Title of Baron of Cicciano in Naples (a.k.a. “Castel Cicciano”)
The title Barone di Castel Cicciano is a Neopolitan title which has long been regarded as forming part of the Nobility in Malta. This title is sometimes referred to as Barone di Cicciano in Naples.
It is perhaps the oldest documented hereditary barony in Malta unless one accepts the contentions about the noble fiefs of Djar il-Biet et Bucana and Ghariescem et Tabia. A barony is a title of nobility which is created by a King or Fons Honorum. A fief consists of property granted at the pleasure of the King. In Malta some fiefs were regarded as noble fiefs with the consequence that the holders of such a fief would be called by the personal title of “Baron”.
The laws of succession of titles of nobility in the country where this title originated have been amended.
Since 1975, a general duty is imposed in the Republic of Malta not to recognize any title of nobility.
ORIGIN AND NATURE OF TITLE
The title of Castel Cicciano is reputed to have been created as a Barony in Naples, Italy prior to 1560. The exact date of creation has not been established. However, on the 23 May 1560, this barony was purchased from a member of the Grimaldi family by Francesco Mego, who is noted by Montalto as one of the Rhodians who went into exile with the Knights and subsequently settled in Malta.
By 1695, this Barony came to be held - by marriage - by the Testaferrata family, a Maltese family which already enjoyed untitled nobility in Messina (Sicily) at least since 1553 and in Rome (Italy) since 1590.
Some of the Barons of Castel Cicciano were never addressed as Baron during their lifetime (see link to genealogy). Other sources may not include some of the Barons listed in the genealogy, and may consider the Barony to have been created more than once.
According to a 19th century Report of a Commission appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility, on the 8 February 1695, Beatrice Cassia wife of Paolo Testaferrata in a deed of donation made in Malta before Notary Benedetto Vassallo granted to their first born son Fabrizio Testaferrata the “Baroniam et Jurisdictionem Crminalem, Civilem et Mixtam Castri Cicciani Prvinciae Terrae Laboris Regni Neap is scilicet cum cognitione primarum causarum civilium, criminalium et commixtarum, mero mixtoque imperio ac gladii potestate, componendi delicta poenasque committendi, etc….” The foregoing donation received, on the 11 July 1695, the royal assent which on the 28 September of that same year was entered in quinternionibus Regiae Camerae, in virtue of a decree of the 13 September 1695. That Royal assent was on the 14 October 1702, registered, in the Curia or Ufficio of the Universita’ of the city of Notabile, in the following terms:- “Praesentatum fuit et est praesens privilegium sive assensus Regius per III em et Nobilem Dominum Fabritium Testaferrata Baronem Capitaneum Virgae ac Justitiarum Notabilis Civitatis et Insulae Melitae in eo nominatum, fuitque de mandato in actis curiae sive officii Perillorum D.D. Juratorum Notabilis Civitatis praedictae, insinuatum atque registratum juxta decretationem prout in eo, eidemque Domino Baron restitutum”.
Recognition by the Government of the Order of Saint John
As the title originated in Naples, it could not be held to form part of the Maltese Nobility. However, in 1725 the title was acknowledged in the person of the same Fabrizio Testaferrata by Grand Master Manoel de Vilhena, who after having issued on the 30 April 1725 an order regulating the use of the Titles of Illustrissimo and Nobile amended it by another decree dated 11 May 1725. By that second enactment the Grand Master also excepted Fabrizio Testaferrata calling him Barone di Cicciano and the Baronessa di Gomerino Beatrice Cassia Testaferrata.
The first enactment reads as follows:-
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:-
The second enactment reads as follows:-
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
After Fabrizio’s death in 1744, the title was again recognized by Grand Master Ximenes on the 20 August 1775 in favour of Pasquale Sceberras Testaferrata, son of Michele Sceberras by his wife Clara Testaferrata, daughter of the said Fabrizio Testaferrata. In a notice of appointment (bull) to which the Grand Master’s signature was attached, Pasquale Sceberras Testaferrata was referred to as follows:“Don Paschali Sceberras Testaferrata, castri Cicciani cum mero mixtoque imperio Baroni”. Another recognition occurs in the bull of the 27 August 1776, as well as those of the following years till 1797, during the government of Grand Master De Rohan. Throughout this 22 year period the said Pasquale was uninterruptedly entrusted with the office of Capitano della Vergawhich was the highest municipal office of Malta.
