Copyright © The Malta Historical Society, 2005.

Source: Proceedings of History Week 1984. [Malta : The [Malta] Historical Society, 1986(41-100)]

[p.41] Status Animarum II: a Census of 1687

Stanley Fiorini

          In a recent paper,[1] a general survey of the Status Animarum records of Malta and Gozo was undertaken. It was shown there how these documents constitute a very rich and quite unique source for 17th and 18th century demography of these islands. The earliest date for which Status Animarum lists exist for practically all towns and villages of Malta is 1687. The object of this paper is to take a closer look at the contents of the 1687 documents[2] and deduce therefrom a sketch of life in these islands in that year.

I The Documents

          Volumes II and IIa (1686-1688) contain Status Animarum records from 31 parishes labelled as follows: N31 to N35 are 1687 dated records for Casal Attard, Casal Balzan, Casal Berchircara, Casal Corcop and Casal Crendi respectively. N36 is labelled Casal Nasciaro and is undated. N37 to N48 come respectively from Casal Curmi; Casal Dingli; Casal Gregorio; Casal Gudia; Casal Haxac; Casal Lia, Casal Liman, Casal Bordi; Casal Luca; Casal Micabiba; Casal Musta; Notabile Città; Notabile Rabbato e Luoghi Limitrofi; and Casal Safi, all belonging to 1687. N49 is an undated document from Senglea whereas N50 belongs to Casal Siggehui, Casal Chibir, Casal Xiluch (1687). N51 is again undated and comes from Tarxen. Both N52 and N53 are Valletta, Porto Salvo records for the years 1686 and 1687 respectively. N54 to N58 are all 1687 lists and belong to Vittoriosa; Casal Zabbar, Casal Bigieni; Casal Zeitun, Casal Pasqualino, Casal Bisbut; Casal Zebbug; and Casal Zurrico respectively. N59 is Parrocchia Rito Greco: Vittoriosa, Senglea, Burmula (1687); N59a is Valletta, San Paolo (1687) and finally N60 is Valletta, Porto Salvo for 1688.

          Apart from Gozo, the obvious omission in this list is Cospicua, although one must look carefully at the undated lists from Naxxar, Senglea and Tarxien, not forgetting the rest of the Greek Rite Parish in Valletta. The “Naxxar” document has its title page badly stained, which renders legibility of both locality and date impossible. A look at the contents of f. l shows that the parish priest was Archpriest Lorenzo Hasciach. Since Naxxar was not then a Collegiate church its parish priest could not have been referred to by that title, so that quire N.36 must belong to some Collegiate in Malta or Gozo, but not to Naxxar 1687. Furthermore, a consideration of the way of spelling surnames in this document, which is pretty well standardized, indicates a later date, whilst recurrence of certain surnames like Mercieca, Haber and Apap, which were not very common in Malta in 1687, suggests that Gozo is a likelier [p.42] provenance. This is confirmed when one notes that Lorenzo Asciak was the third parish priest and first archpriest of Għarb, Gozo, from 1761 to 1808; this parish was raised to Collegiate status in 1774.[3] Thus, the document’s date is out by some 100 years and refers to Għarb and not to Naxxar.

          Although the Senglea document is undated, it did not prove too difficult showing that it in fact belongs to 1687. This was achieved by comparison with a recently discovered Liber Status Animarum for Senglea dated 1684.[4] In fact one can quite accurately place this document in the first four months of 1687 if one notes that Cleria, daughter of Malgarita Nostroso[5] was born on 18th December 1685,[6] was one year old when the census was taken and furthermore it is known that she died, aged one, on 5th April 1687.[7] Similar comparisons safely date the Tarxien document to 1687.

          The Greek Rite document is apparently deficient insofar as it lists 47 parishioners from Cottonera but none from Valletta, where the parish church is situated. This poses several questions. Should this be taken to mean that there were no Greek rite parishioners in Valletta itself or should it be taken to mean that the Valletta “half” of the document is missing? In the latter case, what would be the numbers involved. A. Bonnici[8] outlines the history of this parish, asserting that it knows its origins to some 5000 Rhodians who accompanied the knights to Malta in 1530. These settled in Birgu where four churches were assigned to them. When the knights moved to Valletta in the wake of 1565, a site for a Greek church was offered in 1569, building was started in 1575 and the church officially constituted a parish in 1587. No doubt, several Greeks, retaining their allegiance to the Greek rite, stayed behind in Victoriosa and although no formal parish church existed there,[9] they had their spiritual needs attended to by a papas in the Borgo. So much so, that from extant Status Animarum lists it transpires that they were considered as a separate community, two lists being returned separately by different pastors, each signing paroco.[10] As to the numbers involved, judging by some twenty lists from the first half of the 18th century, one can deduce mean numbers for Valletta and Victoriosa to be 35.5 and 41.1, respectively. These numbers are usually broken down into abitanti and forestieri in the ratio of 34:9 in the mean. The Victoriosa numbers are often further broken down by place of residence; this is usually one of the Three Cities, but sometimes Valletta itself is mentioned, which indicates how separate the two communities were. By not later than 1784, a single Status Animarum list is returned, covering both localities. One concludes that for 1687 [p.43] the Valletta Greek rite document is missing, included in which were some 35 individuals of whom only 28 were local residents.

          Of all retrieved 1687 lists, the Cospicua document proved to be the most elusive. It turned up as the undated list N142 in Vol. XXIVa. It can be safely dated to about April as follows: It certainly post-dates 27th March, the day Victoria Cassia, daughter of Carolo and Barbarica[11] fell to her death from the roof;[12] she is not in the list. On the other hand, the list could not have been drawn up much later than April 1687 according to the ages and dates of birth of the following infants of only a few months. (Comparison of ages of older individuals led to wildly erratic conclusions.)

          It can therefore be concluded that all Status Animarum lists for 1687 are available except those for Naxxar, Gozo and the Valletta ‘half’ of the Greek rite parish. The small numbers in the latter one can ignore and supplement the other two deficiencies by considering instead extant lists from these parishes which are nearest in time to 1687. For Naxxar, Status Animarum 1688 is still preserved at Naxxar Parish Archives.[13]

TABLE I

Infant Son/Daughter of Age in LSA fol. Date of Birth Fol. Approx. date compiled
Franciscus Azzopard Joannes Bapt. & Magdalena 3 months 12v 28.xii.1686 76 April
Joannes Bap. Bonavita Petrus & Maria 6 months 15 18.xi.'86 /td> 75v :May
Joannes de Giorgio Joannes Bapt. & Victoria 4 months 26 12.i.'87 77 May
Barbara Gatt Alexander & Clementi 6 months 31 4.xii.'86 76 June
Joannes Bap. Ricard Aloysius & Catherina 5 months 47v 28.xi.'86 75v April

          The Gozo list nearest in time to 1687 is the one labelled Matrice 1678[14] which includes 244 people from Castello, only 59 from Rabbato and 2742 from Campagna, a total of 3045. Although theoretically the Chiesa Matrice was the only parish in Gozo at the time (Xewkija was only constituted a parish on 27th November of that year), in view of the population counts for the whole island,[15] it seems most unlikely that the figure of 3045 should represent the total population. The very low figure of 59 for Rabbato suggests that the likelier alternative is that the church of St. George in Rabat was accounting for the rest. This latter church has always had a very ambiguous parochial existence and ambivalent relationship vis-a-vis the Chiesa Matrice. Up to the disastrous events of 1551, it had been one of at least three parishes in Rabat, weaned from the Matrice,[16] and although not officially reconstituted before (in fact as late as 1.viii.1955), it was on several occasions [p.44] acknowledged as a de facto co-parish, with the Matrice. This is evidenced from the several Status Animarum and other documents cited in the present author’s earlier paper.[17] Thus in 1575, Duzina refers to St. George as Parochialis Ecclesia ... extra Castrum, and in 1645, the Balaguer list breaks the Gozo population down into Parochia del Castello and la Parochia del Rabbato. The 1658 census, with breakdown by parishes, gives one figure for Gozo et suo Castello, whereas the 1670 count distinguishes between 3000 at Rabbato and 3500 in il restante dellisola e Castello. The 1680 count is yet more specific and identifies four parishes: S. Georgii, Garbi noviter erecta, S. Ioannis ta Xeuchia and Matrice, in that order. Just 20 years later, the complete Status Animarum list of 1702 omits it, as do both complete Militia lists of 1708 and 1741. Yet, it figures again in each of the lists for 1716, 1726, 1728, 1781-1784 and 1793. In 1797, the complete list gives one figure for Castello and Rabat under Matrice. Again, no mention of it is made in 1807. In view of this, only limited use is made of the Gozo list.

          Hence, unless otherwise stated, throughout the rest of this paper references to Attard, Balzan, Birkirkara, Kirkop, Qrendi, Dingli, Għargħur, Gudja, Għaxaq, Lija (and Mann and Bordi), Luqa, Mqabba, Mosta, Notabile, Rabat, Safi, Senglea, Siġġiewi (and Kbir and Xluq), Tarxien, Valletta (Porto Salvo), Vittoriosa, Żabbar (and Biġieni), Żejtun (Bisqallin and Bisbut), Żebbuġ, Żurrieq, Vittoriosa (Greek rite), Valletta (San Paolo), Cospicua, Matrice (Gozo) and Naxxar will be taken to mean respectively AAF LSA II: N31-N35, N39-N45, ibid. IIa: N46-N59a, ibid. XXIVa N142, ibid. I N6 and A(rchivum) P(aroeciae) Naxxar LSA I.

          One has therefore here a practically complete[18] census of the entire population of Malta and Gozo in which individuals are not simply counted, but are listed by name, surname, family, age, town or village and quite often with several other interesting details as to nickname, occupation, status and location in the village, not to mention of course the “state of their souls,” the raison dêtre of these documents. Since it is the earliest virtually complete such record, and 1687 is anyway one of the earliest years for which these records exist, the value of the document is greatly enhanced. Furthermore, it has the distinct asset that the information it contains was collated within a very short span of time so that errors arising from population migration, abroad or internal, are greatly minimized. In fact it can be deduced from the exact dates given on several of the quires [19] that most of the lists were drawn within a few weeks of Easter of that year; Easter day 1687 is computed to have been on 4th April. [p.45] It is worth noting that round about that time, Paschal Tide meant precisely the fortnight between Palm Sunday and Low Sunday for the purpose of fulfilment of the Paschal precept.[20]

II Statistics

          From the overall statistical picture drawn in Status Animarum I, one can abstract those figures which are relevant for 1687. Thus it appears that the population in Malta amounted to 45288 distributed as in Table II.

TABLE II

Attard 845 Notabile 305
Balzan
552
Rabat
1633
Birkirkara
2251
Qormi
2669
Cospicua
2933
Qrendi
673
Dingli
356
Safi
186
Għargħur
706
Senglea
3371
Għaxaq
669
Siġġiewi
1394
Gudja
485
Tarxien
760
Kirkop
240
Valletta (P.S.)
6181
Lija
975
Valletta (S.P.)
3608
Luqa
1019
Vittoriosa
2250
Mosta
1243
Żabbar
1127
Mqabba
490
Żebbuġ
3484
Naxxar
1463
Żejtun
1607
Żurrieq
1813

          To these one must add a further 5500 or so, mostly foreigners, under the jurisdiction of the Order and of the Holy Office. In Gozo there were some 5000 others.

          These figures are somewhat deflated with respect to the overall population profile, coming as they do after the disastrous plague of 1675 during which some 11,000 were lost, mostly from Valletta and the Three Cities.[21] In spite of this setback, the Valletta count registered a net increase vis-a-vis earlier figures, indicating probably a heavy immigration into the city at the time.

          The average family size for 1687 was of 3.90, which is very average, since the [p.46] mean of several censuses up to 1797 was 3.8786.[22] One notable exception is Paola, whose family size in 1687 had a mean of 2.2, conforming with a consistently low ratio right up to its extinction around 1800. There is, naturally, a strong correlation between family size and average age in the family unit. Table III, based on data about individuals who are of Communion age, supplies the relevant information for 1687.

