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Some Houses in Valletta

By Victor F. Denaro & partially updated by vassallomalta


Valletta Rooftops

Valletta rooftops and Grand Harbour circa 1870s Valletta rooftops Malta with St. Elmo's Lighthouse 1870 Valletta rooftops with desolate Sliema in background circa 1870s Valletta rooftops with Fort Ricasoli in the background circa 1860s

Republic Street, Valletta

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Strada Reale by North Street Valletta Malta 1870 Strada Reale Valletta Malta 1883
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Republic Street , formerly Kingsway and Strada Reale, stretches throughout the length of Valletta from the City Entrance (formerly City Gate, Kingsgate, Porta San Giorgio) to Fort St. Elmo. It is the main street of the city, and during the rule of the Order of St. John was known as Strada San Giorgio; the French renamed it Rue Nationale.

Palazzo Ferreria

Palazzo Ferreria

On coming into the city through the Entrance we find, on the left, the Buttigieg-Francia Palace built, under the direction of Architect Giuseppe Bonavia, in the middle of the 19th century on the site of the Ferreria or Fianco[1] of the Order which had been occupied by the British military authorities and returned to the Civil Government in compensation for Admiralty lands valued at £ 30,000.[2]

The real name of the palace is Palazzo Ferreria, the palace which replaced the former foundry of the order where the Knights’ armaments used to be manufactured. The building site was acquired from the government by Giuseppe Buttigieg and Giovanna Camilleri, both very wealthy, and they erected Palazzo Ferreria in the late 1800s – with the best skilled workmanship on the island.

One can see the coat of arms of both surnames Buttigieg and Camilleri on the façade of the palace on Republic Street, Valletta. The palace was left to their daughter Teresa who married Col. John Louis Francia, a Spanish citizen from Gibraltar. Col. Francia was in Malta with the British army.

Palazzo Ferreria was the second biggest private family palace in the city after the President’s Palace. It was used and lived in by the family in full-scale employing in-house staff (around 25 persons) until 1947. The staff included two doormen in each door wearing jackets with Maltese silver button uniforms.

In 1947 Valletta had been practically destroyed by World War II and the Government needed to rent the palace for the Public Works Department, to restore the city from the war ruins. The Francia family accepted the needs of the government and leased it for a good rent then. The family kept the best part of the palace in the agreement – an apartment now used as the Minister’s office – to continue living there. The Palace, consisting of shops and government offices was sold by the Francia family in 1979 to the government by an amicable special agreement to pay a tax settlement on all the Francia estates for death and duties purposes.

Today it houses the Ministry for Family and Social Solidarity

Casa della Giornata

Casa della Giornata

Royal Opera House

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Opposite the Ferreria was the Casa della Giornata probably so called from the family motto, Alla Giornata,” of the Lanfreducci family, the original owners of the palace. The building, which occupied the whole quarter where the Royal Opera House stood, and which included an orange garden,[3] has been erroneously designated as the Auberge of England by several historians including Ciantar, which error is, perhaps, due to its having been occupied at some time by a Prior of England. In a plan of Valletta by Chev. Francesco Antalla dated 1600[4] the block was called the Casa del Comm. Lanfreducci which leaves little doubt as to the original owner of the house.

Comm. Fra Francesco Landfreducci, Balì of Pavia, sold the premises to Comm. Fra Giulio Accarigi, Admiral of the Order and Prior of Venice.[5] On April 22, 1638, Comm. Accarigi sold the block to the Lascaris Foundation for Sc. 2,034 in silver money of Sicily.[6]

The Lascaris Foundation owed its origin to the munificence of Grand Master Gio. Paolo Lascaris Castellar who, mindful of the great danger with which Malta had been threatened in 1645 when menaced by a fresh Turkish onslaught, thought, by means of an opulent foundation, of providing the island with sufficient provisions and munitions of war as would enable it to withstand any sudden assault. For this purpose funds, mostly in immovable property, were assigned to the foundation which, on October, 7, 1652, was altered to serve for the building and maintenance of a seventh galley which was to be added to the fleet of the Religion.[7]

On March 14, 1658, we find that this palace was let to the Prior of the Conventual Church, Fra Luca Bueno,[8] later Bishop of Malta, whilst from 1668 to 1680 it was let to the Prior of Catalogna, Fra Michel de Torrellas, at a rent of Sc. 150 per annum.[9]

In 1649, subject to his building a tower, Grand Master Lascaris had granted Prior Torrellas, on emphyteusis for his lifetime, the islet of Selmun near St. Paul’s Bay, which abounded in rabbits. Previously, during the grandmastership of La Cassiere, this islet had been assigned to Marco de Maria, chief pilot of the Religion, and to his descendants in recognition of his conspicuous services. After Marco’s death it was enjoyed by his son Giovanni and his nephew Narduccio. The latter was killed in action during the capture of the Sultana’s galleon and the islet had then reverted to the Religion.[10]

The Casa della Giornata was let for 15 years to Gio. Batta and Florino Dorel in 1680[11] and from 1693 to 1706 to Comm. Fra Giacomo Duding for Sc. 120 per annum. Comm. Fra Joseph Arnold, Count Nehem, occupied the premises from 1708 to 1709, and in 1709 the palace was leased by the Prior of the Conventual Church, Fra Giacomo Canaves.[12]

The block was bought by the Università in 1786,[13] and partly turned into a municipal bakery.

The Casa della Giornata was demolished in 1860, and the Royal Opera House built on the site at a cost of £25,000. The architect was Mr. Barry who was also the architect of the Covent Garden Opera House in London, and it was erected under the direction of Mr. Webster Paulson and Mr. Salvatore Fenech of the Public Works Department.

On October 9, 1866, the theatre was inaugurated with the opera I Puritani by Bellini. It had but a short life as all the internal decorations were destroyed by a fire which broke out on May 25, 1873, during a rehearsal of the Vergine del Castello by Giuseppe Privitera. The Royal Theatre, as it was then known, was repaired and refitted during the governorship of Sir Charles van Straubenzee, and again destroyed by enemy action in 1942.

In 2006 the government announced a proposal to redevelop the site for a dedicated House of Parliament, at the time located in the former Armoury of the Grandmaster’s Palace in Valletta. The proposal was not well received since it had always been assumed that the site would eventually be developed into something that would house a cultural institution, however Renzo Piano was again approached and started to work on new designs. The proposal was ostensibly shelved until after the general elections of 2008 and on 1 December 2008, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi revived the proposal with a budget of €80 million. Piano dissuaded the Government from building a Parliament on site of the Opera House, instead planning a House of Parliament on Freedom Square and a re-modelling of the city gate. Piano proposed an open-air theatre for the site citing the following rationale:

First, the site is too small to contain a Parliament Building as was initially envisaged. Secondly, in spite of the fact that other small old theatres run successfully as modern theatres, it was claimed that a modern theatre of conventional size, would not fit in this site considering today’s requirements for rehearsal, backstage facilities and accessibility, besides generating exorbitant running costs. Thirdly, Piano’s declared that he strongly believed that “after more than 60 years of controversy, the ruins of the demolished opera have undeniably reached the status of monument, irrevocable witness of history and the dignity of collective memory.”, a statement that was strongly contested by many Maltese who maintained that it was not up to Renzo Piano to decide another nation’s collective memory.

The plans for all three developments caused controversy. The government still went ahead with the plans and the open-air theatre was officially inaugurated on 8 August 2013. The theatre was named Pjazza Teatru Rjal (Royal Theatre Square) after the original structure

Casa Pensa

The block of buildings at the corner formed by Republic Street with South Street, including No. 7 Republic Street, was the old Casa Pensa which from the early days of the city belonged to the Langue of Italy.

In 1716 the house was occupied by Comm. Fra Sigismondo Piccolomini after the death of Comm. Fra Vincenzo Gallucci, and in 1717 it passed to Comm. Fra D’Onofrio Riccio. It was then held in succession by Comm. Fra Annibale Vimercati, Balì Fra Fabrizio Ruffo, Comm. Fra Pietro Danieli and Balì Fra Alessandro Ballati. Finally, in 1798, we find it in possession of the Balì Gaetani.[14]

Casa Pensa and its dependencies were transferred by the British Government in 1805 to Auditor Giuseppe Nicolo Zammit (Zammitello) in exchange for lands known as “tax-xemx u l-qamar” and “ta’ Blat il-Kbir.”[15] Auditor Giuseppe Nicolo Zammit was among the first recipients of knighthood when the Order of St. Michael and St. George was instituted. He died on September 7, 1823, and was interred in the chapel of the Langue of Auvergne in St. John’s Co-Cathedral.

In this house, in 1833, Baron Azzopardi, who had married Auditor Zammit’s daughter, wrote his Presa di Malta e Gozo.

 Preziosi House

The premises Nos. 16/18 Republic Street belonged to the Preziosi Commandery.

Gio. Antonio Preziosi, son of Count Giuseppe, wishing to be received as a servant-at-arms in the Order, offered to found a commandery, which was to be known as the Commenda Preziosi. He stipulated that he was to enjoy the Commandery during his lifetime with the right of naming, as his successor, one of the sons of his brother, Gio. Francesco, after whose death the nomination was to pass to the Italian langue. For this purpose he assigned the house and two shops near the Church of St. Barbara in Republic Street.[16]

On March 31, 1729, the Italian langue accepted this foundation, subject to the payment of one zecchino by way of recognition.

