Barone’s di Castel Cicciano, Naples.
Last update: 16-04-2023.
Note: Royal Decree by the King of Italy governing succession to Titles of Nobilityand Nobiliary ranks – Decree no 1489 of 16 August 1926.
Granted to: Francesco Mego of Rhodes Island, (Arrived with the Knights to Malta c. 1530), Auditor and Vice Chancellor of the Order of St John of Malta, (d.1572) “1st” Baron di Castel Cicciano of Naples.
By: Charles IV, King of Naples, V of the Holy Roman Empire.
On: 1560 at Naples, Italy.
With Remainder to: His descendants by feudal tenure (Jure Francorum) in perpetuity.
British Crown recognition: 1878.
List of Titleholders:
1. Sig. Francesco Mego, (d. 1572), Signore di Qlejjgha, 1st Barone, succeeded by his son.
2. Nobile Gio Antonio Mego, (d. 1580), 2nd Barone di Qlejjgha, 2nd Barone, sold title 1580, then died thereafter.
Transfer (“Donatio seu venditio”) by Gio Antonio Mego of the Barony of Cicciano “ac mero ac mixto Imperio” unto Xerri in the acts of Notary Joseph Mamo of the 22 August 1580).
3. Milite Francesco Scerri (Xerri), (d. 1581), 3rd Barone, succeeded by his son.
4. Nobile Dr Gregorio Xerri JUD, (d. 1623), 4th Barone, succeeded by his son-in-law.
5. Nobile Dr Ascanio Surdo JUD, (d. 1643), 5th Barone, succeeded by his eldest daughter.
6. Nobile Maddalena Surdo Cassia, (d. 1650), 6th Baronessa, succeeded by her son.
7. Nobile Gio Antonio Cassia, (d. 1658), 2nd Barone di Ghariexem e Tabia, 7th Barone, succeeded by his brother.
8. Nobile Pietro Cassia, (d. 1686), 3rd Barone di Gharxiem e Tabia, 8th Barone, succeeded by his eldest daughter.
9. Nobile Beatrice Cassia Testaferrata, Joint 1st Baronessa di Gomerino, 9th Baronessa, succeeded by her eldest son.
10. Nobile Fabrizio Testaferrata, (d. 1744), 2nd Barone di Gomerino, 10th Barone, succeeded by his daughter.
11. Nobile Clara Testaferrata Sceberras, 11th Baronessa, succeeded by her son.
12. Nobile Pasquale Sceberras Testaferrata, 12th Barone, succeeded by his son.
13. Nobile Antonio Sceberras Testaferrata, (d. 1843), 13th Barone, succeeded by his son.
14. Nobile Sir Pasquale Sceberras Trigona, KCMG, (d. 1869), 14th Barone, succeeded by his son.
15. Nobile Alexander Sceberras d’Amico Inguanez, (d. 1880), 15th Barone, succeeded by his daughter.
16. Nobile Maria Francesca Sceberras d’Amico Inguanez McKean, (d. 1947), 16th Baronessa, succeeded by his nephew.
17. Nobile Alexander Chesney, (d. 1960), 17th Barone, succeeded by his sister.
18. Nobile Frances Mary Chesney, (d. 1981), 18th Baroness, succeeded by her kinswomen.
19. Nobile Carole Anne Sceberras Trigona, (1942-, 19th Baroness.
Heir: Nobile Anne Marie Sceberras Trigona, (1952-.
General Heir: Mr Benjamin Harany Trigona, (1978-.
Articles relating to this title:
* The Italian fiefdom of Castel Cicciano.
Footnote: The title of “Barone di Castel Cicciano” was enjoyed in 1695 by the Maltese Citizen Beatrice Cassia wife of Paolo Testaferrata, and before that year, by her ancestors.
This title did not originate in Malta but in Naples. At Maltese Law it is only a foreign title and, as such, it can be considered for the purposes of precedence only if registration or Magistral recognition has been achieved in accordance with the rules of 1739 and 1795 as enacted by Grand Masters Despuig and Rohan.
