TITLES OF BARONE DI FRIGENUINI
The title Barone di Frigenuini is a title of Nobility in Malta.
It was granted on two occasions by the Grandmasters of the Order of Saint John during their rule over the Maltese Islands. The first grant is extinct. However, it is not known for certain whether the second grant is also extinct.
A publication claims the first grant to be a fief. However, this does not appear to be substantiated as the title was only granted without any right of property tenure.
The second creation is by far the most remarkable title in Maltese History as it was to be succeeded by the Blessed Maria Adeodata Pisani (picture). However, and ironically, much less is known about this title than any other title of nobility connected to Malta’s history.
Since 1975, titles of nobility are no longer recognized in the Republic of Malta by Act 29 of 1975 dated 17 October 1975.
ORIGIN AND NATURE OF TITLES GRANTED IN 1737 and 1773.
FIRST CREATION:- The title of Barone di Frigenuini was conferred by Grand Master Ramon Despuig, to Alessandro Mompalao on the 17 September 1737. By the death of Alessandro without issue the title was extinguished.
Writing in 1992, Gauci says that since Alessandro died without issue, “the fief reverted to the Order”. However, there is nothing to support the assertion that this honorific title in fact had any land attached to it.
It will be recalled that all the other titles granted by Grand Master Ramon Despuig, namely those of "Barone della Culeja" (in favour of Ignazio Bonnici, on the 2 June 1737) and that of "Barone di Benuarrat" (in favour of Saverio Gatto, on the 18 August 1737) were purely honorific titles and had no property attached to them and did not give right to any property tenure.
However, it should be equally recalled that the same Grand Master Ramon Despuig had authorized the already existing title of "Barone di Gomerino" to be subjected to the succession of the “Testaferrata Entail” (in favour of Ercole Martino Testaferrata, on the 1 May 1737). Moreover, Despuig’s successor Grand Master Manuel Pinto de Fonseca is remembered for having rendered the title of "Conte della Bahria" to be held by the fief holder of those lands, and for having subjected the title of Conte della Catena" to the succession of the “Bologna entail”.
Thus although it is possible that the 1737 grant in favour of Mompalao could have been subsequently amended, there is no known record which can be taken to imply that the 1737 title of Barone di Frigenuini was ever rendered a fief.
SECOND CREATION:- By another diploma bearing date the 17 June 1773, the same title of Barone di Frigenuini was granted anew by Grand Master Francisco Ximenes de Texada to Gaetano Pisani. This title, too, appears to be purely honorific and does not give rise to any right of possession of the lands called “Frigenuini”.
It is well known that Gaetano’s son, the Barone Benedetto Pisani had a daughter, Teresa who became a Benedictine Nun taking the name of Sister Maria Adeodata. This this Servant of God practised virtue to an heroic degree and today (since 2001), she is revered in the Catholic Church as the Blessed Maria Adeodata Pisani. Her canonization is currently pending. See also vatican news
Blessed Maria Adeodata died unmarried in 1855. It is reported that she had renounced her wealth and title when she ended her novitiate and took her final vows.
It is unknown at this stage whether there were any other descendants of the original grantee Gaetano Pisani.
After the Capitulation of the Order of Saint John the new French Rulers formally abolished all titles of nobility. (General Napoleon Bonaparte issued two orders dated 13 and 16 June 1798 prohibiting the use of any title. These read as follows: -
Ordre (1) Quartier General de malte, le 25 Prairal, an VI (13 Juin 1798): Le General en Chef ordonne……(Article 2.)… Toutes les armoires seront abbatues dans l’ espace de 24 heures. Il est defendu de porter des livrees, ni aucune marque et titre distinctif de noblesse. Ordre (2) Au Quartier General de malte, le 28 Prairal, an VI (16 Juin 1798): Bonaparte Membre de l’Istitut National, General-en-Chef ordonne…(Article Cinquieme)….Dix jours apres la publication du present ordre, il est defendu d’avoir des armoires soit dans l’interieur, soit a l’exterieur des maisons, de cacheter des lettres avec des armoires, ou de prendre des titres feodaux. ……(Article Douzieme)….Tous les contrevenants aux articles cidessous, seront condamnes pour la premier fois, a une amende du tiers de leurs revenus; pour la seconde fois, a trois mois de prison; pour la troisieme fois a un an de prison; pour la quatrieme fois, a la deportation de l’ile de Malte, et a la confiscation de la moitie de leurs biens. Il devra toujours y avoir 10 jours d’intervalle entre la recidive.”