TABLE III

LOCALITY 13+ POPULATION %
Dingli
Gudja
Kirkop
Lija
Luqa
Safi
Senglea
Siġġwi
Valletta (P.S.)
Żbbar
Żejtun
Żurrieq
241
377
173
749
725
137
2300
987
4463
822
1100
1405
356
485
240
975
1019
186
3550
1394
6181
1131
1607
1813
67.697
77.732
72.083
76.821
71.148
73.656
64.789
70.803
72.205
72.679
68.451
77.496
Mean 72.129
Standard Deviation 3.814

          As discussed in Status Animarum I, Communion age was around 13 so that the numbers of those who communicated compared with the total count affords a breakdown of the population into the disjoint subsets of age-groups 0-13 and 13+. Table III presents this data, also expressed as a percentage, in the cases where the figures are readily available. It is clear that there are no wide discrepancies from the mean. In Status Animarum I, a similar exercise established trends for corresponding data during the 18th century. Comparison of these two sets of data shows that they tally with each other. Again, the one exceptional case that stands out is Paola. Out of a population of 55, the age bracket 13+ includes no fewer than 45, a percentage of 81.818, around 10% above the national mean.

III Place-names

          In various instances the parish priest actually describes in which part of the town or village his parishioners reside. Some of the larger villages have smaller villages or hamlets dependent on them. This is the case of Siġġiewi within whose territory lie Ħal Kbir and Ħal Xluq with populations 9 and 7 living in 2 and 1 habitations respectively. One notes here that no mention is made of Ħal Qdieri which certainly [p.47] up to 1575[23] was always associated, together with Ħal Kbir and Ħax Xluq, with Siġġiewi.[24] The same holds for Lija’s two dependencies Ħal Bordi and Ħal Mann with populations of 70 (in 8 households) and 8 (in 2 households) respectively. The year 1687 must have been pretty near the year Ħal Mann ceased to exist. Mention has already been made of Tarxien and its infant annexe Paola, which after half a century of existence had a paltry total of 55 inhabitants in 26 households, testifying to the resistance of the population to inhabit this unpopular area.[25] Żurrieq also had the dependent hamlets of Bubaqra (263 inhabitants in 67 households) and Ħal Millieri (40 inhabitants in 10 households).

          In the case of the wisespread territory dependent on Notabile, many of the minor settlements survive and flourish to this day. It is more convenient here to group the information in tabular form (cf. Table IV).

TABLE IV

LOCALITY REF. FOL. INHABITANTS HOUSEHOLDS LOCATION ON 1:2500 MAP (1974)
Nigret
Hospitali di San Nicola
Chiesa di San Sebastiano
Chiesa della Virtù
Nel molino di vento
Giardino Grandi di M. Ill.
Giardino Piccolo
Giardino di Santa Caterina
Giardino di Cassia
Giardino del Annuntiata
Giardino detto Raba Nemel
Giardino del Rosario
Giardino del Mithahleb
Vet il Bisbies
Vet Gerzuma
Giardino detto Burnuchala
Giardino to Bingemma
Santo Antonio tal Ghimeri
Fiddien ta Corogna
Giardino detto Ain Cliep
Giardino ta Ain Cahiet
Giardino ta Duera
Mitarfa
22v
22v
22v
22v
23
23
23
23
23v
23v
23v
23v
23v
24
24
24v
24v
24v
24v
24v
25
25
25
4
8
2
4
5
10
5
8
8
5
7
3
9
11
7
4
6
7
2
4
3
3
15
1
 
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
2
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
3
442/710-449/713
461/711
460/708
465/703
 
455/697-460/700
460/695-464/697
445/699-449/70
437/696-440/699
448/710-450/712
438/699-440/700
435/706-438/708
417/705-422/707
425/710-427/717
408/731-416/732
422/737-428/739; 427/735-430/737
437/737
431/722-437/723; 432/723-434/726
442/719-443/720
444/716-446/718
446/716-448/719
457/739-460/740
451/717-460/740

          It is worth noting here that the church of St. Sebastian, lying as it does to-day (at the corner of Boschetto Road with College Street) in central Rabat, was then considered as one of the Luochi Adiacenti.

          In other villages yet, the dependent hamlets form an integral part of the village due to their close proximity to each other and due to the larger number of inhabitants in them. This is the case of Żejtun which consists of Ħal Bisqallin (Pasqualino) and of Ħal Bisbut, nowadays referred to as raħal tafuq and raħal tisfel, respectively. In 1687 the populations were 707, in 186 households, and 900, in 210 households, respectively. The same can be said of Żabbar, part of which is at present called Biċċieni. The name Biġieni in the document suggests that the [p.48] etymology of the present day toponym could be related to the surname Bigeni. In this document, Żabbar and Biġieni are also referred to as the first and second villages; they had 814 and 317 inhabitants respectively. Part and parcel of the town of Vittoriosa is Castel Sant’Angelo with 72 inhabitants. To this town also belonged 19 people at Punta Ricasoli and at Salvatore.

          In other towns and villages the inhabitants are located by the street in which they live. One must remember though, that prior to the advent of the French in Malta, the custom of giving names to streets had not yet quite taken on. In these documents, one actualy sees this custom, still in an embryonic stage, developing and taking shape. At one end of the spectrum one has villages split into mutually disjoint sub-entities, some quite distant from each other (like Lija, Bordi and Mann) and others simply juxtaposed and contiguous (like Żabbar and Biġieni; Bisqallin and Bisbut). At a more developed stage one has the case of Żebbuġ in which the village is parcelled out into regions, several of them identified with some chapel in the vicinity: Gandelora (f. lv), Vallone (f. 5), Cas: Nardu (f. 7), Della Grattia (f. 12v), Piazzetta (f. 14v), Ta Mamo (f. 18v), Santo Roccho (f. 19), Il fine del Casale (f. 19v), Piazza della Chiesa (f. 24), Ta Halein (f. 25), L’Annunciata (f. 26v), and Il fine del Vicolo (f. 31v). Most of these are not street names although they eventually gave rise to them in some cases as in Triq tal-Grazzja, Triq Ħali and Triq Mamo.

          In the case of Żurrieq the streets are actually identified; however this is done in a very primitive way, not by name but by the function they serve, namely that of joining place X to place Y. Thus one finds: Strada superiore, che porta dalla parochia verso S. Andrea (f. 2), Strada che chiamano di Casal Chircop (f. 4), Strada inferiore che tira dalla sciarulla verso la parochia (f. 4), Strada che chiamano sotto la Parochia (f. 7), Strada che tira verso S. Maria tal ghacba (f. 7v), Strada che chiamano della fossa di Pietruzzo (f. 9v), Strada che chiamano ta kab(?) ennegret (f. 12v), Strada ai S. Luca (f. 14), Strada che porta dalla parochia verso Sto Luca (f. 14v), Strada inferiore del Negret (f. 17), Strada superiore del Negret (f. 18v), Strada che porta dalla parochia verso blatet martino (f. 22).

          The same can be said of Kirkop where one finds: Via maior quae itur ad parochialem (f. 2) and via qua itur ad ecclesiam S. Nicolai (f. 2v). There are also Vicus Stae Anastasiae (f. 1), prope ecclesiam parrochialem (f. 1v) and prope portam minorem parrochialis (f. 3v).

          Even in Senglea and Valletta, the names of streets as we have them to-day, are still practically non-existent. In Senglea one finds Via Realis incepta ab Arce Sti Michaelis (f. 2) (present day Victory Street), Super menia urbis prope Sti Michaelis (f. 14v) (present day Bastion Street, but still known locally as Fuq is-Sur), Via incepta ab arce Sti Michaelis a sinistris (present day Prison Street). Then there is also a Viridarium Ungariae (f. 45v) which to-day no longer exists; however it could have been one of two gardens: Viridarium della Sirena or a garden near Il-Madonna tan-Nofs whose existence was till recently recalled by the place name Vicolo Giardino.[26]

          [p.49] In the capital Valletta itself the same system of referring to streets is adopted. One finds: Dal Monasterio di S. Maria Maddalena tirando avanti insino la chiesa della Vittoria, toccando sempre le strade mezzane del braccio destro (f. 1); this is of course present day Merchants Street, no-man’s-land between the two Valletta parishes: Strada stretta sotto la Capp. del Smo Rosrio insino la porta del Palazzo di S.E. (f. 4) is probably Frederick Street, whereas La vanella dirimpetto la porta grande di S. Giovanni (f. 5) must be Zachary Street. Dallo sperone di S. Elmo ... tirando di lungo nella strada reale della Carriera ... insino il Capo diguardia sopra Porta Reale (f. 6v), is an early clear reference to Strada Rjali and Putirjal, thereby excluding any connexion with the British in these names. Not so easily identified are strada detta volgarmente delli francesi e ... la strada stretta che non spunta (f. 11), strada detta volgarmente della Ficara tirando avanti infino la strada stretta delli forbici, e da quale infino alla fondarla (f. 13). A further reference to ‘scissors’ is Dalla Strada Reale delli Forbici, ... insino il Gioco delle balle (f. 16). Other localities mentioned are sotto la loggia (f. 20), sopra il passeggiatore (f. 20v), Dalla Cantonera del Palazzo dellIll. Mons. Vescovo ... insino la Zeccha (f. 20v) and la strada di sopra la Carcara Vecchia ... insino la loggia detta di Bisaura (f. 23). It is of interest to note that Manderaggio was partitioned into five regions which were then known as della Fontana Superiore (f. 25v), della Gebia, del Cortiglio (f. 26v), della Fontana Piccola (f. 27), and della Tomba (f. 27v). One cannot ignore G.F. Abela’s [27] list of Valletta street names. However, as Abela himself admits, he had resurrected these names from a descriptive plan of the city hidden in some forgotten archives. In no way does this scheme represent the way in which the man-in-the-street referred to his streets, lanes and neighbourhoods.

          Perhaps the closest one gets to our present-day system of street names is at Cospicua. Here one finds: Via dicta la Gebia (f. l), Via appellata vulgo ta Rocna (f. 2), Via dicta vulgo della Mammana (f. 4v), Via vulgo nominata ta Sbibi (f. 6v), Via vulgo nuncupata della Torre (f. 8v), Via Ecclesiae (f. 10v), Via D. Carletti (f. 13v), Via Dive Margaritae (f. 16v), Via dicta del Giardino (f. 18), Via ... da sotto la Chiesa verso la piazza (f. 20), Via vulgo dicta ta Sireidech (f. 21v), Via Platea (f. 22), Viculus vulgo del Spezziale (f. 22v), Via a Platea versus Con. S. Theresiae (f. 23), Viculus vulgo dictus ta Aurania (f. 23v), Via vulgo dicta della Sta Gratiulla (f. 25), Via vulgo dicta ta bongiorno (f. 27v), Via Stae Theresiae (f. 30v); Via vulgo dicta ta Gafà (f. 32), Quarterium Manderagij (f. 33v), Quarterium extra Manderagium versus Portam Sengleae (f. 39), Via a porta Sengleae versus Divum Paulum (f. 40), Via Vallonis Stae Helenae (f. 47v), Via dicta ta Cineli (?) usque ad Quarterium ta Mactittin (f. 50v), and Quarterium Mactettin (f. 51v). One readily recognizes in this list present-day street names like Triq Srejdek and until very recently, alas, Strada Bongiorno. The original version ta bongiorno indicates association with someone of that surname or nickname and shows it has nothing to do with morning greetings, as the English version would have it. In fact this surname is encountered later on at Vittoriosa; it was still therein 1725.[28]

[p.50] IV Religious Life

          One important indicator of religious activity within a community is the priest-population ratio. This topic is discussed in a recent paper by Mgr. V. Borg, “The Diocesan Priests in the Maltese Islands 1551-1950.”[29] In that paper, this ratio is tabulated for 1618, 1667-8, 1744-51, and so on till 1909. Status Animarum 1687 yields the following additional information (cf. Table V).

TABLE V

LOCALITY NUMBERS OF PRIESTS POPULATION POPULATION PER PRIEST RATIO
Attard
Balzan
Birkirkara
Dingli
Għargħur
Għaxaq
Gudja
Lija
Luqa
Mqabba
Naxxar
Notabile
Rabat
Qormi
Qrendi
Senglea
Siġġiewi
Tarxien
Valletta (P.S.)
Valletta (S.P.)
Vittoriosa
Żabbar
Żebbuġ
Żejtun
Żurrieq
6
12
19
2
4
5
3
9
5
8
13
31
18
23
4
32
7
9
41
36
24
4
33
6
21
839
536
2227
354
700
664
481
961
1013
480
1446
268
1605
2645
669
3334
1383
694
6140
3572
2226
1123
3437
1596
1787
139.8
44.7
117.2
177
175
132.8
160.3
106.8
202.6
60
111.2
8.6
89.2
115
167.3
104.2
197.6
77.1
149.8
99.2
92.8
280.7
104.2
266
85.1

          This gives a national mean of 130.568 with standard deviation of 62.1017.

