Maltesenobles7

The 18th century Maltese Titles of “Most Illustrious” and “Noble” (the basis of the 19th century sobriquet “The Most Noble”)

(Malta’s historic untitled Nobility).

 

 

The titles of “Most Illustrious” and “Noble” are regulated by a law first enacted in 1725 by Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena of the Order of Saint John during its rule over the Maltese Islands. The Enactment specifically says that it was issued “Per I Titoli” (For titles of nobility). Later enactments specifically refer to the relative exemptions as “il titolo” (noble title).

The Grand Master legislated that it was a criminal offence to attribute either title to anybody. 

However, the same Grand Master Vilhena and his successors relaxed this rule in favour of some persons, including some of the Maltese title holders. In two cases, this rule was only relaxed partially to the effect that the grantees were only entitled to “Most Illustrious”.

Some of the exemptions were made use of by a 19th Century Royal Commission to prove the direct recognition of some titles by the Grand Masters during their Government of the Maltese Islands. The report was published in 1878. Inexplicably, although the 1878 report made detailed reference to the 1725 enactment, it did not consider it a title in its own right.

The list of persons who were exempted from the 1725 enactment includes non-titled persons, proving that Malta has a history of untitled nobility, similar to the untitled nobility of various Italian states

That is to say, in addition to untitled nobility enjoyed by some Maltese families in Italian states  and the Holy Roman Empire, Malta had its own developed system of untitled nobility created by the Grand Masters which was distinct from the other titles of “Barone”, “Conte” and “Marchese” created or otherwise recognized, by the same Grand Masters.

Indeed during the reign of the Grand Masters, although some persons were created or recognized “Baroni”, “Conti” and “Marchesi”, they were not necessarily entitled to the titles of “Most Illustrious” and “Noble”. For example Baron de Piro only became entitled to it in 1727, that is to say 11 years after his barony; similarly, there is no record of Baron Bonnici ever being entitled to the style even though he received his barony in 1737.

Conversely, during the same period, those persons who were entitled to either title of “Most Illustrious” and “Noble” were not necessarily entitled to the titles of “Barone”, “Conte” or “Marchese”. 

On at least one occasion, the Grand Masters granted the title of “Most Illustrious” and “Noble” for the simple expedient of facilitating a family’s nobility in a foreign state.

In 1886, that is to say almost 90 years after the Knights’ capitulation, all of the Maltese ‘titolati’ became entitled to be styled “The Most Noble”.

This section explores the implications of the various exemptions to the 1725 enactment and proves that Malta did in fact enjoy a system of untitled nobility which was distinct from the “titolati”. 

ORIGIN AND NATURE OF TITLE 

On the 30th April 1725, Grand Master ordered that all Lawyers, Notaries and Registrars were to immediately stop calling anyone of the Grand Master’s vassals “Noble” or “Most Illustrious”. 

The Grand Master further ordered that if any lawyer, notary or registrar broke the law, then the errant lawyer would be suspended from office and the wrongdoing Notary or Registrar would be removed from office. All this quite apart – the Grand Master warned – from other undisclosed “arbitrary penalties”. 

The Grand Master made sure that everyone knew about this order. In fact he had notices posted in all public places in Valletta, Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua; In addition the Grand Master also engaged an official trumpeter to assemble the people to hear the Grand Master’s representative read out this decision in a loud, clear and intelligible voice to a listening and intelligent crowd. 

The following is the text of the Enactment:- 

 

Per I Titoli - Prammatica - S.A. Srma Padrone in virtu' della presente Prammatica, perpetuo valitura, volendo rimediare agli abusi, et inconvenienti da qualche tempo a questa parte introdotti in materia di Titoli, ordina e comanda che da oggi in avanti nessun Avvocato, Notaro, et Attuario di questo nostro dominio, ardisca dare il Titolo di Illustrissimo, ne' di Nobile, nelle scritture, contratti, ed atti pubblici, a veruno dei nostri Vassalli, eccettuato il Capitano della Verga pro tempore, e li due Magistrati delle nostre Citta' Notabile e Valletta, et il Milite Barone Marc Antonio Inguanez nostro Feudatorio, con la Baronessa sua consorte, e loro discendenti, sotto pena, in caso di contravvenzione, in quant' alli Avvocati di sospensione, ed in quanto alli Notari et Attuarj della prescrizione dell' officio, et altre pene arbitrarie a detta A. Serma. Die XXX mensis Aprilis 1725, data et pubta. fuit, et ego pns Prammatica in locis pubblicis, solitis et consuentis, Has Civitates Vallette Victoriose Sengle et Burmule sono Tubi, Populi parte congregata audiente, et intelligente, Actuario Hujus Mag. Cur Castelle legente, et Jose Vella Precone, alta et intelligibile voce preconizante, unde:-

 

                   (TRANSLATION

                        Of Titles – Prammatica – His Most Serene Highness in virtue of the present enactment, about to be of perpetual value, wishing to remedy the abuses and inconveniences for time introduced in the matter of title, - orders and commands that from today henceforth, no Advocate, Notary, or Registrar of this our Dominion, shall dare to give the title of “Most Illustrious” or “Noble” in writings, contracts, or public documents to any of our vassals, with the exception of the “Capitano della Verga”, pro tempore, and the two Jurats of our city of Notabile and Valletta, and the Milite Barone Marco Antonio Inguanez, our Feudatory, with the Baroness Inguanez, his wife, and their descendants, under pain in case of contravention, as regards advocates of suspension, and as regards Notaries and Registrar, of privation of office, and other penalties at pleasure of His Most Serene Highness, 30th day of the month of April 1725. The present enactment was read and published in the usual and customary public places in the cities of Valletta, Vittoriosa, Senglea and Burmula with sound of trumpet, the people in part assembled, listening and understanding the Reistrar himself M.C. Castelle reading, and Joseph Vella, crying in a loud and intelligible voice)

