BIOGRAPHIES OF THE MALTESE LORDS-LIEUTENANTS (1815-1839)
The list of Lords-Lieutenants reflects the nobility of the day. Throughout the period 1815-1839, we see eight names being regularly confirmed as leading representatives of the Maltese Nobility.
The appointees were:-
- Count Romualdo Barbaro
- Sir Paolo Parisio Moscati
- Count Baldassare Sant
- Baron Pasquale Sceberras
- Sir Giuseppe Vincenzo Testaferrata
- Baron Pietro Paolo Testaferrata
- Marquis Giuseppe Testaferrata Viani and his son
- Marquis Gilberto Testaferrata Viani.
Romualdo Barbaro was not born of noble parentage but his father Carlo Antonio was later ennobled (1778) with the personal title of “Marchese di San Giorgio”. The latter title was later extended to favour Carlo Antonio’s eldest. On 14 January 1793 ab incarnatio (1794) Romualdo was bestowed the personal title of “Count of Santi”. This title was later extended on the 16 March 1796.
Of the various Lords-Lieutenants, Barbaro was the only one to have been an original beneficiary of a title created by the Grand Masters. It also appears that he was the only Lord Lieutenant not to trace a descent from any of the older families of Malta.
Romualdo was not to enjoy his titles for long, for in June 1798 the French Government of Malta abolished all titles of nobility. Romualdo was one who had co-operated with the French government and we find his name featuring prominently in the legislation during this time.
Following France’s surrender, the Maltese Nobility was reintroduced and Romualdo’s name reappears as a leading member. He was made a C.M.G. in 1834.
Romualdo was married to the noblewoman Antonia Depiro Testaferrata but they remained without issue. He died on the 15 October 1840 and his title became extinct.
There is scant mention of Barbaro in the 1878 Report of the Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility and the only time he and his title of “Santi” are mentioned is as one of the examples cited as proof of Rohan’s penchant to create personal titles.
Paolo Parisio Moscati is still remembered today by the Palace in Valletta which bears his name. Although his name was clearly synonymous with Maltese Nobility (Abela’s Descrittione his family was a Royal famigliaris since the 14th century) no mention whatsoever is made to him in the 1878 Report of the Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility. Parisio died without issue.
Baldassare Sant, was a long-serving Lord-Lieutenant. There is no doubt that he was styled Count in all contemporary official documents even though he was only the younger son of the first count Sant. There exists documentation showing that the Grand Masters interpreted the foreign title of “Count Sant” as having a wide remainder which benefited all of the male to male descendants of the first Count Sant.
Count Baldassare was born 30 November 1789. On 29 July 1811 he married Luigia, grand-daughter of the first Count Fournier. Their descendants add Luigia’s surname to their legally correct surname of Sant.
Baldassare died on the 4 November 1858. In the 1878 Report of the Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility, he is referred to as “the late Baldassare Sant (who) was styled Count, to which h had no right.”
Pasquale Sceberras was the son of Baron Antonio Sceberras Testaferrata whose ancestor Fabrizio Testaferrata had succeeded in 1695 in the title of “Baron of Castel Cicciano” in Naples and of Gerolama Trigona. In 1795, Antonio was also invested iure uxoris in the fief of “Montagna di Marzo” in Sicily. Pasquale was born in 1793. In 1811he married his mother’s first cousin Rosalea D’Amico Castelletti Inguanez. After she died, he married his brother’s daughter Gaetana in 1844. Pasquale had issue from both marriages.
The only reference made to Pasquale in the 1878 Report of the Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility, is an indirect one: In that report his elder son Alessandro is described as the successor of the title of Castel Cicciano.
In 1817 Giuseppe Vincenzo Testaferrata, then a Giurato got into trouble with the British authorities. A law dating to 1739 had given a right of precedence to various noble families, and Giuseppe Vincenzo used violence to assert his birth right of precedence over His Majesty’s judges. He was reinstated in office after apologizing but the office of Giurato was abolished on the 30 December 1818. Two days later Giuseppe Vincenzo was made Lord Lieutenant. He was knighted in 1822.