In this case, the said title is clearly older than the aforesaid rules and the Royal Commissioners found that it was in fact directly recognised by the Grand Masters at some time prior to 1725 in favour of Beatrice’s son Fabrizio Testaferrata. Moreover, it was also observed in the general part of the Report that (like most of the titles granted by the Grand Masters), the foreign titles considered by the Commissioners were observed to be purely nominal, not feudal, and that the mere attachment of peculiar designations such as “di San Vincenzo Ferreri” and “di San Paolino” did not render such titles feudal. The Commissioners did however point out that this was not the case in regard to the title under discussion (Castel Cicciano) and that discussed elsewhere (Mont’Alto) (See:- “Correspondence and Report of the Commission appointed to enquire into the claims and grievances of the Maltese Nobility”, May 1878, presented to both Houses of Parliament by Command of Her Majesty (C.-2033.) (See Report Para. 241)).
VALUE OF REGISTRATION/MAGISTRAL RECOGNITION From the records of the Cancelleria it appeared that the titles so granted were registered in virtue of a rescript from the Grand Master, on an application by the party concerned. The Royal Commissioners of 1878 remarked that they were prone to believe that the Grand Master would not have given his assent to registration without any investigation. From the start, however, the Commissioners pointed out that the Despuig/Rohan Rules on the matter did not deny nobility to a Titolato who failed to duly register his title, but only assigned him no place insofar as precedence was concerned. (See:- “Correspondence and Report of the Commission appointed to enquire into the claims and grievances of the Maltese Nobility”, May 1878, presented to both Houses of Parliament by Command of Her Majesty (C.-2033.) (See Report Paras. 101-102)). It is also noteworthy that the Commissioners did not consider all the titles which were registered in the Cancelleria: For example the title of Conte granted to Baldassare Fenech Bonnici on the 11 June 1798 by Pope Benedict XIV, which was duly registered under Archives of the Order of Malta (554, f. 176) as well as the Archives of the Inquisition of Malta (102m f. 32) was not considered by the Report. It appears that no descendant of this grantee made any claim to the Commissioners.
In regard to the title of “Barone di Castel Cicciano” enjoyed by Beatrice Testaferrata, it appears that she transferred this title by means of a private transaction unto her son Fabrizio Testaferrata. Royal assent from the relative foreign sovereign was however achieved some months later and the transaction was therefore legitimated. (See:-“Correspondence and Report of the Commission appointed to enquire into the claims and grievances of the Maltese Nobility”, May 1878, presented to both Houses of Parliament by Command of Her Majesty (C.-2033.) (See Report Paras. 106-112)).
The actual report says the following:
“The gentleman who claims and actually holds the present title is Alessandro Sceberras, who is referred to in the committee list as Barone Testaferrata Sceberras Damico Inguanez. He is the first-born descendent in the primogenial line of Paolo Testaferrata and Beatrice Cassia Baronessa di Castel Cicciano his wife, who by a deed of donation stipulated before notary Benedetto Vassallo, on the 8th February 1695, granted to Fabrizio Testaferrata their first-born son ‘Baroniam et Jurisdictionem Criminalem, Civilem, et Mixtam Castri Cicciani ProvinciaeTerrae Laboris Regni Neapis scilicet cum cognitione primarum causarum civilium, criminalium, et secundarium causarum civilium, criminalium et commixtarum, meromixtoque imperio ac gladii potestate, componendi delicta poenasque committendi, etc’.”
The foregoing donation received on the 11th July 1695, the royal assent, which on the 28th September of the same year was entered in quinternionibus Regiae Camerae, in virtue of a decree of the 13th September 1695. That royal assent was on the 14th 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 priviligium sive assensus Regius per Illm et NobilemDominum Fabritium Testaferrata Baronem Capitaneum Virgae ac Justitiarium NotabilisCivitati et Insulae Melitae in eo nominatum, fuitque de mandato in actis curiae sive officiiPerillmorum D.D. Juratorum Notabilis Civitatis praedictae, insinuatum atque registratumjuxta decretationem prout in eo, eidemque Domino Baron restitutum.
