"A professional family of mistresses"
A group of descendants starting from France, working into England and to Malta provides a line of inter-related connections with Royalty and Nobility. We find that many lovers were European, English and Maltese noble and royalty. In a direct line, we treat a group of professional mistresses who climbed to the top of their profession seeking fame and fortune.
We start with one of King Charles II of England and Scotland, a man of many mistresses over his life and numerous illegitimate children too many to count. His son, the 1st Duke of Richmond, too had a mistress, yet another famous French line of bastardry interconnecting with the French Royal family. Much of the data has been published online for many years but this piece of work aims to highlight and enhance the lives that were played out for many centuries.
Renee de Penacourt de Keralle, Duchesse d’Aubugny, Duchess of Portsmouth
Louise de Keroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth, c.1670Mistress to King Charles 11 of England and Scotland. Mother of Sir Charles Lennox KG, 1st Duke of Richmond and Lennox. Louise de Keroualle, who worked as a spy for Louis XIV, came to England from France as a Maid of Honour to the sister of King Charles II in 1670. Soon afterwards, she became Charles's favourite mistress, and in 1673 he created for her the position of Duchess of Portsmouth. She used her influence to strengthen the friendship between Charles II and Louis XIV.Renee de Lennox (1709-74) , age 65.
Born to a French professional dancer who moved to England, herself the daughter of Sir Charles Lennox KG, 1st Duke of Richmond, Lennox and D’Aubigny and her mother Jacqueline de Mezieres, Jacqueline de Meziere was the illegitimate daughter of the Comte de Meziere and a Bourbon relative of King Louis XIV.
Renee grew up mostly at the Courts of England mixing with her mother’s lovers and children of the Nobility. She started taking on lovers at an early age and bore children with her half-cousin, the 2nd Duke of St Albans. Much is unknown about her, other then living on the estate of the Duke of St Albans and bearing at least one child, Diane de Beauclerk-Lenox.
Diane de Beauclerk-Lenox (1727-64) , age 37.
Born in London and living on the estate of her father’s family, she was introduced to Sir Simon Harcourt, later 1st Earl Harcourt, bearing a son called Christopher Harcourt. Diane immediately left to Parisfor a career on the stage where she met Charles de Bourbon, Comte de Charcolais and was taken under his wing. Over a period of two years, Diane bore a daughter and a son. Both of these were brought up by her lover’s family (Bourbon-Conti).
Back on the stage after the birth of her third child, Diane was introduced to a Knight of St John, where she was enticed to Malta to perform at the Opera and perhaps become the Donna to the Maltese Grand Master and the Order. Upon arrival in Malta in 1743, she performed in honor of the Grand Master and was introduced to many of the Knights and Maltese Nobility. With great admiration from the stage, many invitations were provided for parties and also in hand of marriage. As soon as she settled down, she was interested in a Maltese nobleman called Alessandro Mompalao, Barone di Frigenuini, where she accepted to perform at the Baron’s Palazzo and to live as his mistress. She bore a daughter by Barone di Frigenuini though he become ill and debt-ridden. Her children were to remain with the Baron’s family and to never see their mother again.
Diane had to look for a source of income and looked upon moving out of Malta where she was invited to Genoa, Italy with the Conte de Candolo and soon become his mistress and bore a son and a daughter. Though soon becoming bored with her spending and whinging habits, she left behind her two children and went to Munich at an invitation of the King of Bavaria. Upon her arrival, she was invited to meet the Count Antoine Levin de Gosberg-Bavievre where she becomes yet again his lover. Diane lived all over Europe and finally found a place where she could settle down under a patronage of the Count Levin. Diane bears another daughter and son to the Count.
After a few years, Diane settled to a Cottage with her two remaining children in Munich, where she remained under the patronage of the Count till her death, but never preformed on stage again. In 1764, Diane died and was buried in Munich cemetery.
Her children who were all scattered over Europe learnt of her death. Her elder son Christopher Harcourt had managed to visit his mother before her death - a mother he hardly knew, as she spent her life traveling from country to country in search of success on the stage.
Her children all led successful lives in one manner or another; her eldest son Christopher Harcourt had joined the Royal Army of Great Britain and succeeded to the rank of Colonel. He married to an English lady and had issue.