By this enactment, the Grand Master created a distinction between a titolato and a nobile. A titolato need not necessarily be a nobile whilst a nobile need not necessarily be a titolato. In fact only some of the titolati were entitled to be called either “Most Illustrious” and/or “Nobile”, whilst a number of non-titled persons were entitled to both. The first persons to be exempted are mentioned in the same enactment, namely the holder of the office of “Capitano della Verga”, the two Magistrates of the cities of Notabile and Valletta, the Barone Marc’ Antonio Inguanez and his wife the Baronessa, and their descendants. That is to say they could henceforth lawfully be called “Nobile” or “Illustrissimo” or both.

In Italian States * , untitled nobility includes those of “Nobile” (translates into British equivalent of Untitled Nobleman or Baronet), “Signore” (seigneur), Patrizio (Patrician) and Cavaliere Ereditario (Hereditary Knight Bachelor). The text of the 1725 enactment and the exemptions made thereafter are clear enough to prove the existence of Malta’s very own untitled nobility.

The reasons for the 1725 enactment are explained by the Grand Master himself in a letter from The Private Secretary of the Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena to Baron Marco Antonio Inguanez as follows:

 

Illmo Sigre, e Pne Colmo - Essendomi capitato il foglio compitissimo da V.S. Ilma sotta data dei 18 cadente unito alla consapute scritture in forma autentica, dopo aver fatta matura riflessione sopro l’uno e l’altro, ho stimato umiliarne il contenuto all’Emo. Gran Maestro mio Sige, e nello stesso tempo rappresentare a S. Emza la validita’ celle chiare ragione ch’assistono le di lei instanze. Si e’ degnata l’Emza. S. sentir turro cio’ benignamente e’ perche e’ special sentimento della medesima il renderle giustizia mi ha ordinato dirle, conforme eseguisco, che non far pubblicare sin dall’anno scorso la consaputa costituzione prammaticale, mediante la quale per regola di buon governo e per togliere gli abusi da qualche tempo fa introdotti d rendere assai uguale, e comune a capriccio dei Notari il dare I titoli onorifici d’Illusmo, e di Nobili nelle pubbliche scritture, e contratti, ebbe puramente l’idea di ridurre le cose al dovere, e come che eccetuo’ dalla detta costituzione la famiglia di V.S. Illusma che gode Baronia feudataria col peso Militare dei Sermi. Re’ di Sicilia, e degli Emmi predecessori di S. Emza conforme continua ella pure presentemente co tanta sua Gloria, ed essendo anche la Sigra Baronessa sua Sigra Consorte ed ogni altro della descendenza di V.S. Illma atteso parimente il distintivo, che ha sempre goduto la famiglia Inguanez sin dal tempo del Sermo. Re’ Alfonso di gloriosa memoria il quale, nel passaggio che fece per queste Isole, ritornando dalla Barberia, si compiacque render palese la distinzione che meritava la stessa di lei famiglia con albergare nella sua casa; come pure, per essere stata dichiarata dallo stato dei Militi, Consignlieri ed Algozzini Regi, con molti altri privilege e per la benemerenza acquistasi con aver ridotto piu’ volte quest’ Isole alla regia obedienza, quando sen’ erano esentate per sedizione, al qual fine esercitarono piu’ volte I di lei ascendenti il governo dell’ Isole medesime col mero, e misto impero e potesta’ di cortello, con facolta’ di perdonare il delitto di ribellione, e per aver poi esercitate diverse altre cariche, come sarebbero ambascerie per la sicurezza, e custodia del Regno di Sicilia, e comando delle Galere di S.M. Cattolica (percio’) non deve cadere in dubio a chi che sia che l’Emza sua abbia avuto intenzione di mantenere alla di Lei Prosapia che sapeva appartenergli. E perche’ S. Emza intende fdar campo a V.S. Illma, di valersi della spiegazione dei questo suoi sentimenti e mente della medesima che ella faccia anche registrare la presente in codesta Curia ed ovunque Le piacera’ per valersene in ogni congiuntura, volendo che la di Lei famiglia continui a restar distinta da tutte le altre famiglie di questo suo Dominio, come e’ sempre stato per lo passato. Tanto debbo dire a V.S. Illma in adempimento dei sopraespressi ordini della steso Emmo, mio Signre in adempire I quali mi confermo con divotissimo ossequio di V.S. Illma – Malta 23 Marza 1726 – Medmo Devotmo ed Obbigmo. Servre – Fr. Stefano Pacchiarotti, Segrio del Gabto – il Barone Marc’ Antonio Inguanez (Notabile)

