CHARLES SAID-VASSALLO :
A RESEARCHER WHO SPECIALISES IN THE FAMILY HISTORY OF THE MALTESE PEOPLE
(Produced and edited by Dan Brock and Mark Caruana, May 2019).
Editor’s note: Mention of Charles Vassallo-Said and his website maltagenealogy.com has been made in each of the three previous issues. Mark is a regular contributor to this journal.
Charles was born in 1971, in Sydney, Australia to an Mgarr-born father and second-generation Maltese mother. Like so many others, both families arrived to a new country for better opportunities as life in Malta was limited.
His descendants ventured into Naples, then Sicily and later into Malta. With the Grand Master grant of land in Santi (limits of Mgarr Malta) as a tenant, they served till the 19thcentury. Their pretension was acknowledged till his ancestor’s execution in 1799 along with many others who tried to defeat the French.
Charles’ maternal grandfather was of the landed gentry in the northwest of Malta, who were quite prominent over the centuries. Later in the 18thcentury, the family became claimant to an ancient feudal Vassallo title in Sicily, which is still used till this day.
Another ancestor was descended, through generations of female mistresses, to many members of the Maltese, Italian, French and English aristocracy and royalty. One ancestor was the brother of King Louis-Philippe of the France, who died in Malta.
Charles himself had a Catholic education in Western Sydney, Australia, graduated with a post-graduate certificate in management from the University of Western Sydney and opened up his company in pest management, which specialises in commercial properties throughout Sydney.
Since a child, a passion of his has been genealogy. Thanks to Charles Gauci who published his first book on the Maltese nobility in the early 1980s, Charles Said-Vassallo’s genealogical interest grew as he worked on his own family history and took a keen interest in the nobility and landed gentry of Malta.
It was in 1999 that he set up a website, initially with the nobles of Malta, then slowly but surely, with further descendants and ancestors of these noble families. In time, the website expanded into a massive site with over 3,000 web pages containing many families.
The project worked in both ways. Not only was his website available free of charge to the public, but people start contributing their own research to Charles, either through their own efforts or through having work done commercially, by such professional genealogists as David Lanfranco of Lanfranco Genealogy Services of Malta.
All this in turn expanded the project beyond imagination.
The story still continues 20 years later. Lately, Charles has “cleaned up” his maltagenealogy.com site, thereby making it even more valuable to the public.
In short maltagenealogy.com is an extremely valuable tool for those tracing their Maltese roots and, in the process, learning about their history and other aspects of their heritage.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that another facet of Charles is his interest in film. He has been a producer of many short films, worldwide, over the years and has shown a great interest in helping up and coming film directors and, in some cases, forming a number of projects.
Moreover, Charles has, for a number of years, been a patron of a number of Maltese and Australian organizations such as Maltese Welfare (NSW), Fondazzjoni Patrimonju Malti, the Sydney Opera House and St Dominic’s Hostel at Blacktown NSW.
He is very generous with his time, sponsorship and commitment to helping others trace or confirm their Maltese ancestry. Some 10 years ago, he assisted me with my project of doing a Malta passport database by having a number of discussions with the Malta National Archives at Rabat on how best to go about obtaining a formal agreement regarding consent and privacy issues. Charles volunteered to cover the costs if this were necessary. In the finish, the passports were digitised and the project fell into place nicely. I am stating this to confirm Charles’s commitment to genealogy and that during these 10 years we assisted each other in information-sharing to better assist in the enquiries we were receiving.
Maltagenealogy.comis all about connecting people from all corners of the globe. The Maltese race have been migrating for many centuries as a result of forced slavery, poverty or in search of better employment opportunities.
Researchers are discovering these Maltese links and then providing necessary information to help locate links to Malta. Once found, then the information is published online to show the emailer the connections.
Maltagenealogy.com also helps guide them through through a number of connections found and this opens up the door for others who locate a link.
Charles and I always believe in a share-share basis. Though the emailers have an option on how much modern data they would like to add; it is their choice, providing that all family members are satisfied with the posting.
At times, further research must happen, particularly for 20thcentury connections, and this must be carried out by a professional genealogist in Malta for which a service charge is incurred.
Often, the end result will be mind-boggling, but very rewarding, as to who, what and where one’s ancestors lie.
* I wish to thank Charles, my good friend and “neighbour” for his assistance in preparing this write-up.