          A check of the reliability of Status Animarum data can be made in this case against the number of priests listed in Bishop Cocco-Palmieri’s Visitation of that same year.[30] The following sample should suffice: Attard (7), Balzan (11), Lija (8), Mosta (12), Għargħur (4), Naxxar (17), Żabbar (4), Tarxien (8), Għaxaq (4), Żejtun (5), Gudja (5).

          [p.51] An index of lay people’s observance of Church regulations is their conformity to the Paschal precept. Status Animarum is eminently qualified to talk about this subject. Each individual is marked as having or not having fulfilled his yearly duty of confessing and communicating during Holy Week, as was the custom at the time. The relatively very few who did not were further numbered in the list of Contumaces. Often, the reasons why a person had stayed away or had been denied the Sacraments were also given. In most cases these were instances of prostitutes or of separated spouses living in concubinage. In one instance, in Lija, the parish priest was particularly strict and denied the Sacraments also to the parents of a recalcitrant young lady:

Questi non li communicaistante che hanno con loro una figlia di scandalo publico.”[31]

          As to numbers of contumaces, one finds for example, 2 at Kirkop, 4 at Għargħur, none at Mqabba and Gudja, but 14 at Lija. (These figures tended to vary with time and place.) In Vittoriosa, no separate list is given but several are labelled meretrix and as such would have been denied the sacraments. There were no less than 18 of them aged between 17 and 35, all living in the same quarter of the city. The odd meretrix was to be found also in the villages, as for instance, one at Żebbuġ.

V Health

          Quite often reference is made to persons suffering from ill-health. In some cases one simply reads that the patient is in infermeria or infirma in hospitali jacens or some such phrase. Of these one comes across 1 at Balzan, 2 at Birkirkara, 1 at Dingli, 6 at Żebbuġ, 2 at Żabbar, 1 at Vittoriosa, and so on. In other cases, the patient is at home ammalato or strozziato sempre giace in letto (a case at Gudja). In other cases yet, reference to the actual disease is made. The following table (Table VI) sums up the cases collected.

          One case, only unwittingly recorded by the parish priest, was that of the parish priest of Żejtun himself who habitually inverted consonants, often writing Spaila for Psaila and Misfud for Mifsud. Was it a case of motor dysphasia?

          The Infermeria mentioned above was of course the Holy Infirmary of the Order.

[p.52] TABLE VI

CONDITION LOCALITY SEX AGE

DESCRIPTION/REMARKS

Leprosy
Paralysis
Blindness



Deaf/Dumb




Mental





















Qormi
Notabile
Senglea

Balzan
Gudja
Żebbuġ
Żurrieq



Birkirkara
Gudja
Dingli
Żurrieq
Vittoriosa

Tarxien
Żebbuġ






Żejtun
Żabbar
Balzan
Żebbuġ
Mqabba


Valletta
F
F
M
M
M
F
F
F
F
F
M
F
F
F
F
F
M
M
M
M
M
M
F
M
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
M
30
55
23
28
?
70
15
22
14
7
4
19
35
32
21
60
2
8
34
24
42
10
16
10
34
55
35
13
34
43
12
50
14
maritus (28) non cohabitat






*
* Four out of a family
* of seven children
*
muta e fatua

fatua


fatuo


scemo


nihil scit


matta

mente capta
rationis incapax
quasi insipiens
insipiens

scemo

[p.53] But other hospitals were also functioning at the time. It is curious that the Hospitali di San Nicola at Rabat (i.e. ta’ Saura) figures in the list of luochi adjacenti but not Santo Spirito Hospital across the road.[32]

          Regarding people who take care of the sick, one invariably comes across the ubiquitous mammana, as in Vicolo della mammana at Cospicua,[33] i.e. the alley where the midwife lives, or actual reference to the midwife herself, as the obstetrice Maria Buttigieg at Gudja.[34] The pharmacist, sometimes called aromatario (the herbalist) or spezziale (Maltese Spiżjar) is also encountered both as a toponym as in Viculus del Spezziale, again at Cospicua,[35] or in person, as Michele Zahra Spezziare (sic), aged 64, at Rabat.[36]

          Not many doctors are mentioned. One comes across a chirurgus (surgeon) Gio. Maria Zammit, aged 70, at Senglea,[37] but not many others, except possibly at Valletta Porto Salvo, that is, where each of the following fourteen gentlemen is designated Doctor[38]: Gio. Francesco Fiot, Giovanni Maggi, Enrico Paci, Tomaso Aquilina, Francesco Vivier, Baldassare Teuma, Ludovico Issing, Ferdinando Gatt, Carlo Bonnici, Massimiliano Balsano, Baldassare Fenech, Pietro Paulo Hellul, Giulio Muscat and Gioseppi Magri. If these people were indeed medical doctors, then one wonders whether this lopsided distribution merely reflects carelessness on the part of most parish priests to record them or represents the actual situation.

          Status Animarum does give the ages of individuals so that one can, theoretically, say something about longevity, for instance. However, when cross-checking these adult ages against actual birth records one finds that they are completely unreliable. After all, one is as old as one feels. Incidence of twins in families in 1687 was quite common, but multiple births of at least 3 offspring, especially if they survive, were practically non-existent. In this period, I came across exactly one instance of triplets, two boys and a girl called Hagius at Għargħur;[39] all three died at birth.

VI Home-ownership

          In one unique instance, that of Siġġiewi, some important information relating to home-ownership is provided by the parish priest. Of the 383 households in the village 282 are resident-owned (in aedibus proprijs) whereas only 99 are in rented accommodation (in aedibus conductis); in two cases no information is given. One would be rash to extrapolate to the national situation from this one case; Siġġiewi need not be representative, not even of rural Malta.

          It is of interest to compare the 73.6% owner-occupier households of 1687 with present-day figures. According to the 1967 Malta Census, Report on Housing [p.54] Characteristics,[40] Siġġiewi had only 51% of its households residing in their own home, a marked diminution over three centuries! In 1967 the distribution of owner-occupied houses was far from homogeneous, even in rural Malta.

VII Occupations

7.1 Case-Studies

          In two localities, Kirkop and Gudja, the parish priests gratuitously furnish us with important information as to the occupation of their parishioners. In Kirkop, a tiny village of 240 inhabitants, were to be found: 3 fabri cementarij (described elsewhere[41] as mastri muratori), 3 operarij, 5 milites triremium, 1 remigens, 3 remigentes triremium, 7 operarij petrae, 5 mercenarij, 1 nauta, 11 ruri incumbentes (workers in the fields), 1 operarius gossipij, 1 mercator gossipij (cotton-merchant), 1 macinator frumenti and 1 sacrista monasterij S. Scolasticae civitatis Victoriosae.

          In Gudja, with a population of 484 in 120 households, data is equally complete with a total of 112 job descriptions given. A possible classification is as in Table VII.

7.2 Buonavoglia and Pirates

          The four individuals in Kirkop described as remigens triremium were most probably buonavoglia, that is, people who offered their services as rowers on the Order’s galleys or for other tough work to re-pay some substantial sum of money advanced to them. The term is still used to-day to describe a rascal. The parish priest is understandably keen on keeping track of these and others of his flock who are absent from home for long stretches of time, so that frequent mention is made of buonavoglia in Status Animarum. Thus one comes across them in Birkirkara, Lija, Qormi, Tarxien, Żabbar, Żurrieq, Vittoriosa and elsewhere. In Senglea there were 9 of them and in Paola no less than 4 from the 26 households.[42] The term di catena used to describe 23 males at Birgu is probably a reference, albeit unusual, to buonavoglia; it does not refer to people in prison who are described as nella Castellania (2 from Vittoriosa itself) or carcerati (2 from Żabbar and 1 from Żebbuġ). The number of buonavoglia in Malta in 1632 was 257 of whom a very large number were foreigners.[43] This may be one explanation of the relatively few numbers recorded in Status Animarum.

          Another popular rough occupation in Malta at the time was corsairing. One comes across a few described as in curso or pirata at Birkirkara, Qormi, Safi and Żebbuġ; there were no less than 31 corsairs from Żebbuġ alone. However, numbers

[p.55] TABLE VII

JOB DESCRIPTION
FREQUENCY TOTAL
Employed Order of St John Soldati 6
Bombardieri 2
Marinaro sopra il Caicho della Guardia 1
Officiale della Castellania 1
Caporale sopra la galera 1
Guardiano del piombo 1
Guardiano nelli furni della Religione 1 13
Church Parroco 1
Sacerdoti 2
Sacrestani 2
Bicocche 2 7
Private Service in Valletta 3
in Vittoriosa 1
Cacciatore del Falconiere 1
Scrivano del Casale 1
Giornatari 20 26
Unemployed Otiosi 3
Mendicanti 4
Poveri strozziati 2 9
Self-employed Skilled Biancheggiatori di tela 2
Fornaio 1
Scarpano 1
Muratori 8
Maestro d'ascia 1
Carpentiere 1
Sartore 1
Obstetrice 1
Del molino di vento 1 17
Semi- / Unskilled Campano nei suoi 8
Massari 16
Hortolani 2
Bottegari 3
Compratore di galline et ova 1
Compratore di caccia 1
Bordonari 3
Bastasi 4
Lavoratori di pietre 2 40

[p.56] could well be appreciably higher if references like in levante meant corsairing in the Levant, a popular enough venue with Maltese corsairs.[44]

          References to other sea-faring Maltese are not unusual. From Balzan one finds 4 individuals described as navigat or in Sichilia. From neighbouring Birkirkara, apart from the 2 in corso mention is made of people fuori di Malta and habitante in Sichilia; there are also 7 schiavi, presumably taken into captivity while on some naval expedition such as corsairing; after 1614 there were no more razzias of any significance to Malta.[45] From Tarxien one finds people in Inghilterra, a Roma and in Sichilia and from Żebbuġ others in Siracusa, a Palermo, in Licata or a Levante, and so on. This minority of Maltese sea-farers from a rural environment is in sharp contrast with the far larger corresponding numbers in harbour-side Cottonera. Thus from Cospicua alone, there were no less than 45 described as either foris or extra hanc insulam, and no less than 24 others captivi variously described as in civitate Tripoli, in civitate Tunisi, apud infideles, apud hostes or apud Turchas. These were all males except for Claudia Zahra (22) filia Petri who together with her brother Gratius (16) were both captivi apud infideles. From neighbouring Vittoriosa, 34 were for di Malta.

7.3 Servants, Alunni and Slaves

          The captives sometime referred to as schiavi mentioned earlier are not to be confused with the slaves in private ownership. These are readily identified within the household, appearing at the bottom of the list, together with other servi or famuli and alunni or figli dellOspedale, after all the children in the family are mentioned in descending order of age. Instances of slaves and of servants in the villages are rather exceptional; not so much in the cities. In Notabile, for example, there were 15 schiavi and 24 servi; in Vittoriosa 8 schiavi or servi negri and 47 servi; in Senglea 19 mancipia and 11 famuli; and in Valletta, Porto Salvo alone, 107 schiavi and several servi. These 200 or so slaves (including some 50 others which are left unrecorded in Valletta, San Paolo) are only about one third of the 600 or so slaves in private ownership.[46] One possible explanation for this discrepancy is that several others belonged to knights so that these could both be described as privately-owned and as not under the jurisdiction of the parish priest. This may still be insufficient to account for all of them. Usually not more than one slave or servant was to be found in a given household, but instances of 4 or 5 are also encountered, a sure indication of affluence.

          Apart from slaves and paid servants one often encounters alunni or figli dellOspedale in the family. One may surmise that these unfortunate individuals, who for some reason or other found themselves in an orphanage, were offered board and lodging within a family and repayed this hospitality with their services and house-help. (This custom is not unheard of even to-day.) Often, these people were absorbed into the family at a very tender age,[47] guaranteeing thereby complete integration with the family unit. Not many instances of these are found, except at  [p.57] Rabat where no fewer than 38 alunni are recorded, including 4 in the same household. Perhaps the presence of Santo Spirito Hospital with its ruota for exposed infants[48] proved an efficient catalyst for wanted unwanted babies.

