltese judge Bonavita was bestowed the title of Count of San Paolino d’Aquilejo (__) by the King of Naples. Surely, as a senior member of the bench, his new style as Conte must have been publicly acknowledged, but as there was no way of arguing that the previous Government of the Order recognized his title (the title only originating in 1819), his family could not, and in fact did not, make any claim to the Commission. 

 

The Commission observed that the Grand Master did not recognize as nobles in his dominions, those who enjoyed a title of nobility granted by a foreign sovereign, and not registered in the Cancelleriaof the Order and in the High Court of the CastellaniaIn fact, the Report continued, the Grand Master in regulating the precedency of the nobility in his principality, referred only to such foreign titles as were registered, and assigned no place to Titolati who had obtained titles from foreign sovereigns, but whose patents were not duly registered. 

 

The Commission resolved the rigid application of this rule in the sense that if it was found that a foreign title was not registered during the government of the Order then such want of registration could be supplemented by a direct recognition of the Grand Master who was the then sovereign. This was in fact the reason justifying the recognition of some titles held by Maltese nationals, namely Barone di Castel Cicciano (Neapolitan) (__)Marchese di San Vincenzo Ferreri(stated to be Sicilian) (__) and the title of Conte enjoyed by the family Wzzini Palaeologo(the origins of which do not result from the Report) (__).

 

The principal problem about such foreign titles which were “recognized” albeit not registered, is how to determine the exact number. Looking at the criteria adopted by the Commission, we find that in the case of Castel Cicciano (__)and San Vincenzo Ferreri(__) it was deemed sufficient that these titles were specified in the 1725 legislation which limited the use of the noble titles of “Most Illustrious” and “Noble”. It follows that any title which is mentioned in like legislation is deemed to have been “recognized”. On the other hand, in the case of Conte Wzzini Palaeologo(__) the Commissioners were more generous and held that certain private letters from the Grand Master (Zondadari) were sufficient proof of a direct recognition.

 

Using the Wzzini criteria, it is a near impossible task to identify all the titles that could have been acknowledged by all the Grand Masters’ private letters during 1530-1798. 

 

The Commissioners are to be criticized for not applying the Wzzini criteria indiscriminately. For example the Commission did not give any importance to the fact that Gilberto and Mario (father and son) Testaferrata were styled Marchesi, in their official appointments as Jurati by the Grand Masters in 1749 and 1750, and in 1776 and 1777 respectively. Nor did they give any importance to the fact that Salvatore Manduca was styled Count upon being appointed Jurat in 1797. 

 

Another failing in the Commissioners’ Report is that no consideration is made of the need to register a succession of a foreign title of nobility. If a grantee was successful in Malta to register a foreign title, it does not mean that the successor of that foreign title was entitled to a precedence. In fact the 1795 legislation did not provide for any precedence to the descendants of “The Titolato who has not a title founded upon a fief really existing in our dominions, on the registration of the title in the Chancery of our Religion, and in the High Court of the Castellania, and the payment, for the respective registrations, of 116 scudi of our money, to be divided in equal shares between the said Chancery and Castellania”. It appears that the Commissioners ignored this altogether, instead contenting themselves with the idea that once a foreign title was recognized then it meant that the ulterior descendants within the foreign remainder, were entitled to succeed. The only instances where the Commissioners expressed their concern about this consideration, were in regard to the title of Conte Fournier(__) and the title of Hereditary Knight of the Holy Roman Empire In both instances, the Commissioners made a conscientious admission that they were insufficiently acquainted with German laws of succession and accordingly they could not express an opinion about the succession of the former which was claimed by a male descending in the female line, and the latter which was claimed by multiple descendants. 

 

Another failing in the Commissioners’ Report is its treatment of certain distinctions of untitled nobility, in particular the noble titles of “Patrician” of various cities in Italy. The Commissioners considered these titles to be mere municipal honours whereas in fact it is well known that the “patriziato” is an established form of Nobility. 

 

The Report did not allow all the foreign titles which were claimed. Therefore the Report gave rise to two classes of foreign title, those which were recognized by the Government of Malta during 1530-1798, and those which were not. The Commissioners made a conscious effort to spell out that the fact that a title was not “recognized” did not render it invalid, but only had the effect of not according the holder any precedence.

 

Two instances of 19th century rules of recognition are specifically noted in the Commissioners Report. One referring to the title of Marquis De Piro (__), the other to a foreign knighthood (__). In the De Piro case, the title of Marquis was revived in 1870 and approval of the beneficiary’s style was sought, and obtained, through the British War office. In the case of the distinction of Knight 1st Class of Charles III, King of Spain claimed by the Conte Fontani, the Commissioners noted that that title could then only be borne with the special permission of the new British Sovereign.

 

Summing up, the only criterion set by the Royal Commission for the recognition of foreign titles during the period 1530-1798 was that of registration as regulated in the 1739 and 1795 laws, failing which one must provide sufficient proof that the title was directly recognized by the Grand Master who was the then Sovereign. There are therefore two classes of foreign titles, those which were recognized by the Government of Malta during 1530-1798, and those which were not.

 

During the following period when Malta was a British colony (1814-1964), a foreign title could only be borne in Malta with the special permission of the British Sovereign.

 

It is remarkable that during the two World Wars (1914-1918, 1939-1945) when Britain was very openly at war with Germany, that the foreign titles of Count Sant(__) and Count Fournier(__) which continued to be used with impunity. Likewise during the war with Italy, there seemed to be no abatement of the use of the Italian titles such as Castel Cicciano (__)Preziosi (__) and San Giovanni (__).

 

The last time a title of nobility was created in Malta was 1796. However, this did not prevent Maltese nationals from obtaining or otherwise succeeding to other foreign titles, some of which may have been recognized by the later Governments of Malta. In 1974, Malta became a Republic. Within a year, new legislation was introduced withdrawing recognition of all titles of nobility, save as permitted by that new law. Technically the local titles were not abolished and therefore continued to exist, whilst the foreign titles were left to their fate according to the laws of the respective countries where they originated. In recent years, it appears that Republican Malta has accepted to recognize a number of non-hereditary foreign knighthoods. Technically there is nothing to prevent the Maltese State from recognizing a hereditary foreign title of nobility, although this is very unlikely to happen.

 

  • Criteria on foreign titles, as set by recent publications

 

In 1992, Charles A. Gauci published a book called “The Genealogy and Heraldry of the Noble Families of Malta Volume Two”, PEG Publications, Malta, 1992) (__)). 

In this book, Gauci sets his own criteria for establishing whether a foreign title is bona fide or not, namely “1. granted or confirmed by a sovereign ruler who, at the time of the grant, was actually reigning”, or “2. granted or confirmed by the head of an ex-regnant House whose status as a Fons Honorum with the consequent Jus Honorum has been unquestionably and unequivocally upheld by a regularly constituted Court of Law”. 

 

Gauci’s criteria are totally different to those established by the Royal Commissioners. 

 

However, it should be recalled that by that year, Gauci had established himself as an authority on matters relating to the Nobility in Malta, including the Maltese Nobility. In fact the 1992 book was a continuation of two other books by the same author:

  • one published in 1981, called “The Genealogy and Heraldry of the Noble Families of Malta”, Gulf Publications, Malta, 1981(__), with a foreword by The Most Noble Jerome De Piro D’Amico-Inguanez, KM (Hon&Dev.), Baron of Budaq, President of the Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobility,
  • the other published in 1986, called “A Guide to the Maltese Nobility”, PEG Publications, Malta, 1986(__), with a foreword by The Most Noble (__)Francis Sant Cassia, Baron of Ghariescem and Tabia, President of the Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobility.

 

Gauci also held the post Hon. Secretary (Overseas) to the Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobility, a post which was created specifically for him in 1982 and his appointment had been confirmed annually for each successive Committee since then. Gauci describes his task to locate putative heirs to dormant titles, inform them and in most cases assist them in preparing their claims for presentation to the Committee of Privileges. 

 

The high regard for Gauci is succinctly put by the top gun of the Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobilityas follows:- “His earlier work on the subject, The Genealogy and Heraldry of the Noble Families of Malta, indisputably recorded the identity and origins of the Maltese Nobility; the information was updated and presented in a succinct fashion in his Guide to the Maltese Nobility. These books, together with the present volume should combine to make them the standard works of reference on the Nobility in Malta.” (Foreword by The Most Noble  Carmelo Apap Bologna Sceberras D’Amico Inguanez, 23rd Baron of Djar il-Bniet and Buqana, Premier Noble of Malta and Gozo and President of the Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobility ),“The Genealogy and Heraldry of the Noble Families of Malta Volume Two”, PEG Publications, Malta, 1992) (__)).

 

It should be remarked that Gauci’s first book was published within a year of John Montalto’s book. (Montalto, John “The Nobles of Malta 1530-1800” (Mid-Sea Books Ltd, Malta, 1980) (__)). Gauci’s 1981 publication tallied with Montalto’s contention in his epilogue (page 367) because both writers assert many Maltese titles to be “dormant” and/or “in abeyance(__)By 1986, the Nobility in Malta had already undergone a hurricane of changes. In fact, according to the back-cover of paper-back 1986 publication, “Since 1981, many changes have taken place. Several titles have been called out of abeyance, some title-holders have died and a number of titles have been renounced; there are therefore many new title-holders.” 

 

Gauci’s 1992 work was also endorsed by “Burke’s Peerage” because at page xix we find “The section on bona fide foreign titles used in Malta is most informative. Holders of foreign titles are included only if their titles conform to very stringent criteria. Burke’s Peerage fully endorses this book…

 

It should be noted that “Burke’s Peerage” was here represented and signed for by Harold Brooks-Baker the publisher of that aristocratic genealogy guide and a much-quoted authority on royalty. 

Burke’s Peerage” a.k.a. Burke's Peerage Partnership was formed in 1984 (i.e. 2 years before Gauci’s Guide) by a group of investors who were interested in the commercial potential of the Burke'sname. 

The partnership owns the Burke'sname and their lesser titles but never owned the publishing rights to Burke's Peerage, Baronetage, & Knightage

Harold Brooks-Baker was the publishing director of Burke's Peerage Partnership from 1984 until his death in 2005. Born in America and beginning his working life as a newspaper reporter and later as a bond-dealer, Brooks-Baker settled in London in the 1970s when a group of bankers bought Debrett’s and appointed him managing director. Under his aegis the firm had a new lease of life. But in 1982 Debrett’s was taken over by another company, and after a much publicised disagreement with the new management Brooks-Baker left, soon after to join Burke’s. There, with two colleagues he set about the publication of a number of guides, issuing dozens of books on history, etiquette and protocol. But a lucrative side of the company’s business was its genealogical research, which Brooks-Baker had begun in his Debrett days, and now greatly expanded. Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage itself had been out of print for 14 years when he joined the organisation in 1984, and the company had then disposed of the title, while publishing a number of other books and guides, which traded on the venerable name. A new edition of the reference bible for the titled classes, published by Burke’s Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, did not appear until 1999; with this Brooks-Baker had nothing to do. (Information taken from Times (London), obituary March 8, 2005 (__)and USA Today, obituary 3/6/2005 (__)

 

In any case, Gauci’s 1992 publication explains (page 339) that, although foreign titles form part of the Nobility in Malta, they do not fall under the control of the Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobility. We find perfect agreement with Charles Gauci’s explanation of what makes up the nobility in Malta in the foreword (page xvii) by the President of the Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobility: “They (the foreign titles) together with the Maltese Nobility constitute the Nobility in Malta. These titles have proud origins of their own which the author describes in great detail. It is important to note that only title-holders whose (foreign) titles comply with very stringent legal criteria are mentioned in this book.”

 

However, Gauci himself points out (page 339) that in addition to those identified by him, there may very well exist other bona fide foreign titles in Malta (he “only” identified 54 in all!). 

 

  • Re-assessment of recent criteria

 

Moreover, we note that his list is based on titles actually submitted for consideration. Gauci says (page xxvi) that these were all considered by himself. This in itself is a remarkable feat for any one man and, understandably, allowances should be made for human error.

 

With this caveat in mind, it is best to highlight at the outset some errors which have come to light:-

  • Gauci’s first error is a fundamental one. His books assert that the purpose of the Royal Commission appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility was to give British recognition to various titles of nobility. 

For example, in his 1981 publication, Gauci comments on the 1819 title of Count of San Paolino d’Aquilejo as follows: - “the Bonavita family did not present its title to the 1877 Royal Commission and consequently the title was not recognized by the authorities in Malta”. 

This assertion is patently flawed because the stated terms of reference of the Royal Commission were to identify those titles which were granted by the Grand Masters or otherwise registered with or recognized by the Government of the Maltese Islands by the Order of Saint John (1530-1798). 

 

It follows that contrary to Gauci’s implication that it was a failing of the Bonavita family to present its title, the only discernable reason why this title was not presented is that it could not have been presented because such title originated at a date after the end of the government by the Grand Masters of the Maltese Islands. 

 

Gauci repeats this mistake in his 1986 publication, where he says (page 2) “In 1877, the British government instituted a Royal Commission composed of eminent Maltese judges whose terms of reference were to investigate Maltese titles of nobility and to decide which should be granted full recognition by the Crown. The Commission presented its report to the British Houses of Parliament in 1878 and its conclusions, together with some later decisions by H.M. Secretary of State for the Colonies led to 32 titles being recognized by the Crown. These 32 titles form the Maltese nobility as it stands today. During British rule, as well as since independence, several Maltese gentlemen received ennoblement from foreign powers. These foreign titles although socially prestigious, have never received official recognition by the Maltese Government and therefore do not constitute part of the Maltese nobility.” 

It is not amiss to stress that any Maltese recipient of a foreign title which originated after 1798, was not ineligible from receiving recognitions of their respective titles from either the British government of the Maltese Islands (1814-1964), or that of the Independent (1964-1974) or even Republican (1974-) Malta (see above). On this particular extract, it is also to be noted that the number 32 includes certain titles which are, in fact, foreign titles.

 

  • Gauci’s second error is to imply that all titles under the control of the Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobility are not foreign. 

This is clearly not the case because the Report published in 1878 of the Royal Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility describes a number of titles which are of foreign origin. These foreign titles fall within the remit of the Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobility only by reason of the fact that they were either formally registered during the Government of the Order in Malta (1530-1798) or somehow “directly recognized” by the said government during the period 1530-1798. 

Nowhere in the Report is it hinted that such “registered/recognized” titles were ever rendered “Maltese”. Indeed, the Report proves the contrary, because copious reference is made to the said titles’ respective countries of origin. 

The clearest example is the title of Marquis De Piro where the Royal Commissioners noted that the King of Spain had already decided who the incumbent was, making it unnecessary for them to consider in what manner that title descended from the grantee to the other ancestors of Saverio De Piro.

 

  • Gauci’s third error is not to classify the foreign titles that originated 1530-1798 into two classes, namely those which were registered/recognized during the Government of the Order and those which were not. This is not to reflect badly on the validity of the titles of the second class. The only “advantage” for the first class was to be assigned a precedency according to the 1739 and 1795 rules and therefore held to form part of the “Maltese Nobility”. Indeed the Commissioners made a deliberate effort to point out that “101….The Grand Master , in fact, in regulating the precedency of the nobility of his principality, referred only to such foreign titles as were registered, and assigned no place to Titolati who had obtained titles from foreign sovereigns, but whose patents were not duly registered.”

 

  • Gauci’s fourth error is to accept the application of Maltese rules of succession to the foreign titles of the first class. In the 1992 publication we find instances where foreign titles of the first classification were clearly subjected to Maltese rules instead of those of the countries where they originated. In this regard, particular reference is had to the titles of Castel Cicciano(__) , San Vincenzo Ferreri (__)and De Piro.