                   (TRANSLATION

                        Most Illustrious Lord – Having receive the most polished letter of Your Lordship dated the 18th inst. together with the accompanying authentic documents, after mature reflection, I thought it proper to submit their contents to the consideration of His Eminience the Grand Master, and at the same time to submit to His Eminence the validity of the reasons that clearly support your request. His Eminence has deigned to hear every thing with favour, and as he feels specially inclined to render you justice, he has ordered me to tell you as I proceed to do, that by having last year published the pragmatical constitution, by means of which and by rule of good government, and in order to put a stop to the abuse introduced for some time past of rendering equal and common, at the caprice of Notaries, the giving of the honorary titles of Ilustrissimo and of Nobile in public contracts or deeds, he had simply the idea of reducing things to order, and his having excepted from the said Constitution the family oif your Lordship, who is in the enjoyment of a feudal barony with the duty of Military service, as your ancestors really held military service under the most serene Kings of Sicily and of the most Eminent predecessors of his Eminence, in the same way as you still at the present time continue to do with so much glory, excepted also the Baroness your consort and all other descendants of your most Illustrious self, bearing in mind likewise the distinction which the family of Inguanez has always enjoyed from the time of King Alfonso of glorious memory, who in his passage through Malta when he was returning fro Barbary, was pleased tro make manifest the distinction to which your family was entitled, by accepting the hospitality of your house, as also for having ben declared to be the rank of Knight, Councillors and royal Algozzini, with many more privileges, and as a reward for having many times reduced these islands to the obedience of the King, when they had by sedition thrown off their allegiance, and for the reason that your ancestors have repeatedly administered the government of these same islands, with mero and mixto impero and power of death, and power to pardon the crime of  rebellion, and for having subsequently held various other offices including embassies for the safety and custody of the Kingdom of Sicily, and the command of the Galleys of His Catholic Majesty, so that it cannot be matter of doubt to any one whosoever, that it was the intention of His Eminence to preserve to your family, that distinction which he well knows belongs to he same.

And as His Eminence wishes that your Lordship should avail yourself of this explanation of these his thoughts and sentiments, you may also register this letter in this Court, and wherever else it may please you, in order that you make use of it on any occasion, as he wishes that your family may continue to remain distinguished above all the other families of this his dominion, as it has always been in the past. Thus much I must communicate to Your Lordship, in fulfillment of the above express orders of the same Most Eminent my Lord the Grand Master, in execution of which I remain with the most profound respect – Malta 23 March 1726 – Your Lordships’ Most humble and devoted Servant – Fr. Stefano Pacciarotti, Private Secretary to the Grand Master – To the Baron Marc’Antonio Inguanez (Notabile) )

LIST OF FAMILIES ENTITLED TO THE TITLES OF “NOBLE” AND “MOST ILLUSTRIOUS”

An official correspondence presented before the British House of Lords in May 1886, gives what appears to be an exhaustive list of all those persons who were exempted from the terms of the 1725 enactment. These are:

 

1.      The Capitano della Verga “pro tempore” whose office is mentioned in the original enactment (Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena).

  

2.      The two Magistrates of the cities of Notabile and Valletta whose office is mentioned in the original enactment (Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena).

 

3.      The Milite Barone Marco Antonio Inguanez and his wife Baroness Inguanez , who are named in the original enactment (Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena).

 

The Fiefs of Djar el Bniet and of Bucana have long been regarded as one barony - See Commisisoners' Report of 1878 ) Baron and Baroness Inguanez died without issue. He was succeeded by a collateral.

 

4.      The Barone di Cicciano Fabritio Testaferrata  and his mother the Baronessa di Gomerino Beatrice Cassia Testaferrata, who were exempted by another order dated 11 May 1725  (Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena) which reads thus: -“S.A. Sema Padrone, ordine e commanda che nella suddetta Prammatica s'intendono pure eccetuati il Barone di Cicciano, D. Fabrizio Testaferrata e la Baronessa del Gomerino D. Beatrice Cassia Testaferrata sua madre, e tutti i suoi figli maschi e femmine, con loro mariti e legittimi discendenti. Oggi li 11 Maggio 1725. Ita referent. - F.N. Nalvanus de Vajus, AUD”.

 

The title of Barone di Castel Cicciano was enjoyed by Fabrizio Testaferrata by virtue of Royal assent dated 13 September 1695 (See Commisisoners' Report of 1878)Baron Fabritio's male issue became extinct in 1730 with the death of Pietr' Antonio Testaferrata.

For descendants see: http://www.maltagenealogy.com/libro%20d'Oro/castelcicciano.htm

The title of Barone di Gomerino was created by Grand Master Perellos in favour of Paolo and Beatrice Testaferrata, on the 24 December 1710: As at 1725, Beatrice who had been widowed since 1714 still held this title and continued to do so at least until 1734. She was eventually succeeded in 1737 by her son Ercole Martino, who succeeded in 1734 the entail described in that decree dated 1737.   (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol. 514, ff. 129v-134v and Vol. 541, f. 184r ). 

For descendants see: http://www.maltagenealogy.com/libro%20d'Oro/gomerino.html

 

5.      The Marchese di San Vincenzo Ferreri Don Mario Testaferrata, who was exempted by another order dated 9 July 1725  (Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena) which reads thus: -“S.A. Sema Padrone, ordine e commanda che nella suddetta Prammatica s'intende eccettuato il Marchese di San Vincenzo Ferreri Don Mario Testaferrata, e li suoi discendenti. Oggi li 9 Luglio 1725. Ita referent. - F.N. Nalvanus de Vajus, AUD”.

 

The title of Marchese di San Vincenzo Ferreri in “the Kingdom of Naples” was created on the 10 November 1716 by Philip V, King of Spain and Sicily in favour of Mario Testaferrata (See Commisisoners' Report of 1878). By 1725, Mario Testaferrata had also already received the title of "Marchese Testaferrata" in the Kingdom of Sicily was which was created by Victor Amadeus King of Sicily and Duke of Savoy, by a patent of the 13 July 1717, in favour of the same Mario Testaferrata. 

