There are supposedly 32 titles which form the “Maltese Nobility
But how “antique” is it? Not that much, it would appear. According to a Royal Commissioners’ Report, the first time in Malta that the nobility was ever regulated as a body was only as late as 1739, that is to say less than 60 years before the Order’s surrender to the French in 1798. Today it’s 2009: Even the Second World War is more than 60 years ago! That the first legal instrument dealing with the Maltese nobility as a body was only promulgated in 1739 puts into serious doubt the much vaunted claim that in 1090 Roger the Norman organised Maltese society into nobles, burghers and rustics. And what of the individual titles? Those identified by the same Report as extant before 1739 number only eight in all, namely Testaferrata of Gomerino (1710), Depiro of Budaq (1716), Castelletti of Marsa (1725 – extinct), Galea of San Marciano (1726), Viani of Tabria (1728), Bonnici of Culeja (1737), Gatt of Benuarrat (1737), Mompalao of Frigenuini (1737- extinct). – To these one could add the holders of two fiefs which were first regarded as Noble by the said report, namely Inguanez of Djar il-Bniet et Buqana(1725) and Cassia of Ghariescem et Tabia (1659).
In addition one could also add the various grants of untitled nobility granted before 1739 namely those granted to Inguanez, Testaferrata and Testaferrata Cassia and another Testaferrata in 1725, Falsone and Testaferrata and Galea Feriolo in 1726, Depiro in 1727, Costanzo in 1729, Viani, Platamone and Bonnici in 1730, Bonnici and Mompalao in 1732 and Gatt in 1737. These were omitted from the said Report. As for those titles which originated outside Malta those identified, by the very same Report, as their first known date (in Malta) before 1739 are five namely Testaferrata of Castel Cicciano (1725), Testaferrata of San Vincenzo Ferreri (1725), Conte Preziosi(1722), Piscopo of Mont’ Alto (1721 – extinct) and Conte Wzzini Paleologo (1722). All other titles were either granted or registered/“recognized” after 1739. “Ancient” means very old. (__) Even if one were to take the oldest of the grants, it was only 88 years old when the French took over the islands. Hardly ancient. But the 1659 recognition of the Ghariescem fief is an excellent lead to what one is really looking for. It is very true that the nobility as a body did not exist prior to 1725, but it is equally true that there were a number of families which were already established as “notable” long before that year.
|This is where Abela’s “Della Descrittione di Malta del Commendatore Abela” is very handy. This opus is the only private publication referred to in the Commissioners’ Report as being “an old and highly authoritative work”. Abela identified a total of 120 families, many being already extinct at the time of publication (1647). The following is the roll of honour:
ARAGONA; ALAGONA; AMODEO; ASTI; ARIUNA / ARJONA; AVOLA; AREIULA; ALLEGRITTO; ARMENIA; ATTARDO; ARMANINO; AAXAK; ABELA; BONNICI; BAGLIO; BARBA; BORDINO; BAVA; BERNARDO; BEGLIERA; BUONTEMPO; BONELLO; BALDES / VALDES; BONDINO; BLUNDO; BOCCHIO; BIZZIANO; BUSCO; BRANCATO; BELL’ HUOMO; CAXARO; CALAVA ; CASTELLI; CICALA; CIPOLLATO; CILINO; CHILONA; CANCELLU; CASSARO; CASSIA; CASSERES; CARUANA; CUZKERI; CASTELLETTA; CALABACCHIO; CHIANTAR; CUMBO; CATALANO; CALAVIRISI; COGLITURI; DELIE; EPISCOPU; FALSONE; FALCA / FALCO; FALCONE; FANATO; FLAVAVENTO; FANTINO / INFANTINO; GATTO; GUEVARA; GRUGNO; GOMEZ; HABICA / CHABICA / XABICA; INGUANEZ / DESGUANECHS; LICATA; LAURERI; LAIMO / ALAIMO; MESSINA; MERLO; MOMPALAU; MAZARA; MICHOLA; MALTA / MALTESE; MANDUCA; MODICA; MOMBRON; MONTAGNES; MANUELE; MANNARA / ALMANARA; MILETO; MURINA; MANFREDI; MAMO; NAVA; DE NASO; NAVARRA; NOTO; PLOZASCO; PELLEGRINO; PLATAMONE; PATERNO; PIRRERA; PACE / PAX; PEROLLO; PAGLIA; PARISI; ROCCA; RAGUSA; RAVELLO; RIBERA; RAPA; SERRANO; SILLATO; SAGONA; STUNIGA; SANTASOFIA; SOLIMELLA; SURDO; TORRES; TESTAFERRATA; VACCARO; VAGNOLO / BAGNOLO; VALLE; VELLA; VASSALLO; XARA; XERRI; XUEREB / XUERES; ZAVALLOS and ZAMMIT.
The ancient nobility of Malta are the aforesaid families. Anything published to the contrary should re-check its facts.