This application is not stated by Gauci in as many words, but is in effect admitted in his preface (page xxv) where he says “individuals…could legitimately succeed to (various dormant titles) in compliance with the stipulations laid down in the various patents of creation, with the framework of Maltese law and tradition.” 

We then read (page xxv) how his appointed task between 1982 and 1992 as Hon. (Overseas) Secretary to the Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobility was to locate putative heirs and “in most cases to assist in preparing their formal claims for presentation to the Committee of Privileges. The same applied for those heirs residing in Malta. The various claims were formally submitted to the Committee which in turn passed them on to its ad hoc subcommittees; these reached their conclusions after careful deliberation”

It is not said whether Gauci’s presentations were always in agreement with those of the ad hoc committees. However, it is not amiss to remark that nowhere in his 1992 or earlier publications, does Gauci make any specific criticism of any decision of these subcommittees which brought about such a wrong application. 

Such application finds no basis in the Report of the Royal Commissioners. As a rule the Commissioners maintained that the proper law for succession of the foreign titles which enjoyed precedency in Malta was not the law of Malta but the law of the country of origin. For example, the same Commissioners declared themselves insufficiently acquainted with German laws of succession and accordingly they could not express an opinion about the title of Conte Fournier(__). The only exception found in the context of the Commissioners’ Report is not in the original report itself but in their supplemental Report regarding the multiple title of Conte Preziosi (__) because in that case we witness the Commissioners’ sudden preference for Sicilian rather than Savoian law as the law of country of origin. Whatever the demerits of this change, it remained faithful to the key consideration that the rule of succession was not Maltese law but a foreign one.

 

  • Yet another criticism is Gauci’s grouping all the bona fide titles identified by him as not falling under the remit of the Committee of Privileges, into one large group of foreign titles regardless of whether these originated before or after 1798. 

 

  • Finally, we find more grounds for criticism of Gauci’s books when each title is described in its own context. These grounds are described below. There may be even more grounds for criticism, but whatever may be said now or later, one should never forget that had it not been for Gauci’s Herculean achievement to gather and publish so much raw data, we would all be the poorer in knowledge. The criticism – here – is based on the principles which result from the report of the Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility, and other facts published in earlier works. 

 

  • Two-fold classification of foreign titles

 

The first classification of foreign titles in Malta includes the following nine titles, namely:- 

  1. The recognized (1725) title of Barone di Castel Cicciano (cr: 1695) (Neapolitan)
  2. The recognized (1722) title of Conte (Wzzini Paleologo) cr: 1722) (Gauci states this title as a Papal one created in 1711)
  3. The recognized (1725) title of Marchese (Testaferrata) di San Vincenzo Ferreri (1716) (In his 1992 publication Gauci concludes this to be a Maltese title granted in 1725)
  4. The registered (1720) title of Conte (Preziosi) (cr: 1718) (Title originated in Savoy but stated by Royal Commissioners to be Sicilian)
  5. The registered (1743) title of Marchese (de Piro) (cr: 1742) (Spanish)
  6. The registered (17__) title of Conte (Fournier de Pausier) (cr: 1770) (Germanic)
  7. The registered title (17__) of Conte (Sant) (cr: 1770) (originated in the Italian Provinces of Germany)
  8. The recognized title (17__) of Conte (Manduca) (cr: 1776) which is related to the earlier twice-registered (1721 and 1744) title of Conte (Piscopo) di Mont’Alto (cr: 1720) (originated in the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza)
  9. The registered (17__) title of Barone (Ciantar)di San Giovanni (cr: 1777) which is related to the earlier (recognized??-) title of Barone (Abela) di San Giovanni (cr: 1657) (Sicilian)

Gauci indicates the foreign origin of these 9 titles in all of his three publications, but he implies that they are to be succeeded as any local title.

 

To this list one should add the titles of Marchese Testaferrata Olivier (1745) and Marchese Cassar Desain (1749) which Gauci reports as being the result of a recognition extended by the Grand Master to the aforesaid title of Marchese Testaferrata (1717). On the other hand, these two titles are already classified by Gauci as Maltese in origin. These titles are considered in their own context elsewhere (__)

 

We now have to follow the cumbersome exercise of considering the many foreign titles that are found in Gauci’s publications. For this purpose, it is convenient to first refer to pages 339-341 of Gauci’s 1992 publication, where he lists all the 54 foreign titles (or more precisely 54 less 2) known to him as satisfying his aforesaid criteria. This list consists of titles of Prince, Duke, Marquis, Count, Baron, Hereditary Nobles, Hereditary Patricians and Hereditary Knights of the Holy Roman Empire; this list is in turn cross-referenced to other parts of his book as well as his 1981 publication: All these titles are derived from very diverse fons honora. The list does not refer to the 1986 publication.

 

As stated by Gauci, some of these titles were actually recognized by the Governments of Malta. It follows that some of the titles identified by Gauci should be identified as belonging to the first classification, whilst others should belong to the second. A small number fit in neither classification and should be either dismissed or reclassified.

 

It is therefore worth our while putting together the entire references of pages 339-341 into one complete picture, before considering the merits of each title:-

 

Princes (2 identified by Gauci as titles which satisfy his criteria):-

  1. the title of Prince of Selimbria which is stated by Gauci to have been granted in 1443;
  2. the title of Prince of Wallachia which is stated by Gauci to be extinct;

 

Dukes (3 identified by Gauci as titles which satisfy his criteria):-

  1. the title of Duke of Mondello which is listed as one which Gauci “cannot categorically state that it fully complies with his legal criteria; the title is included for purely historical reasons.
  2. the title of Duke of Paganica which is stated by Gauci to have been granted in 1758;
  3. the title of Duke of Pendia which is stated by Gauci to be extinct;

 

Marquises (13 identified by Gauci as titles which satisfy his criteria):-

  1. the title of Marquis Apap Testaferrata listed (part 3) as granted by Pope Leo XIII on the 11th December 1889;
  2. the title of Marquis Bugeja listed (part 3) as granted by Pope Leo XIII on the 19th April 1887;
  3. the title of Marquis Bugeja listed (part 3) as granted by Pope Leo XIII on the 18th September 1891;
  4. the title of Marquis Buttigieg de Piro which is described below;
  5. the title of Marquis Drago which is stated by Gauci to have been granted in 1724;
  6. the title of Marquis Mattei listed (part 3) as granted by Pope Leo XIII on the 22nd March 1899;
  7. the title of Marquis Mattei listed (part 3) as granted by Pope Pius X on the 21st November 1906;
  8. the title of Marquis Messina of Santo Stefano listed (part 3) as granted by Pope Pius IX in 1878;
  9. the title of Marquis Scicluna listed (part 3) as granted by Pope Pius IX on the 1st June 1875;
  10. the title of Marquis Scicluna listed (part 3) as granted by Pope Leo XIII on the 10th December 1878;
  11. the title of Marquis Testaferrata which is stated by Gauci to have been granted in 1717;
  12. the title of Marquis Testaferrata Moroni Viani which is described below;
  13. the title of Marquis of Tiana which is described below;

 

Counts (19 identified by Gauci as titles which satisfy his criteria):-

  1. the title of Count Bernard listed (part 3) as granted by Pope Pius X on the 22nd August 1906;
  2. the title of Count (Camilleri) listed (part 3) as granted to Monsignor Giovanni Camilleri, by Pope Pius X in 1914;
  3. the title of Count of Casandola; Title of Conte di Cassandola (cr: 1685)
  4. the title of Count Ciantar which is described below;
  5. the title of Palatine Count (Fenech Bonnici) listed (part 3) as granted by Pope Benedict XIV on the 12th June 1748;
  6. the title of Count Gatt which is stated by Gauci to be extinct;
  7. the title of Count Gauci which is described below;
  8. the title of Count (Gonzi) listed (part 3) as granted to Monsignor Michael Gonzi, Archbishop of Malta, by Pope Pius XII in 1949;
  9. the title of Count Magri which is stated by Gauci to be extinct;
  10. the title of Count of Marino which is stated by Gauci to be extinct;
  11. the title of Count  Messina listed (part 3) as granted by Pope Pius IX in 1864;
  12. the title of Count of Saint John Lateran listed (part 3) as granted by Pope Clement XI on the 8th November 1711;
  13. the title of Count of San Paolino d’Aquilejo which is stated by Gauci to have been granted in 1819;
  14. the title of Count of Santa Sofia which is listed as one which Gauci “cannot categorically state that it fully complies with his legal criteria; the title is included for purely historical reasons.;
  15. the title of Count (Sceberras Testaferrata) listed (part 3) as granted to Don (later, Cardinal) Fabrizio Sceberras Testaferrata by Pope Pius VII in 1800;
  16. the title of Count (Scicluna) listed (part 3) as granted to Monsignor Carmelo Scicluna, Bishop of Malta, by Pope Pius IX in 1875;
  17. the title of Count Tagliaferro listed (part 3) as granted by Pope Leo XIII on the 15th April 1892;
  18. the title of Count de Vella Clary listed (part 3) as granted by Pope Benedict XV on the 6th October 1919;
  19. the title of Count von Zimmermann which is stated by Gauci to have been granted in 1790;

 

Barons (7 identified by Gauci as titles which satisfy his criteria):-

  1. the title of Baron von Brockdorff which is stated by Gauci to have been granted in 1432;
  2. the title of Baron of Calaforno and Tummarello which is stated by Gauci to have been granted in 1770;
  3. the title of Baron della Gabella della Scannatura di Trapani which is stated by Gauci to have been granted in 1630;
  4. the title of Montagna di Marzo which is stated by Gauci to have been granted in 1522;
  5. the title of Baron of Ortigos which is stated by Gauci to have been granted in 1285;
  6. the title of Baron de Pausier  which is stated by Gauci to have been granted in 1768;
  7. the title of Baron of San Paolino which is stated by Gauci to have been granted in 1638;
  8. the title of Baron Testaferrata Moroni Viani which is stated by Gauci to have its basis in the title of Baron Testaferrata );

 

Hereditary Nobles (2 identified by Gauci as titles which satisfy his criteria):-

  1. the title of Hereditary Noble of Hungary (Barbara) which is stated by Gauci to have been granted in 1596;
  2. the title of Hereditary Noble of Scotland, (Gauci) which is stated by Gauci to have been granted in 1976;

 

Hereditary Patricians (5 identified by Gauci as titles which satisfy his criteria):-

  1. the title of Messinese Patrician listed (1981 publication, page 221) as granted to Mariano Testaferrata by the Senate of Messina on the 20th December 1553; 
  2. the title of Roman Patrician listed (1981 publication, page 221) as granted simultaneously to Monsignor Leonardo Abela, to his two brothers Placido and Alessandro and to their nephews ex sorore Pietro di Ferro, Ascanio Surdo and Paolo Testaferrata by the Senate of Rome on the 22nd May 1590; 
  3. another title of Roman Patricianlisted (1981 publication, page 221) as granted to Mario Testaferrata de Robertis by the Senate of Rome on the 6th July 1674;
  4. another title of Roman Patrician listed (1981 publication, page 221) as granted to Count Ignazio Francesco Wizzini Paleologo by the Senate of Rome in October 1735;
  5. another title of Patrician of Messinalisted (1981 publication, page 221) as granted simultaneously to the Marquises Mario Testaferrata Castelletti, Daniele and Pandolfo Testaferrata and Baron P.P. Testaferrata Abela by the Senate of Messina on the 28th August 1792, and which is stated by Gauci to refer back to a grant made to Mariano Testaferrata their common ancestor in 1553;

Hereditary Knights of the Holy Roman Empire (2 identified by Gauci as titles which satisfy his criteria):-

  1. the title of Hereditary Knight of the Holy Roman Empire listed (1981 publication, page 221) as granted to Giacomo Testaferrata de Robertis by Ferdinand III, Emperor elect of the Holy Roman Empire on 6th November 1637; 
  2. another title of Hereditary Knight of the Holy Roman Empire the distinction of Hereditary Knight of the Holy Roman Empire granted to Massimilano Balzano by Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor on the 9th November 1698. 

Some inconsistencies come to light when one compares the foreign titles considered by the Royal Commissioners in 1878 and Gauci’s list published in 1992. Quite apart from the obvious fact that many of the 1992 list had not been created by 1798, Gauci omits to mention some foreign titles which were in fact considered by the 1878 Report, these are:-

  1. Title of Patrician of Venice (Barbaro) (??), origins unknown)
  2. Title of Patrician of Messina (Muscati Falsone/Stagno (??), origins unknown)
  3. Title of Knight of the Order of King Charles III of Spain (origins unknown). 

Conversely, of the titles which are shown by Gauci as originating before 1798, a number of these were not considered by the aforesaid Report. The reasons are either they were eligible for consideration but not presented (as for example the title of Palatine Count (Fenech Bonnici)) (__) , or they were not eligible to be considered because their association with Malta only came about when their holders settled in Malta after 1798 (as for example the titles of Baron von Brockdorff (__) and Count von Zimmermann) (__) .

 

We find that we have to continue expanding the already expanded 1992 list because it does not include a number of titles which Gauci himself had identified in the 1986 “A Guide to the Maltese Nobility”(__), as having passed his criteria approved by Burke’s Peerage namely:-

 

  1. the title of Count Buzi (__) ;
  2. the title of Seigneur of Courcelles (__) ;
  3. the title of Count Moroni (__);
  4. the title of Baron Mueller de Friedburg (__) ;
  5. the title of Count Rosso (__) ;

 

Both Gauci and the Royal Commissioners omit the title of Barone which appears to have been recognized by the Grand Master in 1750 in favour of the Conte Giorgio Serafino Ciantar (__).

 

  1. the title of Baron Ciantar;

 

In addition, it appears that Gauci had sometime between 1986-1992 decided to disregard the title of Prince of Mystra (__)  because it failed his criteria. This title was listed in the 1981 publication as were the titles of Conte di Santa Sofia (__) and Duca di Mondello (__). Once the latter two feature - with some qualification - on Gauci’s 1992 list, one should in fairness, add that of Prince of Mystra. Therefore, it follows that to the expanding list, one must add the following title:-

 

  1. the title of Prince of Mystra (Mistra);

 

Finally, this expanding list remains incomplete nonetheless because some titles are described as having been granted by the same name to the same grantee but by different sources, as for example the Portuguese (1739) and French (1745/47/61) styles of Conte Ciantar(__). In particular we note at page 397 of the 1992 publication, the titles of the author himself. Gauci states that he does not have one but four titles of Count, all Count Gauci(__). He also explains for good measure by way of a footnote to the effect that over and above all four provenances, recognition of his title of Count Gauci was “extended by Holy See, 21st September 1989; title and Coat of Arms, including augmentations, subsequently officially registered, with approval of relevant ecclesiastical authorities in the Archives of the Episcopal Notary, Dom Sidonius Alexy, Reginae Gradecium, Bratislava, Fol. LXIII, 4th November 1990.” The four titles in particular as described as follows:

  •  “Count Gauci” (#1) granted to said Charles A Gauci on the 31st January 1980 by His Imperial and Royal Highness Prince Paul Theodore Paleologue Crivez, Head of the Imperial Reigning House of the East.
  •  “Count Gauci” #2) on the 15th September 1982 by His Imperial and Royal Highness Prince Michele III Angelo Comneno, Sovereign Prince of Thessaly and Epirus. 
  • “Count Gauci” #3) on the 1st December 1984 by His Imperial and Royal Highness Prince Henri Constantine de Vigo Aleramico Lascaris Palaeologos, Head of the Imperial House of Lascaris Palaeologos and Prince of Byzantium. 
  • “Count Gauci” #4) on the 27th February 1989 by His Serene Highness Prince Giovanni Alliata di Montereale, Hereditary Prince of the Holy Roman Empire. 