For descendants see: http://www.maltagenealogy.com/libro%20d'Oro/sanvincenzoferreri1.html and http://www.maltagenealogy.com/libro%20d'Oro/testaferrata.html

 

6.      Carlo Falzon and Eleonora Testaferrata who were exempted by another order dated 13 June 1726  (Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena) which reads thus: -S.A. Sema Padrone, ordine e commanda che nella suddetta Prammatica s'intendono eccettuati Carlo Falzon, et Donna Eleonora Testaferrata, giugali, con li loro figli et discendenti, et anche Salvatore Dorell e Teresa Falzon, giugali, con li loro figli e discendenti. Oggi li 13 Giugno 1726. Ita referent. - F.N. Nalvanus de Vajus, AUD”.

For descendants see: http://www.maltagenealogy.com/libro%20d'Oro/falson.html

 

7.      The Barone di San Marciano Diego Galea Feriolo , who was exempted by another order dated 2 September 1726  (Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena) which reads thus: -“ S.A. Sema Padrone, ordine e commanda che nella suddetta Prammatica s'intende eccettuato il Barone di San Marciano D. Diego Galea Feriolo, e li suoi discendenti. Oggi li 2 Settembre 1726. Ita referent. - F.N. Nalvanus de Vajus, AUD” 

The title of Barone di San Marciano was created by Grand Master Manoel de Vilhena in favour of Diego Antonio Galea Feriol on the 14 June 1726  (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol. 530, ff. 135r-135v)

For descendants see: http://www.maltagenealogy.com/libro%20d'Oro/sanmarciano2.html

 

 

8.      The Barone Gio Pio De Piro   who was exempted by another order dated 19 March 1727  (Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena) which reads thus: -“ S.A. Sema Padrone, ordine e commanda che nella suddetta Prammatica s'intende eccettuato il Barone Gio Pio de Piro, e li suoi discendenti. Oggi li 19 Marzo 1727. Ita referent. - F.N. Nalvanus de Vajus, AUD” 

 

The title of Barone di Budack created by Grand Master Perellos in favour of Gio Pio De Piro on the 23 April 1716 (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol 520, ff. 151r, 161r-161v, Vol. 520, f. 162r; Baron de Piro later received the title of "Marquis De Piro"  in the Kingdom of Castile which was created by Philip V, King of Spain, by a patent of the 6 November 1742, in favour of the Barone Gio Pio De Piro and registered in Malta on the 8 October 1743. (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol. 627, unpaginated)

For descendants see: http://www.maltagenealogy.com/libro%20d'Oro/depiro2.html and http://www.maltagenealogy.com/libro%20d'Oro/depiro1.html

 

 

9.      The Canon Giuseppe di Costanzo and Donna Rosa widow of Gio Battista di Costanzo, who were exempted by another order dated 24 May 1729  (Antonio Manoel de Vilhena) which reads thus: -“S.A. Sema Padrone, ordine e commanda che nella suddetta Prammatica s'intendono eccettuati il Can.co D. Giuseppe di Costanzo, D. Rosa vedova di Gio Battista di Costanzo et i loro figli e discendenti, per essere la detta famiglia di Costanzo nobile aggregata al seggio di Porta della Citta' di Puzzolo. Oggi li 24 Maggio 1729. Ita referent. - F.N. Nalvanus de Vajus, AUD”

For descendants see: http://www.maltagenealogy.com/libro%20d'Oro/costanzo.html  

 

10.  The Barone Isidoro Viani , who was exempted by another order dated 27 June 1730  (Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena) which reads thus: -“S.A. Sema Padrone, ordine e commanda che nella presente Prammatica s'intenda eccettuato il Barone Isidoro Viani. e suoi discendenti. Oggi li 27 Giugno 1730. Ita referent. - F.N. Nalvanus de Vajus, AUD”

The title of Barone della Tabria was created by Grand Master Vilhena in favour of Isidoro Viani on the 11 December 1728 (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol 532, ff. 139v-140r; Vol. 589, f. 323r, Vol. 1194 ff. 170r, 333r-338r)

Baron Isidoro's male issue becae extinct in 1784 with the death of Gio Battista Viani.

For descendants see: http://www.maltagenealogy.com/libro%20d'Oro/tabria.html

 

11.  D. Vincenzo Platamone and Antonio Bonnici, who were exempted by another order (of unknown date, but probably   Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena) which reads thus: -“S.A. Sema Padrone, ordine e commanda che nella presente Prammatica s'intendono eccettuati D. Vincenzo Platamone, et Antonio Bonnici, e tutti i loro discendenti. Ita referent. - F.N. Nalvanus de Vajus, AUD”

 

12.  Baldassare Bonnici, who was exempted by another order dated 13 January 1732  (Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena) which reads thus: -“S.A. Sema Padrone, ordine e commanda che nella presente Prammatica s'intende eccettuato Baldassare Bonnici, e tutti i suoi discendenti. Oggi il 13 Gennaro 1732. Ita referent. - F.N. Nalvanus de Vajus, AUD”

 