Her daughter by the French Comte de Charcolais had moved to Munich after her mother settled under the Count Levin patronage and was married off to a Bavarian Nobleman. Her son by the French Count, Louis de Bourbon, married to a French Heiress and took her surname and lived in the Provincial area in France.
Her children by the Barone di Frigenuini grew up in Malta; Rosalea Mompalao, who we treat in the next chapter below.
The children from the Conte de Candolo, Antonio Ferrero, lived in Genoa and married with issue. Served in a local government capacity in Genoa. Her daughter Pia Maria Ferrero also married in Genoa and had issue.
Finally, the children from the Count Levin, Renee Levin had married to a Bavarian Nobleman and Diana’s youngest child and son, Charles Levin was recognized as the natural child of the Count Levin and was created Count Levin by the King of Bavaria. Charles married and lived in Munich.
Rosalea Mompalao, Baroness di Frigenuini (1743-85), age 42.
Grew up with her Mompalao family when her mother left Malta for Genoa and styled Baroness di Friguenuni upon her father’s death. Rosalea had petitioned the Grand Master for acknowledgement as Baroness of Frigenuini but the Grand Master had suddenly died and had to put the process into action after the election of the Grand Master. Rosalea Mompalao then styled herself as Baroness, but her brothers and her father’s relatives had made a mockery of her demands and styles. Though the Marquis Diego Moscati had promised to help her and take her into his keep. Rosalea was quite young and also penniless; naturally, looking for patronage was an essential factor to life. The Marquis Moscati had leased a house for her in Valletta, where upon a promise to serve his needs when in town. It seems that her life was in similar circumstances as her mother. Rosalea was treated a lady in the city of Valletta and never worked to survive. Over the years, she bore several children to the Marquis. Failing to secure a male heir with his wife, he was looking to divorce and marry Rosalea and to have their children legitimate. But it failed to come to any conclusion and the Marquis Moscati’s wife family were totally against the annulment. Rosalea bore a daughter, Saveria, whom we treat next, and two sons, Pietro and Edoardo Moscati. The Marquis Moscati had died and Saveria was forced out of her house in Vallettaby the Marquis’s family.
Rosalea was then invited to move to a country house in Sliema with the Knight de Lancastre where she gladly accepted, taking her children with her. The Knight would visit when he could and she soon become his mistress bearing four children in a period of seven years.
Her children all took on the surname of Cuschieri and married into the local community. The elder son, Roger had become an abbot and served in the Monastery in Valletta.
Rosalea died at a young age of 42 years of age and was buried in Valletta. By that stage, her eldest daughter had taken patronage of the Marquis de Piro, as we treat below.
Saveria Moscat, Baroness di Frigenuini, (1760-97) , age 37.
Saveria grew up with her mother in Valletta before her mother moved to Sliema, Malta. At a young age, patronage was a plentiful and a potential suitor was at her mother’s house. Saveria was possibly looking to make a name for herself and perhaps, like her famous grand mother, become an actress in the Maltese Opera.
A potential Maltese nobleman had entrusted Saveria to become his mistress and also get a start in her career as an actress, though with many unfulfilled promises nothing had eventuated. The Marquis de Piro had also served in the Army and would come and go. By that stage, Saveria had bore him a son in 1774 and demanded to fulfil his promise or she would leave. Finally Saveria was given a chance to perform in an opera and soon famed to a dizzy height to perform in front of the Grand Master de Rohan. The Grand Master de Rohan had honoured her performance with the title of her mother’s “A Maltese noblewomen successful debut, the Baroness di Frigenuini”, thus becoming her stage name. On the year 1778, Saveria bore another son Carmelo Moscati de Piro and continued to perform at the famous Maltese Opera. The Baroness di Frigenuini was invited to Sicily to perform under the patronage of the Prime Minister and the King of Two Sicilies.
Saveria eventually moved from Valletta in 1780 to try her success in Naples and she took on a new patronage of Lord Archibald Douglas Hamilton, the son of the Duke of Hamilton of England. The Baroness di Frigenuini had become very popular and continued to stay in Naples for a few years, going back to Malta seeing her children and their education progress.
After a year had passed, Saveria had found herself pregnant by the Lord Archibald and had a son called Archibald and three daughters in succession. Her children were becoming a demand on her, so which she adopted one of her children to a nanny in Malta to be looked after and the others were looked after in Naples.