 

  • Foreign titles in particular

 

Turning to the foreign titles in particular, we shall now consider each one in their respective context:

 

As seen elsewhere (__), this title was considered by the Royal Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility. The Commissioners report that the title’s date of origin is 1695, year when Royal assent was given in regard to Fabrizio Testaferrata. A recognition being established in favour of the same Fabrizio Testaferrata in 1725, the title therefore enjoys precedence according to the rules of 1739 and 1795. 

Consequently, this title is to be classified in the first of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta. However, it remains a Neapolitan title and is therefore subject to the law of that land. 

In this regard, Naples was later incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy which has since become a Republic. We have seen how Italian Nobility Law had been amended and that in principle titles of nobility may not pass to a female or to a male through a female line, but are carried onto the next male to male line. 

On the other hand, Gauci’s 1992 publication indicates the holder of this title to be a lady. Gauci reports that the title was called out of abeyance on the 16th August 1984. Here, it must be surmised on the basis of contents of the preface (page xxv) that this was done “within the framework of Maltese law and tradition.” 

But this cannot be correct because the title was always regarded by the Commissioners as being Neapolitan (and therefore, now Italian). 

Looking at the relative genealogical table, commencing from the aforesaid Fabrizio Testaferrata the holder of this title of Barone di Castel Cicciano would, not be the person indicated by Gauci but another: Because by application of the amended pre-Republican Italian rules, this title would devolve instead to Ronald (Sceberras Trigona) to whom separate reference is also made in the 1992 book as the holder (in 1992) of the foreign title of Barone di Montagna di Marzo

Gauci also fails to mention that in 1725, the then barone di Castel Cicciano was given the right to the titles of “Most Illustrious” and “Noble”.

 

As seen elsewhere, this title was considered by the Royal Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility. The Commissioners report that the title’s date of origin is 1722 which is coincidentally the same year that a recognition was established in favour of Ignazio Wzzini Paleologo. The title enjoys precedence according to the rules of 1739 and 1795. 

Consequently, this title is to be classified in the first of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta. However, a question remains about the country of origin: Although the title was considered by the Royal Commissioners to be a title of foreign origin, the Report sheds no light on its country of origin. Because of this the title of Conte Wzzini Paleologo should be reclassified as a Maltese title.

On the other hand, Gauci following earlier publications, asserts that this title is in fact the same title which was created by Pope Clement IX on the 8th November 1711 (which is at various times referred to as Count Ciantar and/or Count of St. John Lateran). 

Whilst one admits that this is the general perception found in other publications, this cannot be said to be based on the 1878 Report. A clear distinction also arises from the Commissioners’ observation that “the claimant has not shown that his family was in possession of the title of Conte prior to 1722”. Effectively this would mean that the 1722 title enjoys precedence whilst that dated 1711 does not. 

Another proof of the existence of the 1722 title was desumed from the 1738 investiture of the Conte Ignazio Wzzini as a Knight of the Order of St. Benedict de Avis, by John, King of Portugal.

In the 1992 publication, Gauci goes on to say (page 395) that the title of Count Ciantar “was appended to that of Count Paleologo to form the title of Count Ciantar Paleologo one of the titles belonging to the Maltese Nobility.” Gauci explains that the basis of the title of Count Ciantar is “Gio Antonio Ciantar, Maltese Historian was styled Count by Queen Maria of Portugal in 1739, and by King Louis XV of France in 1745, 1747 and 1761.” These are the same dates mentioned by Gauci in his earlier 1981 publication (__). Moreover, this title of Count Ciantar is listed separately as one of the “bona fide” foreign titles in his 1986 publication (__).

Here we register disagreement for two reasons. First, because the title which was considered by the Royal Commissioners was that described as “title of Conte enjoyed by the family of Wzzini Paleologo” and the Commissioners found the title to have originated in favour of Ignazio Wzzini Paleologo in 1722 who was later invested as a Portuguese knight in 1738. There is therefore no “Ciantar” element.  Second, because it is not possible for a title to “merge” with another especially if – as Gauci asserts – the titles in question have a different countries of origin. The 1722 title is a conjectural result as explained in the Commissioners’ Report; on the other hand, the 1711 title is of Papal origin; whilst in regard to the title of Conte Ciantar the 1739 style is Portuguese and the 1745/47/61 styles are French. 

It is worth our while recalling that in the list provided in 1877 by the Secretary of the Maltese Nobles for the consideration of the Royal Commissioners, one finds that the then claimant Giorgio Serafino Duca Comninoe Lascaris Ciantar Paleologo as also being described as “Count, Noble, Patrician and Roman Senator as per diploma of the 4th July 1744”; there is no indication in the Commissioners’ Report that this claim founded on the 1744 document was considered in any depth. 

In addition to this we find yet another title in that part of the Commissioners’ report concerning the title enjoyed by the Wzzini family; Namely that on the 1st June 1750, Giorgio Serafino Ciantar was appointed by Grand Master Pinto to a lieutenancy where he is styled not only as a “Count” but also as a “Barone”. It will be recalled that the title of Barone di San Giovanni, also claimed by Ciantar family, was only revived in 1777. It appears, therefore, that Gauci has not yet examined this title of Baron which was acknowledged by the Grand Master in 1750. 

Summing up in regard to these titles of Count, the title of St. John Lateran granted in 1711 should be classified in the second of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta, whilst the title of Conte Wzzini dated 1722 should be reclassified as a Maltese title. The Portuguese 1739 style of Conte Ciantar and the French 1745/47/61 styles of Conte Ciantar which culminated in the 1750 recognition in favour of the Conte Giorgio Serafino Ciantar should be classified in the first of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta. Finally, it would appear that the title of Baron should likewise be classified in the first of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

 

As seen elsewhere, this title was considered by the Royal Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility. The Commissioners report that the title’s date and country of origin is 1716, year of grant in favour of Mario Testaferrata by the King of Naples. Recognition was established in 1725 also in favour of Mario Testaferrata, and therefore this title would enjoy precedence according to the rules of 1739 and 1795. 

Consequently, this title is to be classified in the first of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta. However, it remains a Neapolitan title and is therefore subject to the law of that land.

On the other hand, Gauci rightly points out (page 375) that it was later discovered that the person who granted the title was in fact not the King of Naples. As a result of this discovery, one should therefore dismiss this title altogether and stop there. 

However Gauci puts forward the argument that because of the 1725 recognition, then the title “must be regarded as a purely Maltese title created by direct Magistral fiat in 1725”. This leads Gauci to conclude that females may come to hold the title. 

In fact, Gauci’s 1992 publication indicates the title holder to be a lady. Here, it must be surmised that this was done, on the basis of the preface (page xxv) “within the framework of Maltese law and tradition.” Moreover, the implication – here – is that the title of Marquis of San Vincenzo Ferreri was misclassified because it should appear as a title which was created in Malta.

Gauci’s conclusion must be contradicted for a number of reasons. First, because it should be recalled that the Royal Commissioners were not aware of the illegitimacy of the grant; Second because the Royal Commissioners never regarded this as a Maltese title but as one originating in Sicily; Third because the mere recognition does not change the remainder of the grant; and Fourth because the purpose of the 1725 “recognition” was not to recognize Mario Testaferrata as a marchese of San Vincenzo Ferreri but ‘only’ to grant him and his descendants the right to the titles of “Most Illustrious” and “Noble”. 

But let us, for argument’s sake, accept Gauci’s assertion that the 1725 act rendered “Maltese” the title of San Vincenzo Ferreri thereby allowing for female succession. In this way all references to the disputed origin become irrelevant as the title would have to be construed according to “Maltese law and tradition.

From this point of view, harsh criticism would still be directed at Gauci’s conclusion because he fails to consider the Commissioners’ observations on the disinheritance by Mario Testaferrata of his first born Enrico in regard to the titles of “Marchese di San Vincenzo Ferreri” and “Marchese Testaferrata”. These implications are described by the Commissioners’ Report as having the consequence that the title would devolve not to the line claiming under Enrico but to the line claiming from the eldest (Gilberto) of Mario’s second marriage. More importantly, it appears that Gilberto and his son Mario (junior) were in fact recognized as Marchesi by the Grand Masters on at least four occasions in 1749 and 1750, and in 1776 and 1777 respectively, meaning that the disinheritance of Enrico was assented to by the Grand Master. 

Thus by taking the 1725 argument, if one looks at the relative genealogical table, commencing from the aforesaid Gilberto Testaferrata the holder of this title of Marchese di San Vincenzo Ferreri would, not be the person indicated by Gauci but another: Because by reason of the aforesaid disinheritance, this “Maltese” title would devolve instead to the line claiming from the eldest (Gilberto) of Mario’s second marriage. 

Summing up in regard to these titles of Marquis of San Vincenzo Ferreri, the title granted in 1716 should be dismissed, whilst the title of 1725 (originating by “Maltese law and tradition.”) should be reclassified as a Maltese title which was amended in 1749, 1750, 1776 and 1777. 

 

As seen elsewhere, this title was considered by the Royal Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility. The Commissioners report that the title’s date of origin is 1718, year when Victor Amadeus, King of Sicily and Duke of Savoy granted the title at Rivoli to Giuseppe Preziosi. The special remainder of this title is described by the Commissioners not in the part relative to the Preziosi grant but elsewhere in the part relative to the title of Marchese Testaferrata as follows: “King Victor Amadeus himself in the grant of the title of Conte, conferred upon Giuseppe Preziosi, on the 19th October 1718, wishing to exclude from the succession of the grantee’s female issue, ordered that the title was to hold to the grantee and his legitimate and natural male descendants, in lawful wedlock begotten, whether born or to be born.” A recognition being established in favour of the same Giuseppe Preziosi in 1720, the title enjoys precedence according to the rules of 1739 and 1795. 

Consequently, this title is to be classified in the first of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta. However, it remains a Savoian title and is therefore subject to the law of that land. In this regard, Savoy was later incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy which has since become a Republic. We have seen how Italian Nobility Law had been amended and that in principle titles of nobility may not pass to a female or to a male through a female line, but are carried onto the next male to male line. We have also seen that in the Supplemental Report of the Royal Commissioners, the Commissioners suddenly deemed this title to be subject to the laws of Sicily and not the ius feudale longobardum. Sicily was also incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy.

 

As seen elsewhere, this title was considered by the Royal Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility. The Commissioners report that the title’s date of origin is 1742, year when the title was conferred by Philip V, King of Spain, on the Barone Gio Pio De Piro. The title was registered in Malta in 1743 and therefore enjoys precedence according to the rules of 1739 and 1795. 

Consequently, this title is to be classified in the first of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta. However, this title remains a Spanish title and is therefore subject to the law of that land. In this regard, the Spanish kingdom was later to cancel and suppress this title. The King later revived it in 1870 in favour of Don Xaver De Piro and permission was obtained from the British Government. The Royal Commissioners therefore found it unnecessary for them to consider in what manner that title descended from the grantee to the other ancestors of Saverio De Piro.

In his 1992 publication Gauci does not give any reason for justifying the person he indicates as the holder of this title other than reporting that after litigation in the Maltese and Spanish courts, this title was called out of abeyance by the Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobility on the 29th September 1983 and was then the subject of a renunciation and nomination which were ratified by the same Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobility. However at page 361-365, Gauci says: “The right of Anthony Buttigieg de Piro to the rank and style of Hereditary Marquis in the kingdom of Spain was proclaimed by official decree of the Ministry of Justice of that Kingdom, 28th October 1987.” From further examination, it results that the decree does in fact refer to the same title granted in 1742. 

It follows therefore that the holder of this title of Marquis De Piro would, not be the person indicated by Gauci but another: Because by application of the Spanish law, the 1742 title has devolved to Anthony Buttigieg de Piro to whom separate reference is also made in the 1992 book as the holder (in 1992) of the titles of Marquis Buttigieg de Piro

Gauci also fails to mention that in 1727, the Barone Gio Pio De Piro was given the right to the titles of “Most Illustrious” and “Noble”.

 

As seen elsewhere, this title was considered twice by the Royal Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility, first in their original report and again in their Supplemental Report. 

The Commissioners report that the title’s date of origin is 1770, year when the title was conferred at Vienna by Empress Maria Theresa, on Giorgio Fournier de Pausier. The title was registered in Malta and therefore enjoys precedence according to the rules of 1739 and 1795. 

Consequently, this title is to be classified in the first of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta. 

It remains however a foreign title and is therefore subject to the law of the land where it originated. In this regard, the Royal Commissioners’ two Reports make a conscientious admission that they were insufficiently acquainted with German laws of succession and accordingly they could not express an opinion about the succession of title of Count Fournier which was claimed by a male descending in the female line. 

As a matter of fact – and this is omitted by Gauci – the succession of the title of Count Fournier was never decided by anyone. All that we find is a decision of a British Secretary of State for the Colonies in the following terms, which only allows a mere precedency: “In this case, if the patent had issued in Malta or in Sicily, I gather than the claim would have been allowed under the rules of feudal law recognized in those States, and therefore without offering any opinion as to the strict legal effect which would be given to the patent at Vienna, and without prejudice to any future legal decision upon its meaning, should it ever be called in question in a court of law, I feel that I may reasonably permit the claimant and his successors, for the purpose of precedence, to take the place to which they would be entitled under the principles of legal interpretation applicable to the grant if it had emanated in 1770 from the Sicilian or Maltese Sovereign authority.” In this way, Lazzaro Sant Fournier was allowed to take the place to which he would be entitled under the principles of legal interpretation applicable to the grant as if it had emanated in 1770 from the Sicilian or Maltese Sovereign authority. The Secretary of State appears to have known full-well the limits of his authority because by doing what he did, he neither granted nor perpetuated a title which appears to have become extinct, and only went as far are opening a window to a precedence.

 

As seen elsewhere, this title was considered by the Royal Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility. The Commissioners report that the title’s date of origin is 1770, year when the title was conferred to Salvatore Baldassare Sant by the Empress Maria Theresa in the Italian Provinces annexed to the German Empire. The title was registered in Malta and therefore enjoys precedence according to the rules of 1739 and 1795. 

Consequently, this title is to be classified in the first of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta. It remains however a foreign title and is therefore subject to the law of the land where it originated. In this regard, we learn from the Royal Commissioners’ Report (__) that a condition is attached by which the grantee is required to purchase a fief in Lombardy. The Commissioners admitted that they were unaware whether the fief referred to in this part of the patent was ever acquired, but as this condition is not peremptorily laid down in the patent, they decided that its non-performance did not invalidate the grant.

 

As seen elsewhere, two titles were considered by the Royal Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility, one in Item V of Section III of the Report under “title of Conte di Mont’ Alto” and the other in Item XI of Section III of the Report under “title of Conte presumed to have been conferred upon Salvatore Manduca”. The first is reported by the Commissioners as originating in 1720, year when the title (together with a fief (__)) was conferred to Bernardo Piscopo by the Duke of Parma and Piacenza. The title was registered in Malta in 1721 and therefore enjoys precedence according to the rules of 1739 and 1795. 

Consequently, this title is to be classified in the first of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta. 

It remains however a foreign title and is therefore subject to the law of the land where it originated. The title was extended in favour of a collateral in 1724 and relative registration in Malta was effected in 1744. The collateral’s line - and therefore the 1720/1724 title - was extinguished in 1775. 

The Report says that the title of Count (without the fief) was conferred anew by the Duke’s successor in favour of yet another of Bernardo’s collaterals in 1776. There is no indication that this revival was ever registered in Malta but Gauci states otherwise: In his 1981 publication, Gauci says (page 108) that recognition came about by reason of Salvatore being styled Count upon being appointed Jurat in 1797. However, this argument was dispelled by the Royal Commissioners who stated that they could not give any importance to this circumstance. Although the Commissioners could not give a final decision on the matter because certain documents had not been presented to them, it appears that by 1883 this technicality had been overcome. 