13.  Calcerano Mompalao , Giuseppe and Caterina Cuschieri, who were exempted by another order dated 6 March 1732  (Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena) which reads thus: -S.A. Sema Padrone, ordine e commanda che nella presente Prammatica s'intendono eccettuati Calcerano Mompalao, e suoi figli, e discendenti, ed anche Giuseppe Cuschieri e Catarina, giugali, con li loro figli e discendenti. Oggi li 6 Marzo 1732. Ita referent. - F.N. Nalvanus de Vajus, AUD”

For descendants see: http://www.maltagenealogy.com/libro%20d'Oro/mompalao.html

 

14.  The Barone Saverio Gatt , who was exempted by another order dated 23 August 1737 (Ramon Despuigwhich reads thus: -S.A. Sema Padrone, ordine e commanda che nella presente Prammatica s'intende eccettuato il Barone Saverio Gatt, e sua famiglia, cioe' consorte e discendenti. Oggi li 23 Agosto 1737. Ita referent. - A. Carbone, F. AUD”

 

The title of Barone di Benuarrat was created by Grand Master Despuig in favour of Saverio Gatto on the 18 August 1737 (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol 541, ff, 191r-191v; A.O.M. 1194, ff. 49r-50r, 52r-57r) 

Barone Saverio died without male issue. However his daughter was invested in the title.

For descendants see: http://www.maltagenealogy.com/libro%20d'Oro/benwarrad.html

 

15.  The Signor Ludovico Bianchi , who was exempted by another order dated 25 October 1741 (Manuel Pinto de Fonsecawhich reads thus: -“S.A. Sema Padrone, ha ordinato e commandato che si dasse il titolo di Illustrissimo al Signor Ludovico Bianchi, e suoi discendenti in qualunque scrittura. Oggi li 25 Ottobre 1741. Ita referent. - TOE. MARDESIUS FISCI,  AUD”

For descendants see: http://www.maltagenealogy.com/libro%20d'Oro/bianchi.html

 

16.  Dr. Ugolino Bonnici and also Dr. Saverio Crispo who were exempted by another order dated 5 September 1794 (Grand Master Emmanuel de Rohan-Polduc  ) reads thus: -“ Visto il 5 Settembre 1794. E' stato accordato il titolo d'Illustrissimo al Dr. Ugolino Bonnici, come si era fatto pochi anni prima col Dr. Saverio Crispo.”

 

For descendants see: http://www.maltagenealogy.com/libro%20d'Oro/crispo.html

IMPLICATIONS (1): COUNTS, BARONS AND MARQUISES AND OTHER FAMILIES WHO WERE NOT ENTITLED TO EITHER “THE MOST ILLUSTRIOUS” OR “NOBLE”, DURING THE RULE OF THE GRANDMASTERS

On the basis of the 1886 report, there is no record of a similar exemption in regard to the holders of the following titles of nobility which were created or recognized by the Government of the Order of Saint John which ended in 1798:

 

1.                  The "Barone della Marsa"  ,

The title of Barone della Marsa was created by Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena in favour of Ferdinando Castelletti on the 12 June 1725 (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol. 529 ff. 140r-140v)

 

2.                  the "Barone di Ghariescem et Tabia" ,

The fief of Ghariescem et Tabia granted by Procurators of the Comun Tesoro of the Order to Giacinto Cassia by a deed of transaction received by Notary Michele Ralli on the 14 April 1638 and assented by Grand Master Lascaris on the 16 April 1638 (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol. 467, f. 265r, A.O.M 475,f. 283r, A.O.M. 476, f. 208r, A.O.M. 525, f. 119v, A.O.M. 553, f. 132r, A.O.M. 627, unpag.)

 

3.                  the "Conte Preziosi" , 

The title of Conte (Preziosi) was created by Victor-Amadeus, King of Sicily, Duke of Savoy &c, and Perpetual Vicar of the Empire, by a patent given at Rivoli on the 19th October 1718 in favour of Giuseppe Preziosi and registered in Malta on the 20 June 1720. (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol. 524, f. 139r)

 

4.                  the "Conte di Mont' Alto"

The title of Conte di Mont’Alto in the Duchy of Parma , together with the fief of Monte Alto, conferred by Francis I (Farnese), Duke of Parma at Piacenza on the 8 July 1720 at the request of Bernardo Piscopo and registered in Malta on the 2 September 1721 and again on the 14 July 1744.  (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol. 525, f. 111r-112r; A.O.M. 548, f. 161v). The fief enjoyed the power of the sword, and its merum and mixtum imperium. Until 1775, date when this title became extinct, it was subjected to a private entail. The title was revived in 1776.

 

5.                  the "Conti Wzzini Paleologo"

The title of “Conte” sive "Conte Lateranese" was enjoyed by the family Wzzini Paleologo and held to have been recognized in 1722 by Grand Master Marc'Antonio Zondadari (See Commisisoners' Report of 1878)

 

6.                  the "barone della Culeja" 

The title of Barone della Culeja was created by Grand Master Ramon Despuig in favour of Ignazio Bonnici on the 2 June 1737 (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol. 541, ff. 188r-188v)

 

7.                  the "Barone di Frigenuini" (First Creation)

The title of Barone di Frigenuini was created by Grand Master Ramon Despuig in favour of Alessandro Mompalao on the 17 September 1737 (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol. 541, ff. 197r-197v)

 

8.                  the "Conte della Bahria" , 

The title of Conte della Bahria was created by Grand Master Pinto Manuel Pinto de Fonseca in favour of Ignazio Muscati Falsone Navarra on the 16 May 1743 (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol. 547, ff. 165r-166r)

 

9.                  the "Conte della Catena"

The title of Conte delle Catene or delli Mori was created by Grand Master Pinto Manuel Pinto de Fonseca in favour of Pietro Gaetano Perdicomati Bologna on the 20 January 1745 (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol. 549, ff. 174r-174v). The grant subjected the title to a private entail.