Teresa, Caterina and Maria, sisters Giappone, in the year 1791 founded, by testament, the primogeniture fideicommissum Giappone, assigning to this primogeniture the house at No. 24Republic Streetand its dependencies.[17]

Casa Caccia     

Savoy Cinema                

At the corner of Republic Street with St. John Street (No. 268 Republic Street) stood the palace of Fra Federico Caccia, Admiral of the Order in 1582, who later was nominated Balì of Venosa. On the death of Balì Caccia the house passed to the langue of Italy.

On March 15, 1636, we find that the house was let to Comm. Fra Cesare Falco for the duration of his lifetime at a rent of Sc. 90 per annum, with permission to his effecting any improvements he might desire.[18]

In 1782 the house was sold by the Langue of Italy to the Langue of Auvergne,[19] and the deed of sale was ratified by a decree of the Council on November 7, 1782. At the time of this sale Casa Caccia was the residence of Chev. Fra Giacomo Ildaris, who had the house on lease for his lifetime.[20] Part of the palace was incorporated with the Auberge d’Auvergne, which would explain why the Auberge had six windows on the left and only three on the right.[21]

Casa Caccia was let on April 7, 1839, to Sir Agostino Portelli K.C.M.G., who was the first President of the Malta Chamber of Commerce. It was later given by the Government to the De Piro family in exchange for Palazzo Parisio.

This building, together with the Auberge d’Auvergne, was totally destroyed by a German parachute mine on 30th April 1941.

In 1947 four leading entrepreneurs of the time, brothers Robert, Hector, Henry and Victor pace leased the 900 sq meters of land with the intention of building two large cinemas. The site was leased from the noble families Bonavita, Testaferrata Bonnici Axiaq and Depiro D’Amico. The construction of Lower Savoy Cinema took two years from 1949 and was inaugurated in October 1951, the Upper Savoy Cinema opened its doors two years later. For nearly 30 years The Savoy Cinemas were amongst the leading cinemas on the Island and were a popular meeting place for generations of Maltese film enthusiasts.

As cinema attendance was experiencing a downward trend in the mid-seventies, the company decided to diversify the business. In 1979 Pace Brothers Ltd purchased the land on which The Savoy was built and converted the Lower Savoy Cinema into a Shopping Arcade. The Upper Savoy Cinema continued operating as a cinema until 1986 when it was dismantled to make space for a large hall which was leased for fairs and exhibitions and was also occasionally used as a bingo hall.

In 1993 the exhibition hall was closed down to make space for the extension of the Savoy Arcade.

Il Forfantone

The house at Republic Street No. 251, at the corner with St. Lucia Street, belonged to Fra Tommaso Hozes,[22] Balì of Toro, later Balì of Lora, who was sent as ambassador to the Viceroy of Sicily when the Royal Tribunal of Sicily allowed to be brought before it the case of Comm. Fra Stefano Sciattini, who had been deprived of his habit for disobedience, during his absence. Before leaving Malta, Balì Hozes was furnished with the Privilege and Declaration of Philip II of Spain, given in Brussels on June 7, 1559, by which confirming the Donation of Malta to the Order he not only declared that feudal cases appertained to the Religion but also commanded that the judges of the Royal Courts of Sicily should not interfere in matters concerning the Order; this was confirmed by Philip III on June 1st. 1608, and by Philip IV in 1642.[23]

Balì Hozes died in the Convent on March 3, 1661, and this house formed part of a rich spoglio of over Sc. 100,000 left to the Treasury.

In 1761 we find that this house was known as “Il Forfantone” and that on May 1st, 1761, it was let to Balì Fra Louis Guerin de Tencin[24] who here instituted a Public Library consisting of his books and those of the library of Cardinal Portocarrero numbering 9,700 volumes which he had bought at a cost of Sc. 7,000. To these were added the books forming the library of Comm. Sainte-Jay, and those which, until then, had been kept in the sacristy of the Conventual Church of St. John. It is said that Balì Guerin de Tencin utilised the wood of the cases used in transporting Portocarrero’s books from Rome for the shelves of his library. At first this library numbered over 19,000 volumes, but this number was augmented by books bequeathed by members of the Order.[25]

Balì de Tencin appointed Canon Agius de Soldanis as his first Librarian paying him a salary of Sc. 10 per month out of his own pocket and giving him free quarters;[26] however, the Balì died before being able to assign to the library sufficient funds for the maintenance of a librarian and clerks. The Religion then appointed a knight as Commissioner to supervise its management.

Adjoining the Casa Hozes was the Casa Ribera (Nos. 249 and 250 Republic Street) which originally belonged to Ignazio Ribera, and which was bought by the Treasury for Sc. 525 in an auction sale held on August 7, 1744, by the Pio Officio della Fabrica di San Pietro. [27]

Both the Casa Hozes and the Casa Ribera were destroyed by enemy action and have been totally rebuilt.

Nowadays the site is occupied by the Emabassy Complex

 Casa del Commun Tesoro

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Casino Maltese

The premises at present housing the Casino Maltese were known, during the rule of the Order, as the Casa del Commun Tesoro, namely the Treasury of the Order.

Here were kept only the accounts, contracts and records of the Treasury, but no specie. This institution was presided over by the Grand Commander who was helped in his task by two Procurators of the Treasury, the Procurator of the Grand Master, the Conventual Conservator and the Secretary. Meetings were held at regular intervals and if the Grand Commander was absent his place was taken by his lieutenant and if the latter was also unavoidably absent the meeting was presided over by a knight of the Langue of Provence delegated for this purpose.

The secretary resided on the premises in an apartment with a separate entrance. It was the duty of this official to supervise the clerks and accountants, and to see that the interests of the Religion were properly cared for. His position was one of the greatest trust as he delivered and paid all bills of exchange and replied to all letters. In this he was assisted by three under-secretaries for France, Italy and Spain. As his office demanded the greatest intelligence, his post was permanent; however, the Secretary’s pay was small when compared with his duties, as he received a yearly salary of only Sc. 300.

During the early days of British rule the premises were appropriated to various public offices. Here were housed the Chief Secretary’s Office, the office of the Collector of Land Revenue, the Government Treasury and the British Packet Office, whilst the Island Post Office occupied the site where the British Dispensary (No. 215 Republic Street) used to stand.

During the late 1800s, the building was converted into “The Grand Hotel” and at one point in time, what is now the Reading Room was the Salinos Cinema, the second cinema to open in Malta.

During the first decade of the 20th century it was taken over by the Casino Maltese. In 1914 the structure was greatly modified under the direction of architect Nicola Buhagiar.

Despite sustaining extensive damage during World War II, many members in uniform, spurred by the spirit, wrote the word “Resurgam” on a board and carried on defiantly. Unfortunately in an air raid on the 15th February 1942 some members of staff lost their lives.

Another interesting feature of the Casino Maltese – The noon-mark Sundial with Analemma. The face of the Sundial (6.1m x 1.9m) includes an Analemma and Zodiacal signs. It marks only noon-time. The present Sundial is a modernised reconstruction of the one that existed up to the last war and which was subsequently destroyed when the wall collapsed through enemy action. It was reconstructed on the initiative and under the supervision Rev. Fr. George Fenech who constructed quite a few sundials across Malta. The Analemma is the curve having the shape of an elongated figure of 8, made up of twelve sections representing the months, surrounding and crossing the main Meridian. The sun spot crosses the Analemma at noon Malta time every day, marking at the same time the month of the year with a rough approximation of the day of the month.

 Bibliotheca

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On the site at present occupied by the Malta National Library formerly the Royal Malta Library or Bibliotheca, as it is more commonly known, was the Conservatoria where gold and silver bullion and specie were conserved. All receipts and payments were made from here according to the orders received from the officials of the Common Treasury. A knight, who was appointed by the Grand Master for the term of three years, resided on the premises, this official being chosen from one of the seven langues according to seniority.

In 1785, Grand Master Emanuel de Rohan ordered the erection of the Bibliotheca, the Roman architect Stefano Ittar being commissioned for this purpose. As the new palace was completed just before the French invasion, it was never used by the Order for the purpose for which it had been built, and we find it used as a club for army and navy officers up to 1812, when Sir Hildebrand Oakes, the Commissioner of these Islands, ordered the transfer of the books in the library established by Balì Guerin de Tencin to these new premises.

Palace Square

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Main Guard

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The house on the Palace Square adjoining the Main Guard corner with Old Theatre Street, at present housing Bank of Valletta, was bought by the Religion in 1662 from Marc’Antonio Pettiguier for Sc. 1,950.[28]

On the other side of the Main Guard is the Italian Cultural Institute. Formerly, during British times, it housed the Malta Garrison Officers’ Library. Before that it was the Cancelleria or Chancery of the Order. This building was erected by Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt in 1602, and the following inscription can still be read on a marble tablet set over the main door:—

“To the Grand Master F. Alof Wignacourt who, mindful both of his Civil duties and his military concerns, removed to a more suitable place, that is to the palace, the public armoury, and brought here the records of the Chancery. To the excellent Prince who took the greatest care that the country should be always arrayed with arms and armed with laws, the Order of Jerusalem unable to adequately express its gratitude, can only wish him perpetual happiness.”[29]

The Chancery was the most important institution of the Order, and was presided over by the Vice Chancellor, which dignity was one of the most lucrative enjoyed by the knights of the small cross. Originally it was reserved to the Conventual Chaplains, who were considered to be more fitted to fill the post than the knights who were trained in the profession of arms. The Vice Chancellor was required to be a man of letters well versed in jurisprudence, as it was he who directed the Council and drew up a report in all cases of litigation. This official managed the Chancery in which were kept all the records, acts, documents and titles of the Order.