Giuseppe Vincenzo married to his cousin Letterina Testaferrata Viani by whom he had a daughter Rosalea. She went on to marry one of the marquises Apap. The only reference made to Giuseppe Vincenzo in the 1878 Report of the Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility, is an indirect one: In that report his grandson Giuseppe Apap Testaferrata is described as having failed to prove his right to the title of Marchese. There are no known livng descendants of the formidable Giuseppe Vincenzo Testaferrata.
There are two indirect references to Pietro Paolo Testaferrata in the 1878 Report of the Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility: One is where the report disallowed all noble titles of “Patrician” including that of Messina which had been renewed in favour of Pietro Paolo. The other where the Report describes an issue between his eldest son Giuseppe Testaferrata Abela Moroni with his younger siblings Francesco and Augusto Testaferrata Abela regarding the succession of the title of “Baron of Gomerino”. The latter title was created in 1710 and the Commissioners noted in fact a deed dated 1734 annexed this title to an entail established in 1714.
Giuseppe Testaferrata Viani was born in 1767, the eldest of the Marchese Mario Testaferrata Castelletti who is remembered for having represented the Maltese People on the instrument dated 1798 whereby the Maltese Islands were surrendered to the French Republic. Giuseppe’s father was also deputed by the Maltese people to make representations on their behalf to the new British Sovereign. Giuseppe married Rosa Maria Galea D’Amico on the 10 July 1791.
Of the various Lords-Lieutenants, Testaferrata Viani was the only one to have been formally invested in an older title of nobility. This refers to the title of “Baron of Tabria” a title last held by his maternal grandfather Gio Batta Viani. When Gio Batta died a legal question arose in respect of this barony and the Grand Master appointed a special commission to examine the relative terms of this title first created in 1728. The special commission found that the title of Tabria was a merely honorific title with no remarkable rights or obligations and recommended that Giuseppe could succeed that title only if the Grand Master could make a direct intervention. In 1784, Giuseppe was formally invested in this title.
There is no mention of this barony in any of the appointments of Giuseppe as a Lord Lieutenant, indicating that he attached greater importance to the title which he used, namely that of “Marquis”. This title has a twofold origin. One in a grant dated 1716 made by the King of Naples. Another title of Marquis was created by the King of Sicily in 1717. Issues arose between members of the Testaferrata family regarding the succession of these titles and in 1772 a final compromise was reached between them and Giuseppe’s father and grandfather were confirmed in their right to bear both titles of Marquis.
A number of references are made to Giuseppe Testaferrata Viani in the 1878 Report of the Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility. The first reference is where he is described as having succeeded his mother in the barony of Tabria. The second reference is an indirect one where the claim of Giuseppe’s grandson, another Giuseppe, to the title of Marquis was disallowed.
Gilberto Testaferrata Viani was born 25 April 1801, the elder son of Giuseppe. He married Aloisia Sceberras Testaferrata on the 20 November 1826. In 1834 he became Lord-Lieutenant in direct succession to his father. This shows the great importance placed by the British on the Testaferrata Viani family being represented on Civil matters. Gilberto died on the 10 March 1860. His male line was determined in 1892 but there still descendants through his daughter. Gilberto’s brother Mario received the title of Baron of Tabria by means of a deed bearing dated 1834, six months after Gilberto succeeded his father as Lord Lieutenant. No mention is made of this deed in the 1878 Report of the Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility.
The Report makes reference to Gilberto Testaferrata Viani who “like Sir Giuseppe v. Testaferrata, was not the first-born descendant in the primogenial line of the family, was styled as Marchese, in twenty notices which contained his appointment as Lord Lieutenant in the years 1820, 1821, 1822, 1823, 1824, 1825, 1826, 1827, 18285, 1829, 1830, 1831, 1831, 1832, 1833, 1834, 1835, 1836, 1837, 1838, 1839.” - This cannot be right because Gilberto was only first appointed in 1834.