That title was in the year 1725, acknowledged in the person of Fabrizio Testaferrata By Grand Master Manoel, who, after having issued his Prammatica bearing date 30th April 1725, of which an extract has already been quoted (#94) amended it by a decree of the same year. By that enactment he also excepted from the provisions contained in the Prammatica,Fabrizio Testaferrata, calling him “Barone di Cicciano”, in the Kingdom of Naples, and Baronessa Beatrice Testaferrata, his mother. From which it follows that the recognition of Fabrizio Testaferrata as “Barone di Cicciano” had taken place previously to the publication of the decree of Grand Master Despuig. He was moreover, in 1725, by special command of the Sovereign, declared to be entitled to the same honours and distinctions which were due to the highest functionaries of the island, and to Marco Antonio Inguanez, a Maltese baron.
The expressions contained in the aforesaid decree of the 15th May 1725, explain the real import of the words “Nobili ac Macco Fabritio Testaferrata Baroni meri et mixti Imperii, Castri et Terrae mae Comdae de Cicciano”, existing in the three different bulls of the 21st August 1702, the 30th August 1703, and the 21st August 1704, by which Grand Master Perellos appointed the said Fabrizio, Capitano della Verga. Such expressions clearly show that the said recognition had been effected before 1725.
The said recognition was confirmed by Grand Masters Ximenes and De Rohan. The former, on conferring, on the 20th August 1775, the office of Capitano della Verga on BaronePasquale Sceberras Testaferrata, son of Michele Sceberras by Clara Testaferrata Baronessa diCicciano his wife, and daughter of the said Fabrizio, in the bull of appointment, to which the Grand Master’s signature was attached, referred to his as follows: Don Paschali SceberrasTestaferrata, castri Cicciani cum mero mixtoque imperio Baroni; and the same expression occurs in the bull of the 27th August 1776, as well as in those of the following years till 1797, during the government of De Rohan, the said Barone Pasquale having for 22 years being uninterruptedly entrusted with the said office of Capitano della Verga.
The claimant and present holder of this title is the first-born son descending form the only surviving line of the said Fabritio Testaferrata.
In the list forwarded by the Committee the date of the creation is stated to be the 11th June 1695, and considering the circumstances above stated, we have no doubt that on that day the title of Barone di Cicciano was possessed by the claimant’s ancestors. There is even reason to believe 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 of 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 the other circumstances that Beatrice Cassia in 1695, and before that year, Pietro Cassia her father, were already in possession of the fief.
We beg to add that though the claimant in the list of the Committee is entitled “BaroneAlessandro Testaferrata Sceberras Damico Inguanez”, his lawful patronymic is Sceberras, the other surnames affixed to his name being taken from his maternal ancestors. He will consequently be referred to in our list as “Alessandro Sceberras, Barone di Castel Cicciano”.
In view of the above, the Commissioners allowed the examination of a further, more careful examination in order to establish the exact date of creation.
The remainder of the title of Castel Cicciano described as a “Neapolitan barony to which certain civil and criminal jurisdictions were formerly attached, but which now appears to be a mere title of honour” was together with the aforesaid deed of 1695 the subject oflater court proceedings instituted by Alessandro’s eldest daughter against Alessandro’s half brother. Baron Alessandro died on the 15 October 1880 leaving two daughters. His half brother claimed the primogenitura and the title. By the time this case reached the Privy Council, the half brother was appellant for the title.