 

10.              the "Barone della Marsa" (Second creation)

The title of Barone della Marsa was created by Grand Master Pinto Manuel Pinto de Fonseca in favour of Giovanni Antonio Azzopardi Castelletti on the 4 December 1753 (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol. 557, ff. 175r-176v)

 

11.              the "Conte Fenech Bonnici"

The title of “Conte (Fenech Bonnici)” was registered on the  27 April 1750 (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol . 554, ff. 173r-173v)

 

12.              "Barone di Frigenuini" (Second Creation)  

The title of Barone di Frigenuini was created by Grand Master Francisco Ximenes de Texada in favour of Gaetano Pisani on the 17 June 1773 (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol. 577, ff. 195v-196r

 

13.              the "Conte Fournier"     

The title of Conte (Fournier) in the Kingdom and Provinces of Germany, was conferred by Empress Maria Theresa by a patent given at Vienna on the 29 January 1770 to Giorgio Fournier de Pausier and registered in Malta on the 2 December 1775. (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol. 579, f. 349v) 

 

14.              the "Conte Sant"   

The title of Conte (Sant) in the Italian Provinces annexed to the German Empire, was conferred by Empress Maria Theresa by a patent given at Vienna on the 22 December 1770 to Salvatore Baldassare Sant and registered in Malta on the 12 December 1775. (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol. 579, f. 351v)

 

15.              the "Marchese di Sciorp il-Hagin"   

The title of Marchese di Sciorp il-Hagin was created by Grand Master Emmanuel de Rohan-Polduc in favour of Claudio Muscati Xiberras on the 8 March 1776 (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol. 579, ff 344r-344v)

 

16.              the "Barone della Marsa" (Third creation)

The title of Barone della Marsa was created by Grand Master Emmanuel de Rohan-Polduc in favour of Gio Francesco Dorell Falzon on the 10 March 1776 (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol. 579, ff. 345r-346v)

 

17.              the "Barone di Buleben"

The title of Barone di Buleben was created by Grand Master Emmanuel de Rohan-Polduc in favour of Gaetano Azzopardi on the 23 July 1777 as amended on the 25 April 1778 in favour of Calcedonio Azzopardi who succeeded the entail described in that decree. (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol. 581, ff. 246v-247r, Vol. 582f. 264r)

 

18.              the "Marchese di San Giorgio"

The title of Marchese di San Giorgio was created by Grand Master Emmanuel de Rohan-Polduc in favour of Carlo Antonio Barbaro on the 23 September 1778 as amended on the 2 February 1779 and, afterwards in favour of Gioacchino Barbaro on the 5 June 1792 (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol. 582, ff. 282v-283v, Vol. 582, f. 292r, Vol.627 unpag.

 

19.              the "Barone Gauci"

The title of Barone (Gauci) was created by Grand Master Emmanuel de Rohan-Polduc in favour of Francesco Gauci on the 23 December 1781 (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol. 585, ff. 107r

 

20.              the "Conte di Beberrua"

The title of Conte di Beberrua was created by Grand Master Emmanuel de Rohan-Polduc in favour of Luigi (Ludovico) Gatt on the 23 October 1783 (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol. 587, ff. 294r-299r)

 

21.              the "Marchese della Taflia"

 

The title of Marchese della Taflia was created by Grand Master Emmanuel de Rohan-Polduc in favour of Gio Battista Mompalao on the 25 October 1783 (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol. 587, ff, 294v, 299r)

 

22.              the "Marches del Fiddien"

The title of Marchese del Fiddien was created by Grand Master Emmanuel de Rohan-Polduc in favour of Salvatore Mallia Tabone on the 15 October 1785 as amended on the 15 June 1793 (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol. 591, ff. 263r-264r

 

23.              the "Marchese della Taflia" (second creation)

The title of Marchese della Taflia created by Grand Master Emmanuel de Rohan-Polduc in favour of Saverio Alessi on the 13 November 1790. (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol. 609, ff, 183v-184r

 

24.              the "Conte di Ghain Toffieha" , 

The title of Conte di Ghain Toffieha was created by Grand Master Emmanuel de Rohan-Polduc, by rescript, in favour of Ferdinando Teuma Castelletti on the 7 January 1792. (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol.. 612, f. 198r

 

25.              the "Barone di San Cosmo"

The title of Barone di San Cosmo was created by Grand Master Emmanuel de Rohan-Polduc in favour of Ugolino Calleja on the 27 November 1792. (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol. 613, f, 187v

 

26.              the "Marchesi di Gnien Is-Sultan"

The title of Marchese di Gnien Is-Sultan was created by Grand Master Emmanuel de Rohan-Polduc in favour of Filippo Apap on the 1 December 1792 (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol. 613, ff. 188r

 

27.              the "Conte di Santi"

The title of Conte dei Santi was created by Grand Master Emmanuel de Rohan-Polduc in favour of Romualdo Barbaro on the 14 January 1794 (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol. 615, ff, 127v-127v

 

28.              the  "Conte di Meimun"

The title of Conte di Meimun was created by Grand Master Emmanuel de Rohan-Polduc in favour of Saverio Marchesi on the 8 March 1794 (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol. 615, ff, 134v-135r

