Titles of Marchese della Taflia
The title Marchese della Taflia is a title of Nobility in Malta. It was granted on two occasions by the penultimate Grandmaster of the Order of Saint John during its rule over the Maltese Islands.
The first grant dated 1783, which has a limited remainder, is extinct.
However the second creation which was granted in 1790, has a remarkably much wider remainder and is held to be be extant.
Since 1975, titles of nobility are no longer recognized in the Republic of Malta by Act 29 of 1975 dated 17 October 1975.
ORIGIN AND NATURE OF TITLE
FIRST GRANT – 1783 (extinct)
The title of Marchese della Taflia was conferred by Grand Master Rohan to Gio Battista Mompalao on the 25 October 1783. A Royal Commission of 1878 described the relative remainder as one which only provided for the investiture of the person therein mentioned but did not proceed further to direct that the said investiture should be obtained by all the successors on any future vacancy, as laid down in the patents of the first class. In fact the Commissioners classified this title as one belonging to the second type of titles created by Grand Master Rohan. The patents of the title of “Marchese di Sa Giorgio” granted to Carlo Antonio Barbaro on the 6 September 1778, of the title of “Conte di Beberrua” granted to Luigi or Ludovico Gatt on the 23 October 1783, of the title of “Marchese del Fiddien” granted to Salvatore Mallia Tabone on the 15 October 1785, as well as the title of “Barone di Buleben” granted to Gaetano Azzopardi on the 23 July 1777), all fall under this class
These patents contain no provision for the descent of the title to sons, heirs, descendents, and successors of the grantee. Nor does the grant state specifically that the title was created “ad vitam”.
No land was attached to this title of nobility. The title was merely honorific and did not give rise to any right of possession of the land called “Taflia”.
By the death of Gio Battista Mompalao without issue the title was extinguished.
In 1878, nobody laid a claim to this title as this title was already extinct by then. However, the Commissioners did make specific reference to this title, albeit in passing, when discussing the title of Barone di Buleben.
SECOND GRANT – 1790 (extant)
The title of Marchese della Taflia was granted anew by the same Grand Master Rohan to Saverio Alessi on the 13 November 1790.
The Royal Commissioners made special note of a singular circumstance concerning this grant. They explained that the patent of creation bears that the title is inheritable by the grantee’s descendants; but it is not therein provided whether should be enjoyed by all the said descendants simultaneously, or by only one of them under the rule of primogeniture. Tibi Magnifico ac Nobili Xaverio Alessi tuisque legitimis descendentibus tribuimus, concedimus, et donamus, ac de Marchionis hujusmodi titulo decoramus, nec non ita nominari pose ac debere .
A similar circumstance was note by the 1878 Commission in the case of the 1779 extension of the title of “Marchese di San Giorgio” granted to Carlo Antonio Barbaro on the 6 September 1778. the title of “Conte di Ghain Toffieha” granted to Ferdinando Teuma Castelletti on the 7 January 1792, the title of “Marchese di Gnien Is-Sultan” granted to Filippo Apap on the 1 December 1792, and the title of “Conte della Senia” granted to Vincenzo Fontani on the 6 June 1795.
However, the Commission avoided the issue of considering the extent of these wide remainders by noting in each case that the relative grants were in each respective family, always taken to be limited to the first-born descendant only. An exception, howeverm is found in the case of the title of “Conte della Senia” granted to Vincenzo Fontani on the 6 June 1795, where the Commissioners state that there was no reason for enquiring at present into the wide remainder of that grant.
However, elsewhere in the report, the 1878 Commission did indicate their understanding that a wide remainder is to be considered as such. Thus when considering the title of “Barone di Buleben”, the Commissioners remarked that the Marchese Barbaro obtained a further extension for all his descendents in perpetuum. Similarly, when considering the title of “Conte di Beberrua”, the Commissioners made another remark in regard to the “San Giorgio” title to the effect that that title was extended to all descendents for ever.
This remark was not limited to Maltese titles. The Commissioners made a similar remark when considering the foreign title of “Conte Preziosi” in relation to that of “Marchese Testaferrata” observed that the relative Sovereign had only excluded females from the wide remainder of that title.
