The Sicilian title of San Paolino.
Footnote: The title of “Barone di San Paolino” was granted by Philip IV, King of Spain and Sicily to Matteo de Ribera. His descendant, a Maltese citizen, claimed this title in 1878.
At Maltese Law this title is only a foreign title and, as such, it can be considered for the purposes of precedence if registration or Magistral recognition has been achieved in accordance with the rules of 1739 and 1795 as enacted by Grand Masters Despuig and Rohan.
VALUE OF REGISTRATION/MAGISTRAL RECOGNITION From the records of the Cancelleria it appeared that the titles so granted were registered in virtue of a rescript from the Grand Master, on an application by the party concerned. The Royal Commissioners of 1878 remarked that they were prone to believe that the Grand Master would not have given his assent to registration without any investigation. From the start, however, the Commissioners pointed out that the Despuig/Rohan Rules on the matter did not deny nobility to a Titolato who failed to duly register his title, but only assigned him no place insofar as precedence was 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. 101-102). It is also noteworthy that the Commissioners did not consider all the titles which were registered in the Cancelleria: For example the title of Conte granted to Baldassare Fenech Bonnici on the 11 June 1798 by Pope Benedict XIV, which was duly registered under Archives of the Order of Malta (554, f. 176) as well as the Archives of the Inquisition of Malta (102m f. 32) was not considered by the Report. It appears that no descendant of this grantee made any claim to the Commissioners.
In this case, this title granted to de Ribera was never registered in Malta, nor does it appear to have received direct recognition for the Grand Masters who ruled Malta. (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. 225-226)
Thus in accordance with the rule cited above, although the title is valid, it does not enjoy precedence in Malta.
The actual report says the following:
“This title, not included in the committee list, but claimed in the course of our inquiry, was on the 16th July 1638 conferred upon Matteo De Ribera, with succession to one of his descendants, by letters patent issued at Palermo, by the President and Captain-General of Sicily, by authority vested in him by Philip IV. King of Spain and Sicily. A copy of this patent was during the first week of October last exhibited before the Commission by Angiolino Attard Montalto Barone di Beanuarrat, who has fully proved his descent through a female line from the person first-ennobled. This title was never registered in this island, and no evidence of its recognition on the part of the sovereign authorities during the Government of the Knights of Saint John having been produced, we are of the opinion that the claimant has failed to establish his right to it”.