In 1680, the dignity of Grand Cross was conferred by Pontifical Brief on Vice Chancellor D. Emanuel Arias. The Grand Chancellor Brandao pretended that, in view of the pre-eminence now enjoyed by Balì Arias, another person was to be nominated to the Vice Chancellorship, which he held to be vacant, as he considered that it was incompatable for the same person to be both councillor and minister of the Council. It was further pointed out that past Vice Chancellors had renounced to this post when invested with the Grand Cross. On the other hand, Balì Arias maintained that the Vice Chancellorship was to be considered equal to any other dignity, and showed that it was in no way incompatible for the same person to be both Grand Cross and Vice Chancellor; however, in view of his dignity, it was ordained that when he was exercising his duties as Vice Chancellor he was to sit on a chair similar to that of the other Councillors instead of on the customary stool, and that he was to write the acts of the Council at a table. The decrees were, in future, to be proclaimed by the Secretary. It was further decreed that the Secretary was to assist at the taking of the oath by the religious, whilst the Balì Vice Chancellor was to assist at that taken by the Grand Crosses. In this manner the office was adapted to the Grand Cross and not the Grand Cross to the office.[30]

The Staff of the Chancery consisted of the Vice Chancellor, his lieutenant (always a Conventual Chaplain) and numerous clerks. This office was charged with the registration of Papal Bulls, Briefs, Orders and Decrees, as well as with the execution of the decisions of the Council, including matters appertaining to the Commanderies, Pensions and Benefices.

The Borsa

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On the site at present occupied by the Chamber of Commerce (No. 65 Republic Street) stood a house belonging to the Priory of Castille, which we find in possession of Balì Zarzana in 1798.[31] When the Islands passed to British rule, this house was occupied by the British Authorities until the autumn of 1853 when it was handed over for the erection of the “Borsa” or Commercial Exchange. The premises were modified considerably, the work being carried out by contractor MichelAngelo Azzopardi on the designs of architect Joseph Bonavia. The new Chamber of Commerce was inaugurated in March 1857.[32]

The Malta Chamber of Commerce and Enterprise was established as a voluntary constituted body and officially recognised in 1848. It was established on the Anglo-Saxon – private law status model, independent from government or the public sector, with voluntary membership.

Two similar organisations existed prior to The Malta Chamber of Commerce Enterprise: the first was the University, composed of senior citizens and was responsible, among other things, for the importation and storage of grain at a time when piracy was rife in the Mediterranean. Leading businessmen were members of this institution. The second came into being shortly after the arrival of the British in Malta in 1800. Referred to as the “Commercial Rooms”, it was housed in the premises later occupied by the Lyceum and now the Arts and Design Centre in Merchants Street, Valletta. Detailed minutes of the meetings of the “Commercial Rooms” have been preserved at the Chamber’s offices and give a clear picture of trading conditions at the time.

In 1848, the Governor of the Island, Sir Richard More O’Ferrall, took a keen interest in commerce. It was due to his strong desire to make Malta a spearhead of British trade in the Mediterranean that the reorganisation of the commercial community arose and the Malta Chamber of Commerce and Enterprise was born.

Sir Richard found great help in the person of Sir Agostino Portelli, K.C.M.G., a leading merchant who was also a politician and who held a seat in the first Council of Government of Malta. Sir Agostino became the first President of the Chamber.

The Chamber was represented by nomination in the various Councils of Government that followed. The first self-governing Constitution in 1921 gave the Chamber the right to elect two senators. Incidentally, the first Prime Minister under the 1921 Constitution, Comm. Joseph Howard, O.B.E., was also a former President of the Chamber.

In 1857, the Exchange Buildings, constructed on its present site in Republic Street, Valletta was inaugurated.

The Chamber celebrated its 160th Anniversary in 2008.

Today, the unique neo-classical style of the Exchange Buildings is viewed, not only as the seat of the Business Community, but as an elegant and prestigious location for Business and Social Events. Over the years the building has been maintained to the highest of standards providing a magnificent venue for a variety of events.

The Courtyard

The imposing entrance of the Exchange leads on to the naturally-lit Lewis Farrugia Courtyard. The Courtyard is used as a venue for Exhibitions, Press Conferences, Receptions, Lunches and Meetings.

The Sir Agostino Portelli Hall

An elegant staircase and landing take one to the Sir Agostino Portelli Hall on the first floor. A graceful ballroom, the hall is adorned with portraits of past presidents by Malta’s foremost artists. The hall opens up onto a spacious balcony overlooking Republic Street. The hall may is also  used for Business Lunches, Dinners, Receptions, Conferences, Seminars, Meetings, Product Launches and the like.

Aula Conciliaris

Also on the first floor is the Aula Conciliaris also known as the Council Room. Reminiscent of a gentleman’s club this handsome room is mainly used as a meeting room. It has also been the venue for exclusive business lunches and dinners with guests including HRH the Duke of York, Heads of State and Prime Ministers. The beautiful period furniture includes three magnificent 18th Century paintings of the Grand Harbour and a board/dining table which can comfortably accommodate 20 persons.

The Banif Lecture Hall

The Banif Lecture Hall is another facility offered by the Malta Chamber. Seating 36 persons, this room is perfect for company workshops and training courses.

The BOV Meeting Room

Another smart addition to the Malta Chamber’s facilities is the BOV Room. This Board Room seats twelve people and is used for less formal gatherings.

Palazzo Spinola

The palace next to the Chamber of Commerce is the Palazzo Spinola.

This palace originally belonged to Fra Giovanni de Villaroel, Balì of Noveville, who held several important posts in the Order. In 1638 he was sent as Ambassador to the Viceroy of Sicily on a very delicate mission. France and Spain were then at war, and the Spanish ministers were under the wrong impression that the Religion was not maintaining strict neutrality against the French. The position was aggravated when a French ship was permitted to make good, the damage suffered during a storm, in the Grand Harbour at Valletta, and allowed to proceed to France. Several French knights, wishing to return to France, had embarked on this vessel which had the misfortune of being wrecked off Licata in Sicily. These knights were held by the Viceroy of Sicily, and not allowed to return to Malta. It was in order to settle this matter that the Balì Villaroel was sent to Sicily, in which enterprise he was highly successful.[33] In 1644 Fra Giovanni de Villaroel, then Balì of Negroponte, was appointed General of the Galleys, and in 1646 he was elected to the Bailiwick of Noveville.

The Balì of Noveville willed that the palace be administered by the Prior of the Conventual Church, and that the rents be employed in the celebration of masses and in providing dowries to poor spinsters.[34]

In 1660 the palace was transferred by Prior Luca Bueno, executor of the will of Balì Villaroel, to Fra Paolo Raffaele Spinola, Balì of Lombardy,[35] and it remained in the possession of the Spinola family until 1780. In his disproprium, Balì Gio. Batta Spinola, Admiral of the Order, who died in the Convent on the 19 January 1737, bequeathed the palace together with seven adjoining houses to his brother, Marchese Carlo Spinola,[36] who granted the Palazzo Spinola together with the other houses, on perpetual emphytheusis to Marchese Testaferrata Bonici for a yearly ground rent of Sc. 200 to be employed in pious works.[37]

Casa Rocca Piccola

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House No. 74 Republic Street which, from the earliest days of the city, belonged to the Langue of Italy, was known as the Casa Rocca Piccola. A commission nominated in 1784 to trace the origin of the house failed to find any in the archives and the Treasury of the Order relating to the original owner of the house,[38] though it is quite possible that, like the Casa Rocca Grande, this building was once the property of Fra Pietro La Rocca, Admiral of the Order in 1598.

It is referenced in maps of the time as “la casa con giardino” meaning, the house with the garden, as normally houses in Valletta were not allowed gardens.

Among the various tenants of these premises we find Chev. Fra Gaspare Ferro (1682), Fra Gaspare Gori (1699) and Chev. Fra Scipione Malaspina (1727). Comm. Fra Baldassare Torres took the house on lease after the death of Chev. Fra Ferdinando Filingieri in 1745. It was then let in succession to Comm. Fra Gio. Antonio Lamberti (1751), Comm. Fra Giuseppe Provana da Colegno (1756). Comm. Fra Amadeo Baratta (1757), Chev. Fra Alessandro Rovida (1757), Comm. Fra Saverio Arezzo (1766), Comm. Fra Andrea Venturi (1772) and Comm. Rovere (1784).

At a Deliberation of the Italian Langue, held on the 16 November 1784, it was proposed to sell the house and the premises were then valued at Sc. 8,358,[39] however, it was decided that the house was not to be sold for less than Sc. 10,000. In 1788 the Langue of Italy sold the premises to Count Francesco Sant.

Changes were made in the late 18th century to divide the house into two smaller houses. Further changes were made in 1918. The houses were acquired by the late Comm. A. Cassar Torregiani about the year 1919, which in turn passed to his daughter, the Baroness De Piro D’Amico Inguanez. Before the second world war an air raid shelter was added. The Casa Rocca Piccola Family Shelter is the second air-raid shelter to be dug in Malta.

