The Italian title of Preziosi.
Footnote: The title of “Conte” conferred to the Maltese Citizen Giuseppe Preziosi 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. The title did not originate in Malta but in Rivoli which formed part of Savoy (not Sicily). At Maltese Law it is only a foreign title and, as such, it can be considered for the purposes of precedence 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 grant relative to “Conte Preziosi” appears to have been duly registered in the Cancelleria of the Order.
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 “Conte” granted to Preziosi, an issue arose regarding the wide remainder of this title. In fact, at the time of the Commission this title was claimed by five individuals namely Amadeo Preziosi, Dr. Antonio Preziosi, Dr. Camillo Preziosi, Alessandro Preziosi and Dr. Vincenzo Camilleri. The Commissioners allowed Amadeo’s claim on the basis that he was the first born descendant, but refrained from pronouncing themselves on the other claims. However the Secretary of State wrote back asking for a decision and the Commissioners complied by saying that the title must be deemed Sicilian and therefore descendible to the firstborn son only, according to the order of succession prescribed by the ius feudale francorum. (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. 173-175. Suppemental Report Part II).
The actual report says the following:
“This title was conferred 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 the fifth year of his reign. It was granted to Giuseppe Preziosi to hold to himself and his legitimate and natural male descendents in lawful wedlock begotten whether born or to be born. The original patent of creation was not produced before the Commission, it having probably been burnt up during the government of the French Republic in these islands in pursuance of an order by which, as already stated (#144), all the patents of nobility were to be set on fire. It was, however, regularly registered in a record of the Cancelleria, in consequence of a rescript of the Grand Master, bearing date the 20th June 1720, so that in the present case no recognition of the title was necessary. Although in the patent registered in that record the following expressions occur::-‘We command that it should be registered in our Secretairerie of State’, no allusion is therein made to the place in which it was enrolled agreeably to the King’s commands.
Amadeo is the first-born son of the late Conte Francesco, eldest son of the Conte Luigi Preziosi, and last holder of the title. The Conte Luigi was born of Conte Gio Francesco Preziosi, son of the original grantee Conte Giuseppe.
Dr. Antonio, Dr. Camillo and Alessandro Preziosi are the younger sons of the said Conte Luigi; but Dr Camilleri descends from the said Conte Luigi through his mother Rosa Camilleri, nee Preziosi. The first-born son in the primogenial line of the grantee is therefore Amadeo Preziosi.
The Commissioners therefore concluded their Report as follows:
“In order to determine the question whether the title belongs to the first-born son of the family only, or is to be taken to extend simultaneously to all the male descendents of Giuseppe Preziosi, first count, as it is assumed by several gentlemen who claim it, we think that most of the remarks made by us with reference to the preceding title of marquis, may be properly applied to the present case. As we are not called upon to express any opinion on this question, we shall simply mention the names of the gentlemen who appeared to assert their claims to this title; these gentlemen are, Amadeo Preziosi, Dr. Antonio Dr. Camillo, and Alessandro Preziosi and Dr. Vincenzo Camilleri.”
If according to the terms of the grant, the title is to be enjoyed jointly by all the contemporary male descendents of the Conte Giuseppe Preziosi, the number of such descendents, exclusive of the males descending from daughters would be nine; but including the male descendents of daughters that number would amount to 59.
This question having been reserved to the British Secretary of State for the Colonies, the Commissioners did not include the claimant’s name in the list. The Secretary of State for the Colonies then wrote to Governor Straubanzee to ask the Commissioners to address this issue.
In their Supplemental Report, the Commissioners then decided as follows:
This title, originally granted to Giuseppe Preziosi and to his male descendants, is claimed not only by Amadeo Preziosi, the firstborn son in the grantee’s primogenial line, but also by four other gentlemen who contend that it may be enjoyed by all the grantee’s contemporary male descendants, whether descending from the male or the female lines.
We beg respectfully to refer to our remarks on the claim to the title of Marchese conferred by the said King Victor-Amadeus, in 1717, on Mario Testaferrata (#166 et seq.). It will be seen that the grant by Victor-Amadeus to Mario Testaferrata, was made under the law respecting the titles of the Sicilian nobility, and that it is consequently descendible to the firstborn son only, according to the order of succession prescribed by the ius feudale francorum.
Applying those remarks to the present case, it is obvious that the title of Conte granted to Giuseppe Preziosi cannot be enjoyed but by Amadeo Preziosi, whose name has been included in our list of Titolati in our former Report, and that the other gentlemen who have asserted a right to this title have not succeeded in making out their claims.
In this way, the title has been deemed descendible to the firstborn son only, according to the order of succession prescribed by the ius feudale francorum.