          The slaves in private ownership alluded to earlier are also easily identified because they do not carry any surname. In rather exceptional cases one comes across slaves that have probably been freed constituting an independent family unit and adopting the surname of their previous owner in the form De (Surname). Thus for example, in Notabile one finds Gioseppe De Galia Etiopo (aged 70) and his wife Ursula Etiopa (aged 56).

          Slaves were not the only section of the population which did not have a surname. Occasionally one comes across individuals who are known to the parish priest only by their nickname, as for example ‘caternozza zebbugia’ at Żabbar,[49] or more intimately simply by their Christian name. This is understandable in a small closely-knit village community. Not so easily explained is the fact that in Gozo no less than 81 individuals out of the 3045 spread over the entire campagna are only known by their first name. Perhaps this can only be put down to sheer illiteracy. Expressed as a percentage, the Gozo figure is 2.66%. In Malta, the only comparable instance is Għaxaq with 2.09%; none of the others exceeds 0.83%.

VIII Surnames

          Perhaps the most comprehensive set of data contained in Volumes II and IIa of Status Animarum concerns the names and surnames of all the people in Malta in 1687. This final section catalogues all the surnames (including variations in spelling) giving where and how often they occur (cf. Appendix).

          It will be seen that these surnames fall broadly into two main categories: those which had or have become established in the island for an appreciably long time (723 surnames), and those of a more transient nature (886 surnames). The latter are by and large identified with Valletta and the Three Cities, where these foreign people set up their abode for a relatively short duration.[50] The first category therefore includes all those surnames which appear at least once outside Valletta and Cottonera as well as those of which there is some evidence that they have survived here for at least a century. This criterion, although purely arbitrary, is adopted for its practicality.

8.1Foreign Surnames

          Because of the multitude of foreign surnames in this category and of the very small numbers involved (often one or two individuals, and never exceeding 20), we refrain from analyzing their statistics and simply present them broken down under the headings Valletta and Cottonera, parentheses after each surname indicating how often they occur there.

[p.58] COTTONERA

A

          Adriano (4), Allegria (4), (D’)Allegrino (2), Amorosa (1), Andrevet (8), Antegniolo (5), (Di)Antonio (3), Archies (4), Arcolan (2), Ardino (3), Arli (2), Arman (1), Arsera (4), (De)Avolio (2).

B

          Baldar (1), Baldin (3), Ballio (4), Barbaraci (2), Barbason (1), Bardacho (3), Barrau (4), Bartolomeo (1), Basini (1), Battezzato (3), Baudi (2), Bauduin (6), Belfiore (4), Belin (5), Bellavila (5), Benazzo (5), Bendin (2), Bensà (1), Bensiera (1), Ber (1), Bernardino (1), Bigalet (2), Bilard (1), Bini (5), Birbes (1), Bisano (2), Blechier (1), Bolla (1), Bonafida (1), Bonalti (5), (Di)Bonardo (1), Bonhomo (7), Bongiorno (2), Bonhora (4), Borsuni (2), Bre (6), Brianson (4), Budart (1), Buffier (1), Bulgari (1), Burmun (2), Bumbordes (1), Burelli (2), Busigau (10), Butaro (1), Butiglier (1), Buttafoco (4).

C

            Cabu (5), Cadiera (2), Cafatto (1), Caha (3), Caldarano (3), Caldera (2), Cambert (2), Cammarani (2), Campo (3), Canaletto (10), Cannezzaro (5), Cannozzo (5), Canteumi (2), Canzun (1), Caponetto (5), Caracciolo (7), Caravachino (3), Carcania (6), Card (5), Cardeonaci (2), Carpuso (2), Carta (1), Carvi (1), Cascin (1), Castagnoli (1), Catanosi (2), Catina (1), (Di)Cefalonia (11), Chabasa (2), (Di)Christofano (3), Cicala (6), (Di)Cipri (1), Ciraud (1), Cirici (2), Ciucula (4), Clamari (1), Clavier (1), Clementi (2), Coderch (7), Colarici (2), Collo (2), Conduccio (1), Contestabile (2), Contiera (1), Cordivino (6), (Di)Corinto (1), Cormeu (2) Cornali (6), Cornelio (10), (Della)Corte (12), Corvetti (4), (Di)Costantinopoli (1), Cristian (1), Cruciano (1), (La)Cumba (1), Cutret (2), Cuttuni (2), Cutuner (4).

D

          Daider (2), Damiano (3), Danier (2), Delfinas (5), Delier (3), Deliot (6), Desier (6), Dinart (2), Dofrin (1), Dorni (1), Dudise (1).

E

          Espero (3), Evangeli (1).

F

          Falà (3), Familiti (5), Farga (1), Fasoi (1), Favien (3), Ficun (2), Fidele (1), Fidi (4), Figolla (4), Filamus (2), Fioretta (1), Flaminio (6), Flomotomo (1), Fochier (4), Fornella (4), Fraces (2), Fratellini (1), Frinà (5), Fugà (2), Fugazza (1).

G

          (La)Gaiba (2), Gaietta (4), Gailard (5), Gamma (3), Garagas (6), Garfiotto (3), Garraffa (5), Gaudarisi (3), Gavotti (3), (Del)Generale (1), Gervasi (3), Ghera (3), (Di)Giacomo (5), Giansole (2), Giardinaro (2), Ginione (1), Giolongo (1), Giovin (1), Giranzan (6), (Di)Gorfo (2), Graduna (2), Graibot (4), Granatino (2), Gras (3), Grimani (10), Grop (1), (La)Guardia (1), Guziardi (2).

[p.59] H

          Hattona (3).

I

          Iannino (9), Icard (3), (D’)Isidoro (5), Izard (9).

L

          Lagusi (4), Landini (1), Lascaris (3), Laudata (2), Laurenzetti (1), Lesi (4), Ligornesi (2), Livori (6), Love (7), (De)Luca (10), Lucano (4), (De)Lucchi (2), Lucippo (6), Ludin (5), Ludrin (3).

M

          Magrotto (4), Mandiglia (2), Mantua (2), (Di)Mariano (3), Marisott (4), Marmarino (1), Masu (2), Masello (3), Mastra (8), Matera (2), Maurandrea (1), Mauri (5), Maurico (3), Mazzuga (7), Mendus (4), Mezzaviglia (2), Michalicci (2), Migliau (4), Minga (1), Mingardi (1), Mingiun (8), Minot (8), Mischa (2), Misura (4), (Di)Mitili (3), (Di)Modò (5), Mola (2), Montemagni (3), Mopigliotto (3), Muliaro (2), Mulinello (3), Mungiubi (6), Munizza (2), Munpar (2), (La)Mura (1), Muro (6), Mus (2).

N

          Napolella (4), Napolon (5), (Di)Nardo (1), Nomicho (2), Noveo (3).

P

          Pagies (3), Pancosta (il), Papalia (1), Papaniciforo (1), Parisiotto (2), Passanisi (2), Passi (1), Pastita (1), Patavino (3), Paulino (2), Peran (4), (Di)Peres (1), Permun (1), Pigniatau (2), Pilari (2), Pinna (5), Pirot (7), Pisto (4), Plemeno (1), Pleri (1), Portofil (2), (Lu)Presta (3), Prignola (1), Principato (8), Pudici (5), Puggiolo (2), Pullicroni (3), Pumi (1).

R

          Rabier (2), Raguseo (8), Ramondo (2), Ramuzan (3), Ravier (2), Remiso (6), Retemo (1), Reubaum (3), (Di)Ricino (2), Ricordo (1), Ritino (1), Rival (2), (Di) Rosano (2), Rossin (1), Roti (2), Rovoles (1), Rustin (1), Ruttier (1).

S

          Sabatin (1), Salanito (2), Salemi (7), Santa (6), (Di) Santo (4), Sarsaru (1), Scalfoni (3), Scalso (4), Scarpino (1), Scarso (1), Scattino (2), Schemma (2), (Di)Scopoli (9), Scopilliotti (7), Seris (1), Serreu (7), Sfacciotto (1), Sicaletto (3), Silva (1), Slisu (3), Solon (4), Sparti (2), Spelovier (2), Spinelli (3), Stier (3), Stirpiano (7), Stramondo (1), Stratucci (2), Suli (1), Suplicun (1).

T

          Tardiò (4), Tartason (4), Taudo (5), (Di)Tertia (1), Terzo (3), Tesier (2), Timoneri (5), Tirabosco (3), (Di)Tomaso (2), Torchetto (1), Tormeu (6), Traina (6), Trovato (7), Tumbo (3).

U

          (D’)Ungat (1).

[p.60] V

          (Della)Vallona (2), Valanso (3), Vargas (5), Varias (4), Varino (6), Vasellaci (2), Venafrio (1), Vento (4), Veracundia (1), Vericcio (1), Viel (3), Vinago (3), Violi (2), Virghin (4), Vitelli (1), (Di)Volo (2), Vono (1).

W

          Wazz (7).

X

          Ximinico (2).

Z

          Zagara (1), Zervo (2), Zimarra (2), Zoriotto (1), Zabaria (1).

VALLETTA

A

          Abos (7), Acciarda (1), (D’)Agosta (4), (D’)Albano (3), (D’)Alberto (5), Alborana (3), Alboranti (3), Aldano (4), (D’)Algieri (1), Amarella (1), Amelli (5), Amoretta (1), Andriott (13), Anè (4), Anello (4), Anguilloni (2), Angullo (1), Ansaldi (1), Anselmi (2), Antonelli (3), Ariet (3), Arigliau (1), Arriotta (1), (D’)Assenza (2), Astraci (2), Audifrè (5), Avliva (1).

B

          Baiali (7), Bacci (2), Baeri (1), Baidun (1), Balart (3), Baldo (1), Balduin (1), Bambaci (3), Bandau (2), Barriansci (4), Basili (5), Bega (1), Bellavila (2), Bellini (1), (Di)Bello (6), Belluni (1), Berioni (4), Berna (2), Bernardi (9), Bertier (7), Berton (5), Bilart (1), Bischiera (7), Bisinont (2), Bisson (2), Bivilaiga (2), Boison (4), Bonà (1), Bonard (9), Bonfis (3), Bonnitio (6), Bonvicino (6), Bormun (3), Bosio (2), Bra (1), (Dal)Brazzo (3), (Del)Brio (1), Bromeu (1), Brudet (11), Bucciata (1), Buccio (4), Bulmer (4), Bulugart (1), Bundini (1), Buonafar (1), Burges (2), Burgudi (1), Buscetto (1), Buscaina (5).

C

          Cabaret (2), Cabrera (2), Cacciatore (3), Calaxiuri (9), Caldera (1), Calogero (3), (Di)Caloriti (5), Campanello (1), Campanini (1), Camunet (6), Candoria (6), Caniso (1), Cannarella (2), Cannolo (8), Cant (4), Cantalena (1), Capibuni (1), Caramma (3), Caravita (5), Carboneri (4), Carcas (5), Cariddi (1), Carinisi (3), Carnuccio (1), Carrera (1), Carret (1), Carruba (9), Carsaro (4), Cartelli (1), Caruso (2), Casalaini (1), Casatti (3), Casuni (3), Casparo (1), Cassino (4), Caunet (5), Cavaretta (3), Caveas (3), Censano (2), Chicacci (3), Ciabaci (2), Ciangò (2), Ciantri (1), Ciarlet (9), Ciarpantiera (1), Ciasard (6), Ciccaruni (2), Cicot (1), Cilona (1), Cippone (9), Cirino (4), Claudin (1), Claudio (2), Constantinopolitano (2), Contessa (1), Corazier (7), Cordova (1), Coriosio (10), Cornar (6), Corp (1), (Di)Corrado (2), Costanzina (1), Cotifredo (3), Crispo (1), Cudroi (3), Cugneri (4), Cumpas (1), Cundari (1), Cunigion (1), Curviseri (3), (Di)Cuscia (3), (Di)Cutunier (1).