The house passed on to Baron Nicholas Depiro. He was the first member of the Maltese aristocracy to open his house to the public. He lived in Painswick House in Gloucestershire for 14 years before returning to Malta in 1990 to open Casa Rocca Piccola to the public. In 2000 a major restoration project saw the two houses that make up Casa Rocca Piccola reunited.

 Casa Balbiano

The Balbiano family owned house and mezzanino Nos. 89/90 Republic Street. By order of the British Government these premises were handed back to Chev. Alberto Balbiano in 1824, as he was the legitimate owner.[40]

Palazzo de la Salle

At the corner of Republic Street with St. Nicholas Street we come to a very fine house now known as the Palazzo de la Salle (Nos. 217/219 Republic Street). This palace was bought for Sc. 11,700 from Comm. Fra Geronimo Basadonne by the Prior of Barletta, Fra Camillo Albertini,[41] who in 1684 commanded the galley S. Antonio.[42] Prior Albertini died in the Convent on the 28 November 1712, without having disposed of his property, and the house and its dependencies then passed to the Treasury.

Grand Master Raymond Perellos Roccafull acquired the premises from the Treasury in 1713,[43] and wishing to show in a practical manner his affection for both the paternal and maternal sides of his family, donated the palace to his nephews the Marquis de Dosaguas, Don Gennaro Perellos and the Count d’Albatera, Don Guglielmo Roccafull, Grandee of Spain, with the proviso that the Treasury was to allow the enjoyment of the house and its dependencies to those knights, descendants of the Marquis de Dosaguas and of the Count d’Albatera, who presented themselves in Malta for service with the Order.

In 1681, Fra Stefano Maria Lomellini, Prior of England, established a pious foundation for the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in the Oratory of St. John’s Conventual Church on Quinquagesima Sunday and the two following  days for the repose of the souls of deceased Members of the Order. The foundation was also to serve for the provision of candles for the illumination of the Altar of Repose on Maundy Thursday. For this purpose Prior Lomelini assigned house No. 205Republic Streetwhich he had purchased from Ignazio Cassiera for Sc. 3,300 and also house No. 198 Old Bakery Street, Valletta.[44]

On the 26 November 1687, Prior Lomellini presented a memorial to the Council petitioning that in exchange for the house in Bakery Street, already applied to the foundation, two others (Nos. 208 and 210 Republic Street) be assigned. He also stipulated that the executors of this foundation were to be two knights, one a Grand Cross and one of the small cross.[45]

In 1679 Prior Lomellini lavishly decorated, at his expense, the ceiling of the Oratory of the Conventual Church, the paintings being executed by Mattia Preti.

Whilst serving as Lieutenant General of the Papal Galleys[46] the dignity of Prior of England was bestowed on Fra Stefano, which dignity he ceased to hold in 1685 on his nomination to the Priory of Venice, in possession of which he died on the 7 September 1699.

Casa Savina

Casa Savina (Nos. 187/189 Republic Street) belonged to Martinica Savina who in 1668 donated the house to her brother, Fra Antonio Savina, a Conventual Chaplain of the Order.[47] In 1677 Fra Antonio Savina donated this house to Canon Gio. Carlo Muscat,[48] from whom the premises descended to the Baroness Xara and from her to the De Piro family.

This house has been completely rebuilt and today consists of apartment dwellings.

 

Old Bakery Street, Valletta

Old Bakery 1870 Ad Dingli hse Old Bakery Street Valletta Malta in 1876

Old Bakery Street, which was first named Strada San Giovanbattista and later Strada Forni, runs from St. John’s Cavalier to the Curtain of St. Lazzarus overlooking the entrance to Marsamxett Harbour. This street was and has always remained a residential quarter, and in it we find none of the institutions as found in Republic Street and Merchants Street.

 

Houses 3 to 7

From the earliest days of Valletta the French Langue owned houses Nos. 3 to 7 at the head of this street. All these, together with the Auberge de France in South Street, were destroyed by enemy action in 1942.

Up to August 1803 house No. 3 was still in the possession of the Balì de St. Piox,[49] and for this reason this palace was referred to as the Palazzo de St. Poix. From December 1803 to May 1807 it was let to Dr. Stoddard, then King’s and Admiralty Advocate, who in 1826 was appointed President of the High Court of Appeal.

On the 18 May 1804, the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge arrived in Malta on board the “Speedwell” and lived with Dr. Stoddard. On the 6 July of the same year, Coleridge, now Private Secretary to the Governor, Sir Alexander Ball, took up his residence at San Anton Palace until the 27 September 1805,  when he left Malta broken down in health.[50]

The house was then leased to Dr. Moncrief, Judge Advocate, and Lord Byron resided here when he visited Malta in 1809. Later, it became the residence of the eminent Maltese jurist, Sir Adrian Dingli, President of Her Majesty’s Court of Appeal. In 1931 it was converted into the Central Telephone Exchange.

Now they form part of the Workers’ Memorial Building built after World War II.

La Peintressa

At the corner of Old Bakery Sreet with Melita Street, formerly Britannia Street, was a house known as La Peintressa.[51] This house was owned as to 1/3 by the St. Augustine Priory of Valletta, as to another 1/3 by the Rev. Leopoldo Enriquez and his mother, Maria, whilst the remaining 1/3 was owned by Anna Leonora, daughter of Bernardo Tanniti. In 1726 this house was bought by the “Manoel Foundation” for Sc. 3,300. The premises were later divided into two houses, one having an entrance at No. 11 Old Bakery Street and the other at No. 119 Britannia Street; the latter house was occupied for some time by the late Sir Augustus Bartolo.

As on several of the buildings of Valletta a tablet can still be seen recording that the premises belonged to the “Manoel Foundation,” it will not be out of place to record that Fra Antonio Manoel de Vilhena, on his being elected Grand Master, wishing to provide for the greater safety of Valletta, built, at his own expense, a fort on the islet of Marsamxett, the foundation stone of which was laid on the 14 September 1723. He also thought of providing for the maintenance of the fort by funds deposited in the Massa Frumentaria, and by the purchase of immovable property, stipulating that the Foundation was to be managed by three commissioners, one always belonging to the Portuguese Priory. The president of the commission was to be a Grand Cross of the Order. On the 1st July, 1731, the Grand Master chose his nephew, Balì D. Francisco Sousa y Meneres, as the first president, and Chev. Fra Fabrizio Franconi and Chev. Paolo Vion as the other members.

Forni della Signoria

The whole site opposite St. Augustine Church, where the Vincenti Buildings stand today, was occupied by the Forni della Signoria or Bakery of the Order where the bread for the hospital, prison, galleys and troops was baked. This was built at the expense of Grand Master La Cassiere.[52] It continued to be used as a military bakery for the British troops until it was demolished to make way for the new block of flats.

Demandolx House

House No. 24 Old Bakery Street belonged to Balì Fra Balthassar Demandolx, a favourite of Grand Master Lascaris, who was twice elected General of the Galleys. In 1652 Balì Demandolx sold this house to Grand Master Lascaris,[53] but in 1736 it passed to the Cottoner Foundation through an exchange by which 22 rooms in the Market Square, belonging to the Cottoner Foundation, were exchanged for 16 rooms in the Bucceria Vecchia (Old Slaughter House) and two houses belonging to the Lascaris Foundation.[54] The Cottoner Foundation was instituted in 1647 by Grand Master Nicholas Cottoner for the maintenance of the Cottoner Fortifications.

Casa Lomellini

Opposite the Demandolx house is the Casa Lomellini (No. 198 Old Bakery Street). In 1654 this was bought for Sc. 900, from the Common Treasury, by Comm. Fra Antonio Tancredi, later Balì of Venosa and Admiral of the Order.[55] In 1663, Balì Tancredi donated these premises to his nephews, Fra Ottavio, later Prior of Messina, and Chev. Fra Pietro.[56] Comm. Fra Ottavio Tancredi sold the house for Sc. 1,700 to the Prior of England, Fra Stefano Maria Lomellini.[57]

As we have already seen, Prior Lomellini had assigned this house, together with one in Republic Street, to the pious foundation which he had established in 1681; however, this house was freed after his petitioning the Council to assign two other houses in Republic Street in exchange for that in Old Bakery Street. The Prior then donated the house under review to the Assembly of Conventual Chaplains, subject to the celebration of masses for the repose of his soul and for other pious works.[58]

Tressina House

The Tressina Commandery owned house No. 173 Old Bakery Street. This house originally belonged to Comm. Fra Giovanni Tressina, who died at Vicenza on the 13 April 1650. In his disproprium Comm. Tressina stated that this house and several others had been granted on lease to Caterina Scappi, the “Senese,” foundress of the Hospital for Incurable Women, to be enjoyed by her for the duration of her lifetime. Comm. Tressina ordered that, on the death of the said Caterina, a Commandery was to be founded in Malta, and that the rent of these houses was to be enjoyed by a knight of the Tressina family, the nearest to the main line being always preferred. Should there be no knight of the family in the Order, the rents were to be invested so as to increase the revenue of the Commandery until there was such a knight. In 1686 the Grand Master gave his approval for the erection of the Commandery, the juspatronage of which was to belong to the Tressina family of Vicenza.[59]

Gaetano Bruno House

Adjoining the Tressina house is the house of Gaetano Bruno (Nos. 170/172 Old Bakery Street).[60] Born in 1740 of Maltese parents, Bruno was admitted into the Order as a Conventual Chaplain in the Langue of Auvergne. On his election to the Grandmastership, Emanuel de Rohan soon perceived Gaetano Bruno’s diplomatic acumen, and as he wished to institute important reforms in the then discredited administration, appointed him Secretary to the Chancery and also his private adviser or “Auditor.” As Secretary to the Chancery, Bruno attended the Chapter General called by de Rohan in 1777 which revised the Statutes of the Order. He also had an important part in the compilation of the Diplomatic Code of the Order, for which work the Venerable Council, at the Grand Master’s request, bestowed upon Bruno a gold eight pointed cross set with diamonds, and also granted him the sum of one thousend zecchini.[61]

When the establishment of the Anglo-Bavarian Langue was decided upon in 1784, Bruno played a very important part in the negotiations conducted by the Balì Sagramoso, in recognition of which service the Elector of Bavaria presented Auditor Bruno with an enamelled gold snuff box.

