An interpretation of 1793 of the title of ‘Conte Sant’
According to the list of “Commmendarizie, Naturalizzazione, e Citadinanze Maltese” (marked in pencil fol. 73, p.2) in the unpaginated Volume 627 of the Archives of the Order of St. John, one finds a record of a passport issued in 1793 to the three sons of Gio Francesco Sant to further their studies in Monza, Milan.
Gio Francesco was ennobled in 1770 with the foreign title of “Count”. This title was later registered in Malta in compliance with Maltese law.
By 1795 an older law regulating precedence amongst nobles was modified by the Grand Master. He removed any differences between descendants in the male to male line of title holders, whether such titles originated in Malta or abroad, regard being given only to the antiquity of the title.
In the 1793 document, there is no mention of the sons’ names but they are described as “three noble brothers Counts Sant, sons of the Count Don Giovanni Francesco Sant.”
The entry reads as follows:-
“Commendatizia, o siano Lettere patente di Passaporto concesse alli tre Nobili Fratelli Conti Sant, in occasione, che dal di Loro Genitore Conte Don Giovanni Francesco Sant vennero mandate per attendere agli studj nel Reale Colleggio delal Citta’ di Monza, nel Milanese 14 Settembre 1793 f.”
This means that the Grand Master’s interpretation of the remainder of the title of Count Sant is that all males descending in the male line from Gio Francesco Sant are entitled to the noble title of “Count”.
The above contrasts with the restricted interpretation by the Marchese Crispo-Barbaro, published in 1870 and also with the conclusions of the Report of the Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility published in 1878
Notwithstanding the Report of 1878, it is the Grand Master’s interpretation of 1793 which should prevail.