[p. 61] D

          Dalbuis (5), Dant (1), Daunier (1), Daurin (5), Defur (2), Deite (3), Delfa (1), Descianet (6), Descaus (9), Devanet (1), Digà (2), Dilasia (1), Dilina (2), Dilira (4), Dimura (3), Discena (2), Divignun (3), Dolci (1), Dole (2), Doman (3), Donat (1), Donfil (2), Donghi (2), Dos (3), Dudisal (1), Dupale (6), Duran (1), Durange (1).

E

          Efrem (1), Elia (1), Ernau (6).

F

          Fabrica (2), Fandali (8), Fantino (1), Fautier (3), Fedele (2), Federico (1), Ferio (1), Ferracani (1), Fetti (2), Filomarini (1), Fioccara (1), Fiol (2), Fiori (2), Firmanni (3), Focca (3), Fogliamorta (1), Foraguni (1), Forcatura (1), Forchet (1), Forgiun (4), Foti (12), Fraira (1), Frandeschi (2), Frangulli (4), Frasita (1), Fugard (9), Funguli (1), Furè (1).

G

          Gabineo (3), Gabinet (5), Gai (9), Gainè (2), Galasso (8), Galiano (2), Galletto (1), Gambalino (3), Gambi (3), Gandolli (5), Garboi (1), Gardana (1), Gargiuni (1), Garsin (5), Gaston (1), Gautier (2), Gavino (4), Geirù (1), Genestit (1), Gerfuna (3), Gers (2), Ghilart (3), Gialibert (2), Giambert (7), Giammurro (7), Giannuni (4), Giarrusso (1), Giaulino (2), Giel (2), Giengi (1), Gilion (4), Gimac (4), Gimbert (7), Gioia (11), Giomo (2), Giruma (1), Giuvenale (3), Glintian (8), Graglia (3), Gramontier (1), Grandidier (1), Griglet (2), Grioli (8), Guainai (3), Guffet (1), Gulloni (2), Guttuso (3).

H

          Hernandez (1).

I

          Inard (6), Interraniera (1), Iraci (1), Irrichi (1), Issing (2), Ivà (2).

L

          Laberson (2), Lacca (1), Lacoq (3), (Di)Laghi (1), Lapini (1), Lapparella (3), Largieri (1), Lati (2), Lauretta (1), Lauria (3), Lavalè (1), Lavasa (2), Leteu (4), Liberot (9), Librat (2), Ligari (3), Limò (1), Linart (5), Lionelli (1), Lirò (5), Lisanti (2), Lislet (2), Liurè (4), Lofredo (12), Loreto (17), Lori (1), Lucchet (1). Lucchi (2), Lugnè (1), Luminia (1), (Di)Lutio (1).

M

          Macarin (1), Macedonia (2), Machera (5), Madalà (3), Madalena (1), Madlanè (4), Maggi (7), Magnotti (2), Maioli (4), Maiorca (1), Mancarella (8), Mangaro (4), Mangiavita (2), Mannelli (4), Mansalun (1), Marcantonio (2), Marcarino (2), (Di)Marcello (2), Marcuzzo (7), Mariotti (7), Marotta (1), Marsel (2), Martiglia (5), Martinez (1), Martinotta (9), Massai (2), Massè (2), Maurizzi (1), Mautier (3), Mazanot (3), Mazza (2), Melchieri (1), Melfi (1), Menet (6), Mero (2), Michui (1), Michuli (2), Miconapoli (2), Migliardi (3), (Di)Milazzo (12), Minuella (11), Miseu [p.62] (7), Monacha (1), Moncada (2), Montagna (3), Montemerli (2), Montepagano (2), Morello (5), Morget (3), Morisot (9), Muget (5), Muglierac (4), Muincento (5), Muletta (1), Muli (4), Mulinier (2), Muluni (9), Murrialo (8), Musculier (6), Mutet (7).

N

          Nana (1), (Di)Navi (6), Netta (5), Nigret (5), Norvai (4), Novè (1), Novi (2).

O

          Operti (1), Ordan (2), Ormandia (1).

P

          Pagnini (13), Paias (6), Palazzi (1), Pallaia (1), Palma (11), Papilioni (1), Parasotta (1), Parati (1), Parrinello (2), Pasin (1), Pattaciac (2), Paulucci (5), Pauluni (3), Pavè (1), Peil (11), Pellizzi (1), Peluchin (8), Peraina (1), Percica (4), Perdon (10), Perè (2), Pereira (4), Pertus (1), Pesce (2), Petipa (2), Petralita (6), Pianta (2), Piazzisi (7), Picard (2), Piccinotti (2), Picciotto (3), (Di)Pietro (2), Pirà (2), Piraini (6), Pirier (5), Pirun (6), Pisich (6), Pistri (1), (Di)Placido (1), Pontis (2), Portaloni (1), Portergiglio (3), Poutanier (6), (Lo)Povero (2), Prat (3), Prensì (4), Preset (3), Preti (1), Prevost (7), Pros (2), Protopsalti (2), Provenza (3), Prunier (2), Pugliarello (2), Pugnani (2), Pugnar (1), Pulina (4), Pulistri (2), Pulligart (2), Puntical (1), Purrà (1), Puset (3).

R

          Ragusta (1), Ralli (2), Ramozzetta (3), Rasi (1), Ratta (2), Rau (1), (De)Redin (1), Revela (2), Rial (1), Ribù (7), Riccarda (2), Riccobene (1), Riccuzzi (4), Rigor (4), Risba (20), Ristro (1), Riveu (2), Rizzello (1), Rodi (5), Rodrigo (5), Rodriguez (3), Rosalino (9), (Di)Rosano (2), Rosolet (1), Rotondo (4), Rugliet (4), Russelli (5), Russia (2), Russina (1).

S

          Sabino (1), Sagnano (9), Salvaloco (20), San Luciano (1), Santomor (4), Sassi (4), Sati (8), Saurello (1), Savioli (4), Scala (3), Schifino (2), Sciabert (1), Sciaduin (1), Sciarron (7), Sergi (1),Simeoni (1), Siviglia (4), Solano (4), Somes (2), Sona (1), Sonvilla (1), Sosa (1), Spatilla (3), Speranza (8), Spiziali (1), Spizieria (2), Stefanì (8), Sulavo (4).

T

          Tadeo (1), Tagliamorta (1), Tantillo (1), Tavola (1), Telleri (2), Tempu (4), Terranova (3), Thosienti (2), Tolici (3), Tonelli (3), Torrenti (5), Tortun (2), Tramblet (2), Translau (3), Travaglini (1), Treiso (2), Tricasi (2), Tricon (2), Trimarchi (2), Trott (1), Tubali (1).

U

          Ubert (1), Ubrandi (3), Ursulino (4), Urtisi (12).

V

          Vacchè (3), Valentino (2), Vanzì (4), Vas (3), Velasco (4), (La)Venera (4), Verani [p.63] (9), Verigo (1), Viar (1), Vicens (2), (Di)Vico (2), Vidau (7), Vila (1), Vilè (3), Villanova (8), Viola (3), Violana (1), Violardo (1), Virga (4).

Z

          Zaminghi (1), Zanelli (3), Ziniti (8), Zuccana (1).

          Going through this list one notes the (expected) preponderance of Italian surnames. More surprising is the presence of so large a number of French surnames; there are no less than 40 ending in the typical suffix -ier alone. One notes also the complete absence of the Dalmatian surnames (like Mitrovich, etc.) which became so common especially in the Three Cities a century or so later. Among the Italian surnames[51] one can quite often pick out the region of origin. Only to be expected is the large number of typically Southern and especially Sicilian surnames like Principato, Traina, Rizzo, Sinagra, Calaxiuri, Carruba and several others with characteristically Southern prefixes like Lo-, Lu-, etc., as in LuPresta, LaGaiba (some 20 surnames) and suffices, including:

          -isi            : Parisi, Piazzisi, . . . (some 12 surnames),

          -eo            : Raguseo, Noveo, Gabineo, Tadeo (indicating Greek (-αιος) origin),

          -eri            : Scuderi, Cugneri, Laureri, . . . (some 7 surnames),

          -emi:            : Salemi (indicating Arabic origin),

and other surnames ending in -otto (some 15 surnames) or -iti (like Familiti, Ziniti, Caloriti) which are of direct or indirect Greek (-ώτης, -ίτης) origin via Sicily. (Thus, Cefalotto could be either from Cefalù or from Cefalonia.)

          Of equal importance are surnames indicating city or country of (not necessarily immediate) origin – the toponymic surnames. Often these are prefixed (although by no means characterized) by Di, De, etc., which prefix is often dropped with use. Among such one finds: Agosta, Algiers, Bosa, Bulgaria, Catania, Cefalù or Cefalonia, Constantinople, Cordova, Corinth, Corfù, Cremona, Cyprus, Licata, Lucca, Mantua, Majorca, Marsiglia, Matera, Messina, Milazzo, Napoli, Pavia, Ragusa, Rodi, Santamaura (= Leucade), Serbia, Sevilla, Siracusa, Terranova, Villanova, Vico, Zante (=Zakinthos), and others. In this list there are included also some surnames which have survived to the present and therefore appear in the second category of surnames.

          Some statistics of interest deriving from this first category of surnames can be grouped as in the following table:

COTTONERA VALLETTA TOTAL
Surnames
Individuals
Individuals per Surname
Population
% of Population
355
1076
3.03
8554
12.58
531
1708
3.22
9789
17.45
886
2784
3.14
18343
15.18

            [p.64] Comparing this information with that obtained earlier in Section II (Statistics) it appears that the approximate family size here (3.14) is appreciably lower than the 1687 national mean of 3.90.

          Comparing the Cottonera and the Valletta surnames in this category, one sees that the number of surnames to be found in both lists is minimal.

          Some measure of how transient the surnames in this category were can be obtained by comparison with other lists. This exercise is performed in the case of Senglea, comparing the 1687 and 1684 lists, and in the case of Cospicua, where comparison is made with a list datable to 1678/9. The figures can be summarized as follows:

ONLY IN EARLIER LIST ONLY IN 1687 IN BOTH
Surnames Individuals> Surnames> Individuals Surnames> Individuals
SENGLEA 60 142 40 107 69 276 287
COSPICUA 74 233 90 230 37 103 115
Pre 1687

          Thus in three years about one-third of the people with these surnames had left, only to be replaced by roughly the same numbers. In nine years, about two-thirds had moved, again to be replaced by the same numbers. This does not mean that these people did not, in their own way, leave their mark on the history of these islands. One hastens to point out the surname Gimac in the Valletta list, identifying the family of the painter Carlo Gimac.[52] Also prominent are the surnames (both from the same parish of Porto Salvo) of Abos, the family of the composer Girolamo[53] and Pagnini. The latter includes the family of Giovanni, author of various published and unpublished treatises on Mathematics and on Navigation.[54]

8.2 “MalteseSurnames

8.2.1 Distributions

          Turning now to the other category of surnames, consisting of those which have left a more permanent mark in these islands, and scanning the list in the Appendix one notes various features of interest. The non-homogeneous distribution of some surnames, including some of very long standing, deserves attention. To mention some of the more striking, one notes for example that 31.1 % of all Borgs in Malta were to be found in Birkirkara (with many of the rest not very far afield) and not less than 17.2% of all the people of Birkirkara were called Borg. This situation, to a less marked degree, holds also to-day. The more significant instance of such concentrations are given in Table VIII in which the second column gives the number of inhabitants with surname X (Column 1) in locality Y (Column 3) as a percentage of the total number of people with that surname X in the whole of Malta.