The Lords of the Privy Council on the 4 August 1888, described the issue as follows: The deed of the 8 February 1695 is an elaborate instrument, executed upon the first marriage of Fabrizio (called in the deed Fabritius), the eldest son of Baron Paolo Testaferrata and Beatrice his wife, the founders or settlers. Its construction depends very much upon the effect of words of reference, found in all the substitutional clauses, to the clause or clauses preceding them. It limits the succession, after Fabritius, first to his eldest and other sons, and their respective male line; then on failure of all those lines, to his female issue and their respective descendants after them, in an order upon which the determination of the question in the first appeal turns; and lastly, on failure of all the male and female issue of Fabritius, to his younger brothers and their respective issue. The question is whether, under this deed, when the agnatic male line descended from Fabritiuswas exhausted (or in the event, which happened, of his having daughters only), the descendants of females, taking each in her turn as the head of a new line, were to take in what the Maltese law regards as ‘regular’ course of succession which admits females descended from the last holder in preference to all collaterals; or whether the male line of descendants from a female ancestress through males was to take, exclusively of males, till that male line was exhausted. The general presumption of Maltese law is in favour of the ‘regular’ order of succession; some authorities say that, if the construction be doubtful, that presumption must prevail. But the founder of a primogeniture might displace the ‘regular’ order of succession, if he pleased’ and such intention, if sufficiently manifested must receive effect. The question therefore, is merely one of the proper construction of the deed; and to ascertain this, all part of the instrument may properly be taken into account. Upon a careful examination of the deed of the 8 February 1695, and all its parts, their Lordships have come to the conclusion that the judgement appealed from (in the first appeal) is right; and that the succession from females under this primogenitura, is in lines of the kind described by Cardinal Luca (‘De Linea Legali’ Lib. 1, Art. 10, p.216) as lines of ‘artificial agnation’..On the whole of this part of the case, their Lordships are of the opinion that the judgment in the Respondent’s favour, in which the Court of First Instance and the majority of the Judges in the Court of Appeal concurred, was right and ought to be affirmed. The question of the barony of Castel Cicciano remains. That barony, to which a territorial jurisdiction, civil and criminal, was anciently attached, was in the old law, established under the Frank Princes in Naples and Sicily, a ‘hereditary’ or ‘mixed’ feud, alienable with, but not without, the Royal consent. The original grant does not appear to be now extant; but by a series of alienations, during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, it became vested in Paolo and Beatrice Testaferrata, the common ancestors under whom both parties to this contest claim. The history of the tenure of such baronies, and of the law applicable to them, was discussed with much learning by Dr. Gasan, the Judge of first instance; and their Lordships adopt his conclusion, that however the case may have been before the commutation in the thirteenth century of the military service due from barons, females as well as male were, after that commutation, capable in the ordinary course of law of succeeding to them; and this particular barony appears, at different times, to have been held by females.
Unfortunately although the Privy gave judgement on the 1695 primogenitura, it did not give any decision on the title of Barone di Castel Cicciano ordering ‘as to the barony, to remit the case for further consideration to the Court of Appeal in Malta; discharging in the meantime, without prejudice to any question, the judgment, as to the barony of that Court. Nonetheless, before remitting the question about the barony of Castel Cicciano, the Privy Council raised a number of issues intended to be addressed the Maltese Courts, including:
1. If by means of his will dated 12 August 1744 the then holder of the Barony of Castel Cicciano, Fabrizio Testaferrata, impressed upon the barony the character of a “majorat” in favour of the male-to-male descendants of his daughter in exclusion of all female heirs as long as there were such male descendants, was he entitled to do so? The Lords noted that Fabrizio in turn took the title from Beatrice Testaferrata who was the youngest of five daughters of Pietro Cassia. She received the title on the 20 January 1674 which had the Royal assent. Pietrotook it from his mother Maddalen daughter of Ascanio Surdo who in 1613 was the original settlor. The Lords said: The internal evidence of the deed of 20 January 1674 seems to their Lordships adverse to the supposition that it was either founded upon any renunciation or renunciations by Domenica or her sisters, or was intended by the parties to it to be governed in any way by the order of succession prescribed in Ascanio Surdos deed. To presume renunciations afterwards, if there were none before, would not seem to their Lordships reasonable; and, if there had been any before, it is hardly possible that evidence of them should not have been preserved in some notarial acts, and that no mention of them should be made in the deed of the 20 January 1674 itself.
