Who is the rightful Marquis de Piro?.



Who is the rightful Marquis de Piro? This title was conferred by Philip V, King of Spain, by a patent of 1742, on the Maltese nobleman Juan Pio de Piro, Viscount of Carteley and Baron of Budacco.


The creation documents are in the Archivio Historico Nacional in Madrid, Consejos Suprimidos book 2753, year 1742, no. 17, File 8978, year 1742 no. 820 and were despatched as per file Book 624, year 1742 and File State Section, file 6390(1), no. 86. The creation was published in the Gazeta de Madrid on 8 May 1742, pages 151-152.


As a title created within the kingdom of Castile, it was regulated by the Book of Laws compiled in the 13th century by king Alfonso X (Alfonso the Wise) as well as the Cortes de Toro (a law of 1505), the Novisima Recopilacion of 1805, the Royal Decree of 27th September 1820, the Law of 11th October 1820, the Law of 4th may 1948, as well as many other Royal Decrees in particular those of the 27th May 1912, 8th July 1922, 21st March 1980, 11th March 1988, 16th September 1994 and the Law of 30th October 2006. By means of the latest law, the conventional rules of orden regular were amended by abolishing discrimination on grounds of gender. The rule preferring age and descent by primogeniture was retained. 


The title was formally suppressed by decree of the 12th February 1826. This meant it was revoked and the title had reverted to the Crown. The notice was published in the Gazeta de Madrid 23 September 1826. 


It was revived in 1870 after the Colonel Francisco Saverio de Piro petitioned for it in 1866 and paid the relative fees. Francesco Saverio was therefore the 2nd Marquis. Relative documents under Archivio General del Ministerio de JusticiaArchivio Historico Nacional, State Book 6390(1) no 86 and Gazeta de Madrid of the 10th August 1872.


In 1895, Francesco Saverio was legally succeeded by his own son Giuseppe Lorenzo de Piro, who in turn was succeeded by his daughter Adelaida de Piro. 


Adelaida was the 4th Marchioness de Piro. We find record of an Application for a Royal Licence for the use of a Foreign title in Great Britain was filed by Adelina De Piro in 1914 [Ref. HO 45/10702/237247] in respect of the ‘Title Marquis conferred by Philip V of Spain in 1742 and renewed in 1870 by the Regent of Spain’ described as “Title of Marquise granted to applicant by King of Spain on the death of her father”. In her application, she attached a memorandum as to the recognition in Britain of titles officially recognized in Malta, then a Colony. The application was refused by the office, giving the reason “No special circumstances alleged”. 


In any case Adelaide de Piro remained the titleholder in terms of Spanish law until her death in 1962, when the title became vacant,


In terms of a Royal Decree of 27th May 1912, it was technically possible for any descendant of the first Marquis to apply for and obtain the title against the payment of the relative fee. However, this reinstatement is no longer possible as according to the Royal Decree No. 222 of the 11th March 1988 such petitions can only be made within forty years of the vacancy. Moreover in terms of the said Decree, only persons related up to six degrees from the first and last holders of the title, are eligible to make an application. 


Therefore in terms of this Decree, the title of Marquis de Piro became extinct in the year 2002, that is to say 40 years after the death of Adelaida de Piro, 4th and last holder of the title of Marquis de Piro. 


The succession in Malta should not be any different to that in Spain. According to the Report published in 1878 of a Royal Commission appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility, the titles of Marchese in the Kingdom of Castile, and of Viscount de Cartely, together with another title of Conte, were claimed by Saverio De Piro.