[p.65] TABLE VIII

SURNAME % LOCALITY SURNAME % LOCALITY
Abdilla
Abela
Baldacchino
Barbara
Bartolo
Bezzina
Bonavia
Bondin
Bonello
Briffa
Bugeja
Buttiġieġ
Cachia
Callus
Camilleri
(De)Candia
Canzuch
Caruana
Casha
Cauchi
Chetcuti
Ciappara
 
 
Cilia
Coleiro
 
Ciangura
Curmi
Cuschieri
Cutajar
Dalli
 
Darmanin
44.7
22.6
18.3
21.3
30.3
34.9
22.7
54.3
19.7
39.8
34.5
21.5
18.2
50.9
18.8
86.2
60
23.2
19.6
32.3
54.9
47.7
26.8
11.9
70.2
30.9
23.6
100
54.2
21.2
25.6
18.6
18.6
35.5
Żurrieq
Żabbar
Gudja
Għaxaq
Mosta/Naxxar
Għargħur/Naxxar
Luqa
Luqa
Siġġiewi
Luqa
Żurrieq/Qrendi
Żebbuġ
Żejtun
Żurrieq/Qrendi/Luqa
Żurrieq/Qrendi
Cottonera
Żabbar
Żejtun
Birkirkara
Attard/Balzan/Lija
Mosta/Qormi
Naxxar
Qormi
Żebbuġ
Żebbuġ
Senglea
Żejtun
Qormi
Senglea/Vittoriosa
Qormi
Żurrieq
Cospicua
Għaxaq
Żurrieq
Debono
Dimech
Dingli
Falzon
Felici
Fenech
Fiteni
Frendo
Fsadni
Galea
Imbroll
Kirkop
Mamo
Micallef
Mizzi
Pace
Pisani
Piscopo
Psaila
Pullicino
Saliba
Sammut
Sant
Sciortino
Sciriha
Stivala
Tanti
Vassallo
Xara
Xerri
Xuereb
Zarb
Zrinzo
 
37.6
56.3
20.3
39.5
22.4
17.2
46.6
41.6
82.7
23.5
59.6
21.8
18.6
32.6
36.4
30.5
53.5
44.4
24.4
37.5
25
43.5
30.6
83.3
24.3
55.5
28.5
38.2
61.6
27.2
34.2
40.5
100
 
Attard/Balzan/Birkirkara/Lija
Żebbuġ
Siġġiewi
Qormi
Birkirkara
Mosta
Cottonera
Mosta/Naxxar
Rabat/Dingli
Mosta
Luqa
Żebbuġ
Siġġiewi
Birkirkara
Żurrieq
Żebbuġ/Siġġiewi
Attard/Żebbuġ
Żebbuġ
Qormi
Birkirkara
Żurrieq
Mosta/Naxxar
Għargħur
Attard
Safi
Rabat
Dingli
Siġġiewi/Żebbuġ
Cottonera
Għargħur/Naxxar
Rabat
Balzan/Birkirkara/Lija
Birkirkara
 

          It is very tempting to hazard guesses as to why these concentrations should occur, but caution is indicated. From the way a particular surname is distributed one would like to draw some conclusion as to how it has spread, possibly from more than one source, and how long it has taken to achieve that particular profile. Some sort of answer to the second question would certainly require a lot more information as to the distributions at other times. However, a not unsound working hypothesis is that the more homogeneously distributed a surname is, then the longer it has been [p.66] around. The converse statement is patently falsified by several cases. A glaring example is Buhagiar which to-day constitutes no less than 2.5% of the population of Żabbar.[55] Yet not a single Buħagiar was to be found there in 1687 and there were only 33 in 8 households with that surname in 1797.[56] On the other hand, the surname was already widespread in Malta in 1419.[57] At the other end of the spectrum one sees that Zrinzo was to be found solely in Birkirkara in 1687 and already there and uniquely there in 1419 and in the 1480s. Ciangura was similarly confined totally to Qormi in 1687 but not to be found at all in 1419 and the 1480s, at least not in that form. (This case will be discussed later.) It is to be concluded that however intriguing surname concentrations may be, they are no indication of their antiquity or otherwise. That Canzuch was almost solely to be found in Żabbar in 1687 represents the case of a surname in its last phase of existence. That Buhagiar abounds to-day in that same village when none was to be found there in 1687 represents the case of a family, with a propensity of producing several males, moving into the district sometime in the 18th century. On the other hand, a homogeneous distribution can only be accounted for by centuries of survival. Among such evenly-distributed surnames are to be found: Agius, Attard, Azzopardi, Bonnici, Brincat, Busuttil, Calleja, Ellul, Farrugia, Gauci, Grech, Grima, Grixti, Mifsud, Portelli, Schembri, Scicluna, Spiteri, Tonna, Xiberras, Vella and Zammit. All of these surnames were in fact already widespread in 1419 and some of them also appear in the 12th century as names of serfs, mostly Muslim, in Norman Sicily.[58]

8.2.2 Extinct Surnames

          The 1687 list furnishes interesting information regarding surnames which flourished in these islands in the late Middle Ages and which are now extinct here. Table IX gives the earliest and latest dates of occurrence as well as the frequency and locality of predominance in 1687.

          It seems that one can conclude that Valletta and the Three Cities were the last resting place for several of these old surnames in Malta. The fact that they are now quite extinct from these islands does not preclude their survival elsewhere; quite a few flourish to this day in Sicily and in Southern Italy. To mention a few, each of the surnames Alaimo, Avola, Campisi, Cagege, Cascone, Galati, Guerriero, Landolina, Mollica and Sciara flourishes in Sicily to-day. In other parts of Italy, one comes

[p.67] TABLE IX

[p.68] across also Anna, Balistreri, Castelletti, Gandolfo and Lore; Casciaro, of particular interest to us, can be found in Leuca, Puglia.[72]

8.2.3            Surnames that changed

SURNAME

EARLY DATE

REF.

FREQUENCY IN 1687

LOCALITY

LATEST DATE

REFERENCE (AAF LSA)

Alagona
Allegrito
Anna
Avola, D’
Bezzula
Bringheri
Caci.De
Campisi
Canchur
Canzuch
Cap
Caxaro
Chinzi
Cosbor
Ciumi
Dandalona
Dolfa
Dorbies
Fnara
Galata
Gandolf
Guerrier
Mahnuq
Maxta
Murga
Namorat
Mollica
Pontremoli
Psinga
Savina
Talavera
Tholossenti
Xara
Zinghil

1419
1480s
1419
1419
1507
1533
pre 1551
1529
1419
1419
1419
1419
1494
1419
1419
1533
1419
1419
1502
1419
1480s
1533
1419
1419
1419
1467
1365
1449
1496
1479
1568
1601
1365
1480s

ML[59]
AL[60]
ML
ML
[61]
CL
[62]
[63]
ML
ML
ML
ML
[64]
ML
ML
CL
ML
ML
[64]
ML
AL
CL
ML
ML
ML
[65]
[71]
[66]
[67]
[68]
[69]
[70]
[71]
AL

  1
26
10
  3
18
  5
  4
  1
19
25
14
  8
  7
22
42
14
  1
12
  2
  2
16
  4
13
  9
  6
  3
  1
  4
34
  2
  2
11
47
24

Valletta
Valletta
Attard/Lija
Qormi
Żejtun
Cospicua
Mosta
Lija
Senglea
Żabbar
Qormi
Valletta
Safi
Senglea
Valletta/Cospicua
Valletta/Cospicua
Valletta
Żurrieq
Senglea
Cospicua
Valletta/Senglea
Valletta
Senglea
Luqa/Qormi
Valletta
Birkirkara
Valletta
Valletta
Senglea
Valletta
Valletta
Senglea
Valletta/Senglea
Cospicua


1797


1744



1721
1805
1797
1814
1805
1752
1781


1744

1770
1781

1837
1805




1797


1740
1797
1745


Birkirkara XXIII N89 f.9.


Żejtun XXIII N74 f.8v.



Senglea XI N.158 f. 13v.
Valletta XXIVb N14 IV f. 20v.
Żebbuġ XXIIIa N104 f.10v.
Senglea AP LSA.
Valletta XXIVb N14 III f.1.
Cospicua XX N108 f. 15.
Cospicua XXIII N84c Casa 693.


Żurrieq XXIII 80 f.10v.

Żebbuġ AP L. Bapt. f.309.
Cospicua XXIII N84c Caaa 390.

Cospicua XXVb N5 p. 65
Valletta XXIVb N14 IV f.21v.




Senglea XXXIIIa N101 f.16v.


Senglea XIXa N.277 f.43
Senglea XXXIIIa N101
Vittoriosa AP L. Def. IV f.30v.

          Table IX, which is not meant to be comprehensive, deliberately omits surnames which deserve special comment. It has been noted by Wettinger[73] how the surname Dejf had ceased to exist not for any biological reason but because its Italianized translation Magro/Magri supplanted it at the beginning of the 16th century. Similarly, Cafor, the very ancient Maltese surname dating to Angevin times[74] and which figures at Siġġiewi in the 1419 Militia List but does not appear at all, at least not in that form, in 1687 seems to have undergone one or other (or both, for that matter) of the evolutionary processes:

Cafor > Cafar > Gafar > Gafà

Cafor > Gafor > Gafar > Gafà,

with most of the intervening changes taking place in the 17th century.

          The transitions Cafar > Gafar and Cafor > Gafor are a manifestation of a well-understood phenomenon which is well documented throughout the centuries to the present day.[75] The 1687 Senglea Status Animarum’[76] shows clearly that Cafar is [p.69] used interchangeably with Gafar, indicating that the process of change was taking place about this time. Similarly, that Gafar is identical with Gafà can be deduced from the Cospicua lists of 1687 and of 1678/9 in which one finds Via dicta ta Gafar in the former[77] and Via dicta ta Gafà (SIC) in the latter,[78] both being written in the same hand.

          Frequent variants of Gafar/Gafà are Gafan and Cafa; the final N in the former case is a common feature in Maltese and North African Arabic among uneducated people who tend to append a final N to foreign words ending in a vowel or weak consonant. Other examples are: blun/bluna (blue), mużewn (museum), fawn (foul), skrun/skrejjen (screw).

          The accent on the final syllable of Gafà preserved both in the oral and written78 tradition suggests that Cafór rather than Cáfor was the likelier earlier pronunciation. Other surnames which are suggested to have metamorphosed over the centuries are Deguara from Deguevara and, possibly, Ciangura from Canchur. Although the latter conjecture is based on rather flimsy documented evidence collected to date, the former is readily verified. For instance, the marriage of Honoratus Zarb and Maria Deguara is registered in the Naxxar parish records,[79] whereas in the will of Maria vidua quondam Honorati Zarb, of indubitable identity with the former,[80] the maiden surname of the testatrix is given as Guevara. The variations Deguara, Guivara, Diguvara etc. encountered in the 1687 Status Animarum suggests that the end of the 17th century was a period when both forms of the surname were still in use. An interesting remark on how long the older form survived lies in the 1832 Status Animarum of Naxxar,[81] where Pietro Deguara’s nickname is given as Vaivara. A not unlikely explanation is that the nickname is a sarcastic comment on the pretentious snobbery of the villager by his peers.

          Another surname which merits comment is Dimech. The earliest form of 1419 is Dimag, both as surname[82] and as toponym;[83] in the 1480s it is Dumach,[84] always appearing at Żebbuġ. In the early decades of the 16th century the surname Zimech /Zimegh /Zumech /Zumeh /Sumeh /Simeh /Smeh/ Smieh,[85] practically all from Żebbuġ and almost invariably bearing the family nickname Sevye, appears and develops alongside Dimech and its variants for more than two centuries. From its source in Żebbuġ, Zimech spread also to the predominant localities of Rabat, Mosta and Naxxar. The entry “Julianus Zimech ... vendidit Martino Dimech[86] is a sure sign that the surnames were considered quite distinct. A similar deed concerns Paula Dimaħand Matheus Zmħ.[87]

          [p.70] Two alternative hypotheses present themselves. Firstly, the intriguing concommitance of the nickname Sevye suggests association with the Spanish city of Sevilla (pronounced Sevía) and could well explain the unusual transition D > Z as having taken place under the influence of Spanish, particularly if D was originally (dhal), since Z in Spanish is pronounced θ.

          This argument is vitiated neither by the occurrences of Julianus Zumech Jordayna (Mus. Cath. Mdina CEM/AO, 1501-2 (15.x.1501) 68v) and of Michele Zimegh detto giordaina (AP Żebbuġ LD II (31.x.1632) 31), nor by the sporadic single instance of Petrus Dimegh alias sevye Casalis Sigeuj (ANV Not. Angelo Bartolo R48/5 (27.iv.1557) 124).