2. Finally the Lords said: Supposing that Ascanio Surdo’s settlement is now not operative, the only remaining question would be, what was the effect upon the barony of the will of Fabrizio? He held, under the settlement of the 20 January 1674, not on the terms of any majorat or primogenitura, but with a simple destination to his descendants generally; and it appears to their Lordships that according to the view of both the Courts below, this would have enabled him to settle the barony by his will, so as to create a majorat, in any manner and to any extent authorized by the Pragmatic No. 34 of Philip IV. The only reason why the Court of Appeal held that he could not do so was, because they considered him to hold under, and upon the terms of, Ascanio Surdo’s settlement of 1613. But the court of Appeal held that any such majorat or primogeniture, created by the will of Fabrizio, could not endure, so as to give a preference to male collaterals over female descendants of the last holder of the barony, beyond the fourth degree or generation, reckoned downwards from Fabrizio himself (Clara, the daughter of Fabrizio being in the first degree); a rule which would exclude the Appellant Salvatore from the succession. The Court of Appeal treated that point as depending upon the question, whether Clara as “institute” was to be included in or excluded from the computation of those four degrees; and it seems to have been so argued, on both sides, before that Court, as it was also before their Lordships, until a different view of the meaning of the “fourth degree” in the Pragmatic of Philip IV suggested itself during the course of the argument. Their Lordships would not differ on this point from the conclusion of the Court of Appeal, if they were satisfied that a correct view had been taken of the meaning of the “fourth degree” in the Pragmatic of Philip IV; and they would not think it satisfactory finally to decide that point in the Appellant Salvatore’s favour, until it had been argued and considered by the Court of Appeal in Malta, where perhaps some new light might be capable of being thrown upon it.
It appears, however, that no further decision was reached by the Maltese Courts regarding the succession from Alessandro. In any event, there can be no doubt that the 1695 transaction received Royal assent.
Reassessing (again) the title of Baron of Cicciano (Castel Cicciano)
The following extract is from “Genealogia della famiglia Testaferrata, descritta dal Marchese Cassar Desain” (1880) (p. 106-107):-
“Fabrizio Testaferrata, primogenito del Barone Paolo e della Baronessa Beatrice, venne col regio assenso dato in Napoli il di luglio 1695 immesso nel possesso della Baronia di Cicciano.
Avuto quest’ assenso, Fabrizio costitui suo procuratore, per atti Gius. Simon 19 novembre 1696, il Bali’ Carlo Spinelli e in seguito spedi’ altra procura pei rogiti di not. Benedetto Vassallo – 2 agosto 1709 – a favor del Comm. Fra Geronimo Basadonna, e finalmente una terza il 1mo aprile 1710 per atto presso Vincenzo Marchesi in persona del prior della Rocella Don Carlo Caraffa.”
Copies of the documents dated 1696, 1709 and 1710 are found (below).
According to the “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.), (para. 108) the title of Baron of Castel Cicciano being a title based in Naples was a “foreign title” and first recognized by the Grand Masters only in 1725. – The attached documents disprove the Report.
See “Atti fatti e notizie su Cicciano e la sua gente” By Francesco M. Petillo
Full text at:
(1) Castel Cicciano was a commandery of the order!
(2) Petillo says the “successors” are taken from Charles Gauci’s book. However, Petillo seems to be implying after Fabrizio Testaferrata, there appears to be no evidence of any investiture in the title of baron of Castel Cicciano.
(3) Therefore it follows none of the Sceberras/Sceberras D’amico/Chesney/Sceberras Trigona families were ever entitled to this title!.
* 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