Like the first grant in favour of Mompalao, the grant in favour if Alessi did not attach any land to this title of nobility. The title was merely honorific and did not give rise to any right of possession of the land called “Taflia”.
PRECEDENCE ENJOYED BY THE HOLDER OF THE TITLE OF MARCHESE DELLA TAFLIA
Long before the above creation, the then Grand Master Depuig had introduced in 1739 the concept of according a form of precedence to a holder of a title of nobility. The relative law is reproduced hereunder:-
Hosplis Mgr et Hierlem Sti. Sepulchri. - Per togliere le differenze di precedenze tra le persone che saranno promosse alla giurazie dell’ Universita’ della Notabile e della Valletta, vogliamo, ordiniamo e comandiamo che tutte siano precedue dagli infrascritti, e che fra queti si regoli la precedena call’ ordine seguente cioe’: Primieramente, chi fu Capitano dellaVerga della Sudetta Citta’ Notabile e nostra Isola di Malta.; Secondo. Il Titolato che ha un titolo fondato sopra un feudo in realta’ esistente qui, benche’ non lo possegga.; Terzo. Il titolato che non ha un titolo fondato sopra fondo realmente esistente nel nostro Dominio, registrato che sia il titolo nella Cancelleria nella nostra Religione e nella Gran Corte dellanostra Castellania, e pagato per i rispettivi registramenti il diritto di scudi cento sedici di questa moneta, da dividersi per meta’ tra la Cancelleria e la Castellania sudetta.; Quarto. Il discendente per linea mascolina da chi fu Capitano della Verga, se vive colle proprie rendite, e se i di lui ascendente intermedie vissero pure colle proprie rendite.; Quinto. Il discendente per linea mascolina da un titolo con titolo fondato sopra un feudo qui realmente esistente, se vive colle proprie rendite, e se i suoi ascendenti intermedie cosi vissero; Sesto. Chi fu primo Giurato della Notabile; Settimo. Chi fu primo Giurato della Valletta; Ottavo. Il piu’ anziani di Giurazia di quella Universita’ della quale sara’ creato giurato.; Nono. Chi fu Giudice d’Appello Criminale o Civile della Gran Corte della Castellania e della Corte Capitanale e Governatoriale; Diecimo. Il Dottore di Leggi ed il Dottore di Medicina.: - Dichiariamo che fra le persone d’un stesso grado si deve attendere l’anzianita’ del titolo primordiale e che chiunque fu Giurato, se sara’ fatto Console di Mare, fra i quali s’attenderal’anzianita d’ufficio. Dat. In Palatio, die xvi. Septembris 1739 (f. Despuig)
On the basis of this enactment it follows that in when the title was created all of Saverio Alessi’s male-to-male descendants (“Il discendente per linea mascolina”) were made automatically entitled to a precedence.
The latter enactment was amended in 1795 by the same Grand Master Rohan as follows:
Hosplis Magr. Hierlem. Sti. Sepulchri, et Ordinis Sti Antonii, Viennensis Essendo una massima universalmente ricevuto, che il maggior lustro della Nobilta’ principalmente dipende dalla sua maggiore antichita’, niente che il piu’ giusto e ragionevole che il piu’ antico Nobile preceda il piu’ moderno. Siamo pertanto venuti nella determinazione di Ordinare che nel regolarsi la precedenza tra le persone Nobile di questo nostro Dominio, cosi’ primogeniti che cadetti indistintamente, si abbioa ad avere unicamente riguardo alla maggiore o minore antichita’ del titolo che nobilito le loro famiglie, e cio tanto se il titolo sara’ stato concesso da Noi o Nostri predecessori, che se lo avessero ottenuto da Principi esteri, purche’ pero sara’ stato questo debitamente registrato nella Nostra Cancelleria e Gran Corte della Castellania; nel consorso pero’ di ugual data quello nella di cui persona concorreranno piu’ titoli dovra’ essere preferito, all’ altro che ne avesse meno, secondo la graduazione stabilita nel Chirografo Magisteriale del Nostro Predecessore Gran Maestro Despuig di Gl. Em. Del 16 Sept 1739, quale in quelle parti che non contradicono la questa nostra disposizione intendiamo di pienamente confermare.Datum in Palatio die xvii Martii 1795 (f.) Rohan
In view of the latter enactment the Marchese della Taflia and his male-to-male descendants were to rank before the holder of any title created after 1790 and respective descendants. Therefore, it follows that the Marchese della Taflia ranks before the Marchese di Gnien is-Sultan 1792) and the Marchese di Ghajn Kajet (1796). However, although the holder of this title is a Marquis, this rank is of no significance insofar as older titles are concerned. Thus, the Marchese della Taflia ranks after all titles created before 1790 even though they purport to be of a lower rank. The same position holds in regard to the respective male-to-male descendants.