          Alternatively and more probably, it could be that in 1419 the surnames were already distinct. Although Zimech does not appear in that form it is possibly a later variant of Zumahàc which appears no less than 11 times in the Militia List, 3 of which at Żebbuġ. Another surname which seems to have undergone a similar change is Canzuhuc which became Canzuh. Also noteworthy is the contemporary use of the nicknames miselah[88] and miselahac,[89] both referring to the same person. The -aq/uq suffix is very probably an obsolete form (in Maltese) of the broken plural on the model وُزَرَرء  (from وَزير) and اَصْدِقَاء (from صَديق); a relic of this form in present-day Maltese is qraba(q) (from qarib). In fact زُمَعاء is the plural of زميع meaning quick. It is worth nothing that żumagħh can be found already in 12th century Sicily as the name of a serf-owner: αβδάλλα ανθρωπος ζουυάγα / عبد الله راجل زماعة (S. Cusa, I Diplomi Greci ed Arabi di Sicilia, Vienna (1982) p. 139 (?.v.Ind.XI,1178).)

          In any case, the surnames began to be confused (again) towards the end of the 17th century[90] with Dimech remaining the sole survivor.

[p.71] 8.2.4 Early Occurrences

          Also of interest are those surnames for which 1687 appears to be an early occurrence. Table X lists some of these surnames; it also includes the earliest reference to that surname which further research has unearthed.

TABLE X

SURNAME
FREQUENCY IN 1687
PREDOMINANT LOCALITY EARLIER REFERENCE/REMARKS
Allongaro
7
Rabat
Aloisio
2
Valletta
Amaira
7
Senglea 1602, AP Valletta (P.S.) L.Bapt. I p. 163.
Audibert
10
Cottonera AAF Reg. Fund., op.cit., f. 9.
Bellizzi
3
Żurrieq Testamentum Mri. Andreae Maira (1502).
Bencini
7
Valletta
Bonavita
21
Cospicua/Valletta 15.iii.1616 AP Valletta (P.S.) L. Matr. I: Vincenzo B. di Ferrara.
Borda
18
Senglea
Busietta
2
Senglea
Calì
6
Valletta/Vittoriosa
Calamatta
13
Senglea/Vittoriosa
Calascione
2
Vittoriosa
Cappello
23
Mosta 20.xii.1637 AP Mosta L. Def. I f. 75.
Carabott
21
Żejtun
Cristina
2
Vittoriosa
Drago
7
Cottonera described “exterus”: AAF LSA IIa N. 49 Senglea (1687) f. 72 1549,
Fancell
8
Cottonera ANV Not. B. Caxaro R175/24 f. 1348.
Friggieri
5
Żabbar
Gelfo
15
Senglea/Valletta 1630, AP Valletta (P.S.) Lib. Matt. I.
Lanfranco
5
Valletta 1607, ANV Not. T. Gauci R287/31 f. 199v: Padron Bernardino Lanfranco francesi.
Lautier
12
Cottonera 1605, AP Valletta (P.S.) L.Bapt. I p.73.
Libreri
7
Valletta 1608, ANV Not. T. Gauci R287/31 f. 852.
Lusano
8
Senglea 1568, ANV Not. G. DeGuevara R224/28 f. 324: hispano.
Maniscalco
18
Valletta
Matrenza
9
Valletta 1526, ANV Not. Gr. Vassallo R464/3 f. 271.
Mirabitur
5
Senglea
Mattei
5
Senglea described “exterus” (1687) Senglea f. 40v.
Morales
6
Valletta
Mugliett
7
Cospicua
Musù
3
Cospicua
Peralta
2
Valletta 1588, ANV Not. N. Xiberras R490/7 f. 601.
Piccinino
7
Valletta
Pizzuto
6
Valletta
Polidano
17
Żurrieq
Pollacco
8
Valletta
Rubino
2
Cospicua 1567, ANV Not. G. DeGuevara R224/26 f. 1396v.
Sansone
7
Cottonera 1541, ANV Not. N. DeAgatiis R202/5 f. 115: “ex insula gaudisij.”
Saydon
7
Cospicua
Scolaro
14
Cospicua
Seisun
3
Senglea
Serracino
5
Valletta
Sinagra
8
Żabbar
Tedesco
3
Cospicua 1600, AP Valletta (P.S.) L.Bapt. I p. 162.
Torpiano
5
Cospicua 1586, AP Vittoriosa L. Matr. I: “Matr. di Raffaele Turpiano, Maltese” (8.iv.).
Troisi
4
Valletta
Valletta
28
Qormi 1596, ANV Not. G. DeGuevara R224/28 f. 1460.
Vidal
2
Valletta 1600, AP Valletta (P.S.) L.Bapt. I p. 71.
Versin
6
Senglea
Vizzino
24
Cottonera

            [p.72] Just as the cities were a cemetery for a large number of old surnames so also were they a breeding ground for several new ones. This is true in more ways than one in the particular case of Valletta, which surname appears to have become well-established by 1687. The entry Joannes de Valletta[91] testifies to the locational origin of the surname.

          One surname that did not start in the cities is Sultana. It seems to have sprung out of nowhere, appearing as the surname of two children at Naxxar in 1687: Gratia filia quondam Matthioli, annorum 15 et Dominicus frater, annorum 12. The glaring omission of this very Maltese surname among Medieval lists has been pointed out by Wettinger.[92] Searching the Naxxar parish records in quest of the earliest Sultanas one comes across the births of Gratia and of Joannes Dominicus, already mentioned, and of two elder brothers Joannes and Rodericus ex Matthiolo Soltana et Maruzza. On 31st October 1666 is registered the marriage of Maria Bartholo of Naxxar and Mattheolo figlio di Gioanne Soltana e Margarita jugali dellIsola del Gozzo; a marriage of Bernardus Soltana de Insula Gaudos et Gratia Zarb is recorded at Birkirkara on 25.iv.1672. In fact the earlier incomplete Gozo Status Animarum of 1678 lists 18 individuals with surname Sultana in 4 households.

          Pursuing further the roots of this surname in the sister island, the records of the Gozo Cathedral yield a Sultana family: Cola Sultana et Giulia jugales (LB I (13.v.1605) 25.). Unfortunately, these records only go back to 1603 so that it appears that the question raised by Wettinger[93] and by Preca[94] whether Sultana is a translation of (De)Lorè or not will probably remain unsolved. It may be relevant to note that Notary Alfio DeLoRè lived in Gozo at this time: Ottavio dellore figlio del quondam Mco. Alfio dellore et Imperia (LM I (23.v.1620).).

          Pirotta is another surname about which something can be said. In 1687 it occurs uniquely at Naxxar, albeit in the unusual spelling Brutta. It appears earlier as Protta in 1625[95] also at Naxxar and the identity of the two families can be readily ascertained. The origin of this surname is betrayed by the entry Giuglio Pirutta o Liparotto di Casal Nasciar,[96] so that Pirotta turns out to mean nothing more than an inhabitant of the Lipari Islands. The variant Liparott is preserved in later Naxxar records up to the 19th century.[97]

          The conclusions derived for surnames from a complete list such as the 1687 census are far from being comprehensive. They merely indicate lines of investigation one can follow. Thus, for example, one could also have looked at surnames whose origin must post-date 1687 since they are not to be found in that list. Among these one can mention Boffa, Bonaci, Deidun, Demajo, Fiorini, Gaffiero, Guillaumier, Inglott, Portanier, Storace, Triganza and Trigona, each of which is encountered soon after ’87.

          [p.73] A Maltese sounding surname that is conspicuous by its absence in 1687 is Preca, although it is known that a Notary Antonio Preca from Rhodes lived in Vittoriosa in the 1530s.[98] One has to conclude that latter day Precas do not trace their Maltese origin that far back in contrast to the analogous case of Marmarà, also of Rhodian origin[99] and of unbroken ascent to the 16th century. In 1687, Marmarà was exclusively confined to Żurrieq and Safi.

NOTE ADDED IN PROOF

          The following extract from Not. T. Gauci (R287/4 (22.viii.1569) 423v), very recently encountered, settles the question of the origin of the surname Sultana as of Sicilian provenance and not related to Delorè: “Petrus de Soltano siculus habitator hujus terrae et Insulae gaudisij.”

AKNOWLEDGEMENT

          The courteous assistance of Rev. Dr. J. Busuttil, Curator of the Archbishop’s Archives, Floriana, is gratefully acknowledged.

[The statistical data pp. 74-100 has not been included YET]


[1]S. Fiorini, Status Animarum I: A unique source for 17th and 18th century Maltese demography, Melita Historica, Vol. 8 No. 4 (1983) 323-344.

[2]A(rchivum) A(rchiepiscopi) F(loriana), L(iber) S(tatus) A(nimarum).

[3]A. Ferris. Descrizione Storica delle Chiese di Malta e Gozo, Malta, (1866) p. 580.

[4]This document turned up in an antiquarian’s shop in Qormi and was restored to its rightful place in the Senglea Parish Archives through the efforts of Rev. M. Zammit S.Th.Lic., Ph.B. and of Canon Joachim Schembri B.A., Lic.D., Lic.S.Script., both of Qormi. As pointed out by Canon Schembri, Don Silvestro Desira, vice parish priest at Senglea in 1684, who compiled it, was later appointed parish priest at Qormi in 1701; this goes a long way to explain how the document came to be found in that parish.

[5]ibid. f. 14v.

[6]A(rchivum) P(aroeciae) Senglea, L. Bapt(izatorum) III f. 87v.

[7]ibid. L. Def(unctorum) I, f. 62.

[8]A. Bonnici, History of the Church in Malta, Vol. II, Malta (1967) p. 32.

[9]In 1575 Duzina mentions three Greek rite parishes in Victoriosa: S. Maria Damaschini, S. Giorgio and S. Nicolao with populations of 34, 21 and 19, respectively (cf. N(ational) Library) M(alta), Bibl(ioteca) Ms. 643, ff. 267-8.).

[10] AAF LSA Ic N. 26; ibid. Ila N. 59.

[11] ibid. f. 8.

[12] AP Cospicua, L. Def. III f. 46v

[13] AP Naxxar, LSA I ff. 1-10.

[14] AAF LSA I N. 6. This document is discussed by A. Bonnici (L-Għid tal-Assunta (1984) 2-5.).

[15] S. Fiorini, op.cit.

[16] Vide G. Wettinger, Il-Ġrajja Bikrija tal-Matrici tGħawdex, 1435-1551, Malta (1975).

[17] S. Fiorini. op. cit.

[18] Status Animarum includes all inhabitants subject to the Bishop, that is, excluding members of Religious Orders and those under the jurisdiction of the Order of St. John and of the Inquisition. In 1632 there were 621 knights, 3080 crew on 6 galleys and 649 slaves in private ownership; there were also 1884 (in 495 households) subject to the Holy Office. In 1658 there were 482 members of Religious Orders.

[19] All documents in the following list were drawn up in April; two others, Balzan and Żebbuġ, are dated 21.vii and 1.v., respectively.

Doc. No. 31 34 35 39 41 42 43 45 48 50 56 59
Day in April 17 18 22 23 12 17 18 11 13 15 10 27

[20] AAF Cancelleria, Registrum Edictorum (8.iv.1713) ff. 21r/v. This document also contains interesting details regarding the use and abuse of the bollettino. For the computation of the date of Easter vide Missale Romanun.

[21] Vide J. Micallef, The Plague of 1676: 11300 deaths, Malta (1985).

[22] The size of families in Malta follows the pattern of Western European society; (in Eastern Europe, families tend to be much larger with a mean of around 8). By Western European standards, Malta’s families are on the small side; vide P.L. Workman and E.J. Devor, Population and Society in Aland, Finland, 1760-1880, Genealogical Demography (B. Dyke and W.T. Morrill, eds.), New York, 1980, pp. 179-196.

[23] NLM Bibl. Ms. 643, p. 119.

[24] It is of interest to point out in this connexion that the Siġġiewi Status Animarum for 1757 (AAF LSA XXIIIc N. 17) includes Casal Siluc (31 people), Casal Chibir (10 people) AND Casal Chuderi (4 people), so that this last hamlet must have had a new lease of life, albeit short, around this time.

[25] G.F. Abela, Malta Illustrata ... del Comm. Giovanfrancesco Abela ... corretta, accresciuta ... dal Conte Giovannantonio Ciantar, Malta, (1772-80) p. 294.

[26] AP Senglea, LSA 1828, Via Serena Habitatio 63, Viridarium Sirenae. Electoral Register (1939) 86: Vicolo Giardino.

[27] G.F. Abela, Della Descrizione di Malta..., Malta (1647) p. 10.

[28] AAF LSA XIII N. 55 Vittoriosa (1725) f. 15.

[29] Bullettin tat-Arċidjoċesi u Liturġija tat-Kelma N. 32 (1982) pp. 239-250.

