The family of The Noble Perio Caruana
The family Caruana is in modern publications, not regarded as forming part of the Nobility in Malta. This is surprising when one considers that the cri de guerre of the Maltese Nobility in the 19th and 20th century was not quite titles of nobility, but the championing of the “ancient rights and privileges of the Maltese”.
In 1647, Abela dedicated all of 6 lines to this family, that is to say six lines more than many of those 19th and 20th century families who claimed to be descendants of the old nobility who sought and obtained those privileges.
Of the 120 notable families described by Abela, that of Caruana was not extinct.
The entry reads as follows:
“Perio Caruana si legge negl’ atti di Giacomo Sabbara essere stato in Malta Luogotenente del regio Tesoriere di Sicilian el 1498, nel 1504 Giurato, e similmente nel 1514, come si cava dale pubbliche Scritture, ed anco destinato Ambasciatore al Vicere’ per affari del Isola. Di lui fu’ figluolo Simone padre d’un altro Perio, che successe all’ Avo nell’ eredita’ universale per suo testamento l’anno 1519.”
The ‘pubbliche Scritture’ probably refer to Caruana’s official role at that time as “Ambasciatore”. We find that on the 3rd August 1514, King Ferdinand granted some privileges to the Maltese people, through the intercession of the Noble Perio (Pietro) Caruana, ambassador of the Universita’, to wit that no Capitan d'armi, or other officer, do anything contrary to the privileges of the city. This is in effect the same rights and privileges described by the 19th century titolati.
What is significant is that Piero was formally sent by the Maltese as a “Noble” and formally received by the King as a “Noble”. By any account, that is sufficient testimony of the nobility of the family of Perio Caruana.
We have learnt that by the year 1725, the titles of “Illustrissimo” and “Nobile” were being abused so much that Grand Master Vilhena decided to criminalize the attribution of either title to anyone in any writing, contract and public acts. The Grand Masters issued a total of 14 exemptions to various families.
Sadly, it appears that by then the Perio Caruana family had fallen into obscurity and was not one of such families.