After 1787, Saveria was losing her position as the Donna of the Opera in Naples and soon her patronage of the Lord Archibald. Immediately retrying to revamp her career and even begging a Royal Prince of the Bourbon Sicilies for patronage. It’s noted that her youngest child might be of Royal blood, as her lover was not in Naples close to a year. Eventually, the Royal Prince of Bourbon Sicilies had taken Saveria under his patronage and she retired to a village near Reggio di Calabria. The year of 1797 she died at her home at Reggio di Calabria and was buried at a local village church cemetery.
Her children from her first lover had grown up and started careers of their own. Her eldest son, Alexandre Moscati de Piro was forced to flee Malta after raping a noblewomen and first arrived to live with his mother in Reggio di Calabria, then served as a Senator for Messina. We treat further below. Her second son, Carmelo Moscati de Piro had entered the Army of the Order, and then commissioned to serve under the Grand Ducal Army of Hesse, where he died in Action. We treat further below.
Saveria eldest son by Lord Archibald was Archibald Moscati who moved to Palermo and served as a court official and married a Sicilian heiress taking on her surname and titles. Her daughters, Antonia had married to a Don Claudio Fabre; Rosalea whom was adopted by the Galea family had married a Maltese Giuseppe Moscati and Saveria youngest daughter Fiametta Moscati had married the illegitimate son of the Prince di Ruffo.
Alexandre Moscati, Marchese di Xrobb il-Ghagin, Barone di Frigenuini (1774-1826), age 52.
Alexandre grew up in Valletta, Malta under the strict guidance of his mother and tutorage provided by his father, the Marquis de Piro. Alexandre had succeeded as an accountant for the Baron Pisani and worked upon his estates. Alexandre had styled Marchese di Xrobb il-Ghagin and was hoping that the Barone Pisani would support his claim with the Grand Master but was forced to flee Malta, due to raping the Noble Maria Teresa dei Marchesi Testaferrata, which resulted in siring a daughter.
Alexandre had moved to Reggio di Calabria with his mother until he was able to set up a career in the Kingdom of Two Sicilies. He was arranged to marry an English girl whom her family had settled In Messina, Sicily. He was elected as a Senator for Messina under the name of Marchese di Xrobb il-Ghagin. His first wife died in childbirth in 1802, then remarried to a Sicilian lady called Rosa d’Alessandro, whom he further bored children
Alexandre was a senator in Messina, Sicily. He married firstly to a British girl called Louisa Campbell, and sired several children from her. She died in 1802. He married secondly to the Noble Rosa d'Alessandro and sired several more children. Alexandre also took on a mistress, a certain Louise Stilon and had further issue.
Alexandre had nine children by 1797 in total and continued to live in Messina till his death in 1826, where he served as a Senator and a Local Authority. Alexandre only saw his daughter which he sired with the Maltese noblewoman in 1808, but never forgotten her, by sending her letters of pity and sorrow and hoping in vain hope for forgiveness. He also entailed to her the Maltese rights of Nobility and the rights to the Barony of Frigneuini.
Alexandre’s eldest son from his first marriage was Antonio Moscati, who served the Royal Army of Two Sicilies and retired to Naples as a Captain. The next child was Louisa Moscati who married into the Messinese local gentry. His next daughter Stefanie Moscati also married into the Messinese local gentry.
Alexandre’s eldest son from his second marriage was Rosario Moscati, served as a local Authority in Messina and married kinswomen from his mother’s family, with descendants. The younger son was Diego Moscati, who had joined the religious order and lived in Malta till his death.
The children from Alexandre’s mistress, Louise Stilon had served the religious orders dying without descendants.
Anna Moscati, Baroness di Frigenuini, Comtesse de Beaujolais, (1792-1853), age 61.