Assuming that the technicality positively addressed the issue of recognition by the Government of the Maltese Islands by the Order of Saint Jon, it follows that this foreign title dated 1776 is to be classified in the first of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta. 

 

As seen elsewhere, this title was considered by the Royal Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility. The Commissioners report that the title’s date of origin is 1777, year when an extinct title was renewed in favour of Serafino Ciantar by King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies. The Commissioners report that the first title was granted also in Sicily in 1657 but became extinct with the death of the first grantee. The Report does not indicate whether the 1657 grant was ever registered but in regard to that of 1777 there is no doubt that this was registered in Malta and therefore enjoys precedence according to the rules of 1739 and 1795. 

Consequently, this title is to be classified in the first of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta. 

It remains however a Sicilian title and is therefore subject to the law of the land where it originated. In this regard, Sicily was later incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy which has since become a Republic. We have seen how in 1926 and 1943 Italian Nobility Law had been amended and that in principle titles of nobility may not pass to a female or to a male through a female line, but are carried onto the next male to male line. It appears that Gauci took to the erroneous, albeit generally accepted, idea that some titles including the one in question, may be the subject of a private nomination without requiring any assent from the relative fons honorum. Indeed we find Gauci, in his 1981 publication, reporting that in 1887 a Giorgio Serafino Ciantar bequeathed the Barony of San Giovanni to his younger nephew. Unfortunately, Gauci does not indicate record of any assent by the Sicilian/Italian monarch. 

 

This title is stated by Gauci, in all of his publications, to have been first created in 1443. On the other hand, however it was not considered by the Royal Commissioners. More importantly, it does not appear to have ever been registered nor does it appear to have ever been recognized by the Grand Masters during their government of Malta. It follows that this title does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. 

Consequently, this title is to be classified in the second of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

This said, it would be amiss to ignore the fact that the family of Wzzini Paleologo, from whom the Princes of Selimbria descend, was given formal permission on the 6th July 1744 by Grand Master Pinto to register the diploma of nobility given to the family by the Senato e Popolo Romano which emphasizes the way in which the family of Wzzini Paleologo descend from the Comneno Paleologos “Emperors of the Orient”. 

 

  •  Title of Prince (Basilico) of Wallachia

In his 1981 and 1992 publications, Gauci describes the title of Prince of Wallachia as having been granted to Basilico di Malta by the magnates of Walachia in 1550. In both publications, Gauci describes this title as extinct.

 

  •  Title of Duke (Mattei) of Mondello

Writing in 1992, although Gauci states that this title was granted by Ferdinand III of Sicily, IV of Naples, I of the Two Sicilies in 1800, he explains that as he was unable to locate the patent of creation, he cannot categorically state that this title satisfies his criteria for being listed as a bona fide foreign title. He adds, however, that the title is included in his list for historical reasons. A descendant of the Mattei family, Alexandra, was married to the first Prime Minister of Independent Malta (1950-55; 1962-71), Giorgio Borg Olivier. However, she was a descendant of the first Duke’s uncle. The first Duke’s brother was Bishop of Malta and of Rhodes.

This title of Duke of Mondello could never have been considered by the Royal Commissioners because the title was created only after the end of the government of the Maltese Islands by the Order of Saint John. In addition Gauci, does not indicate whether the first Duke had any issue. 

There is therefore no room to discuss the possibility of this title of having ever been registered or recognized by the Grand Masters during their government of Malta. It follows that this title does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. 

Consequently, this title is to be classified in the second of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

 

  •  Title of Duke (Costanzo) of Paganica

In his 1981 and 1992 publications, Gauci describes the title of Duke of Paganica as having been granted to Ignazio Costanzo by Charles III, King of Naples and Sicily. However, the 1981 publication gives the date of creation as 1753, whilst that of 1992 gives the date of 1758. 

Gauci described the Costanzo family as an old feudal family which came to Malta in the 17th century. Strangely, Gauci does not mention the fact that this family was in fact ennobled in Malta with the right to “Most Illustrious and Noble” in 1729. 

This title was not considered by the Royal Commissioners. 

More importantly, it does not appear to have ever been registered with the Grand Masters during their government of Malta. It follows, at least at first sight, that this title does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. On the other hand, a recent discovery shows that the title of Duca di Paganica was in fact noted amongst various documents contemporary to the time of the Government of the Maltese Islands by the Grand Masters. This consideration may give rise to the argument that the title might at some point been the subject of a direct recognition by the Grand Masters in which case, if proven, would allow the holder of this title to a precedence in accordance with the aforesaid rules of 1739 and 1795. 

If it results to be so, then Consequently, this title is to be classified in the first of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

In any event, the title remains a valid foreign title and, of course, subject to the law of the land where it originated. In this regard, Sicily and Naples were later incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy which has since become a Republic. We have seen how in 1926 and 1943 Italian Nobility Law had been amended and that in principle titles of nobility may not pass to a female or to a male through a female line, but are carried onto the next male to male line. 

 

  •  Title of Duke (Giacomo) of Pendia

In his 1981 and 1992 publications, Gauci describes the title of Duke of Pendia as having been granted to Giacomo di Malta by James II Lusignan King of Cyprus in 1430. In both publications, Gauci describes this title as extinct.

 

  •  Title of Marquis (Apap Testaferrata)

In his 1981 and 1992 publications, Gauci describes the title of Marquis as having been granted to Giuseppe Apap Testaferrata by Pope Leo XIII on the 11 December 1889. In both publications, Gauci describes this title as extinct. (Marquis Apap Testaferrata is remembered as having married in 1874 the Sicilian Princess, Rosina Sabbatini di Santa Margherita Panomi, who was a benefactress to various charities in Malta, in particular the Salesian community.)

This title could never have been considered by the Royal Commissioners because it originated at a date after they had concluded their report. In addition the title originated at a date after the government by the Grand Masters of the Maltese Islands. Naturally, there is therefore no room to discuss the possibility of this title of having ever been registered or recognized by the Grand Masters during their government of Malta. It follows that this title does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. 

Consequently, this title is to be classified in the second of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

This said, it would be amiss to ignore the fact that in the 1992 publication, Gauci also notes the Marquis Apap Testaferrata to have “unsuccessfully petitioned HM Government through the Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobility to be recognized as a Marquis on the same basis at the Marquises Testaferrata Olivier and Cassar Desain.” This is not completely correct. 

In the Report published in 1878 of the Royal Commissioners who were appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility we find that the title of Marchese Testaferrata granted at Chambery on the 13th July 1717, to the Mario Testaferrata by Victor-Amadeus, King of Sicily and Duke of Savoy was claimed by Giuseppe Apap Testaferrata ,together with many other descendants of the MarcheseMario Testaferrata, on the basis that that title is to be borne by all of the contemporary descendants of Testaferrata indiscriminately. 

The Commissioners dismissed all the claims – including that of the said Giuseppe Apap Testaferrata - to that title because it was not proven that that title was ever registered nor was evidence provided to prove that it was ever recognized by the Grand Masters during their government of Malta. 

In 1882, an “ad hoc” committee of nobles was appointed to consider some claims which were disallowed by the Commissioners. This Committee recommended the claims of Gio Paolo Testaferrata Olivier and Lorenzo Cassar Desain on the basis that they descended uninterruptedly in the senior male line from their respective patrilineal ancestors who were styled marchesi by the Grand Masters in 1745 And 1749. 

On the other hand, Giuseppe Apap Testaferrata was not descended in an uninterrupted male to male line. The “ad hoc” committee nevertheless recommended an approval of his claim on the basis that this was justified because of the generous and wide remainder of 1717 grant. But the claim of Giuseppe Apap Testaferrata together with those of Emmanuele Testaferrata Bonici, Francesco Gauci Testaferrata, Enrico Testaferrata, Lorenzo Antonio Testaferrata, Luigi Testaferrata, Ignazio Testaferrata and Carmela Testaferrata were all dismissed by the British Secretary of State.

In 1889 a new Committee was formed under the name of “Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobility”. This time, Giuseppe Apap Testaferrata made his third attempt to this new body and we find that in 1892 that committee made formally recommended to the British Parliament that Giuseppe’s claim be upheld(__). However we find that his claim was again rejected in 1899.

It is interesting to note that Giuseppe Apap Testaferrata’s claim to being a marchese was based only on the 1717 grant. On the other hand, as seen elsewhere(__) , it should be recalled that Giuseppe Apap Testaferrata was in fact a lineal male to male descendant of Filippo Apap who was conferred the title of Marchese di Gnien Is-Sultan by a patent, dated the 1st December 1792, by Grand Master de Rohan upon Filippo Apap with succession to his male issue, and in the failure of male issue to the first-born female descendant. The operative clause of the grant runs thus: Praedictum Marchionis Pheudi Gnien Is-Sultan titulum ..Tibi Magnigico Philippo Apap, tuisque descendentibus masculis legitimis et naturalibus ipsisque deficientibus, foemina majori natu, tribuimus, concedimus et donamus, ac te Marchionis hujusmodi titulo decoramus.  Although this title is by most published sources regarded as descendible only to the first-born male in the primogenial line of the original grantee, the clear terms of the grant tuisque descendentibus masculis legitimis et naturalibus ipsisque deficientibus, foemina majori natu, clearly show that this title is to be enjoyed by all male-to-male descendants of the grantee. The 1792 grant does not include any references to remainder by primogenial descent. Moreover, the grant provides that a female (defined as the eldest female born) is only called into the remainder upon the extinction of all agnatial descent from the grantee.  

It is therefore most remarkable how in the 19th century, more importance was given to the foreign title of Marchese Testaferrata instead of the Maltese title of Marchese di Gnien is-Sultan, to which Giuseppe Apap Testaferrata had a relatively much stronger claim and was clearly within the 1792 remainder.

 

  •  Title of Marquis (Bugeja) (1887) 

In his 1981 and 1992 publications, Gauci describes the title of Marquis as having been granted to Vincenzo Bugeja by Pope Leo XIII on the 19th April 1887. In both publications, Gauci describes this title as granted “ad personam”. 

Undoubtedly the Marquis Vincenzo Bugeja is remembered as a great philanthropist who dedicated much of his immense fortune towards educating and assisting many people better their lives.

This title could never have been considered by the Royal Commissioners because it originated at a date after they had concluded their report. In addition the title originated at a date after the government by the Grand Masters of the Maltese Islands. Naturally, there is therefore no room to discuss the possibility of this title of having ever been registered or recognized by the Grand Masters during their government of Malta. It follows that this title does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. 

Consequently, this title is to be classified in the second of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

 

  •  Title of Marquis (Bugeja) (1891) 

In his 1981 and 1992 publications, Gauci describes another title of Marquis (Bugeja) as having been granted to Carlino Bugeja by Pope Leo XIII on the 18th September 1891. 

 

The Marquis Carlino Bugeja is remembered for continuing his uncle Vincenzo’s philanthropy.

This title could never have been considered by the Royal Commissioners because it originated at a date after they had concluded their report. In addition the title originated at a date after the government by the Grand Masters of the Maltese Islands. Naturally, there is therefore no room to discuss the possibility of this title of having ever been registered or recognized by the Grand Masters during their government of Malta. It follows that this title does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. 

Consequently, this title is to be classified in the second of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

This said, it would be amiss to ignore the fact that in the 1992 publication, Gauci describes this title as having been granted without any remainder. He goes on to state that the 1891 title was granted “ad personam”, adding that in 1989 the Holy See formally styled one of Carlino’ descendants as “Marquis Bugeja”. However Gauci adds that this act does not mention any remainder, leaving Gauci to opine that it can only be considered as an “ad personam” extension in favour of the said descendant. Whatever the merits of this opinion, it is clear that the claim to first ennoblement is the year 1891. The 1989 act of “extension” does not change the principal claim that the title was first created in 1891.

 

These titles, stated in Gauci’s 1992 publication to have originated as recently as 1982, 1984 and 1986 are clearly not based on any act of the Grand masters of the order of Saint John during its Government of Malta, nor may their three different origins be stated to derive from any body with which the State of Malta ever had diplomatic relations, irrespective of whether the grants meet Gauci’s criteria for inclusion. Normally one should dismiss these titles altogether and stop there. This said, it would be amiss to ignore the fact that in the same 1992 publication we find (page 361) that: “The right of Anthony Buttigieg de Piro to the rank and style of Hereditary Marquis in the kingdom of Spain was proclaimed by official decree of the Ministry of Justice of that Kingdom, 28th October 1987.” From further examination, it results that the decree does in fact refer to the title conferred in 1742 by Philip V, King of Spain, on the Barone Gio Pio De Piro. The latter title being one registered in Malta in 1743, enjoys precedence according to the rules of 1739 and 1795.

This title has already been classified in the first of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta under “Marquis De Piro”.

 

  •  Title of Marquis (Drago) 

Writing in 1992, Gauci explains that the Drago family is of great antiquity and is said to descend from Dragone Normanno, Count of Puglia, son of Tancred D’Hauteville and step-brother of Count Roger of Normandy. (Count Roger is the person generally held to have established a nobility in Malta in 1090). Gauci indicates the date of creation of the title of Marquis Drago as 14th June 1724, date of grant to Casimiro Drago by Emperor Charles VI, King of Sicily. 

In 1735, one of Casimiro’s younger son’s descendants Antonio Drago D’Aragona married Maria Ciantar Xara Cassia from whom descend the Maltese stem. 

Coincidentally, the senior stem was later to be represented by another Casimiro Drago who in 1849 took up residence in Malta. Having died childless Gauci explains that all his rights to the titles of Marquis Drago and Baron della Gabella della Scannatura di Trapani devolved upon the Maltese stem. 

In any case, this title was not considered by the Royal Commissioners. More importantly, it does not appear to have ever been registered nor does it appear to have ever been recognized by the Grand Masters during their government of Malta. It follows that this title does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. 

Consequently, this title is to be classified in the second of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

It remains however a valid Sicilian title and, of course, subject to the law of the land where it originated. In this regard, Sicily was later incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy which has since become a Republic. We have seen how in 1926 and 1943 Italian Nobility Law had been amended and that in principle titles of nobility may not pass to a female or to a male through a female line, but are carried onto the next male to male line. 

In his 1992 publication, Gauci notes that the 10th Marquis Drago would be Joseph Drago d’Aragona Testaferrata. However, he also notes that the latter gentleman has not (in 1992) laid claim to the title, and Gauci therefore concludes that it is presently in abeyance. 

 

  •  Title of Marquis (Mattei) (1899) 

In his 1981 publication, Gauci describes the title of Marquis granted to Alfredo Mattei by Pope Leo XIII on the 22nd March 1899.

The Marquis Mattei is remembered for his contributions towards the 1913 International Eucharistic Congress.

In his 1992 publication Gauci (page 105) describes the grant of 1899 as distinct from that granted by Pope Pius X on the 21st November 1906.

However, Gauci (page 134) later explains that the 1906 act is in fact an extension of the 1899 grant. 

This title could never have been considered by the Royal Commissioners because it originated at a date after they had concluded their report. In addition the title originated at a date after the government by the Grand Masters of the Maltese Islands. Naturally, there is therefore no room to discuss the possibility of this title of having ever been registered or recognized by the Grand Masters during their government of Malta. It follows that this title does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. 

Consequently, this title is to be classified in the second of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

 

  •  Title of Marquis (Mattei) (1906) 

This is discussed above in “Marquis (Mattei) (1899)”. It was first listed by Gauci as a distinct title created in 1906 but he later explains that it is in fact an extension in favour of Alfredo Mattei of a title originally granted to him of the same name granted by the same fons honorum’s predecessor in 1899. 