The death of Grand Master de Rohan in no way affected Bruno’s position as he retained his post under Hompesch.

As apparently Bruno did not meddle in politics, the French Republican Government left him in charge of the Chancery, and it is for his work during this period, in preserving the archives from destruction by the French, that Gaetano Bruno deserves the gratitude of every Maltese. On taking over the administration, the British Government reconfirmed him as Auditor.

He is further remembered with gratitude for his generous donation to the library or ”Bibliotheca“ of the sum of ten thousand scudi, the interest of which sum was to be employed in the purchase of books.

Bruno died in 1808 and was interred in St. John‘s Conventual Church. As he was a Conventual Chaplain his property, including this house, passed to the British Government which considered itself to be the successor of the Order of St. John in Malta.

The house under review was sold to private ownership on October 15, 1826 for the sum of Sc. 6,666.

Bonnici Palace

At the corner of Old Bakery Street with Old Theatre Street is the Bonnici Palace (No. 70 Old Bakery Street), now the property of Marquis Testaferrata Bonnici Ghaxaq. This was partly destroyed by enemy action during the blitz of 1942.

Casa Corogna

Adjacent to the Bonnici Palace was the Casa Corogna,[62] (No. 72 Old Bakery Street) now completely rebuilt after destruction by enemy action in 1942. This house was bought by Virginia Fioccari from Dr. Pietro Defranchis for Sc. 2,300[63] and left by will to her daughter Anna, wife of Dr. Giacobo Corogna who bequeathed it to her daughter Olimpia from whom it was bought by the Manoel Foundation.[64]

Scappi House

House No. 74 Old Bakery Street, next to the Casa Corogna, belonged to Caterina Scappi, the “Senese,” and formed part of the foundation of the Hospital for Incurable Women.[65]

Bustro House

We now come to the house of Francesco Bustro[66] (No. 76 Old Bakery Street). Francesco Bustro was the chief purser of the “Capitana” or flagship of the Order who, on the death of his wife Geronima handed the house to the Treasury in settlement of a debt amounting to Sc. 1,786.[67]

From 1671 to 1692 this house was let to Comm. Fra Martin de Nouar, Prior of Navarre. It was then let to Grand Commander Cristofano de Baroncelles Sauon up to his death in 1714. We later find this house occupied by Comm. Sartory, Lieutenant to the Grand Master, then from 1760 to 1762 by Chev. Fra Philippe Jacques de Barres, and from 1767 to 1791 it was let to Balì Giovanni Battista Tommasi.[68]

On the death of Czar Paul I of Russia, Balì Tommasi was appointed Grand Master by a Pontificial Brief of Pope Pius VII dated 9 February 1803, which was conveyed to the new Grand Master, then residing in Messina, by Comm. Fra Nicola Busi of Velletri. Tommasi accepted the dignity and nominated Busi as his minister plenipotentiary, instructing him to proceed to Malta to take over possession of the island on behalf of the Order, in conformity with Article X of the Treaty of Amiens. As hostilities against France were resumed shortly after, and as the Maltese placed themselves under the protection of His Britannic Majesty, the Articles of the Treaty of Amiens were never carried out.[69]

From 1791 to 1798 we find the Casa Bustro occupied by Chev. Curo.[70]

Correa de Sousa Palace

Another palace which was completely destroyed by enemy action in 1942 was that built by the Balì of Lesa, Fra Antonio Correa de Sousa[71] [Nos. 153/157 Old Bakery Street].

On the 1st July 1647 Fra Antonio was given command of the galley “Santa Catherina”[72] and later, in 1669, he was sent as Ambassador Extraordinary of the Order to the Court of Portugal to congratulate Prince Peter on his marriage and also to settle the matter of the Priory of Crato which the Portuguese ministers pretended to belong in juspatronage to the Portuguese crown.[73] Correa executed his mission brilliantly. In 1674 he was nominated ambassador resident in Rome, and in 1679 was appointed General of the Galleys.[74]

The Balì of Lesa donated the palace with its dependencies to Don Antonio Gonsalvo Correa de Sousa Montenegro of Oporto in Portugal,[75] who in 1732 commissioned Fra Alvaro Pereira Pinto, also Balì of Lesa, to sell the premises to the Manoel Foundation.[76]

General Vial, French Minister in Malta, occupied this palace from October 1802 to June 1803,[77] whilst Britain was at peace with France. During his stay Vial tried to create a French party through the services of some old French knights who had remained in Malta, and had been pensioned by the British Government. He also attempted to influence the Archbishop, Monsignor Labini, by telling him that Napoleon would obtain the release of the unfortunate Maltese slaves in the bagnios of Algiers. However, his propaganda had very little effect on the local population. On the fresh outbreak of hostilities in 1803 Vial was given notice to quit the island.

This palace is often referred to as the Palazzo Hompesch owing to its having been let, from 1787 to 1798, to Fra Ferdinand von Hompesch, last Grand Master to rule in Malta. Hompesch does not seem to have been too punctual with the payment of rents as, when he was elected Grand Master, we find him still owing to the Manoel Foundation for eight years of rent.[78]

Rospigliosi Palace

The princely Rospigliosi family owned the palace adjacent the Correa de Sousa palace (No. 150 Old Bakery Street); this, at some period, passed to the Monte della Redenzione degli Schiavi. In 1708 we find it let to Balì Fra Ignace d’Argote and in 1786 to Balì Cascaxares.

On the 1st July 1806 it was leased to the British Naval Authorities for £86.13.4. per annum, for the use of the Commissioner of the Navy appointed to superintend the shore establishments in Malta. This house was so used until 1832, when this officer took up his residence at the Admiralty House, Vittoriosa.

In 1811 the Commissioner was Peter Fraser and it was from the Rospigliosi Palace that Lord Cochrane, tenth Earl of Dundonald, was arrested by order of the Prize Court Judge. Lord Cochrane had captured many prizes in the Mediterranean, but the Vice Admiralty Court in Malta, through exorbitant fees, had deprived him of his just due. So, in a fury, he sailed into Malta determined to obtain a table of fees and charges. On going to the Court, he asked to be shown the table, but as no one seemed to know where it lay he proceeded to search for it himself, even entering the judge’s robing room, until he found the list in a private closet and carried it off. The “Rape of the Table,” as the incident became known, caused the greatest amusement in naval circles. The Prize Court Judge was furious and ordered Cochrane’s arrest. The Deputy Marshal accompanied by four stalwart sergeants of the Malta Police came to the Rospigliosi Palace, where Cochrane was at the time, and as he refused to move, he was carried away by the police sergeants, chair and all, deposited in a waiting carriage, driven to the Castellania in Merchants Street, and there kept under arrest. After a period of captivity, during which he was treated as befitted his rank and allowed to treat his friends to sumptuous suppers, much to the relief of the local authorities, he escaped through a third storey window, the bars of which had been filed.[79]

On its being vacated by the Admiralty the palace was converted into Morell’s Hotel, and among the many people who lodged here, was the painter Sir Frederick Watts. Later, the premises housed Flores College, and Chevalier Vincenzo Bonello has informed the writer that the famous Italian novelist and playwright, Luigi Capuana, delivered a lecture here during his visit to Malta. During the sale by auction of the effects of Morell’s Hotel, Chev. Bonello, then a boy, remembers seeing paintings being sold, which bore the “blue lozenge” the arms of the Rospigliosi family.

The premises are today the College of St. Albert the Great, which is run by the Fathers of the Dominican Province in Malta.

No 136

During the turbulent days of the Italian Risorgimento there was, in Malta, a continuous ebb and flow of Italian and Sicilian refugees. Among these were the poet Gabriele Rossetti, father of Dante Gabriele Rossetti, the Prince of Capua, brother of King Ferdinand II of Naples, Francesco Crispi, later Prime Minister of Italy and many others.

Among the emigres was Admiral Ruggero Settimo dei Principi di Fitalia.

On the 12 January 1848 an insurrection took place in Palermo, and a provisional government was set up under the presidency of Ruggero Settimo. The movement was successful at first, as the whole of Sicily shook off the Bourbon yoke; however, the triumph was short lived as in September 1848 Messina was bombarded by the Neapolitans and forced to surrender, the whole of Sicily being shortly after reoccupied by the Bourbon troops. Ruggero Settimo fled to Malta in 1849, and died in Valletta on the 2 May 1863 at the age of 83 at No. 136 Old Bakery Street.[80] His remains were conveyed to Sicily, for burial at Palermo, on board an Italian warship specially sent over by the Italian Government.

