The Patricanship of Messina 1792 (Testaferrata).


The Patricanship of Messina 1792.  The dignity of Patrician of Messina (Testaferrata (1792)

Footnote: The “Dignity of Patrician of Messina” was granted to Marchese Don Mario Testaferrata Castelletti, Don Daniele and Don Pandolfo Testaferrata De Noto, and the Barone Pietro Paolo Testaferrata Abela on the 28th August 1792 by the Senate of Messina with reference to an earlier dignity granted in 1553 to their common ancestor, Mariano Testaferrata.

In 1878, this dignity was claimed by Pietro Paolo Testaferrata-Abela-Moroni, Augusto Testaferrata Abela, Lorenzo Antonio Testaferrata, Gio.Paolo Testaferrata-Olivier de Puget, Lorenzo Antonio Cassar-Desain, ne’ Testaferrata, Ignazio Testaferrata Bonici, Enrico Testaferrata, and Francesco Gauci Testaferrata.

However, in this case, although it appears that the claimants presented various documents in proof of their claim, the Royal Commissioners  dismissed all the claims because, the same Commissioners decided not only that the claimants did not provide proof of the dignity ever being registered or recognized by the local sovereign BUT ALSO because the same Commissioners held that this dignity was a mere municipal honour and not one emanating from a foreign sovereign, or fons honorum. (“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. 237-238))

Thus, as far as the Commissioners were concerned, once they regarded this dignity as a municipal honour, it did not fall within the remit of the Commission because the Commissioners were of the opinion that once it is a municipal honour it does not qualify to be registered in accordance with the rules of 1739 and 1795 as enacted by Grand Masters Despuig and Rohan. 

The actual report says the following:

“Several gentlemen belonging to the Testaferrata family, have moreover, in the committee list, laid a claim to the dignity of Messinese patricians, and have in support of that claim produced the following documents, viz” “2nd another privilegium of the Senate of Messina, bearing date the 28th August 1792, stating, with reference to that of 1553, that Mariano Testaferrata had been elected into the ‘Senatorium Messinensium Ordinem inter que Nobiles Cives Mamertinos’. By the same instrument, the Marchese Don Mario Testaferrata Castelletti, Don Daniele and Don Pandolfo Testaferrata De Noto, and the Barone P.P. Testaferrata Avela, all descendents of the said Mariano, were recognized as noble citizens and patricians of Messina, and their nobility was traced so far back as the year in which the Privilegium was granted to Mariano, being thus reinstated in the possession of that dignity, together with their children and descendants. This instrument was recorded in the Acts of Notary Vincenzo Farrugiia, on the 20th February last.” 

“Now, independently of the circumstance that the distinction of Messinese Patrician is a municipal concession, and that it is not derived from the Crown as the fountain of all honours, the said instruments were never registered in the Court of the Castellania or in the Cancelleria of the Order; nor have the claimants produced any proof of its having ever been recognized by the local sovereigns”

“For the reasons already stated we refrain from making any inquiry in order to ascertain whether the claimants descend or not from the said grantees.”

However, upon a more detailed analysis about the nature of this dignity, it appears that contrary to what was held by the Commissioners, that the 1792 dignity is in fact a conferral of nobility because the city of Messina acted as a fons honorum (fountain of honour). See also


It appears that the 1792 dignity was only granted to four of Mariano Testaferrata’s agnatial descendants. It is therefore debateable whether the dignity is transmissible to the non-agnatial descendants of the Marchese Don Mario Testaferrata Castelletti, Don Daniele and Don Pandolfo Testaferrata De Noto, and the Barone P.P. Testaferrata Abela. Of the eight persons asserting a claim in 1878 to this dignity, it appears that only one was descended in the female line.


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