 

  •  Title of Marquis (Messina) of Santo Stefano 

Writing in 1992, Gauci explains that the Messina family is of great antiquity and is inscribed in the annals of the nobility of Messina. Gauci described how Count Giovanni Messina settled in Malta in 1836 and was also granted another title of Count by HH Pope Pius IX in 1864. He also describes how the younger son Francesco Messina was created the title of Marquis Messina of Santo Stefano by the same pope in 1878. Unfortunately, Gauci explains that he was unable to locate any of the grants. 

Undoubtedly Count Giovanni Messina was a member of the Council of Government of Malta. 

Gauci describes all titles as extinct even though he indicates various descendants of the counts Messina, albeit through a female line. 

On the other hand, however this title of Santo Stefano could never have been considered by the Royal Commissioners because it originated at a date after they had concluded their report. In addition however it must be stressed that none of the titles granted to the Messina family could have been considered by the Royal Commissioners because the family only settled in Malta after the end of the government of the Maltese Islands by the Order of Saint John. Naturally, there is therefore no room to discuss the possibility of this title of having ever been registered or recognized by the Grand Masters during their government of Malta. It follows that this title does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. 

Consequently, this title is to be classified in the second of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

 

  •  Title of Marquis (Scicluna) (1875) 

In his 1981 and 1992 publications, Gauci describes the title of Marquis as having been granted to Emanuele Scicluna by Pope Pius IX on the 1st June 1875. In both publications, Gauci describes this title as granted “ad personam”. 

Undoubtedly the Marquis Scicluna is remembered for his vast business interests and many charitable works.

This title could never have been considered by the Royal Commissioners because it originated at a date after the government by the Grand Masters of the Maltese Islands. Naturally, there is therefore no room to discuss the possibility of this title of having ever been registered or recognized by the Grand Masters during their government of Malta. It follows that this title does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. 

Consequently, this title is to be classified in the second of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

 

  •  Title of Marquis (Scicluna) (1878) 

In his 1981 publication, Gauci describes another title of Marquis as having been granted to Giuseppe Scicluna by Pope Leo XIII on the 10th December 1878. However in the 1992 publication, Gauci explains that this title was in fact granted jointly to the said Giuseppe Scicluna as well as the Marquis Emanuele Scicluna. 

Like his uncle Emanuele, the Marquis Giuseppe Scicluna is remembered for his vast business interests and many charitable works.

This title could never have been considered by the Royal Commissioners because it originated at a date after they had concluded their report. In addition the title originated at a date after the government by the Grand Masters of the Maltese Islands. Naturally, there is therefore no room to discuss the possibility of this title of having ever been registered or recognized by the Grand Masters during their government of Malta. It follows that this title does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. 

Consequently, this title is to be classified in the second of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

 

As seen elsewhere, this title was considered by the Royal Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility. Particular attention should be given to this title because the Commissioners’ Report dedicates the largest part of its findings to it.  The Commissioners report that the title’s date of origin is 1717, year when it was conferred to Mario Testaferrata by the King of Sicily and Duke of Savoy. 

It remains nonetheless a valid Sicilian title and, of course, subject to the law of the land where it originated. In this regard, Sicily was later incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy which has since become a Republic. We have seen how in 1926 and 1943 Italian Nobility Law had been amended and that in principle titles of nobility may not pass to a female or to a male through a female line, but are carried onto the next male to male line. 

Gauci fails to consider the Commissioners’ observations on the disinheritance by Mario Testaferrata of his first born Enrico in regard to the titles of “Marchese di San Vincenzo Ferreri” and “Marchese Testaferrata”. These implications are described by the Commissioners’ Report as having the consequence that the title would devolve not to the line claiming under Enrico but to the line claiming from the eldest (Gilberto) of Mario’s second marriage. 

However, the Report fails to note that it is not legally possible for the Grand Master to change the remainder of the 1717 grant which originated in a different country. At best, one could argue that the acts of 1749, 1750, 1776 and 1777 could give rise to different titles. In fact, Gauci reports that the 1749 act is the basis of the title of Marchese Cassar Desain. Likewise, , we also find that in 1745 Enrico’s second son, Pandolph, was at aged 9 years, addressed by the Grand Master as a Marquis. In fact, Gauci reports that the 1745 act is the basis of the title of Marchese Testaferrata Olivier (in fact the 9 year old later married a lady whose surname was Olivier). 

The Commissioners concluded that this title, created in 1717, was never registered nor was evidence provided to prove that it was ever recognized by the Grand Masters during their government of Malta. At first sight, it appears that this title does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. 

On the other hand, even occasional recognitions by the Grand Masters are sufficient and seeing that the numerous members of the Testaferrata family occupied public offices contemporary to the Government of the Maltese Islands by the Grand Masters, it is likely that high profile personalities would have been acknowledged as Marchesi by the Grand Masters. This consideration may give rise to the argument that the title might at some point been the subject of a direct recognition by the Grand Masters in which case, if proven, would allow the holder of this title to a precedence in accordance with the aforesaid rules of 1739 and 1795. 

The Commissioners’ Report on the title of Marchese Testaferrata (1717) is arguably the most self-contradictory section of that report because the Commissioners themselves pointed out that Gilberto and his son Mario (junior) were in fact recognized as Marchesi by the Grand Masters on at least four occasions in 1749 and 1750, and in 1776 and 1777 respectively. (Mario (junior)) is the same person who signed the act of capitulation of Malta which ended the Order’s rule in 1798). Applying the same criteria as that of Wzzini, this title is to be classified in the first of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta and not as concluded by the Royal Commissioners. 

 

This title which is stated in Gauci’s 1992 publication to have originated as recently as 1986 is clearly not based on any act of the Grand masters of the order of Saint John during its Government of Malta, nor may its brand new origin be stated to derive from any body with which the State of Malta ever had diplomatic relations, irrespective of whether the grant meets Gauci’s criteria for inclusion. Normally one should dismiss this title altogether and stop there. 

This said, it would be amiss to ignore the fact that Gauci’s genealogical tables show that the 1986-grantee is in fact the primogenital descendant of the eldest son Gilberto of Mario Testaferrata’s second marriage who as we have seen above was put in an advantaged position both in regard to the above-described “Maltese” title of Marchese di San Vincenzo Ferreri by reason of Mario disinheriting his first born Enrico. 

The title of San Vincenzo Ferreri which is considered to have originated in 1725 and to be regulated by “Maltese law and tradition”, has already been reclassified as a Maltese title.

 

  •  Title of Marquis (Zammit) of Tiana 

This title which is stated in Gauci’s 1992 publication to have originated as recently as 1981 is clearly not based on any act of the Grand masters of the order of Saint John during its Government of Malta, nor may its brand new origin be stated to derive from any body with which the State of Malta ever had diplomatic relations, irrespective of whether the grant meets Gauci’s criteria for inclusion. 

 

  •  Title of Count (Edgar Bernard)  (1906)

In his 1981 publication, Gauci describes the title of Count as having been granted to Edgar Bernard by Pope Pius X in 1906. 

However in the 1992 publication, Gauci omits this title altogether. 

 

  •  Title of Count (Peter Paul Bernard)  (1906)

In his 1981 publication, Gauci describes another title of Count (Bernard) as having been granted also by Pope Pius X and also in 1906, but in favour of Paul Bernard.

 

However in the 1992 publication, Gauci notes that this was granted to Peter-Paul Bernard on the 22nd August 1906.

This title could never have been considered by the Royal Commissioners because it originated at a date after they had concluded their report. In addition the title originated at a date after the government by the Grand Masters of the Maltese Islands. Naturally, there is therefore no room to discuss the possibility of this title of having ever been registered or recognized by the Grand Masters during their government of Malta. It follows that this title does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. 

Consequently, this title is to be classified in the second of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

 

  •  Title of Count (Camilleri)

In his 1981 and 1992 publications, Gauci describes the title of Count as having been granted to Monsignor Giovanni Camilleri by Pope Pius X in 1914. 

This title could never have been considered by the Royal Commissioners because it originated at a date after they had concluded their report. In addition the title originated at a date after the government by the Grand Masters of the Maltese Islands. Naturally, there is therefore no room to discuss the possibility of this title of having ever been registered or recognized by the Grand Masters during their government of Malta. It follows that this title does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. 

Consequently, this title is to be classified in the second of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

 

As seen elsewhere, this title was considered by the Royal Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility. The Commissioners report that the title’s date of origin is 1685, year when it was conferred by the King of Spain and Sicily. The Commissioners report that no proof of the existence of this title. It follows that this title does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. 

It follows that this title does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. At first sight, therefore, this title is to be classified in the second of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta. This is in fact the conclusion reached by the Royal Commissioners. 

On the other hand, even occasional recognitions by the Grand Masters are sufficient and seeing that the Stagno family had succeeded a Maltese title and were contemporary to the Government of the Maltese Islands by the Grand Masters, it is likely that such a high profile family would have been addressed as Conti Stagno by the Grand Masters. This consideration may give rise to the argument that the title might at some point been the subject of a direct recognition by the Grand Masters in which case, if proven, would allow the holder of this title to a precedence in accordance with the aforesaid rules of 1739 and 1795. 

If it results to be so, then this title is to be classified in the first of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

It remains however a valid Sicilian title and, of course, subject to the law of the land where it originated. In this regard, Sicily was later incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy which has since become a Republic. We have seen how in 1926 and 1943 Italian Nobility Law had been amended and that in principle titles of nobility may not pass to a female or to a male through a female line, but are carried onto the next male to male line. 

In his 1992 publication, Gauci enlightens us by saying that this title was in fact granted to Giovanni Giacomo Stagno but states that the genealogical data at his disposal was incomplete and, understandably, says that he cannot identify the present holder (in 1992) of the foreign title of Conte di Casandola

 

This title is discussed above under the title of Wzzini Paleologo. This title was not considered by the Royal Commissioners. However the style of Conte borne by a member of the Ciantar family was taken as proof of the existence of the title of Wzzini Paleologo.

 

  • Title of Palatine Count (Fenech Bonnici) 

This title granted by Pope Benedict XIV to Baldassare Fenech Bonnici on the 12th June 1748 was not considered by the Royal Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility, even though it was registered in Malta and recognized by the Government of the Maltese Islands by the Order of Saint John. It follows that this title enjoys a right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. 

Consequently, this title is to be classified in the first of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

Writing in 1992, Gauci maintains that this title is extinct because he opines that it must be construed as a title “ad personam”. Gauci shows (Table 21) that Fenech Bonnici did have a number of descendants but is uncertain whether these had any descendants of their own. 

 

  •  Title of Count (Gatt)

In his 1981 and 1992 publications, Gauci describes the title of Count as having been granted in 1751 to Rev. Salvatore Gatt by Prince Filippo Sforza Cesarini by virtue of the powers granted to this princely family by Pope Paul III. Gauci opines that this title is extinct.

 

  •  Titles of Count (Gauci) 

These titles, stated in Gauci’s 1992 publication to have originated as recently as 1980, 1982, 1984 and 1989 are clearly not based on any act of the Grand masters of the order of Saint John during its Government of Malta, nor may their four different origins be stated to derive from any body with which the State of Malta ever had diplomatic relations, irrespective of whether the grants meet Gauci’s criteria for inclusion.

 

  •  Title of Count (Gonzi)

In his 1992 publication, Gauci describes the title of Count as having been granted to Monsignor Michael Gonzi, Archbishop of Malta, by Pope Pius XII in 1949. 

This title could never have been considered by the Royal Commissioners because it originated at a date after they had concluded their report. In addition the title originated at a date after the government by the Grand Masters of the Maltese Islands. Naturally, there is therefore no room to discuss the possibility of this title of having ever been registered or recognized by the Grand Masters during their government of Malta. It follows that this title does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. 

Consequently, this title is to be classified in the second of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

 

  •  Title of Count (Magri)

In his 1981 and 1992 publications, Gauci describes the title of Count as having been granted in 1650 to Rev. Can. Domenico Magri, Apostolic Pronotary by Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor. Gauci opines that this title is extinct.

 

  •  Title of Count (Pistore) of Marino

In his 1981 and 1992 publications, Gauci describes the title of Count of Marino as having been granted in 1222 to Arrigo di Malta (Enrico Pistore), Grand Admiral of Sicily, Count of Malta 1204-1265 by Frederick I of Sicily and Malta, II of the Holy Roman Empire. Gauci opines that this title is extinct.

 

  •  Titles of Count (Messina)

These titles are described above in “Marquis Messina di Santo Stefano”. 

 

This title is discussed above under the title of Wzzini Paleologo. This title was not considered by the Royal Commissioners. However the title of Count Wzzini Paleologo identified by the Commissioners to have been first established in 1722, is nevertheless generally considered to refer to the title of Saint John Lateran granted in 1711. 

 

  •  Title of Count (Bonavita) of San Paolino d’Aquilejo

In his 1981 publication, Gauci describes in detail the title of Count of San Paolino d’Aquilejo as having been granted to Carlo Antonio Bonavita by Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies IV of Naples on the 14th December 1819. At Table 46, Gauci states that “the Bonavita family did not present its title to the 1877 Royal Commission and consequently the title was not recognized by the authorities in Malta”. 

This assertion is patently flawed because the stated terms of reference of the Royal Commission was to consider those titles which were granted by the Grand Masters or otherwise registered with or recognized by the Government of the Maltese Islands by the Order of Saint John. It follows that contrary to Gauci’s implication that it was a failing of the Bonavita family to present its title, the only discernable reason why this title was not presented is that it could not have been presented. Indeed, this title could never have been considered by the Royal Commissioners because it originated at a date after the end of the government (1530-1798) by the Grand Masters of the Maltese Islands. Naturally, there is therefore no room to discuss the possibility of this title of having ever been registered or recognized by the Grand Masters during their government of Malta. 

It follows that this title does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. Consequently, this title is to be classified in the second of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

It remains however a valid title and, of course, subject to the law of the land where it originated. In this regard, the whole of Italy was later incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy which has since become a Republic. We have seen how in 1926 and 1943 Italian Nobility Law had been amended and that in principle titles of nobility may not pass to a female or to a male through a female line, but are carried onto the next male to male line.

In his 1992 publication, Gauci describes the fons honorum as “Ferdinand II of Sicily, IV of Naples, I of the Two Sicilies”.

 

  •  Title of Count (Formosa de Fremaux) of Santa Sofia

In his 1981 publication, Gauci lists the title of Count of Santa Sofia. Gauci does not attempt to explain its origins other than reporting that it was granted to the Formosa de Fremaux family and it is said to be of French origin. With such little data, it is hardly surprising that in his 1986 publication Gauci declares himself unable to consider this as a “bona fide” title and as in the case of Duke of Mondello and Prince of Mystra, this title is relegated to “being included purely for historical reasons”. This treatment is in effect repeated in his 1992 publication.

 

It is to be noted that Gauci refers to Montalto’s book which in regard to the Inquisitor’s patentee Agostino Formosa de Fremaux who eventually stood trial for freemasonry in 1776 has this to say at page 347 (note 10): “The family title of Formosa de Fremeaux was never registered in the Chancellery on he Order, and only occasionally did Agostino refer to himself as ‘Count’”.

On the other hand, even occasional recognitions by the Grand Masters are sufficient and seeing that Agostino was contemporary to the Government of the Maltese Islands by the Grand Masters, it is likely that such a high profile personality would have been addressed as a count by the Grand Masters. This consideration may give rise to the argument that the title might at some point been the subject of a direct recognition by the Grand Masters in which case, if proven, would allow the holder of this title to a precedence in accordance with the aforesaid rules of 1739 and 1795. 

If it results to be so, then this title is to be classified in the first of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

However, the title would nonetheless remain subject to the law of the land where it originated.

 

  •  Title of Count (Sceberras Testaferrata)

In his 1981 and 1992 publications, Gauci describes the title of Count as having been granted to Don (later Cardinal) Fabrizio Sceberras Testaferrata by Pope Pius VII in 1800. 