La Marche house

Grand Master Adrian de Wignacourt, who died on the 2 February 1697, in his disproprium, ordered that two houses belonging to him were to be enjoyed jointly, during their lifetime, by two members of his household, Comm. La Marche and Chevalier Vespi, and that after their death the said houses were to revert to the Religion.[81] One of these houses is that which today bears No. 129 Old Bakery Street. This, together with a house in St. Christopher Street, passed to the Treasury on the death of Comm. La Marche, and we find it later in possession of the Cottoner Foundation.[82] From 1767 to 1778 this house was let to Chev. Desnard[83] and from May 1778 to January 1787 to Chev. Grimaldi.[84] The Conventual Chaplain Antonio Lungo was in possession of the premises from 1787 to 1798.

Caraffa Palace

Opposite the La Marche house is the Caraffa Palace (No. 94 Old Bakery Street) which belonged to Fra D. Carlo Caraffa, Prior of Rocella.[85]

No 98

At the corner of Old Bakery Street with St. Christopher Street (No. 98 Old Bakery Street) is the house which was donated to the Treasury by Chev. Fra Natale Mangual.[86] The house was let from 1674 to 1681 to Comm. Fra Domenico Lahoz, and from 1682 to 1690 to Chev. L’Abbattie.[87] From 1794 to 1798 we find the house occupied by Chev. Fra Sergio Bovio at a yearly rent of Sc. 100.

Casa Brunet

In Old Bakery Street, we also find the house of Chev. Fra Daniel Brunet who died in the Convent on the 11 October 1760. In his disproprium Chev. Brunet left his house (No. 107 Old Bakery Street) to the Lascaris Foundation subject to a single payment of Sc. 150 to the Prior of the Conventual Church for the celebration of masses for the repose of his soul.[88] Chev. Brunet had bought this house from the heirs of Andrea Scicluna for Sc. 1,050.

The Casa Brunet which for many years was the home of the Government School of Arts, was converted temporarily into the Magistrates’ Court in 1956.

Notes:

[1] Arsenal and workshops.

[2] ZAMMIT, Sir Them., Valletta. Malta, Empire Press, p. 84.

[3] Cabreo Fondazione Lascaris, R.M.L. Treas. B. 301, fol.. 26.

[4] BOSIO, Giacomo, Storia della Sacra Religione, Vol. III.

[5] Records of Notary G. Tolosenti of 3 September 1629.

[6] Records of Notary Michele Ralli of 22 April 1638.

[7] DAL POZZO, Bartolomeo, Historia della Sacra Religione di Malta, Vol. II, p. 193.

[8] Beni Fondazione Lascaris, R.M.L. Ms. 1302 fol. 9.

[9] Beni Stabili del Tesoro “B,” R.M.L. Treas. A. 1., fol. 11t.

[10] DAL POZZO, Bartolomeo, op. cit. Vol. II, p. 181.

[11] Records of Notary Aloysio dello Re of 30 July 1680.

[12] Beni Stabili del Tesoro “B,” R.M.L. Treas. A. 1., fol. 11t.

[13] Records of Notary Vincenzo Grillet of 1st April, 1786.

[14] Libro Maestro 1800-1807 R.M.L. Treas. B. 97, fol. 343.

[15] Records of Notary Diego Vella of 20 July, 1805.

[16] Fondazioni della Lingua d’Italia Vol. III R.M.L. Arch. 2161 fol 47.

[17] Records of Notary Ignazio Saverio Bonavita of 12 February, 1791.

[18] Deliberazioni della Lingua d’Italia R.M.L. Arch. 2129 fol. 211.

[19] Records of Notary Ignazio Sav. Bonavita of 17 October 1782.

[20] Lib. Concil. R.M.L. Arch. 162 fol. 115.

[21] DARMANIN DEMAJO, G., Archivio Storico di Malta, Vol. II, 19, p. 203.

[22] Beni Stabili del Tesoro “B” R.M.L. Treas. A. 1, fol. 18.

[23] DAL POZZO, Bartolomeo, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 78.

[24] Libro Esigenziale dei Beni del Tesoro 1767-81 Treas. A. 2. fol. 3.

[25] CIANTAR, Giovanantonio, Malta Illustrata, Lib. I., Not. I. xxxviii.

[26] R.M.L. Ms. 386, fol. 61.

[27] Beni Stabili del Tesoro “B,” Treas. A. 1, fol. 365 & 366.

[28] Libro Udienza Letter E. R.M.L. Arch. No. 667 fol. 74.

[29] ZAMMIT, Sir Them., op. cit. p. 47.

[30] DAL POZZO, Bartolomeo, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 481.

[31] Stati Beni Urbani, Vol. II, R.M.L. Treas. B. 90, fol. 57.

[32] PSAILA MANCHE, Capt. J. — The Development of the Chamber of Commerce — In “Commercial Courier,” July, 1947.

[33] DAL POZZO, Bartolomeo, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 21.

[34] Records of Notary Michele Ralli of 27 October, 1652.

‘>[35] Records of Notary Michele Ralli of 12 June, 1660.

[36] Dispropriamenti Italiani Lett. G., R.M.L. Arch. No. 927 fol. 71.

[37] Records of Notary Giuseppe Magri of 16 August, 1780; Records of Notary Felice Camenzuli of 19 August, 1780.

[38] Deliberazioni della Lingua d’Italia R.M.L. Arch. 2154 fol. 221.

[39] Ibid. fol. 230.

[40] Libro Maestro Famiglie Estere 1814-1827 R.M.L., Treas. B. 121 fol. 37.

[41] Libro Beni Stabili del Tesoro “B,” R.M.L., Treas. A. 1, fol. 348.

[42] ROSSI, Ettore, Storia della Marina dell’Ordine, S.E.A.I., Roma-Milano, 1926, p. 150.

[43] Records of Notary Giuseppe Callus of 21 January, 1713.

[44] DAL POZZO, Bartolomeo, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 485; Liber Conc. Status 1681, R.M.L. Arch. 262, fol. 137.

[45] Liber Conc. Status 1687, R.M.L. Arch. 263, fol. 20.

[46] MIFSUD. Monsignor Alfred, Knights of the Ven. Tongue of England, Malta, Malta Herald, 1914, p. 118.

[47] Records of Notary Michele Attard of 7 April, 1668.

[48] Records of Notary Michele Attard of 14 November, 1677.

[49] Registro Libro Maestro 1800-1807 R.M.L. Treas. B. 97, fol. 190.

[50] SULTANA, Donald, Coleridge in Malta, in “Sunday Times of Malta,” 11.XI.56 and 25.XI.56.

[51] Repertorio della Fondazione Manoel R.M.L. Treas. A. 25 fol. 33.

[52] Repertorio de Decreti G. J. Compendio Istorico de Gran Maestri fol. LXXIV.

[53] Records of Notary Michele Ralli of 8 April 1652.

[54] Records of Notary Bernardo M. Callus of 6 February, 1736.

[55] Cabreo dei Beni Appartenenti all’Assemblea dei Capellani R.M.L. Treas. A. 73 fol.

[56] Records of Notary Michele Ralli of 23 November, 1654.

[57] Records of Notary Giovanni Callus of 14 May, 1681.

[58] Records of Notary Pietro Fiore of 29 April, 1689.

[59] Fondazioni della Lingua d’Italia R.M.L. Arch., 2160 fol. 225.

[60] Libro Maestro Beni Urbani, Valletta, Lib. I., R.M.L., Treas. B. 130 fol. 170.

[61] Zecchino — gold coin equivalent to 6s./3d.

[62] Repertorio di Varie Notizie Giustificanti le Compre di Beni Stabili R.M.L. Treas., A. 25 fol. 329.

[63] Records of Notary Paschale Debono of 12 December 1660.

[64] Records of Notary Gaspare Domenico Chircop of 12 April, 1734.

[65] Cabreo Ospedale delle Donne R.M.L. Treas. B. 307 fol. 35.

[66] Libro Beni Stabili del Tesoro “B” R.M.L. Treas. A. 1, fol. 24.

[67] Records of Notary Lorenzo Grima of 19 December, 1640.

[68] Libro Esigenziale dei Beni del Tesoro 1767-81, R.M.L. Treas. A. 2, fol. 45.

[69] MONTERISI, Mario, “Storia Politica e Militare de Sov. di S. Giovanni di Gerusalemme detto di Malta” Vol. II Milano, Fratelli Bocca, p. 228.

[70] Libro Esigenziale dei Beni del Tesoro 1796, R.M.L. Treas. A. 4 fol. 57v.

[71] Registro di Varie Notizie Compra di Beni Stabili, R.M.L. Treas. A. 25., fol. 77.

[72] ROSSI, Ettore, op. cit, p. 144.

[73] DAL POZZO, Bartolomeo, op. cit. Vol. II, p. 387.

[74] Ibid. p. 450.

[75] Records of Notary Aloysio dello Re of 28 April, 1689 and 16 July, 1692.

[76] Records of Notary Gaspare Domenico Chircop of 18 Oct., 1732.

[77] Registro Libro Maestro 1800-1807 R.M.L. Treas. B. 97 fol. 42.