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. (General Napoleon Bonaparte issued two orders dated 13 and 16 June 1798 prohibiting the use of any title “ORDRE (1) QUARTIER GENERAL DE MALTE, LE 25 PRAIRAL, AN VI (13 JUIN 1798): Le General en Chef ordonne……(ARTICLE 2.)… Toutes les armoires seront abbatues dans l’ espace de 24 heures. Il est defendu de porter dest livrees, ni aucune marque et titre distinctif de noblesse. ORDRE (2) AU QUARTIER GENERAL DE MALTE, LE 28 PRAIRAL, AN VI (16 JUIN 1798): Bonaparte Membre de l’Istitut National, General-en-Chef ordonne…(ARTICLE CINQUIEME)….Dix jours apres la publication du present ordre, il est defendu d’avoir des armoires soit dans l’interieur, soit a l’exterieur des maisons, de cacheter des lettres avec des armoires, ou de prendre des titres feodaux. ……(ARTICLE DOUZIEME)….Tous les contrevenants aux articles cidessous, seront condamnes pour la premier fois, a une amende du tiers de leurs revenus; pour la seconde fois, a trois mois de prison; pour la troisieme fois a un an de prison; pour la quatrieme fois, a la deportation de l’ile de Malte, et a la confiscation de la moitie de leurs biens. Il devra toujours y avoir 10 jours d’intervalle entre la recidive.”
Another Order was issued by Bosredon Ransijat, President of the Commission du Gouvernement dated 18 Messidor Year 6 (6 July 1798), where it was enacted that all honorary titles should be burnt on the 14th of that month and that every holder of a title should carry his patent at the Arbre de la Liberté.
The French in turn lost Malta in 1800 to a contingent raised by Captain Ball and Admiral Nelson. Malta later became a British Protectorate after the Treaty of Paris of 1814.
In time, the use of nobiliary titles was resumed. However, it appears that this use was unregulated.
In 1870 the Marchese Giorgio Crispo Barbaro published a compendium of the “Maltese Nobility and the Maltese Gentry holding Foreign Titles”. In that publication Crispo Barbaro lists Bernardo Alessi as holding the title of Marquis of Taflia. Crispo Barbaro also lists the 1790 grantee as the “2nd Marquis” explaining in the footnote that Alessi succeeded Mompalao. - See full text of the Crispo Barbaro’s book
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.
SUCCESSFUL CLAIM OF BERNARDO ALESSI
In 1878, this title was claimed by Bernardo Alessi. The Commission describes him as being the grandson of the person first ennobled and the first born male child in the family.
Grand Master Rohan is also credited with codifying various laws in Malta. Amongst these, we find in the Code enacted in 1783 which states that the determining criteria of primogeniture in Malta operate in the following order:- Line (the first line excluding all the others), Degree (the closer degree of relationship excluding the remoter) Sex (the male sex being preferred to the female), and Age (the elder being preferred to the younger). - The fact that Rohan himself retained the rule of precedence which extended to all male-to-male descendants and that he did not provide for any primogenial remainder in the case of the 1790 creation of “Marchese della Taflia” is often used as an argument to prove the extent of the wide remainder of the title.