Undoubtedly, the Count Sceberras Testaferrata is remembered for being the only Maltese to have ever been made a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church.

This title could never have been considered by the Royal Commissioners because it originated at a date after the government by the Grand Masters of the Maltese Islands. Naturally, there is therefore no room to discuss the possibility of this title of having ever been registered or recognized by the Grand Masters during their government of Malta. It follows that this title does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. Consequently, this title is to be classified in the second of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

 

  •  Title of Count (Scicluna)

In his 1981 and 1992 publications, Gauci describes the title of Count as having been granted to Monsignor Carmelo Scicluna, Bishop of Malta in 1875. 

This title could never have been considered by the Royal Commissioners because it originated at a date after the government by the Grand Masters of the Maltese Islands. Naturally, there is therefore no room to discuss the possibility of this title of having ever been registered or recognized by the Grand Masters during their government of Malta. It follows that this title does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. Consequently, this title is to be classified in the second of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

 

  •  Title of Count (Tagliaferro)

In his 1981 and 1992 publications, Gauci describes the title of Count as having been granted to Gerolamo Tagliaferro by Pope Leo XIII on the 15th April 1892. 

Undoubtedly the Count Tagliaferro left his mark in a number of buildings in Malta as well as his charitable acts. 

This title could never have been considered by the Royal Commissioners because it originated at a date after the government by the Grand Masters of the Maltese Islands. Naturally, there is therefore no room to discuss the possibility of this title of having ever been registered or recognized by the Grand Masters during their government of Malta. It follows that this title does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. Consequently, this title is to be classified in the second of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

 

  •  Title of Count (de Vella Clary)

In his 1981 and 1992 publications, Gauci describes the title of Count as having been granted to Mario de Vella Clary by Pope Benedict XV on the 6th October 1919. 

This title could never have been considered by the Royal Commissioners because it originated at a date after the government by the Grand Masters of the Maltese Islands. Naturally, there is therefore no room to discuss the possibility of this title of having ever been registered or recognized by the Grand Masters during their government of Malta. It follows that this title does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. Consequently, this title is to be classified in the second of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

 

  •  Title of Count (von Zimermann)

In his 1992 publication, Gauci describes the title of Count of the Holy Roman Empire as having been granted to Christian Emanuel von Zimmermann by Charles Theodore, Vicar of the Holy Roman Empire, on the 25thAugust 1790. 

In 1817, one of Christian Emanuel’s granddaughter Carolina von Zimmermann married Francesco Antonio Barbaro Crispo from whom descend several of the Marchesi Barbaro di San Giorgio. 

This title could never have been considered by the Royal Commissioners because (a stem of-) the Zimmermann family only settled in Malta after the government by the Grand Masters of the Maltese Islands. Naturally, there is therefore no room to discuss the possibility of this title of having ever been registered or recognized by the Grand Masters during their government of Malta. It follows that this title does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. Consequently, this title is to be classified in the second of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

It remains however a valid title and, of course, subject to the law of the land where it originated. 

In his 1992 publication, Gauci notes that the 6th Count von Zimmermann is the (Marquis) Charles Anthony Zimmermann Barbaro. However Gauci adds (page 413) that “there is no reason why all the members of this family cannot use the title should they so desire.”

 

  •  Title of Baron (von Brockdorff)

In his 1992 publication, Gauci describes the title of Baron of the Holy Roman Empire as having been granted to Heinrich von Brockdorff by Sigismund, Holy Roman Empire, on the 23rd April 1432.

Gauci explains that Cai von Brockdorff was commissioned in the name of the British King George III where he was styled Baron von Brockdorff. Gauci notes that Cai (born 1775, d. 1850) settled in Malta. 

This title could never have been considered by the Royal Commissioners because the von Brockdorff family (more correctly, a stem thereof) only settled in Malta after the government by the Grand Masters of the Maltese Islands. Naturally, there is therefore no room to discuss the possibility of this title of having ever been registered or recognized by the Grand Masters during their government of Malta. It follows that this title does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. Consequently, this title is to be classified in the second of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

It remains however a valid title and, of course, subject to the law of the land where it originated. 

In his 1992 publication, Gauci notes that the present shows Edward G. von Brockdorff as the head of he Maltese stem of the barons von Brockdorff. However Gauci adds (page 418) that “all male-from-male descendants of the grantee are entitled to the syle of Baron (Freiherr), and females are entitled to the courtesy style of Baroness (Baronin, Freifrau) for life or until marriage.”

 

  •  Title of Baron (Gaspare Cafici) of Calaforno and Tummarello 

Writing in 1992, Gauci explains that Mario Pietro Gaspare Cafici was granted the title of Baron of Calaforno and Tummarello by King Charles III of Spain, IV of Sicily on the 14th June 1770. 

In 1839, one of the grantee’s descendants Lorenzo Cafici married Anna Maria Giappone Testaferrata Viani. 

On the other hand, however this title was not considered by the Royal Commissioners. More importantly, it does not appear to have ever been registered nor does it appear to have ever been recognized by the Grand Masters during their government of Malta. It follows that this title does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. Consequently, this title is to be classified in the second of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

It remains however a valid Sicilian title and, of course, subject to the law of the land where it originated. In this regard, Sicily was later incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy which has since become a Republic. We have seen how in 1926 and 1943 Italian Nobility Law had been amended and that in principle titles of nobility may not pass to a female or to a male through a female line, but are carried onto the next male to male line. 

In his 1992 publication, Gauci identifies the present Baron as Anthony Rutter Giappone but adds that “Due to the limited genealogical data at my disposal, I was unable to determine with certainty the identity of any de jure Barons in the interim period between the death of the Baroness Maria Casolani Cafici and the succession of the present Baron.”

 

  •  Title of Baron (Drago) of the Gabella della Scannatura di Trapani 

Writing in 1992, Gauci explains that the Drago family is of great antiquity and is said to descend from Dragone Normanno, Count of Puglia, son of Tancred D’Hauteville and step-brother of Count Roger of Normandy. (Count Roger is the person generally held to have established a nobility in Malta in 1090). Gauci explains that Biagio Drago was on the 6th April 1709 invested in the title of Baron of the Gabella della Scannatura di Trapani, originally invested in favour of Goffredo (Ottofredo) Fardella Abrignano by King Philip IV of Spain, III of Sicily on the 27th May 1630. In 1735, one of Biagio’s brother’s descendants Antonio Drago D’Aragona married Maria Ciantar Xara Cassia from whom descend the Maltese stem. 

Coincidentally, the senior stem was later to be represented by Casimiro Drago who in 1849 took up residence in Malta. Having died childless Gauci explains that all his rights to the titles of Marquis Drago and Baron della Gabella della Scannatura di Trapani devolved upon the Maltese stem. 

In any case, this title was not considered by the Royal Commissioners. More importantly, it does not appear to have ever been registered nor does it appear to have ever been recognized by the Grand Masters during their government of Malta. It follows that this title does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. Consequently, this title is to be classified in the second of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

It remains however a valid Sicilian title and, of course, subject to the law of the land where it originated. In this regard, Sicily was later incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy which has since become a Republic. We have seen how in 1926 and 1943 Italian Nobility Law had been amended and that in principle titles of nobility may not pass to a female or to a male through a female line, but are carried onto the next male to male line. 

 

  • Title of Baron (Sceberras Testaferrata) of Montagna di Marzo 

Writing in 1992, Gauci explains that on the 12th December 1795, Antonio Sceberras Testaferrata was invested “maritali nomine” as Baron of Montagna di Marzo, a title previously held by the Trigona family in the person of Matteo Trigona by reason of investiture dated 28th April 1522 by the Charles I King of Spain, and Sicily, V of the Holy Roman Empire. Antonio Sceberras Testaferrata - who also held the Neapolitan title of Baron of Castel Cicciano - was married to Girolama Trigona. 

This title was not considered by the Royal Commissioners and it does not appear to have ever been registered nor does it appear to have ever been recognized by the Grand Masters during their government of Malta. It follows that this title does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. 

There is no mention of this title in Montalto’s book(__), which is surprising considering that the investiture in favour of Antonio Sceberras is recorded in Sicilian registers: “Si vuole che sia originaria di Malta. Un Antonino, per la moglie Girolama Trigona e Starrabba, ottenne a 12 dicembre 1795 investitura della baronia della Montagna di Marzo, fu capitano di giustizia in Piazza negli anni 1798-99, 1801-2, 1812-13. (Dott. A. Mango di Casalgerardo, NOBILIARIO DI SICILIA, da Scandurra a Schifano)”

On the other hand, even occasional recognitions by the Grand Masters are sufficient and seeing that Antonio Sceberras was contemporary to the Government of the Maltese Islands by the Grand Masters, it is likely that such a high profile personality would have been addressed as Baron of Montagna di Marzo by the Grand Masters. This consideration may give rise to the argument that the title might at some point been the subject of a direct recognition by the Grand Masters in which case, if proven, would allow the holder of this title to a precedence in accordance with the aforesaid rules of 1739 and 1795. 

If it results to be so, then this title is to be classified in the first of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

However, the title would nonetheless remain subject to the law of the land where it originated. In this regard, Sicily was later incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy which has since become a Republic. We have seen how in 1926 and 1943 Italian Nobility Law had been amended and that in principle titles of nobility may not pass to a female or to a male through a female line, but are carried onto the next male to male line. 

  • Title of Baron (Inguanez) of Ortigos 

Writing in 1992, Gauci explains that the Inguanez (Desguanscks) family was in 1285 granted the fief of Ortigos in Panades, Catalonia, Spain by Peter III of Aragon, I of Sicily and Malta. 

 

Gauci notes that this fief had been in the “possession of the Inguanez family for a very long time by the time Baron Ageraldo Inguanez arrived at the command of his sovereign to assume the governorship of the Maltese islands in 1400”. Gauci also notes that “in 1457, the Barony of Ortigos was mentioned in the will of the then holder Baron Antonio Inguanez, Baron of Ghariexem and Lord of the Saccaja, Mugiarrio and San Giorgio”. 

 

Impressive as all this may be, this title was not considered by the Royal Commissioners. More importantly, they do not appear to have ever been recognized by the Grand Masters during their government of Malta. It follows, at least at first sight, that this title does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795.

It is to be noted in Montalto’s book (page 22) we find reference to Antonio Inguanez and his wife Imperia Gatto holding, in the 15th century, the fief of Hortegos in Catalonia, in the district of De Panides (Spain). 

On the other hand, even occasional recognitions by the Grand Masters are sufficient and seeing that Inguanez’s descendants were contemporary to the Government of the Maltese Islands by the Grand Masters, it is likely that such a high profile family would have been addressed as Baron of Ortigos by the Grand Masters. This consideration may give rise to the argument that the title might at some point been the subject of a direct recognition by the Grand Masters in which case, if proven, would allow the holder of this title to a precedence in accordance with the aforesaid rules of 1739 and 1795. 

If it results to be so, then this title is to be classified in the first of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

However, the title would nonetheless remain subject to the law of the land where it originated.

 

  • Title of Barone (Fournier de Pausier)

As seen elsewhere, this title was considered by the Royal Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility. The Commissioners report that the title’s date of origin is 1768, year when it was conferred by the Empress Maria Teresa on Giorgio Fournier de Pausier. The Commissioners report that this title was never registered nor was evidence provided to prove that it was ever recognized by the Grand Masters during their government of Malta. 

It follows that this title does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. At first sight, therefore, this title is to be classified in the second of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta. This is in fact the conclusion reached by the Royal Commissioners. 

On the other hand, even occasional recognitions by the Grand Masters are sufficient and seeing that Giorgio Fournier de Pausier was contemporary to the Government of the Maltese Islands by the Grand Masters, it is likely that such a high profile personality would have been addressed as a Baron by the Grand Masters. This consideration may give rise to the argument that the title might at some point been the subject of a direct recognition by the Grand Masters in which case, if proven, would allow the holder of this title to a precedence in accordance with the aforesaid rules of 1739 and 1795. 

If it results to be so, then this title is to be classified in the first of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

It remains however subject to the law of the land where it originated. 

 

As seen elsewhere, this title was considered by the Royal Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility. The Commissioners report that the title’s date of origin is 1638, year when it was conferred by the King of Spain and Sicily to Matteo de Ribera. The Commissioners report that this title was never registered nor was evidence provided to prove that it was ever recognized by the Grand Masters during their government of Malta. 

It follows that this title does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. At first sight, therefore, this title is to be classified in the second of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta. This is in fact the conclusion reached by the Royal Commissioners. 

On the other hand, even occasional recognitions by the Grand Masters are sufficient and seeing that de Ribrera’s descendant Alberto Montalto de Ribera was married to the Baronessa Maria Antonia Gatto of Benuarrat and was contemporary to the Government of the Maltese Islands by the Grand Masters, it is likely that such a high profile personality would have been addressed as a Baron by the Grand Masters. This consideration may give rise to the argument that the title might at some point been the subject of a direct recognition by the Grand Masters in which case, if proven, would allow the holder of this title to a precedence in accordance with the aforesaid rules of 1739 and 1795. 

If it results to be so, then this title is to be classified in the first of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

It remains however a valid Sicilian title and, of course, subject to the law of the land where it originated. In this regard, Sicily was later incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy which has since become a Republic. We have seen how in 1926 and 1943 Italian Nobility Law had been amended and that in principle titles of nobility may not pass to a female or to a male through a female line, but are carried onto the next male to male line. However, Gauci’s 1981 and 1992 publications both indicate the holder of this title to be a lady. Gauci does not give any justification for this deviation from the Italian rule. Looking at the relative genealogical table, commencing from the aforesaid Matteo de Ribera the holder of this title of Barone di San Paolino would, not be the person indicated by Gauci but another: Because by application of the amended pre-Republican Italian rules, this title would devolve instead to Josie Attard Montalto. 

  

In Gauci’s 1981 publication, we find in the acknowledgments page (page xviii) reference to a Baron Salvino Testaferrata Moroni Viani. Both in 1986 and 1992 the same title of Baron is stated by Gauci to be bona fide. However, in his 1992 publication Gauci reports (page 448) that he “was unable to discover any information about this title except to note that it was listed in Histoire Generale des hommes vivants et des homes morts dans le XIX siecle, Geneva 1860-1866 (unpaginated) under Famille Testaferrata (de Malte)”. Gauci goes on to say that “Baron Salvatore Testaferrata Moroni Viani is the head of the primogenial male line of the ‘Gomerino’ branch of the Testaferrata family”. Gauci appears mystified by this title but awards it a bona fide foreign title status because it was “recognized” according to his criteria.

From further examination we find that in all three of his books Gauci had fallen victim to the error of omitting the 1737 succession of the title of Baron of Gomerino. This succession is described in page 54 (note 254) of Montalto’s book as well as in the Report of the Royal Commissioners. Montalto describes that Beatrice Testaferrata had on the 5 November 1734 nominated her son Ercole Martino to the succession of the title of Baron of Gomerino and that he was invested on the 1 May 1737. 

Gauci also fails to mention that in 1725, the then baronessa di Gomerino was given the right to the titles of “Most Illustrious” and “Noble”.

 

The 1878 Commissioners detailed the claim of Pietro Paolo Testaferrata Abela Moroni by reporting that Beatrice in fact, in a public instrument bearing date 5th November 1734, and received by Notary Tomaso Gatt, availing herself of the power given her by the sovereign, named to the succession of the title of Barone di Gomerino, her son Ercole Martino Testaferrata and his legitimate and natural children and descendents and annexed the present title to the possession of the primogenitura, in the following terms:- “Cum hac tamen conditione, quod praedictus titulus Baroniae Gomerini, ut supra, praedicto Don Erculi Martino ejus filio, suisque filiis et descendentibus datus et relaxatus, sit et esse debeat, cunctis futuris temporibus et in perpetuum, adjunctus datus et concessus ili filio seu filiae et descendenti, qui vel quae consequutus vel consequuta fuerit Primogenituram fundatam per praedictos dominos jugales De Testaferrata, in quodam donationis instrumento rogato in actis quondam Magnifici Benedicti Vassalli, sub die septima Martii Millesimi Septingentesimi decimi quarti."