According to the 1878 Report, the aforesaid enactments and appointments were tantamount to the Government of the Order of Saint John accepting the title of Barone di Castel Ciccianoas one of the titles forming part of the Nobility in Malta.
PRECEDENCE ENJOYED BY THE HOLDER OF THE TITLE OF BARONE DI CASTEL CICCIANO
In terms of the general 1739 legislation it follows that the direct recognition extended in 1725, albeit unregistered, allowed Fabrizio Testaferrata a right to precedence. However, in terms of that legislation this precedence was allowed only to him as the holder of a recognized foreign title and did not extend to his male-to-male descendants (“Il discendente per linea mascolina”). Only local titles had the effect of extending to agnate descendants the right of precedence.
By virtue of the later general legislation of 1795 cadets of local and foreign titles were put on an equal footing provided it was registered in the Chancery, and in the High Court of the Castellania.
In terms of the these legislations combined, the holder of the title of Barone di Cicciano and the qualifying agnate descendants are to rank before the holder of any title created after 1725 (year of first recognition) and respective descendants. Therefore, it follows that the Barone di (Castel-) Cicciano ranks before the Conte della Bahria (created in 1743), Marchese di Scriop el Hagin (1776) and the Marchese di Ghajn Kajet (1796) even though all the latter titles purport a higher rank. The same position holds in regard to the respective male-to-male descendants on the assumption that that foreign title has in fact been registered.
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. A total of 3 general orders were made to this effect. The French in turn lost Malta in 1800 when the Commander in Chief Vaubois surrendered to His Britannic Majesty. On the 30 May 1814 (Treaty of Paris) it was stipulated that theisland of Malta and its dependencies belong in full right and sovereignty to his Britannic majesty.
In time, the use of nobiliary titles was resumed. However, it appears that the unregulated and improper use of titles of nobility and other honours was tolerated by the local authorities who were themselves found to be at fault for encouraging such improper use. Throughout this period, a group known as the Assembly of Maltese Nobles is known to have functioned at this time but it did not enjoy any official role.
In 1876, the 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.
To facilitate the preparation of the report, an “ad hoc” Committee of Nobles was requested to provide a list of claimants. In that list, Alessandro Testaferrata Sceberras Damico Inguanez is listed with the title of “Barone di Cicciano”.
SUCCESSFUL CLAIM OF ALESSANDRO SCEBERRAS TO THE TITLE OF BARONE DI CASTEL CICCIANO
The Commissioners described Alessandro Testaferrata Sceberras Damico Inguanez as the first born son descending from the only surviving line of Fabrizio Testaferrata. However the Royal Commissioners noted that Alessandro’s lawful surname (his patronymic surname) was not “Testaferrata” but “Sceberras”. The 1878 Report also describes how Alessandro Sceberras made unsuccessful claims to the title of Barone della Marsagranted to conferred to Ferdinando Castelletti by Grand Master Manoel de Vilhena by a patent of the 12th June 1725 and to the personal title relative to the fief of Djar il-Bniet et Bucanawhich was previously enjoyed by the Inguanez family.
Alessandro claimed that the title of Barone di Castel Ciccianowas created on the 11 June 1695. The Royal Commissioners accepted this date but added that “on a more careful investigation, it may be found that the claimant’s family had been in possession of the title from a more distant period. This observation is based on the fact that, in the petition by which the royal assent to the aforesaid donation was applied for the following words, allusive to the fief of Castel Cicciano exist: As it appears from the royal grant and the purchase thereof made by the ancestors of the said Beatrice Cassia”; and by other circumstance that Beatrice Cassia in 1695, and before that year, Pietro Cassia her father, were already in possession of the fief.”
Although the title forms part of the Maltese Nobility, technically it remained subject to the laws of the country where it originated. Naples became part of United Italy in 1863. Italian Nobility law was amended in 1926 by Royal Decree no. 1489 dated 16 August 1926 and again in 1943 by Royal Decree no. 651, dated 7 June 1943. After the Second World War, Italy became a Republic.
Baron Alessandro Sceberras died on the 15 October 1880 leaving two daughters. However, his half brother Antonio claimed the title of Castel Cicciano. On the 4 August 1888, the Lords of the Privy Council decided to discharge in the meantime, without prejudice to any question, the judgment of that Court as to the title of Cicciano.