Although, the remainder is unusual as it appears to be couched in very wide terms, some publications show that this title is inheritable under the rule of primogeniture. However, this view has no basis either on the grant or the 1878 Report. The terms of the 1790 grant are presented differently to those of other grants and extensions made by the same Grand Master. For example the title of Ghain Kajet (4.06.1796) reads tuisque descendentibus primogenitis legitimis et naturalibus tribuimus concedimus, et donamus, the title of Gnien-is-sultan (1.12.1792) reads Tibi Magnigico Philippo Apap, tuisque descendentibus masculis legitimis et naturalibus ipsisque deficientibus, foemina majori natu, tribuimus, concedimus et donamus, ac te Marchionis hujusmodi titulo decoramus, and the extension to Fiddien (17.06.1793) reads Fiat pro primogenitis maribus tantum. Similarly, the San Giorgio extension (5.6.1792) accorded remainder to all (male) descendents in perpetuum. Unlike other grants given by Grand Master Rohan, the 1790 grant does not include any references to remainder by primogenial descent.
For the purposes of precedence amongst the Nobility in Malta, this title ranks according to antiquity of creation. According to the 1878 Report, this title was considered before the title of Conte di Ghain Toffieha granted by Grand Master Rohan to Ferdinando Teuma Castelletti on the 7 January 1792 and after the title of Marchese del Fiddien granted by the same Grand Master to Salvatore Mallia Tabone on the 15 October 1785
As from the year 1886, the holder of this title of Nobility became entitled to be styled “The Most Noble”.
The presumed successor of this title is by custom entitled to be styled Marchesino della Taflia.
Other descendants of the various holders of this title are by custom entitled to be styled dei Marchesi della Taflia.
Since 1975, titles of nobility are no longer recognized in the Republic of Malta by Act 29 of 1975 dated 17 October 1975.
The published genealogy of the Marquises of Taflia is as follows:
1st Creation (1783)
· Gio Battista Mompalao, 1st Marchese della Taflia (EXTINCT)
For full Genealogy, please see http://www.maltagenealogy.com/libro%20d'Oro/mompalao.html
2nd Creation (1790)
· Saverio Alessi, 1st Marchese della Taflia
1. Grant of title of Marchese della Taflia by Grand Master Rohan to Gio Battista Mompalao on the 25 October 1783 (Recorded in the Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Ref. AOM 587, ff, 294v, 299r)
1. Grant of title of Marchese della Taflia by Grand Master Rohan to to Saverio Alessi on the 13 November 1790 (Recorded in the Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Ref. AOM 609, ff, 183v-184r)
SECONDARY REFERENCES (HISTORY):
(1) 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.):
(2) REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE OF PRIVILEGES OF THE MALTESE NOBILITY ON THE CLAIMS OF CERTAIN MEMBERS OF THAT BODY WITH THE SECRETARY OF STATE’S REPLY, AUGUST 1883, PRESENTED TO BOTH HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT BY COMMAND OF HER MAJESTY (C-3812)
(3) Copies or Extracts of Correspondence with reference to the Maltese Nobility (In continuation of C3812, August 1883), presented to both Houses of Parliament by Command of Her Majesty May 1886 (C-4628a)
(4) John Montalto, “The Nobles of Malta 1530-1800” (Midsea Books, Malta, 1980)
TERTIARY REFERENCES (PUBLISHED GENEALOGY):
(1) Crispo Barbaro "THE NOBLES OF MALTA, AND THE MALTESE GENTRY HOLDING FOREIGN TITLES AS AT PRESENT EXISTING BY GEO. G.C.’A. CRISPO BARBARO MARQUIS OF ST. GEORGE” MALTA:- A.D. MDCCCLXX (THE ANGLO-MALTESE PRESS, MALTA, 1870)"
(2) Charles Gauci "THE GENEALOGY AND HERALDRY OF THE NOBLE FAMILIES OF MALTA" (GULF PUBLISHING, MALTA, 1981)"
(3) Charles Gauci A GUIDE TO THE MALTESE NOBILITY" (PEG PUBLICATIONS, MALTA, 1986)
(4) Charles Gauci "THE GENEALOGY AND HERALDRY OF THE NOBLE FAMILIES OF MALTA VOLUME TWO " (PEG PUBLICATIONS, MALTA, 1992)
(5) Charles Gauci "THE GENEALOGY AND HERALDRY OF THE NOBLE FAMILIES OF MALTA VOLUME ONE " (PEG PUBLICATIONS, MALTA, 2002)