Order (1) General Headquarters of Malta, the 25 Prairal , year VI (13 June 1798): The General in Chief orders …. (Article 2.)… All armorials are to be removed within 24 hours. It is prohibited to wear any livery, or any mark and distinctive title of nobility.
Order (2) General Headquarters of Malta, the 28 Prairal, year VI (16 June 1798): Bonaparte, member of the National Institute, General in Chief, orders (Fifth Article).. Ten days after publication of this order, it shall be prohibited to bear any armorials in the interior or exterior of houses, to use letters with armorials, or to use feudal titles… (Twelfth Article)…. All contraveners of the aforesaid articles shall be condemned for the first conviction to a fine of one third of their income, for the second time to be imprisoned for a month, for the third time to be imprisoned for a year and for the fourth time to be deported from the Island of Malta and confiscation of one half of their property. There must be a ten day interval for calculating recidivists.
Another Order was issued by Bosredon Ransijat, President of the Commission du Gouvernement dated 18 Messidor Year 6 (6 July 1798), where it was enacted that all honorary titles should be burnt on the 14th of that month and that every holder of a title should carry his patent at the Arbre de la Liberté.
In time, the use of nobiliary titles was resumed. However, it appears that this use was unregulated.
NO RECORD OF TITLE IN CRISPO BARBARO’S PUBLICATION
In 1870 the Marchese Giorgio Crispo Barbaro published a compendium of the “Maltese Nobility and the Maltese Gentry holding Foreign Titles”.
In that publication Giorgio Crispo Barbaro does not list either the title of “Frigenuini” or even any descendant of the Barone Gaetano Pisani.. - See full text of the Crispo Barbaro’s book.
However, it should be recalled that in this publication, Crispo Barbaro had also failed to mention the title of title and claimant of "Barone di Benuarrad".
NO RECORD OF TITLE IN THE ROYAL COMMISSION APPOINTED TO ENQUIRE INTO THE CLAIMS OF THE MALTESE NOBILITY
The then British Secretary of State for the Colonies, commissioned a report on those titles alleged to have been conferred to Maltese families before the annexation of Malta to the British Dominions, namely 1800. The Commissioners’ Report and Supplemental Report were published in 1878 together with relative correspondence.
In the Report, there is no mention whatsoever of either the grant dated 1737 or that of 1773.
It may be surmised that either Benedetto Pisani’s descent was already extinct by the late 19th Century, or had possibly emigrated to Naples, Italy which is the city where Blessed Maria Adeodata was born in 1806. Another possibility is that the remaining members of the family had simply lost interest in the title.
For the purposes of precedence amongst the Nobility in Malta, this title ranks according to antiquity of creation.
As from the year 1886, the holder of this title of Nobility became entitled to be styled “The Most Noble”.
The presumed successor of this title is by custom entitled to be styled Baroncino di Frigenuini. (See: Value of the Maltese usage of “Marchesino, Contino and Baroncino” )
Other descendants of the various holders of this title are by custom entitled to be styled dei Baroni di Frigenuini. (See Value of the Maltese usage of “dei Marchesi, dei Conti and dei Baroni”
The genealogy of the Barons of Frigenuini is as follows:
Original creation (1737 Grant)
· Alessandro Mompalao , 1st Barone di Frigenuini (extinct)
For the family tree of the Baron of Frigenuini (1737 grant).
2nd Original Creation (1773 Grant)
· Gaetano Pisani , 1st Barone di Frigenuini
· Benedetto Pisani, 2nd Barone di Frigenuini
· Blessed Maria Adeodata Pisani, (renounced title upon taking vows)
PRIMARY REFERENCES (GRANT/S):
1. Grant of title of Barone di Frigenuini by Grand Master Despuig to Alessandro Mompalao on the 17 September 1737 (Recorded in the Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Ref. AOM 541, ff. 197r-197v)
2. Grant of title of Barone di Frigenuini by Grand Master Ximenes, to to Gaetano Pisani on the 17 June 1773(Recorded in the Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Ref. AOM 577, ff. 195v-196r)
SECONDARY REFERENCES (HISTORY):
1. John Montalto, “The Nobles of Malta 1530-1800” (Midsea Books, Malta, 1980)
TERTIARY REFERENCES (PUBLISHED GENEALOGY):
(1) Charles Gauci "THE GENEALOGY AND HERALDRY OF THE NOBLE FAMILIES OF MALTA VOLUME TWO " (PEG PUBLICATIONS, MALTA, 1992)