 

29.              the "Barone della Grua" , 

The title of Barone della Grua was created by Grand Master Emmanuel de Rohan-Polduc in favour of Saverio Carbott Testaferrata on the 30 December 1794 (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol. 617, ff. 135r)

 

30.              the"Barone di San Giovanni"

The title of Barone di San Giovanni was created by Ferdinand I. King of the Two Sicilies, by a patent given at Palermo on the 16 July 1777, in favour of Serafino Ciantar and registered in Malta on the 17 January 1778. (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol. 581, ff. 278v-279r)

 

31.              the "Conti della Senia"

The title of Conte della Senia was created by Grand Master Emmanuel de Rohan-Polduc in favour of Vincenzo Fontani on the 6 June 1795. (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol. 619, ff. 87v-88r

 

32.              the "Marchese di Ghain Kajet"

The title of Marchese di Ghain Kajet was created by Grand Master Emmanuel de Rohan-Polduc in favour of Geronimo Delicata on the 4 June 1796. (See Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Vol. 621, f. 75-75v

As all the holders of these titles of were not exempted from the 1725 Enactment, it follows that as although they were entitled to being called “Barone”, “Conte” or “Marchese”, they were not entitled to the titles of “Most Illustrious” and “Noble”. 

 

IMPLICATIONS (2): OTHER IMPLICATIONS 

1. In heraldry, the difference becomes more apparent because those families which were not exempted are not entitled to use the coronet of an untitled nobleman in addition to the coronet representing the higher rank of title that they may enjoy.

2. Moreover, most of the titles created by the Grand Masters required the relative successors to be invested in the title, whereas in the case of “Most Illustrious” and “Noble” the transmission does not require any form of investiture or payment of homage. 

 

Therefore whilst doubts may be cast on a “successor” who was not properly invested, or has failed to pay his dues, this is not possible in the case of the beneficiaries under the 1725 legislation. This point is academic as titles in nobility are no longer recognized since 1975.

THE ROYAL COMMISSION APPOINTED TO ENQUIRE INTO THE CLAIMS OF THE MALTESE NOBILITY

After the Capitulation of the Order of Saint John the new French Rulers formally abolished all titles of nobility. (General Napoleon Bonaparte issued two orders dated 13 and 16 June 1798 prohibiting the use of any title. These read as follows: -

Ordre (1) Quartier General de malte, le 25 Prairal, an VI (13 Juin 1798): Le General en Chef ordonne……(Article 2.)… Toutes les armoires seront abbatues dans l’ espace de 24 heures. Il est defendu de porter des livrees, ni aucune marque et titre distinctif de noblesse. Ordre (2) Au Quartier General de malte, le 28 Prairal, an VI (16 Juin 1798): Bonaparte Membre de l’Istitut National, General-en-Chef ordonne…(Article Cinquieme)….Dix jours apres la publication du present ordre, il est defendu d’avoir des armoires soit dans l’interieur, soit a l’exterieur des maisons, de cacheter des lettres avec des armoires, ou de prendre des titres feodaux. ……(Article Douzieme)….Tous les contrevenants aux articles cidessous, seront condamnes pour la premier fois, a une amende du tiers de leurs revenus; pour la seconde fois, a trois mois de prison; pour la troisieme fois a un an de prison; pour la quatrieme fois, a la deportation de l’ile de Malte, et a la confiscation de la moitie de leurs biens. Il devra toujours y avoir 10 jours d’intervalle entre la recidive.” 

 

                   (TRANSLATION

                        Order (1) General Headquarters of Malta, the 25 Prairal , year VI (13 June 1798): The General in Chief orders …. (Article 2.)… All armorials are to be removed within 24 hours. It is prohibited to wear any livery, or any mark and distinctive title of nobility.

                        Order (2) General Headquarters of Malta, the 28 Prairal, year VI (16 June 1798): Bonaparte, member of the National Institute, General in Chief, orders (Fifth Article).. Ten days after publication of this order, it shall be prohibited to bear any armorials in the interior or exterior of houses, to use letters with armorials, or to use feudal titles… (Twelfth Article)…. All contraveners of the aforesaid articles shall be condemned for the first conviction to a fine of one third of their income, for the second time to be imprisoned for a month, for the third time to be imprisoned for a year and for the fourth time to be deported from the Island of Malta and confiscation of one half of their property. There must be a ten day interval for calculating recidivists. 

Another Order was issued by Bosredon Ransijat, President of the Commission du Gouvernement dated 18 Messidor Year 6 (6 July 1798), where it was enacted that all honorary titles should be burnt on the 14th of that month and that every holder of a title should carry his patent at the Arbre de la Liberté.

 

The French in turn lost Malta in 1800 to a contingent raised by Captain Ball and Admiral Nelson . Malta later became a British Protectorate after the Treaty of Paris.  

 

In time, the use of nobiliary titles was resumed. However, it appears that this use was unregulated.

 

Eventually, the then British Secretary of State for the Colonies, commissioned a report on those titles alleged to have been conferred to Maltese families before the annexation of Malta to the British Dominions, namely 1800. The Commissioners’ Report and Supplemental Report were published in 1878 together with relative correspondence. See full text of the 1878 reports at www.saidvassallo.com/SME/maltesenobility1878.htm )

TITLES OF “MOST ILLUSTRIOUS” AND “NOBLE” NOT CONSIDERED BY 1878 ROYAL COMMISSION – BUT USED FOR THE PURPOSES OF DETERMINING “RECOGNITIONS” BY THE GRAND MASTERS

In 1878, nobody appears to have claimed this title. In fact the complement of claimants only made claims to titles of “Barone”, “Conte”, “Marchese”, Hereditary Knighthoods, and various Patriciates. Of these various claims to 45 titles and distinctions considered by the 1878 Report , only 20 were conclusively upheld by the Commissioners, the remaining titles being referred to court procedures, were declared extinct, or simply declared not to fall within the stated purposes of the Commission. 