[78] Conti del Economo Beni Fond. Manoel — R.M.L. Treas. A. 28. p. 1.

[79] DUNDONALD, Thomas, “Autobiography of a Seaman” — London Spottiswoode & Co., 1860.

[80] Act of Death – Malta Public Registry Ins. No. 774 of 4 May, 1863.

>[81] Sproprio Emti. Lett. B. R.M.L., Arch. 925 fol. 15.

[82] Libro Maestro Beni Urbani Valletta 1829-1843 R.M.L. Treas. B. 130 fol. 164.

[83] Libro Esigenziale Beni Tesoro 1767-81 — R.M.L. Treas. A. 2, fol. 53.

[84] Libro Esigenziale Beni Tesoro 1781-90, R.M.L., Treas. A. 3, fol. 192.

[85] Libro Beni Stabili del Tesoro “B,” R.M.L. Treas. A. 1, fol. 64.

[86] Ibid. fol. 63.

[87] Ibid. fol. 265.

[88] Ibid. fol. 46.

_______

 

Merchants Street, Valletta

Merchant Street Valletta Malta circa 1854

Palazzo Parisio

Palazzo_Parisio

At the head of Merchants Street, or Strada San Giacomo as it was known during the rule of the Order, opposite the Auberge d’Italie, stands the Palazzo Parisio at present used as the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

The site was originally occupied by two houses, one belonging to Chev. Fra Michel Fonterme della Chiesa and the other by Francesco This. These were purchased by the Bali of Manosca, Comm. Fra Giovanni di Ventimiglia, of the Langue of Provence, and formed part of an usufruct which he instituted in 1608 in favour of those members of his family who at any time might be serving in the Order.[2] In 1717 these two houses were given by the Ventimiglia family to Donna Maria Sceberras in exchange for two houses in Republic Street. [3]

On the death of Donna Maria the houses were inherited by her son, Monsignor Domenico Sceberras, Titular Bishop of Epifania, who demolished the two Ventimiglia houses and on the site erected the present palace with its simple but elegant architecture.

The mural decorations were executed by the Maltese decorator, Antonaci Grech, known as Naci.[4]

The Bishop died on July 25, 1744, and the property then passed to his sister, Donna Margherita Muscati. Later we find the palace in possession of Donna Margherita’s son, Don Paolo Muscati, from whom it was inherited by Anna Muscati who married the penniless Cavalier Don Domenico Parisio of Reggio Calabria.

Palazzo Parisio was the property of Chev. Paolo Parisio Muscati, the youngest son of Donna Anna, in 1798 when Malta capitulated to the French. Napoleon Bonaparte landed on June 13 and took up his quarters at the Banco Giuratale in Merchants Street, but, finding this far from comfortable, next day moved to Palazzo Parisio which, it is presumed, was either requisitioned or put at his disposal by Chev. Paolo. Napoleon resided here from the 14th to the 20th June before proceeding to the conquest of Egypt.

When the Maltese revolted against their new masters on September 2, 1798, Chev. Paolo Parisio Muscati joined the insurgents and headed the Naxxar volunteers throughout the campaign which culminated in the capitulation of the French forces on September 4, 1800.

On November 26, 1800, Sir Ralph Abercrombie, commanding the expedition to Egypt, called at Malta on board H.M.S. Diadem and like Napoleon lodged at Palazzo Parisio up to the 20th December.[5] At the battle of Alexandria, on March 21, 1801, Abercrombie was mortally wounded at the moment of victory, and succumbed to his wounds on the 28th of the same month. His body was brought to Malta on board the frigate “Flora,” and after lying in state was interred at Fort St. Elmo.

Chev. Paolo Parisio Muscati, who continued to take an active part in Maltese affairs, was among the first recipients of knighthood when the Order of St. Michael and St. George was created, and he was raised to the dignity of Grand Cross of this Order in 1836.

From the 25th January to the 14th May 1841 Lord Lynedock, who as General Graham had taken an active part in the blockade of the French, resided at Palazzo Parisio which had been put at his disposal by his friend, Chev. Paolo.

Chev. Parisio, now Sir Paolo Parisio, died on December 10, 1841, was accorded a state funeral and buried at the “Ta’ Ġesù” Church, Valletta.

After the death of Paolo Parisio the old palace passed through varied vicissitudes until it was taken over by the Government for use as a General Post Office.[6]

On 1 January 1886, Ferdinando Vincenzo Inglott succeeded Roger Duke as Postmaster of the newly established General Post Office. Soon afterwards he and a representative from the Public Works Department viewed Palazzo Parisio in Strada Mercanti as an adequate replacement for the Banca Giuratale. A two year lease was entered into with the owners and after carrying out the most urgent repairs, the painting and decorating of its halls, Inglott had the new premises ready to open its doors to the public.

The General Post Office started functioning from its new home on Monday 17 May 1886. The room on the right was reserved for the sale of stamps and registration of letters. By the end of 1892 the whole of Palazzo Parisio had become a Government property

The top storey of the palace was completed after World War I to house the Audit Office.

During the Second World War the premises were partly destroyed by enemy action. In the repairs that followed the exterior was left unaltered, though it seems that it was not found possible to restore the mural decorations.

Palazzo Parisio had been the seat of the General Post Office for 87 years when on 4 July 1973, the GPO was transferred to the building on the opposite side of the street – the Auberge d’Italie.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs moved from the “Old Chancellery”, Palace Square, to Palazzo Parisio in October 1973.

 

CASA DORELL

Palazzo_Dorell_April_18_2003

Casa Dorell (No. 10 Merchants Street) is one of the finest palaces in Valletta which was built in the late 16th century. It is a two-storey building having an elevated ground floor with underlying shops and a double height upper floor having an unusual extensive area of bare masonry above the upper floor windows.

The façade is well proportioned although asymmetric having an unequal number of windows flanking the main door with the windows on both levels having Melitan mouldings. A small elliptical aperture, which was a common architectural feature of the period, is located above the main entrance.

The façade is dominated by a wooden balcony supported on four highly carved corbels over the main entrance. The wooden balcony seems to have replaced an earlier open one in stone or wrought iron. Above the balcony is a rectangular stone frame which probably had a coat-of-arms of the owner.

Mepa scheduled Casa Dorell as a Grade 1 national monument as per Government Notice No. 276/08 in the Government Gazette dated 28 March 2008.

 

CASTELLANIA

Castellana

Passing Casa Dorell we come to the striking building now occupied by the Ministry of Health, once the “Castellania” or Civil and Criminal Tribunals of the Order.

The site was originally purchased by Grand Master Jean Levesque de la Cassiere who here erected the first palace which was considered sumptuous for its time.[7]

The President or “Castellan” of these tribunals was nominated by the Grand Master from one of the seven langues of the Religion and held office for the term of two years. When passing through the streets of Valletta this official was followed by a page bearing a rod as a sign of his jurisdiction.

Many were the duties which the Castellan had to attend to. As president  of the tribunal he had to see that justice was impartially administered, and if any of his ministers did not exercise his office properly he was to report him to the Grand Master. However, he had power to punish the Visconti[8] and other minor officials. It was also his duty to keep a record of the arrival and departure of foreigners and to ascertain that the Gran Visconte and his captains regularly carried out the night round. Together with the Judge of the Civil Court, the Castellan attended public audience on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The presence of the Castellan was required at the processions from the Conventual Church on St. Mark’s Day, the Rogations, Corpus Christi and the feasts of St. John, the Immaculate Conception and the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin. Further, together with the Giurati, it was his duty to distribute the prizes or “palii” to the winners of the horse races held on the feast days of St. John and St. Rocco; his decision at these races was final. He was also to assist in the compilation of criminal proceedings and was to administer the oath to advocates, notaries and jurats of Valletta before their taking office and also to all doctors of medicine after having received their warrant. He was, however, debarred from imprisoning or setting free any person.[9] It will thus be seen that the duties of the “Castellan” were many and varied and his post was far from being a sinecure.

The Captain of the city of Vittoriosa was the perpetual Vice Castellan and held jurisdiction over the three cities of Vittoriosa, Cospicua and Senglea.

Grand Master Emmanuel Pinto demolished the old building of the Castellania built by La Cassiere and remodelled and embellished it in the florid style of the period. The work was commenced in 1757 under architect Francesco Zerafa and completed in 1760 by architect Giuseppe Bonnici; the chapel was consecrated on November 15, 1760, by Monsignor Constans.[10]

On the façade are two marble figures, Justice and Truth, below which was the epigraph “Judicium Justitia Judicat” whilst over the portal, lavishly decorated with Pinto’s crescents, can still be seen the inscription composed by Bali Fra Marcantonio Trento[11] reading:–

D.O.M.

EMMANUEL PINTO M.M. ET PRINCEPS

HUNC UTRIUSQUE JUSTITIAE LOCUM

VETUSTATE PROPE LABENTEM,

AD TERROREM POTIUS, QUAM AD POENAM

A FUNDAMENTIS AERE PROPRIO RENOVAVIT

AUXIT, ORNAVIT. ANNO DOM.

MDCCLVIII

After the Law Courts were moved to the Auberge d’Auvergne part of the palace of the Castellania was converted into a Secondary School for girls until the Public Health was constituted by Sir Gerald (later Lord) Strickland on the 10th April 1895. [12]  Up to this time the Medical Officer was not attached to any department; he had his office at the Palace and acted as medical advisor to the Government. [13]

It was here that the physician and prominent archeologist Sir Themistocles Zammit discovered the Mediterranean strain of brucellosis in 1905.