Published sources show that this title was in fact succeeded through Alessandro’s female descendants after 1926 and 1943. This is not in accordance with Italian law. (see also additional notes below)
For the purposes of precedence amongst the Nobility in Malta, in terms of the the 1739 and 1795 legislations combined, the holder of the title of Barone di Cicciano this title would rank according to antiquity of creation and relative registration. The Barone di Castel Cicciano would rank before the title of Marchese di San Vincenzo Ferreri(1716) because the latter title was first directly recognised only a few months after Cicciano.
The limited use of the title “The Most Illustrious and Noble” was first regulated in Malta in 1725 and was extended by the Grand Masters to only some families, not necessarily titled-families. However, this title was considered unacceptable to the British authorities who opined it could only be borne by Princes of the blood Royal. A compromise was reached allowing the introduction of the style“The Most Noble” on the premise that all title holders were entitled to that title. Thus, as from the year 1886, the holder of the title of Barone di Castel Cicciano became entitled to be styled “The Most Noble”. This was unnecessary in regard to Castel Cicciano because in fact Fabrizio’s descendants were already entitled to the title of “The Most Illustrious and Noble” by reason of the aforesaid decree dated 11 May 1725.
The British Colonial administration also allowed presumed successors of titles of nobility, the diminutive style of their respective titles, in this case Baroncino di Castel Cicciano. But the Colonial administration did not allow any legal right to the use of these styles.
Other descendants of the various holders of this title are by custom entitled to be styled dei Baroni di Castel Cicciano. Again, the Colonial administration did not allow any legal right to the use of this style.
Since 1975, a general duty is imposed in the Republic of Malta not to recognize any title of nobility. (Act 29 of 1975 dated 17 October 1975).
For full Genealogy of the Barons of Castel Cicciano please see:
According to Cassar Desain’s “Genealogia della famiglia Testaferrata” published in 1880, (pages 106-107) the Barony of Cicciano originated as follows:
“It is not been possible to establish the exact origins of this title but this is what we have discovered. The Count Enrico Ursino was the first to receive “la giurisdizione criminale e civile, col mero e misto imperio et gradii potestate” of the land of Cicciano in the province of Terra di Lavoro.
In 1528 having died without any descendants the said fief therefore reverted to the “Regio Corte” , which on the 2 August of the same year sold it to Girolamo Pellegrino, for him and his heirs and successors. The sale was made by the then Vice Roy of Naples, the Prince d’Oranges for 1200 ducats as results form a record of 1653.
In 1533 it had devolved to Caterina Pellegrino daughter of the said Girolamo and wife of Giovanni Colonna, who in turn sold it to Vincenzo Caraffa “col regio assenso”. Caraffa then sold it to Pietro Antonio Spinelli WITHOUT “regio assenso” and in 1556 Carlo Spinelli, Count of Seminara, son of Pietro, alienated it to Pietro Pignoro “col region assenso”, thereby ratifying the previous transfers.
This last acquirer gave it up to Cristofero Grimaldi for 1500 ducati, as results from the registers of the Notary Giovanni Pugliese of Naples, 7 May 1556 – with “Regio assenso” of the 12 august 1560 Grimaldi transferred it for the same price to Francesco Mego, a Maltese – as results from the acts of the Neapolitan Notary Tommaso Arelli 31 August 1560, who had sent a power of attorney for the purchase and the exercise of the jurisdiction to the Gerosolimitan Prior Lamberto Doria of the 23 May…(illegible) ……………Gio. Antonio (as per acts of Giu. De Guevara 17 September 1572) who nominated, by the records of Pietro Aragonesi (of Syracuse) of the 17 April 1576, his attorney the Prior Fra Vincenzo Caraffa, Commendatarius of the Gerosolimitan Commandery of Cicciano.
Gio Antonio Mego not having had children donated the it to his grandson Francesco Xerri as results from the acts of Notary Giuseppe Mamo of the 21 August 1580. The latter died in 1581 and he was succeeded by his son Gregorio Xerri who being childless donated it to Ascanio Surdo, his consanguine as results from the contract made in the records of Notary Francesco Imbroll of the 24 October 1603.