[30] AAF Visitatio Cocco-Palmieri (1687) passim.

[31] AAF LSA IIa N. 42 Lija (1687).

[32] By way of explanation, Dr. Paul Cassar suggested that Saura Hospital was an old people’s home and as such had residents, whereas patients came in and out of Santo Spirito. Mgr. Prof. Vincent Borg suggested that Santo Spirito may not have been viewed at the time as under the Bishop’s jurisdiction.

[33] f. 26v.

[34] f. 7v.

[35] f. 22v.

[36] f. 5v.

[37] f. 20v.

[38] The appellation doctor is ambiguous since it could equally well refer to lawyers. Doctors at this time were usually called doctor medicus or doctor physicus.

[39] AP Għargħur L. Bapt. I (20.xi.1620).

[40] p. xxx.

[41] A faber cementarius was also known as mastro muratore; thus, for example, the same person is referred to as Mro Domenico Zarb mastro muratore de Isola Senglea (A(rchivum) N(otarile) Valletta) Not. Gius. DeGuevara R224/30 (27.viii.1570) f. 1740) and later as Mr Dominicus Zarb faber cementarius de Insula Senglea (ibid. R224/31 (7.ix.1570) f. 49.).

[42] The overall picture that emerges of Paula is one of a highly unrepresentative community with undersized and almost exclusively adult families of the rougher, buonavoglia type. Social cohesion was very weak, so that the community dwindled to nothing by about 1800.

[43] Vide G. Wettinger, The Galley-convicts and Buonavoglia in Malta during the Rule of the Order, Journal of the Faculty of Arts, Univ. of Malta 3 No. 1 (1965) pp. 29-37.

[44] Vide P. Caruana Curran, The Last Days of the Corso, B.A. (Hons) Thesis (1973), Royal University of Malta.

[45] Vide B. Blouet, The Story of Malta. London (1972) p. 121.

[46] Vide 1632 census, op. cit.

[47] For example, Mqabba (f. 7): Thomaso e Petrozzo del hospitali aged 4 and 3, respectively.

[48] P. Cassar, op. cit. p. 27.

[49] f. 13.

[50] In Senglea alone no fewer than 63 individuals bearing these surnames are actually described as exteri, a sure sign of very recent immigration.

[51] For a general reference, see E. De Felice, I Cognomi Italiani, Bologna (1980).

[52] Vide The Sunday Times (6.ii.1983).

[53] Vide Grande Enciclopedia della Musica Classica Vol. I, Bologna (1980) n. 16.

[54] Vide R. Mifsud Bonnici, Dizzjunarju Bijo-Bibljografiku Nazzjonali, Malta (1960) p. 396.

[55] Electoral Register (28.x.1983).

[56] AAF LSA XXIIIa N.104.

[57] G. Wettinger, The Distribution of Surnames in Malta in 1419 and the 1480s, Journal of Maltese Studies, 5(1968) pp. 25-48.

[58] G. Wettinger, The Archives of Palermo and Maltese Medieval History: A first report, Proceedings of History Week 1982 (M. Buhagiar, ed.), Malta, (1983) pp. 59-68.

[59] M(ilitia) L(ist) vide: G. Wettinger, The Militia List of 1419-20, Melita Historica 5(1969) pp. 80-106.

[60] A(ngara) L(ist) vide: G. Wettinger, The distribution of surnames ... op. cit.

[61] A(rchivum), N(otarile) V(alletta) Not. C. Canchur R140/3 (18.ii.1507) f. 69v: “Iohanni Biczule de casali gudie.”

[62] C(rociata) L(ist) vide: G. Wettinger, The place-names and the personal nomenclature of Gozo, Oriental Studies, Leeds University Oriental Society, Near Eastern Researches II (Edition in honour of Benedict S.J. Isserlin), (1980) 173-198.

[63] Campisi appears as nickname in 1529 (vide: G. Wettinger, Late Mediaeval Maltese Nicknames, J. Maltese Studies 6(1971)(34-46) and can be documented as such right up to the present century (Cf. Francesco Gauci Camisa, Żurrieq, Electoral Reg. (1939) 133. It is very probable that the 1687 occurrence as surname was in fact a case of someone better known by his nickname than by his surname which remained unrecorded; yet Campisi is also a present-day Sicilian surname.

[64] Not. Jacobus Saliba (3.ix.1502) copy of 1545 of Will of Andreas Maira, AAF Registrum Fundationum Beneficiorum Insulae Gaudisi f. 9: “quondam salvo finara.” Ibid. f. 5: Testamentum Clerici Guill(elm)i Kinsi, dated 17.ix.1494.

[65] Namorat appears as place-name in 1467 (vide: ANV Ms. 588 Not. P. Bonello (4.xi.1467) f. 42: “il chirbe ta namurat”); it also appears as a nickname in the 18th century (vide: A(rchivum) C(athedralis) M(dina), Misc. 55 (1760) f. 155: “Michael Pisano in namrat”). As in the case of Campisi, namorat could very well be a nickname.

[66] Mus(eum) Cath(edralis) M(dina), CEM/AO 2 f. 13v.

[67] ANV Not. G. Zabbara R494/1 (21.xii.Ind.XV,1496) 40v(Pt.IV): Lucas Bixinga.

[68] Not. Andrea de Beniamin (12.iii.1479) Copy of will of Margarita Xeibe in AAF Reg. Fund., op. cit. f. 50: “Ecclesia Se. Me. vocatae Savina”; for surname see idem f. 31.

[69] ANV Not. G. DeGuevara R224/28 (18.x.1568) f. 435: “Aloisio Talavera de hoc nova civitate”; Talavera is a Spanish 15th century surname (vide: Spain in the Fifteenth Century 1369-1516, R. Highfield, ed., London, (1972) passim.).

[70] AP Valletta (Portus Salutis) Lib. Bapt. I p. 163.

[71] Not. Lanceas Gacti (7.v.1365) Archivio di Stato, Catania, Fondo Benedettini Ms. 159 ff. 121v-123v, published by A.T. Luttrell, The Benedictines and Malta: 1363-1371, Papers of the British School at Rome 50(1982) 146-165.

[72] For a general reference on present-day Italian surnames see: E. de Felice, I Cognomi Italiani, Bologna (1980).

[73] G. Wettinger, Arabo-Berber influences in Malta: onomastic evidence, Proceedings of the First Congress on Mediterranean Studies of Arabo-Berber Influence, Malta, (1973) p. 487.

[74] V. Laurenza, Malta nei documenti Angioini del Regio Archivio di Napoli, Archivio Storico di Malta (1934) p. 20: “(15.iii.1273) Pro Roberto Cafario.” Ibid. p. 23: “(19.iii.1273) ... prudentia ... Robberti de Caffuro de Malta.”

[75] For example, vide: G. Brincat, Etimologia e Lessico Dialettale, Atti del XII Convegno per gli Studi Dialettali Italiani, Macerata (1979) pp. 797-806. This study illustrates the contemporary manifestation of the phenomenon. As further instances (taken exclusively from Maltese nomenclature) from earlier centuries, one can mention:
DINKILI (place-name and surname) (1419) (ML ff. 1, 1v et passim), (1536) (ACM P(rebende) D(ecanali) f. 14 et passim) DINGLI (1601) (PD f. 68v) and later.
CALDES (surname) (1419) (ML f. 15) > GALDES (1522) (PD f. 42v et passim), (1536) (PD f. 29 et passim), (1601) (PD f. 51v et passim) and later.
CUSMAN (surname) (1419) (ML f. 24 et passim) > GOSMANO (1601) (PD f. 59) and later. ZAKIBE (place-name) (1522) (PD f. 19 et passim), (1536) (PD f. 41) > ZAGBE (1536) (PD f. 13); (1601) (PD f. 18v et passim) and later.
KERCZUME (place-name) (1522) (PD f. 53v) (1536) (PD f. 36) > GERZUMA (1687) (AAF LSA IIa N. 47 f. 24).
ZICHENDO (surname) up to 1833 (AAF LSA XXVb N. 12 f. 5) > SGHENDO (20th century).

             The reverse process is equally common:

GUTAYE (surname) (1419) (ML f. 11 et passim) > CUTAYE (1419) (ML f. 38), (1536) (PD f. 8 et passim) and later (modern CUTAJAR).
BRINGELI (proper name) (1419) (ML ff. 3, 5, 16 et passim) > BRINKELI (1522) (PD f. 38).
DIMAG (place-name and surname) (1419) (ML ff. 4, 32) > DIMECH (1552) (ANV Nota G. DeGuevara R224/7 f. 52) and later.
GANDOLF (surname) (1480s) (AL) > CANDOLF (1571) (AP Birkirkara Lib. Bapt. I f. 32v)

             It is also possible that both forms remain in use for centuries in a state of vacillation before one or other becomes dominant. Thus for example, in 1419 one finds both GREGU (ML f. 34) and GRECU (ibid. ff. 38v, 41); in 1522, GREG (PD ff. 30v, 50v, 53, 60, 62) and GREC (ibid. ff. 53, 57) both occur; in 1601, GREG (ibid. f. 61v) and GREC (ibid. f. 58) and so on, indicating that this surname took more than two centuries to stabilize as Grech. In fact the 1687 Status Animarum shows that in that year this variation in spelling persisted with Greg or Gregh appearing in no less than 10 of the documents whereas the softer ending Grech, Grec, etc., appeared twice as frequently.

[76] AAF LSA IIa N. 49 ff. 15v, 66, but especially 31v.

[77] ibid. XXIVa N. 142 ff. 32, 34v.

[78] ibid. IV N. 1b f. 32.

[79] AP Naxxar L. Matr(imoniorum) II (10.x.1693) f. 24.

[80] ANV Not. Giov. Grech R303/12 (20.ii.1724) f. 579.

[81] AAF LSA XXIVb N. 17 p. 27.

[82] ML f. 32.

[83] ML f. 4.

[84] G. Wettinger, The distribution of surnames. . ., op. cit.

[85] AP Żebbuġ Lib. Bapt. I passim.
   ACM PD 1522, 1536 passim.

[86] ANV Not. G. DeGuevara R224/7 (14.i.1552) f. 52.

[87] ANV Not. G. Buttigieg R105/10 (1543) f. 164.

[88] ACM Misc. 437 Quaderni Diversi N. 3 (ML 1419) f. 12 Bircalcara: Gullielmu mahallif miselah.

[89] Ibid. N. 6 (ML 1425 ca.) f. 9: Bircalcara: Gullielmu mahallif misilahac.

[90]          (a) The following two references are to the same person:
(1) Testamento di Domenico Zarb ... Eredi ... Isabellica moglie di Salvo Zimech ... figlia ex prima moglie Agnese (ANV Not. Matteo Cauchi R171/71 (9.ii.1679) f. 467v.
(2) Inventario del quondam Dominico Zarb del Gargur fatto da ... Isabellica moglie di Salvatore Dimech ... sue figlie ed eredi (ANV Not. Nic. Allegritto R18/47 (26.x.1682) f. 149.
               (b) Similarly:
(1) Gioseppe Dimech (AAF LSA XV N. 138, Vittoriosa (1730) f. 50) is the same as
(2) Gioseppe Zimech (ibid. XVII N. 197, Vittoriosa (1735) f. 61v).

[91] ANV R111/Repertorio (mistakenly attributed to Not. V. Cagege) 1606-7 f. 384. Also, ibid. Not. Giacomo Sillato R441/7 (12.i.1588) f. 1277: Paulus de Valletta habitator casalis curmi.

[92] G. Wettinger, The Distribution of Surnames. . ., op. cit. p. 26.

[93] G. Wettinger, Arabo-Berber influences. .., op. cit., p. 487.

[94] A. Preca, Malta Cananea, Malta, (1904) p. 640.

[95] AP Naxxar L. Def. I, f. 28.

[96] Archives, Health Department Floriana, Liber Mortuorum Sacrae Infermeriae I, (10.ix.1677).

[97] AAF LSA XXIVb N. 17, Naxxar (1832).

[98] ANV Not. V.B. DeBonetiis R206/1 (11.v.1535) 289 et passim: Egr(egi)o not(aro) Antonio Preca Rhodio.

[99] Ibid. (17.iv.1535) 246 et passim: Magister Antonius Marmara (sutor) Rhodius.