Strangely, the 1737 succession was not given any importance by a court judgment of 1882. It appears that Gauci followed the judgment rather than the historical record. The effect of the 1737 succession proves that the title of Baron of Gomerino was in annexed to a primogenitura established in 1714, therefore meaning that it is the holder of this primogenitura and not the holder of the property of Gomerino who is to enjoy the title of Baron of Gomerino. The 1737 succession also proves that Ercole Martino Testaferrata was the 2nd and not the 3rd Baron of Gomerino. On the other hand, Gauci states that Ercole Martino only succeeded the title in 1744 and this following a nomination by his brother Fabrizio who – according to Gauci – had succeeded the title in 1713. From further research it results that in 1713 Fabrizio had received by donation the property known as Gomerino (i.e. before the establishment of the 1714 primogenitura) and that he passed this property onto Ercole in 1744. There is therefore no link whatsoever between the property of Gomerino and the title of Gomerino. Some sources describe the Gomerino property as a fief, however the Royal Commissioners say that the property was allodial. 

From all this it is clear that in fact the title of Baron enjoyed by Salvino/Salvatore Testaferrata Moroni Viani has its basis on the succession approved by Grand Master Despuig on the 1st May 1737 in favour of Ercole Martino Testaferrata to the title of Baron of Gomerino originally granted by Grand Master Perellos on the 24thDecember 1710 to Paolo and Beatrice Testaferrata. As this succession of the title refers to the primogenitura established by the spouses Testaferrata and not the Gomerino property, the full name of this title should read  “The holder of the Testaferrata Primogenitura referred to in the deed of 5 November 1734 who is by the sovereign’s order dated 1 May 1737, the Baron of Gomerino which was created in 1710”, or “Baron Testaferrata” for short. 

Summing up in regard to the title of “Baron Testaferrata”, this title should be reclassified as a Maltese title which was first created in 1710 and succeeded in 1737. 

In addition, and from further examination we also find that the same Baron Salvino Testaferrata Moroni Viani is also the head of the primogenital line of Isidoro Viani who was granted the title of “Baron of Tabria” by Grand Master Vilhena on the 11th December 1728 with the right of nomination. The latter title has been the subject of much controversy because it appears to be claimed by many people. 

 

  • Title of Hereditary Noble of Hungary 

In his 1981 and 1992 publications, Gauci describes the title of Hereditary Knight of Hungary as having been granted to Tomaso Barbara by Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor on 30th March 1596. Gauci states that he was unable to discover whether General Barbara had any issue to whom the rank of Hereditary Noble devolved.

 

  • Title of Hereditary Noble of Scotland 

In his 1981 and 1992 publications, Gauci describes the title of Hereditary Noble of Scotland as having been granted to himself by Sir James Monteith Grant, KCVO, Writer to Her Majesty’s Lord Lyon, King of Arms on the 10th September 1976. 

The Court of the Lord Lyon  is the heraldic authority for Scotland and deals with all matters relating to Scottish Heraldry and Coats of Arms and maintains the Scottish Public Registers of Arms and Genealogies.

This title is clearly not based on any act of the Grand masters of the order of Saint John during its Government of Malta, nor may its origin be stated to derive from any body with which the State of Malta ever had diplomatic relations, irrespective of whether the grant meet Gauci’s criteria for inclusion.

 

  • Title of Patrician of Messina (1553)

As seen elsewhere, this title was considered by the Royal Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility. The Commissioners report that the title’s date of origin is 1553, year when it was conferred to Mariano Testaferrata by the Senate of Messina on the 20th December 1553. The Commissioners wrongly considered this title to be a mere municipal concession. At first sight therefore, this title of nobility does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. 

On the other hand, even occasional recognitions by the Grand Masters are sufficient and seeing that the Testaferrata family was contemporary to the Government of the Maltese Islands by the Grand Masters, it is likely that such a high profile family would have been acknowledged as a patrician by the Grand Masters. This consideration may give rise to the argument that the title might at some point been the subject of a direct recognition by the Grand Masters in which case, if proven, would allow the holder of this title to a precedence in accordance with the aforesaid rules of 1739 and 1795. 

If it results to be so, then this title is to be classified in the first of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

However, the title would nonetheless remain subject to the law of the land where it originated.

It remains a valid Sicilian title and, of course, subject to the law of the land where it originated. In this regard, Sicily was later incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy which has since become a Republic. We have seen how in 1926 and 1943 Italian Nobility Law had been amended and that in principle titles of nobility may not pass to a female or to a male through a female line, but are carried onto the next male to male line.

Gauci’s treatment of this title is inconclusive. He listed this title in both his 1981 and 1992 publications but does not elaborate any further. However, we find in his 1986 publication that this title is attributed to many individuals who have different surnames, but does not indicate how this title arose. We therefore have to delve deeper and once establishing that of the Maltese noble families only that of Testaferrata appears to have been granted the title of Patrician of Messina in 1553 and 1792 and that in fact Gauci only describes that family as having been so ennobled, it follows that the individuals named by Gauci in his 1986 publication are all claiming  under a descent from the Testaferrata family. Therefore by attributing this title to so many individuals who are not Testaferrata in name, Gauci is necessarily implying that this title is transmissible in the female line.

This treatment is not consistent with the accepted view that patriziati are transmissible only in the male to male line. In the case of the 1553 grant, we find that this was granted anew in 1792 with specific reference to the original grant, to only four of Mariano’s descendants who were all descended in the male to male line. In addition we also find that in the original list of Maltese title holders dated 24h February 1877 presented to the purposes of the Commissioners’ Report, the only claimants (with the exception of Monsignor Salvatore Grech Delicata Testaferrata Cassia) to this title were all descended in the male-to-male line from Mariano Testaferrata. 

 

  • Title of Patrician of Rome 

As seen elsewhere, this title was considered by the Royal Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility. The Commissioners report that the title’s date of origin is 1590, year when it was conferred to Monsignor Leonardo Abela, to his two brothers Placido and Alessandro and to their nephews ex sorore Pietro di Ferro, Ascanio Surdo and Paolo Testaferrata by the Senate of Rome. The Commissioners wrongly considered this title to be a mere municipal concession. At first sight therefore, this title of nobility does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. 

On the other hand, even occasional recognitions by the Grand Masters are sufficient and seeing that the recipients were contemporary to the Government of the Maltese Islands by the Grand Masters, it is likely that such a high profile personalities as a Bishop (Leonardo Abela) and Inquisitor’s Depositario (Paolo Testaferrata) would have been acknowledged as patricians by the Grand Masters. This consideration may give rise to the argument that the title might at some point been the subject of a direct recognition by the Grand Masters in which case, if proven, would allow the holder of this title to a precedence in accordance with the aforesaid rules of 1739 and 1795. 

If it results to be so, then this title is to be classified in the first of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

However, the title would nonetheless remain subject to the law of the land where it originated.

It remains of course, subject to the law of the land where it originated. In this regard, Sicily was later incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy which has since become a Republic. We have seen how in 1926 and 1943 Italian Nobility Law had been amended and that in principle titles of nobility may not pass to a female or to a male through a female line, but are carried onto the next male to male line.

Gauci’s treatment of this title is inconclusive. He listed this title in both his 1981 and 1992 publications but does not elaborate any further. However, we find in his 1986 publication that this title is attributed to many individuals who have different surnames, but does not indicate how this title arose. We therefore have to delve deeper and once establishing that of the Maltese noble families only those of Abela, Surdo, Testaferrata and Ciantar appear to claim the title of Patrician of Rome as created in 1590, 1674 and 1735 and that in fact Gauci only describes those families as having been so ennobled, it follows that the individuals named by Gauci in his 1986 publication are all claiming under a descent from either the Abela, Surdo, Testaferrata or Ciantar families. Therefore by attributing this title to so many individuals who are not Abela, Surdo, Testaferrata or Ciantar in name, Gauci is necessarily implying that this title is transmissible in the female line.

This treatment is not consistent with the accepted view that patriziati are transmissible only in the male to male line. In addition we also find that in the original list of Maltese title holders dated 24h February 1877 presented to the purposes of the Commissioners’ Report, the only claimants (with the exception of Monsignor Salvatore Grech Delicata Testaferrata Cassia and Saverio De Piro) to this title were all descended in the male-to-male line from Paolo Testaferrata. 

 

  • Title of Patrician of Rome (1674) 

As seen elsewhere, this title was considered by the Royal Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility. The Commissioners report that the title’s date of origin is 6th July 1674. The Report only goes as far as saying that this title was claimed by Emmanuel Testaferrata Asciack and by Lorenzo Cassar Desain. The Report only says that no proof or document whatsoever was produced concerning this grant and therefore proceeded to dismiss this claim altogether. 

In his 1981 publication, Gauci shed more light on this title by identifying Mario Testaferrata de Robertis as the grantee in 1674, which would mean (1992 publication, page 378) that he was only 20 years old at the time. 

It should be remarked that the Royal Commissioners did not list their decision on this title in PART IV of the Appendix appended to their report.

 

  • Title of Patrician of Rome (Ciantar)

As seen elsewhere, this title was considered by the Royal Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility. The Commissioners report that the title’s date of origin is the 4th July 1744. The Report only goes as far as saying that this title was claimed by Serafino Ciantar. The Report only says that no proof or document whatsoever was produced concerning this grant and therefore proceeded to dismiss this claim altogether. 

In his 1981 publication, Gauci reports a different date of creation of this title namely October 1735 and identifies the Count Ignazio Francesco Wizzini Paleologo as the grantee 

It should be remarked that the Royal Commissioners did not list their decision on this title in PART IV of the Appendix appended to their report.

 

  • Title of Patrician of Messina (1792)

As seen elsewhere, this title was considered by the Royal Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility. The Commissioners report that the title’s date of origin is 28th August 1792, when it was conferred by the Senate of Messina to the Marquis Don Mario Testaferrata Castelletti, Don Daniele and Don Pandolfo Testaferrata De Noto, and the Baron Pietro Paolo Testaferrata A(b)ela, all descendants of Mariano Testaferrata. The grantees were recognized as noble citizens and patricians of Messina and their nobility was traced so far back as 1553 which is the year when their common ancestor was originally granted the title by the Senate of Messina on the 20th December 1553, thus being reinstated in the possession of that dignity, together with their children and descendants. The Commissioners wrongly considered this title to be a mere municipal concession. At first sight therefore, this title of nobility does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. 

On the other hand, even occasional recognitions by the Grand Masters are sufficient and seeing that the Testaferrata family was contemporary to the Government of the Maltese Islands by the Grand Masters, it is likely that such a high profile family would have been acknowledged as a patrician by the Grand Masters. This consideration may give rise to the argument that the title might at some point been the subject of a direct recognition by the Grand Masters in which case, if proven, would allow the holder of this title to a precedence in accordance with the aforesaid rules of 1739 and 1795. 

If it results to be so, then this title is to be classified in the first of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

However, the title would nonetheless remain subject to the law of the land where it originated.

It remains however a valid Sicilian title and, of course, subject to the law of the land where it originated. In this regard, Sicily was later incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy which has since become a Republic. We have seen how in 1926 and 1943 Italian Nobility Law had been amended and that in principle titles of nobility may not pass to a female or to a male through a female line, but are carried onto the next male to male line.

Gauci’s treatment of this title is inconclusive. He listed this title in both his 1981 and 1992 publications but does not elaborate any further. However, we find in his 1986 publication that this title is attributed to many individuals who have different surnames, but does not indicate how this title arose. We therefore have to delve deeper and once establishing that of the Maltese noble families only that of Testaferrata appears to have been granted the title of Patrician of Messina in 1553 and 1792 and that in fact Gauci only describes that family as having been so ennobled, it follows that the individuals named by Gauci in his 1986 publication are all claiming  under a descent from the Testaferrata family. Therefore by attributing this title to so many individuals who are not Testaferrata in name, Gauci is necessarily implying that this title is transmissible in the female line.

This treatment is not consistent with the accepted view that patriziati are transmissible only in the male to male line. In the case of the 1553 grant, we find that this was granted anew in 1792 with specific reference to the original grant, to only four of Mariano’s descendants who were all descended in the male to male line. In addition we also find that in the original list of Maltese title holders dated 24h February 1877 presented to the purposes of the Commissioners’ Report, the only claimants to the 1792 title to this title were all descended in the male-to-male line from the aforesaid grantees Testaferrata. On the other hand, Monsignor Salvatore Grech Delicata Testaferrata Cassia laid a claim to the 1553 title even though he was only descended in the female line.

 

  • Title of Hereditary Knight of the Holy Roman Empire (Testaferrata)

As seen elsewhere, this title was considered by the Royal Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility. The Commissioners report that the title’s date of origin is 6th November 1637 when it was conferred motu proprioby Ferdinand III, Emperor elect of the Holy Roman Empire to Giacomo Testaferrata de Robertis. It is a remarkable title because of its very wide remainder in favour of all of Giacomo’s descendants.

From the Commissioners’ Report it results without any doubt whatsoever that this title was directly recognized by the Grand Masters because it is reported that the omission of registration of this title is supplied by the recognition of this distinction on the part of the Grand Masters, who at different times, and in their official acts styled “Nobiles Sacri Romani Imperii” some of the descendants of the original grantee. Therefore, this title enjoys precedence according to the rules of 1739 and 1795. 

Consequently, this title is to be classified in the first of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

On the other hand, the Commissioners expressed their concern that by taking this title to extend to all descendants, this would include persons of all classes, and “whilst some live on income from their own property, others pursue mean occupations and have slender means of support”.

The Royal Commissioners therefore made a conscientious admission that they were insufficiently acquainted with German laws of succession and accordingly they could not express an opinion about the succession of title of Hereditary Knight of the Holy Roman Empire

As a matter of fact – and this is omitted by Gauci – the succession, in Malta, of this title was not decided by the Royal Commissioners but by the British Secretary of State for the Colonies in the following terms: “I observe that the patents in question were never registered as titles of nobility in the Cancelleria, or in the High Court of the Castellania of the Grand Masters; and no proof is given that the alleged dignity was ever recognized in Malta. I do not, therefore, perceive that the gentlemen claiming that dignity have made out sufficient grounds for being allowed the special precedency which has been accorded to the heads of families who before the annexation of Malta to the British dominions had obtained titles of nobility.” In this way, the Secretary of State denied Giacomo Testaferrata’s descendants their title and right of precedence. 

It should be remarked that the Commissioners had expressed their concern that they were unsure whether the dissolution of the German Empire (1806) brought about the end of this title. Clearly, they were unaware that in England titles that emanated from the Empire continued to be recognized as valid long after 1806. In this regard, one may cite the examples of Count Bentinck, Count of the Holy Roman Empire, which was created 29th December. 1732 but the Royal license was only issued on the 22nd April, 1886, Count St Paul, Count (Paul family) of the Holy Roman Empire, a title created 20th July, 1759 but Royal License issued 7th September, 1812, and Count de Salis, Count of the Holy Roman Empire, a title created 12th March, 1748 but Royal License issued 4th April, 1809.

 

As seen elsewhere, this title was considered by the Royal Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility. The Commissioners report that the title’s date of origin is 9th November 1698 when it was conferred motu proprioby Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor to Massimiliano Balsano. It is a remarkable title because of its very wide remainder in favour of all of Massimiliano’s descendants.