The Commission took no notice of either the title of Count, which was never conferred by the Kings of Spain, or that of Viscount of Carteley, of which Gio Pio De Piro was divested on his promotion to a superior dignity, but reported that the title of Marquis was recently revived in favour of the said Saverio De Piro, by a letter of the Under Secretary of the Spanish Ministry of Grace and Justice, existing in the Financial Secretary’s Department of the War Office, of which letter the following is a translation: - “- Ministry of Grace and Justice - His Excellency the Minister of Grace and Justice makes known to his Excellency the Minister of Finance as follows: As it appears from the record of the proceedings entered in this office at the instance and request of D. Xavier De Piro, who begs that the title of Marquis De Piro lately possessed by his predecesors should be revived in his favour; the Regent of the Kingdom, having seen the Royal Decree of the 4th December 1864, and in conformity with the resolution of the section of Grace and Justice of the Conseil d’Etat, has thought it advisable to order that the above-named dignity of Marquis De Piro should be revived in favour of the said D. Xavier De Piro, without prejudice to the rights which third parties may have acquired by a more favourable decree: provided, however, the said De Piro should pay the special duty and the other charges imposed on the said title, and which must be liquidated in favour of the Treasury, as stated in the decree of the 12th February 1826, in which it was declared that the payment of that duty had been suspended. By His Highness’s orders I forward these presents to you for your information and for all intents and purposes. May God preserve you for many years. The Under Secretary  - Madrid, September 28, 1870 (signed) URAN C.Z. MONSAN


The British Royal Commission further noted the foregoing letter was accompanied with a communication from the War Office, dated the 20th October 1870, to the following effect:- “I am directed by Mr. Secretary Cardwell to enclose herewith a letter which has been received for you, through the Foreign Office, from the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, informing you of the revival of the Marquisate De Piro; I am at the same time to add that the necessary alteration has been made in the Army List.”


In this way, Francesco Saverio de Piro was acknowledged by the Maltese authorities as a nobleman holding the title of Marquis according to Spanish law. The title of Marquis de Piro is regarded as forming part of the Maltese Nobility.


The historic basis of letting a foreign title form part of the Maltese Nobility is found in a decree of 1739 promulgated by Grand Master Despuig which allowed the recognition of a foreign title against the obligatory payment of a fee. In this case, de Piro paid twice, once on the 8 October 1745 for the registration in Malta and before that for the purchase of the title which had a price tag of 562,500 Maravedes de Vellon.


“Lo Stesso Barone Giovani Pio Depiro ottenne poi da Filippo Re di spagna un Titolo in Castiglia di Marchese per se e tutti li suoi eredi, e successori, avendo pagato il Dritto di cinquecento e sessanta due mili, e cinquecento maravedi di Vellon; il quale dritto deve essere pagato da ciascun successore in questo titolo il quale per rescritto del G. Mro si trova registrato nel lib. Boll. Sottogli 8.8bre 1745, fo 167”. Reference A.O.M. 627,


According to one source [Gauci (1986) in "A Guide to the Maltese Nobility" (PEG Publications, Malta, 1986)]., the title was in 1983 “awarded” by a Maltese private committee, to Adelaide’s kinsman as “7th” marquis” "without prejudice to the rights of any other person who may acquire a more favourable decree from the King of Spain": The kinsman was Adelaide’s grandfather’s brother’s grandson and great-great-great-great grandson of the original grantee. It is also reported by the same source in a later publication (1992) that the same kinsman immediately “renounced” this title in favour of his only son.


Meanwhile an application for the rehabilitation of the title originally granted in 1742 to the nobleman Juan Pio de Piro, was filed in Spain by Don Antonio Buttigieg de Piro on the 31st August 1984 (Hidalguia Ano XXXII, Num 186, pp. 581-582.), as successor to the 4th lawful holder. 


Mythbuster: The website claims the first Marquis was succeeded by his grandson Vincenzo (2nd), who in turn “nominated” his second son Giuseppe (3rd), who in turn was “succeeded by his eldest son” Adriano (4th) who in turn was succeeded by his younger brother Francesco Xaverio (5th) "who was nominated", in turn by his eldest son Giuseppe Lorenzo (6th) and in turn by his only daughter Adelina Victoria MacPherson (7th). According to the same site Adelina “used the title by consent of the senior line”. The website’s claims have no basis on the Spanish documentation. 



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