Anna grew up in a convent in Malta , never meeting her father or mother. But she was given access to her father’s letters which he send on a regularly basis in a vain hope of rejoining him in Sicily but the Convent had been given strict instructions to ensure she stays in Malta by the Testaferrata family. Anna soon left the Convent and took on cleaning duties for the Government houses. She lived under the patronage of the Nuns where she was housed and fed in the hope she would be given an offer of marriage to an appropriate suitor. In the beginning of the year 1808, a French Prince and his elder brother were at the Court of Palermo, on their way to Malta met Anna and had become friends and followed him and his brother to Malta arriving on the 16th May 1808. Barely landed on the shores of Malta and within a week, Louis-Charles went from bad to worse, dying on the 30th May 1808 . The affair only lasted a short time while in Palermo while Anna visited her father at the Courts of Palermo. This was all in a matter of a month and Anna continued to work for the Government cleaning and realised she was pregnant. She then took refuge with the Nuns in Valletta, knowing that she was pregnant with the Prince’s child. The Nuns had ensured her safety and arrival of her child. In the meantime, the Nuns had found a village man from Mosta to become engaged to Anna and perhaps become the father of the child. The child was born at the end of the year of 1808 and had moved to Mosta under the care of Michele Gauci’s family, where they later married at Mosta in 1810.
Anna bore four children with Michele Gauci and led a quite village life, as the Mrs Gauci, and claimant to the Barony of Frigenuini after her father's death in 1826. Her brother styled the title of Marchese di Xrobb il-Ghajin in Sicily and his male descendants.
Captain Carmelo Moscati de Piro (1778-98), age 20.
Carmelo was the second son of Saveria Moscati and had entered the Army of the Order, and then was commissioned to serve under the Grand Ducal Army of Hesse, where he died in action. While in Frankfurt, he served as an officer at the local functions and court where he met Princess Henrietta Sophia von Bentheim zu Steinfurt. Carmelo had asked for permission from her father for her hand in marriage and was denied due to being an illegitimate son of a Baroness. They both eloped and lived on the outskirts of Frankfurt, upon a year of their elopement; Carmelo was called up to the Army in which he was killed in an attack. Carmelo’s brother, Alexandre was in contact with Carmelo and had known of his elopement to Henrietta and the killing of Carmelo. Alexandre had the Consul for Two Sicilies in Frankfurt to instruct for the proper burial of Carmelo and if Henrietta would come to Messina to leave their daughter in the hands of Alexandre.
Carmelo was set up by his father in law due to the elopement of his daughter to an officer. Henrietta decided to come to Messina leaving her daughter with Alexandre and then return to her father’s Principality of Benthem zu Steinfurt. Henrietta was later married in 1802 Prince Karl zu Solms-Hohensolms-Lich.
The daughter Antonia was brought up in Messina then in Malta under the patronage of her uncle Alexandre Moscati.
Antonia Moscati de Piro (1796-1878) age 82.
Antonia was born in Frankfurt and her father was killed in 1798. Her mother had brought her to her uncle in Messina, and then later sent to Malta to live with relatives there. Antonia started off her work life as a cleaner and had become employed by the Marquis Testaferrata de Noto family. She had been given free boarding and allowed to live amongst the Testaferrata de Noto family due to her royal connections. Though she became entangled with one of the sons who later raped her, he later became a well known lawyer in Malta and knighted by the British for his services.
The Testaferrata de Noto’s had housed Antonia to one of their cottages on their estates where she gave birth and then arranged in marriage to a servant of the Testaferrata de Noto’s at Mdina.
Antonia gave birth to a daughter and took on the surname of Antonia’s married name of Sammut. Antonia had given birth to a further four sons to Domenico Sammut, and lived a fruitful life in the service of the Testaferrata de Noto family. Antonia was given several pieces of land in honour of her child which was father by Giuseppe Testaferrata de Noto and also paid maintenance for the care of the child. Giuseppe Testaferrata de Noto further gave his daughter monies upon her marriage to Giuseppe Cilia of Rabat, Malta. Maria died before her mother in 1872.
Antonia died on the year of 1878 and was buried in the Parish of Rabat, Malta.
Maria Sammut, (1820-72) age 52.
Maria Sammut (Testaferrata de Noto) was born with a privileged yet disdained life. Fortunately, she had contact with her natural father who helped her financially throughout her life. Maria was the last of a very long line of illegitimate descent, ensuring that she married at an early age to Giuseppe Cilia of Rabat, Malta and lived a modest life in the country.
Maria had six children by her husband and dying before her mother Antonia in 1872 and was buried in the Parish of Rabat, Malta.
1. Family Archives of the Vassallo family, based on the works of the late Barone de Bauvso.
2. Collection of data from the Author.
3. Private Archives of the Principe de Sayd.
Edited by Mark Caruana.