Counts of Ghajn Tuffieha, 1792.
Granted to: Dr Ferdinando Teuma Castelletti JUD.
By: Emanuel de Rohan Polduc, Grand Master of Malta.
On: 1792 at Valletta.
British Crown recognition: 1878.
With Remainder to: One of the leaders of the Maltese uprising against the French in 1798, The grant conferring the title of Conte of the feud magistrale (i.e. belonging to the Grand Master) of Ghain Toffieha was made by Grand Master Rohan to Ferdinando Teuma Castelletti to be held by the grantee and his issue. However, it is to be remarked that this grant was not made by a patent but by a rescript of the 7th January 1792, on the petition of the same Ferdinando, that is to say upon an application by Ferdinando Teuma Castelletti for that title and remainder. The wide terms of the rescript (with remainder to Ferdinando's issue) would at first sight imply that all of Ferdinando’s descendants are entitled to the title. On the other hand, however, it must be remembered that the 1878 Commissioners noted that it is a settled rule that any interpretation of Magistral assent to a rescript must be restrictive whilst wide interpretations are only allowed in grants made motu proprio. This maxim is explained by the Commissioners elsewhere in their Report thus: The claimant lastly contends that the diploma and the rescript must be extensively construed; for although it is a legal maxim, Privilegia sunt stricte interpretanda, the privileges, however, granted by a sovereign authority, and which do not act to the prejudice of third parties, are susceptible of a wide and liberal interpretation. Although this is admitted by the common opinion of civilians, yet that principle holds good with regard to those privileges which are granted by the sovereign's mere motion (moto proprio) and not at the request of the party concerned (Jasonii Comment. Quoted by Altograd. Consilia Con. 71, No. 9, 10, 11, and by many other legal writers). Now as a general rule, patents of nobility in Malta were granted by the Grand Masters at the request of the grantee, and it was moreover upon an application by Barone Azzopardi that the rescript of 1778 was issued. It is likewise a settled opinion that, when the patent of creation does not contain the expression motu proprio, the grant is taken to have been made at the request of the party concerned. (See:- 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.) (See Report Paras. 41-57).
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