From the Commissioners’ Report it results without any doubt whatsoever that this title was directly recognized by the Grand Masters because it is reported that the omission of registration of this title is supplied by the recognition of this distinction on the part of the Grand Masters, who at different times, and in their official acts styled “Nobiles Sacri Romani Imperii” some of the descendants of the original grantee. Therefore, this title enjoys precedence according to the rules of 1739 and 1795. 

Consequently, this title is to be classified in the first of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

On the other hand, the Commissioners expressed their concern that by taking this title to extend to all descendants, this would include persons of all classes, and “whilst some live on income from their own property, others pursue mean occupations and have slender means of support”.

The Royal Commissioners therefore made a conscientious admission that they were insufficiently acquainted with German laws of succession and accordingly they could not express an opinion about the succession of title of Hereditary Knight of the Holy Roman Empire

As a matter of fact – and this is omitted by Gauci – the succession, in Malta, of this title was not decided by the Royal Commissioners but by the British Secretary of State for the Colonies in the following terms: “I observe that the patents in question were never registered as titles of nobility in the Cancelleria, or in the High Court of the Castellania of the Grand Masters; and no proof is given that the alleged dignity was ever recognized in Malta. I do not, therefore, perceive that the gentlemen claiming that dignity have made out sufficient grounds for being allowed the special precedency which has been accorded to the heads of families who before the annexation of Malta to the British dominions had obtained titles of nobility.” In this way, the Secretary of State denied Massimiliano Balzano’s descendants their title and right of precedence. 

It should be remarked that the Commissioners had expressed their concern that they were unsure whether the dissolution of the German Empire (1806) brought about the end of this title. Clearly, they were unaware that in England titles that emanated from the Empire continued to be recognized as valid long after 1806. In this regard, one may cite the examples of Count Bentinck, Count of the Holy Roman Empire, which was created 29th December. 1732 but the Royal license was only issued on the 22nd April, 1886, Count St Paul, Count (Paul family) of the Holy Roman Empire, a title created 20th July, 1759 but Royal License issued 7th September, 1812, and Count de Salis, Count of the Holy Roman Empire, a title created 12th March, 1748 but Royal License issued 4th April, 1809.

 

As seen elsewhere, this title was considered by the Royal Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility. However, although the Report says that this title was claimed by Giorgio Crispo Barbaro, it only goes as far as observing that no proof or document whatsoever was produced concerning this grant and therefore proceeded to dismiss this claim altogether. 

It should be remarked that the Royal Commissioners did not list their decision on this title in PART IV of the Appendix appended to their report.

 

As seen elsewhere, this title was considered by the Royal Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility. However, although the Report says that this title was claimed by the Conte Stagno, it only goes as far as observing that no proof or document whatsoever was produced concerning this grant and therefore proceeded to dismiss this claim altogether. 

It should be remarked that the Royal Commissioners did not list their decision on this title in PART IV of the Appendix appended to their report.

 

As seen elsewhere, this title was considered by the Royal Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility. However, although the Report says that this title was claimed by the Conte Fontani, it only goes as far as observing that no proof or document whatsoever was produced concerning this grant and therefore proceeded to dismiss this claim altogether. In regard to this title, the Commissioners added a remark that according to the law in force as at year 1877, this title cannot be borne in Malta without Her Majesty’s special permission. 

It should be remarked that the Royal Commissioners did not list their decision on this title in PART IV of the Appendix appended to their report.

 

  • the title of Count Buzzi;

 

This title is listed as a bona fide foreign title in Gauci’s 1986 publication (page 11). Unfortunately Gauci does not give us any other information about this title. In the same publication (page 63) we find that in 1803 the Baron Pietro Paolo Testaferrata Abela contracted a third, fruitful marriage with Teresa daughter of Count Ciariaco Buzzi. 

On the other hand, however this title could never have been considered by the Royal Commissioners because the family only settled in Malta after the end of the government of the Maltese Islands by the Order of Saint John. Naturally, there is therefore no room to discuss the possibility of this title of having ever been registered or recognized by the Grand Masters during their government of Malta. It follows that this title does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. 

Consequently, this title is to be classified in the second of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

 

  • the title of Seigneur of Courcelles;

 

This title is listed as a bona fide foreign title in Gauci’s 1986 publication (page 11). In the same publication (page 46) we find that in 1843 Gaetano Zarb married Giovanna Rosa Piot des Seigneurs d Courcelles whose family is described as ennobled by Louis XV of France, December 1774. More information about this title is found in the 1992 publication (page 402) which says that the Piot family were ennobled by that title in Champagne, France by letters patent promulgated by King Louis XV, December 1744 and also that the Piot family traced its descent from that of Pio di Savoia, Patricians of Rome and Princes of Italy. 

On the other hand, however this title could never have been considered by the Royal Commissioners because the family only settled in Malta after the end of the government of the Maltese Islands by the Order of Saint John. Naturally, there is therefore no room to discuss the possibility of this title of having ever been registered or recognized by the Grand Masters during their government of Malta. It follows that this title does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. 

Consequently, this title is to be classified in the second of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

 

  • the title of Count Moroni;

 

This title is listed as a bona fide foreign title in Gauci’s 1986 publication (page 11). Unfortunately Gauci does not give us any other information about this title. In the same publication (page 63) we find that in 1781 the childless Baron Pietro Paolo Testaferrata Abela contracted a second, fruitful marriage with Laudonia daughter of Count Annibale Moroni. More information about this title is found in the 1992 publication (Table 315) which says that the Moroni family enjoyed the titles of Count of Lecco by Duke Maximillian Sforza (23-11-1513), Count of Orio (1518), Duke of Boiano by Emperor Charles V (1528), Count of Pontecurone (1534) as well as an Hereditary Senatorship of Rome (1768) and a Patriziato of Rome. The Cardinal Giovanni Moroni who presided the Council of Trent is indicated as a brother to Laudonia’s direct ancestor. 

Impressive as this may be, these titles were not considered by the Royal Commissioners. More importantly, they do not appear to have ever been registered with the Grand Masters during their government of Malta. It follows, at least at first sight, that these titles do not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795.

It is to be noted in Montalto’s book (page 251) we find reference to Laudonia Moroni as the daughter of Count Moroni, a Roman Senator. The most famous member of the Moroni family was St. Celestine V, the only lawful Pope to abdicate. Montalto observes that because of his marriage to Laudonia, Testaferrata was able to divide his time between Valletta and Rome. 

On the other hand, even occasional recognitions by the Grand Masters are sufficient and seeing that Laudonia Moroni was contemporary to the Government of the Maltese Islands by the Grand Masters, it is likely that such a high profile personality would have been addressed as a countess by the Grand Masters. This consideration may give rise to the argument that the title might at some point been the subject of a direct recognition by the Grand Masters in which case, if proven, would allow the holder of this title to a precedence in accordance with the aforesaid rules of 1739 and 1795. 

If it results to be so, then this title is to be classified in the first of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

However, the title would nonetheless remain subject to the law of the land where it originated.

 

  • the title of Baron Mueller de Friedburg;

 

This title is listed as a bona fide foreign title in Gauci’s 1986 publication (page 11). In the same publication (page 95) we find that in 1812 the noblewoman Marianna Alessi married Benedict Mueller de Friedburg, Baron of the Hoy Roman Empire from whom she had issue. More information about this title is found in the 1992 publication (page 45) which says that Benedict’s father was Baron Franz Josef Muller, Prime Minister to HSH the Prince of Sankt Galen in Switzerland; also adding that Granz Josef was created a knight of the Holy Roman Empire on 21st March 1774 and a Baron of the Holy Roman Empire on 10th December 1791. 

On the other hand, however this title could never have been considered by the Royal Commissioners because the family only settled in Malta after the end of the government of the Maltese Islands by the Order of Saint John. Naturally, there is therefore no room to discuss the possibility of this title of having ever been registered or recognized by the Grand Masters during their government of Malta. It follows that this title does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. 

Consequently, this title is to be classified in the second of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

 

  • the title of Count Rosso;

 

This title is listed as a bona fide foreign title in Gauci’s 1986 publication (page 11). In the same publication (page 80) we find that in 1727 the noblewoman Anna Maria Galea Feriol married Count Marc’ Antonio Rosso of Sicily from whom she had issue. More information about this title is found in the 1992 publication (page 281) which says that Marc’ Antonio’s title was Count of San Secondo, adding that Marc’ Antonio’s father was Ignazio Rosso/Rossi who was created Count of San Secondo in Ciccobrighi, Sicily, on 19-10-1694 and invested on 15-2-1695.

This title was not considered by the Royal Commissioners. More importantly, it does not appear to have ever been registered with the Grand Masters during their government of Malta. It follows, at least at first sight, that this title does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795.

On the other hand, even occasional recognitions by the Grand Masters are sufficient and seeing that Marc’ Antonio was contemporary to the Government of the Maltese Islands by the Grand Masters, it is likely that such a high profile personality would have been addressed as a count by the Grand Masters. This consideration may give rise to the argument that the title might at some point been the subject of a direct recognition by the Grand Masters in which case, if proven, would allow the holder of this title to a precedence in accordance with the aforesaid rules of 1739 and 1795. 

If it results to be so, then this title is to be classified in the first of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

However, the title would nonetheless remain subject to the law of the land where it originated.

 

 

  • the title of Baron Ciantar;

This title is discussed above under the title of Wzzini Paleologo. This title although mentioned in passing, was not considered by the Royal Commissioners. In fact the Commissioners’ Report reads that on the 1st June 1750, Giorgio Serafino Ciantar was appointed by Grand Master Pinto to a lieutenancy where he is styled not only as a “Count” but also as a “Barone”. It will be recalled that the title of Barone di San Giovanni, also claimed by Ciantar family, was only revived in 1777. 

It appears, therefore, that Gauci has not yet examined this title of Baron which was acknowledged by the Grand Master in 1750. 

Even occasional recognitions by the Grand Masters are sufficient and seeing that this recognition was directly made by the Government of the Maltese Islands by the Grand Masters, then the holder of this title to a precedence in accordance with the aforesaid rules of 1739 and 1795. 

Consequently, this title is to be classified in the first of the two categories of foreign titles in Malta.

However, the title would nonetheless remain subject to the law of the land where it originated.

 

 

  • the title of Prince of Mystra (Mistra);

 

This title is stated by Gauci, in his 1981 publication, to have been first created in 1436. On the other hand, however it was not considered by the Royal Commissioners. More importantly, it does not appear to have ever been registered nor does it appear to have ever been recognized by the Grand Masters during their government of Malta. It follows that this title does not enjoy any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795. 

In his 1986 publication Gauci relegated this title to one which does not satisfy his criteria to be included as a bona fide foreign title. In his 1992 publication, this title isn’t mentioned anywhere.

This said, it would be amiss to ignore the fact that the family of Wzzini Paleologo, from whom the Princes of Mystra descend, was given formal permission on the 6th July 1744 by Grand Master Pinto to register the diploma of nobility given to the family by the Senato e Popolo Romano which emphasizes the way in which the family of Wzzini Paleologo descend from the Comneno Paleologos “Emperors of the Orient”. 

 

Foreign titles originating pre-1798 which fall in the first classification

Having completed the exercise of considering the many foreign titles that are found in Gauci’s publications, as well as in the Royal Commissioners’ Report, we may now classify all of the published foreign titles in Malta into two categories. 

It will be recalled that it was the Royal Commissioners’ Report which gave rise to two classes of foreign title, those which were recognized by the Government of Malta during 1530-1798, and those which were not. The Commissioners made a conscious effort to spell out that the fact that a title was not “recognized” did not render it invalid, but only had the effect of not according the holder any precedence.

 

Therefore on the basis of the above, the titles in the first classification are: 

  1. The nobility inherent to imperial descent enjoyed by the descendants of the Wzzini Paleologo family which was registered in Malta (see notes above); 
  2. The title of Duke of Paganica which is likely to have been recognized (see notes above);
  3. The title of Marquis De Piro which was registered in Malta;
  4. The title of Marquis Testaferrata which, contrary to the conclusion of the Commissioners’ Report, was in fact recognized at various times in favour of different branches of the Testaferrata family (see notes above);
  5. The Portuguese 1739 style of Conte Ciantar which culminated in the 1750 recognition in favour of the Conte Giorgio Serafino Ciantar;
  6. The French 1745/47/61 styles of Conte Ciantar which culminated in the 1750 recognition in favour of the Conte Giorgio Serafino Ciantar;
  7. the title of Palatine Count Fenech Bonnici which was registered in Malta;
  8. The title of Count Fournier which was registered in Malta;
  9. The title of Count Manduca which is likely to have been recognized (see notes above);
  10. The title of Count Moroni which is likely to have been recognized (see notes above);
  11. The title of Count Preziosi which was registered in Malta;
  12. The title of Count Rosso which is likely to have been recognized (see notes above);
  13. The title of Count Sant which was registered in Malta;
  14. The title of Count (Formosa) of Santa Sofia which is likely to have been recognized (see notes above); 
  15. The title of Count Stagno which, contrary to the conclusion of the Commissioners’ Report, is likely to have been recognized (see notes above);
  16. The title of Baron (Testaferrata) di Castel Cicciano recognized in 1725;
  17. The title of Baron Ciantar which was recognized in 1750 in favour of the Conte Giorgio Serafino Ciantar;
  18. The title of Count Fournier which, contrary to the conclusion of the Commissioners’ Report, is likely to have been recognized (see notes above);
  19. Title of Baron (Sceberras) of Montagna di Marzo which is likely to have been recognized (see notes above);
  20. The title of Baron (Inguanez) of Ortigos which is likely to have been recognized (see notes above);
  21. The title of Baron (Montalto) of San Paolino which, contrary to the conclusion of the Commissioners’ Report, is likely to have been recognized (see notes above);
  22. The title of Baron (Ciantar) of San Giovanni which was registered in Malta;
  23. The title of Messinese Patrician (1553) which, contrary to the conclusion of the Commissioners’ Report, is likely to have been recognized (see notes above);
  24. The title of Roman Patrician granted simultaneously to Monsignor Leonardo Abela, to his two brothers Placido and Alessandro and to their nephews ex sorore Pietro di Ferro, Ascanio Surdo and Paolo Testaferrata by the Senate of Rome on the 22nd May 1590, which, contrary to the conclusion of the Commissioners’ Report, is likely to have been recognized (see notes above);
  25. another title of Patrician of Messina listed (1792) which, contrary to the conclusion of the Commissioners’ Report, is likely to have been recognized (see notes above);
  26. The title of Hereditary Knight (Testaferrata) of the Holy Roman Empire which is described as having been recognized (see notes above); 
  27. another title of Hereditary Knight (Balsano) of the Holy Roman Empire which is described as having been recognized (see notes above); 

It is to be noted that the titles of Conte Wzzini Paleologo which is dated 1722, the title of Marquis of San Vincenzo Ferreri which is stated to originate in 1725, and that of Baron Testaferrata (1710 and 1737) do not feature above because they are to be reclassified as Maltese titles for reasons explained above. The foreign titles of Testaferrata Olivier (1745) and Cassar Desain (1749) have already been reclassified as Maltese titles.

Finally, it is to be noted as Gauci himself points out in his 1992 publication (page 339) that in addition to those identified by him, there may very well exist other bona fide foreign titles in Malta.

An apt ending is the following taken from Gauci’s 1981 publication(__), namely an extract of its foreword written by John Brooke-Little, Esq., MVO, K.St.J., MA, FSA, FHS, Norroy and Ulster King of Arms, Knight Grand Cross of Grace and Devotion SMOM, Registrar and Librarian of the College of Arms, London and Chairman of the Council of the Heraldry Society of Great Britain(__):- “It should make it difficult for pretenders to claim or invent titles for many years to come and so ensure the continuance of the genuine Nobility, for it is easy for a Government to refuse to recognize titles of nobility but it is impossible for it to proscribe inate nobility and pride in family and ancient history.”