In executing its brief the Commissioners did not consider, the various exceptions to the 1725 Enactment as relevant titles of nobility in their own right, even though it should be remarked that the 1725 Enactment itself specifically says that it was issued “Per I Titoli”. Moreover, a relevant consideration is that the exemption in favour of Ludovico Bianchi says that the Grand Master was ordering “che si dase il titolo di Illustrissimo al Signor Ludovico”; Likewise in Ugolino Bonnici’s case “e’ stato accordato il titolo d’Illustrissimo”.

However, the Royal Commission did find the effect of the 1725 Enactment to be relevant for the purposes of verifying the Order’s “recognition” of titles, namely the titles of Djar il-bniet et bucana  , that of Cicciano , and that of San Vincenzo FerreriIn fact the Commissioners observed that these three titles were only first “recognized” as titles at different times in 1725 by reason of the aforementioned exceptions. There was no legislative act, the Commissioners continued saying, prior to 1725 and of which the Commission was aware, which was tantamount to “recognition” of those titles (See Commisisoners' Report of 1878).

TITLES USED AS BASIS FOR LATER DEVELOPMENTS

On the 18 June 1884, the Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobility requested the British Secretary of State for the Colonies * , for permission to allow each and every Titolato the use of the style and title of The Most Noble. In support of its petition the Committee said that “during the Government of the Order of St. John each and every Titolato in Malta was allowed the style and title of Most Noble or Most Illustrious”. In addition, the Committee brazenly appended a list of all the grants cited above as proof of its untrue claim.

At first this request was resisted by the British Authorities, not because of the Committee’s untrue version of facts, but with the Maltese claim to Most Illustrious because British law allowed only Princes of the English Blood Royal use the title of “Most Illustrious”.

Not wanting to offend what was wrongly perceived as a Maltese custom, a compromise was reached and on the 23 February 1886, Lord Glanville instructed Governor Simmons that:- “I am also to desire you to give directions for the resuming the practice of according to the ‘Titolati’ in all public and official documents and in all communications from officers of the Government their customary titles of ‘Illustrissimo e Nobile’ or the ‘Most Noble’ as suggested in your despatch of the 7th of December, as there can be no good reason for withholding a courtesy the discontinuance of which has been felt to be a grievance.”

The official Maltese translation of “The Most Noble” is Il-Wisq Nobbli .

PRESENT DAY

Since 1975, titles of nobility are no longer recognized in the Republic of Malta by Act 29 of 1975 dated 17 October 1975. 

 

REFERENCES

PRIMARY REFERENCES:

 

1.           COPIES OR EXTRACTS OF CORRESPONDENCE WITH REFERENCE TO THE MALTESE NOBILITY (IN CONTINUATION OF C3812, August 1883) PRESENTED TO THE HOUSE OF LORDS BY COMMAND OF HER MAJESTY MAY 1886.

2.           (FOR LETTER TO BARON INGUANEZ FROM GRAND MASTER VILHENA) See: Anon “The Family of Inguanez” (Malta, 1888) - reprinted in 1979 to form part of Marcel DINGLI ATTARD, “The Family of Inguanez”(Interprint Malta, 1979)

 

 

SECONDARY REFERENCES (USE OF 1725 ENACTMENT TO ESTABLISH RECOGNITION OF CERTAIN TITLES):

 

(1)         CORRESPONDENCE AND REPORT OF THE COMMISSION APPOINTED TO ENQUIRE INTO THE CLAIMS AND GRIEVANCES OF THE MALTESE NOBILITY, MAY 1878, PRESENTED TO BOTH HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT BY COMMAND OF HER MAJESTY (C.-2033.): 

(2)         John Montalto, “The Nobles of Malta 1530-1800” (Midsea Books, Malta, 1980)

(3)         Anon “The Family of Inguanez” (Malta, 1888) - reprinted in 1979 to form part of Marcel DINGLI ATTARD, “The Family of Inguanez”(Interprint Malta, 1979)

(4)         Cassar Desain, Marchese L.A., " Genealogia della famiglia Testaferrata di Malta." Malta, 1880

(5)         Archives of the Order, National Library, Valletta, Malta

 

TERTIARY REFERENCES (PUBLISHED GENEALOGY):

 

(1)         Charles Gauci "THE GENEALOGY AND HERALDRY OF THE NOBLE FAMILIES OF MALTA" (GULF PUBLISHING, MALTA, 1981)"

(2)         Charles Gauci A GUIDE TO THE MALTESE NOBILITY" (PEG PUBLICATIONS, MALTA, 1986)

(3)         Charles Gauci "THE GENEALOGY AND HERALDRY OF THE NOBLE FAMILIES OF MALTA VOLUME TWO" (PEG PUBLICATIONS, MALTA, 1992)

(4)         Charles Gauci "THE GENEALOGY AND HERALDRY OF THE NOBLE FAMILIES OF MALTA VOLUME ONE" (PEG PUBLICATIONS, MALTA, 2002)