The baron Ascanio Surdo gave it in dowry as results from the records of Pietro Calleja 24 February 1613 to Maddalena his first born by reason of her marriage to the Baron Giacinto Cassia of Ghariescem et Tabia. In turn succeeded by their son Gio Antonio but having dies without any issue it devolved in favour of his brother Pietro, who also gave it in dowry to his daughter Beatrice wife of the Noble Paolo Testaferrata as results from the records of Notary Andrea Vella of the 20 January 1674. In this way it was passed on to Don Fabrizio by means of a donation made in the records of Benedetto Vassallo, 8 February 1695. Baron Fabrizio bequeathed it to his daughter Clara, and after her it was succeeded by her son Pasquale Sceberras Testaferrata, in turn succeeded by his son Antonio, from there to his son Baron Sir Pasquale Sceberras Trigona, Knight Commander of St, Michael and St. George, and from there unto the present Baron Alessandro Sceberras Damico, who is the 23rd possessor of the title.”
In Gauci, C.A.’s “Genealogy and Heraldry of the Nobles Families of Malta”, 1981 and 1992, Alessandro is listed as the 15th, not the 23rd holder of this title.
For Royal Assent in 1695 in favour of Fabrizio see Commissioner’s report (above).
The same “Genealogia della famiglia Testaferrata” (page 105) reproduces an inscription found in the Church of the Discalced Carmelites in Cospicua:
NOBILEM TESTAFERRATAM FAMILIAM
VETUSTISSIMAE CAPIFERRAE GENTIS ROMANAE
QUAE ROMAE ET MESSANAE INTER PATRIATIAS RELATA
VIROS HABUIT IN OMNI HONORUM SERIE PROBATISSIMOS
ADIECTIS BARONIALIBUS DITIONIBUS
CICCIANI IN REGNO NEAPOLITANO GOMERINI IN HAC INSULA
AD SUMMAE CLARITUDINIS FASTIGIUM EVEXIT
ET NE QUID EI DEESSET AD GLORIAM
HAERES AMORIS MAGNI AVUNCULI SUI
BALTHASSARIS CAGLIARSII EPISCOPI MELITENSIS
IN CARMELITOS DISCALCEATOS QUOS ACCIVIT ET FOVIT
IN HOC MAIORO SACELLO SUIS IN PATRONATUM ADDICTO
SEPULCRUM SIBI ET POSTERIS PRAEPARAVIT
OBIIT DIE XXIV MARTII ANNO MDCCXIV
AETATIS SUAE LIX
This inscription reads that Paolo Testaferrata (not his son Fabrizio) was holding the Neapolitan title of Cicciano in 1714 and that he had by then annexed (adiectis) the baronial title of Cicciano as well as the Maltese title of Gomerino to the patrician family of Testaferrata, described as an offshoot of the Roman Capiferri family. If this is valid, the implication is that the 1695 transaction was modified.
In Gauci, C.A., Paolo Testaferrata is listed as having died in 1713, not 24 March 1714.
Gauci, C.A. also lists Fabrizio as having succeeded the Maltese title of Gomerino but this has been disproved by the investiture on 1 May 1737 of his brother Ercole Martino following a donation of that title by their mother in 1734.
1. PRIMARY REFERENCES (GRANT/S):
(1) Deed of donation dated 8 February 1695 between Beatrice Testaferrata and Fabrizio Testaferrata.
(2) Royal Assent dated 11 July 1695 approving the deed of Donation.
(3) Enactment by Grand Master Manoel de Vilhena dated 30 April 1725 regulating the use of the Titles of Illustrissimo and Nobile. Enactment dated 11 May 1725 concerning the Barone di Cicciano Fabrizio Testaferrata and his mother the Baronessa di Gomerino Beatrice Cassia Testaferrata.
(4) Order by Grand Master Ximenes dated 20 August 1775 concerning the Barone di Castel Cicciano Pasquale Sceberras Testaferrata,
(5) Order by Grand Master Rohan dated 27 August 1776 concerning the Barone di Castel Cicciano Pasquale Sceberras Testaferrata. Various Orders by Grand Master Rohan till 1797 concerning the same Pasquale Sceberras Testaferrata;
(6) Decision, Sceberras D’Amico v. Sceberras Trigona , Privy Council A.C. 806