Nowadays it houses the Ministry for Health

The façade’s concave central bay contains marble elements and allegorical statues of two females representing Justice and Truth which are the symbols of the Law Courts. The missing bust and coat-of-arms may have been removed during the French occupation or during the governorship of Sir Thomas Maitland.

In the courtyard of the Castellania is a fountain consisting of a large semicircular stone basin with a square pedestal supporting a stone eagle in a sitting position.

At the corner of Merchants’ and St. John’s Streets is a pillory (unique in Malta) set in the splayed corner pilaster of the Castellania. It consists of a stone column with the lower four courses of upper coralline limestone like in the rest of the façade of the building. Delinquents tried by the tribunal and condemned to endure the strappado were taken through the Castellania’s side exit (in St. John’s Street) and escorted to the pillory. The condemned sat on the stone stool of the pillory and tied to the metal bar which is still in place and left exposed to public ridicule.

MEPA scheduled the Castellania including the fountain and pillory as Grade 1 national monuments as per Government Notice number 276/08 in the Government Gazette dated 28 March 2008.

 

OLIVER STARKEY HOUSE

The house at the corner of Merchants Street with St. Lucia Street (now No. 86 Merchants Street) was originally the house of Sir Oliver Starkey, Bali of Aquila and Latin Secretary to Grand Master La Valette. Sir Oliver Starkey, an English Knight, presented himself as the right hand and secretary of Grandmaster La Vallette during the major Ottoman attacks. He assisted the Grandmaster during the Great Siege of 1565. He is buried in the crypt of St John’s in Valletta, being the only person to be buried in this crypt below the rank of Grandmaster. His tomb is close to La Vallette’s in the same crypt. Starkey’s house in Birgu can still be seen today next to the Auberge d’Angltere.

In 1606 Bali Cagnolo, as executor of Starkey’s will, in an act of foundation,[14] directed that a mass be celebrated on the first of each month for the repose of the soul of the said Starkey.

This house passed to Tommaso and Vina Cosavi[15] in 1644 and from these to Gregorio Mamo.

It was bought by the Assembly of Conventual Chaplains on March 5, 1690 for Sc. 8,005[16] at a public sale of the Holy Office.[17].

 

MONTE DI PIETA’ E REDENZIONE

Monte_di_Pieta_April_17_2003

No. 46 Merchants Street is the Monte di Pietà e Redenzione.

This palace, from 1577 to 1721, housed the Banca’ Giuratale[18] and was exchanged with the Treasury for the house opposite on July 30, 1721.[19] The premises were then used as the office for the sale of the “spogli” or spoils of deceased knights until August 14, 1749, when they were assigned to the Jewish neophyte Giuseppe Cohen who had revealed to Emmanuel Pinto a conspiracy of the Turkish slaves to assassinate the Grand Master and seize control of the Island. The building was made over to the said Cohen and to his descendants in the male and female line, failing which it was to revert to the Treasury.[20] It would seem, however, that later an annuity was granted to the Cohen family in lieu of the use of this palace as in 1778, during the grandmastership of Francisco Ximenes de Texada, the premises were remodelled as they are at present to house the Monte di Pietà.

The façade of the palace dates to the mid-seventeenth century and is expressed in a restrained and academic Baroque style. The use of the bold segmental pediment over the main entrance and the omega-shaped mouldings incorporating a scallop shell over the second floor windows suggest that the façade was the work of the Order’s resident military engineer, Francesco Buonamici (1596-1677).

The Monte di Pietà had its origin on January 15, 1598, when Comm. Fra Manuel de Couros (or Quiros) of the Priory of Portugal, moved by religious and Christian piety, petitioned Grand Master Martino Garzes and obtained permission to donate the sum of Sc. 2,000 for the purpose of establishing a fund in order “to suppress the infamous usury daily practised by slaves and Jews who charged a tarì per month for every scudo lent on pledges” this rate of interest being equal in a year to the sum originally advanced, the pledges generally remaining in the possession of the lender.[21]

At the request of Comm. Couros, the fund was instituted under the title of “Monte di Sant’Anna”; this was later changed to “Monte di Pieta.”

In the original deed of foundation it was stipulated that the yearly rate of  interest on the money advanced should be two grains per scudo and that one year was to be allowed for the redemption of pledges. When this period expired the object pawned was to be sold by public auction, any surplus realised being repaid to the pledger. It was further stipulated that a rich senior Knight Commander of the Order was to be appointed president and that one of the richest jurats of Valletta was to be appointed commissioner; each of these keeping one of the keys of the chest in which the pledges were kept.

Up to April 11, 1720, money was only advanced on gold, silver and jewellery but on this date Grand Master Marc’Antonio Zondadari authorised the commissioners of the Monte to advance money on draperies, and decreed that the rate of interest be reduced from 4% to 3%.[22]

From 1597 to 1699 this institution carried out its transactions with the original capital of Sc. 2,000 but, with the growth of the population, it soon became evident that this capital was insufficient to meet the demand. Grand Master Perellos, anxious to help this worthy institution to increase its transactions, in 1699, assigned the sum of Sc. 500 to the fund of the Monte[23] and again, on the 8 October 1699, further assigned to it the sum of Sc. 4,872 without interest. The latter sum represented one half of a treasure amounting to Sc. 9,744 in gold coins which was found in a copper urn during the demolition of a house bought by the Cathedral Church. The Grand Master immediately laid claim to the whole treasure; however, the Bishop also put in a claim for one half of the money asserting that the treasure had been found on property belonging to the Cathedral. The case was submitted to Rome and Pope Innocent XII decided that the Grand Master should have one half whilst the other half was to go to the Bishop.[24]

On September 12, 1712, the funds of the institution were further augmented when Giuseppe Scipione Camilleri bequeathed to the Monte several tenements in Valletta. The greater part of these were sold and realised Sc. 16,816.[25]

Grand Master Zondadari, on April 12 and June 25, 1720, directed the Università[26] of Valletta to furnish the Monte with a capital of Sc. 16,000 without interest, and by an order dated March 1, 1721, directed the Università to supply the Monte with a capital of Sc. 2,000 at an interest of 3%. On March 3, 1724, Grand Master Manoel de Vilhena decreed that the sum of Sc. 2,020 then deposited in the chest of the “Gran Corte della Castellania” be transferred to the Monte.

At this time the books showed that the institution had disbursed Sc. 43,943 on pawns of gold, silver and jewellery, Sc. 13,870 on wearing apparel, having only Sc., 401 left in cash in hand, making a total of Sc. 58,213. One can easily perceive that the cash in hand at this epoch was inadequate to meet the daily transactions. Grand Master Manoel de Vilhena therefore ordered the Università to pay the Monte a further Sc. 22,000 in January 1726 and Sc. 9,400 in March, July and October of the same year.

When the Monte di Sant’Anna had its modest beginning it was housed in the Banca’ Giuratale in Valletta; it was later transferred to the palace of the Castellania and in 1773 it was finally moved to the palace which it now occupies and which had been bought from the Treasury for Sc. 5,465. An adjacent house was taken on perpetual emphyteusis from the heirs of Baron Diego Antonio Galea at a yearly rent of Sc. 124 and added to the house acquired from the Treasury. Still another house, which was taken on perpetual lease from the Nunnery of St. Ursola at a yearly rent of Sc. 237, was added to the Monte.

Grand Master Emanuel de Rohan, by a decree dated June 28, 1787, authorised the consolidation of the funds of the Monte di Pietà with those of an equally national institution, the Monte della Redenzione degli Schiavi, the latter institution having larger funds in landed property than it actually required.

The “Monte della Redenzione degli Schiavi” had its origin in the year 1607 when it was founded by Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt.

Preaching the lenten sermons in the Conventual Church of St. John, the Capuchin Friar, Father Raffaele da Malta, vividly depicted the miserable plight of the Christian slaves in Moslem hands, and represented what a worthy object their ransom would be in the eyes of the Lord, induced many pious persons to offer alms and help. A committee for the collection of alms was constituted consisting of Comm. Fra Michel de Alentorn, Chev. Fra Raymond de Guzon, Chev. Fra Gaetano Casati, Comm. Strumfeder, Dr. Giacomo Muscat, Notary Francesco Imbroglia and the Father Guardian of the Capuchin Friary at Floriana.[27] The funds collected by these were very limited, and the foundation would have been able to do but little for the liberation of the unfortunate slaves had it not been for the generosity of a charitable lady, Caterina widow of Hector Vitale, known as “Speziala”[28] who, in her will, appointed the “Monte della Redenzione degli Schiavi” as her universal heir whilst also leaving one fifth of her property to the Nunnery of St. Mary of the Magdalenes.[29]

By the sale of part of this property, and with a capital of Sc. 6,000 which came to the Monte di Redenzione through the will of Gio. Domenico Felici,[30] this institution was enabled to commence operations in earnest.

Caterina Vitale died in Syracuse where she had gone for a change of air and on her instructions her body was brought to Malta in 1619 and interred at the Carmelite Church, Valletta.[31]

A few years after the death of Caterina, the system of collecting alms was abolished and the administration was restricted to four persons, a knight, a civilian, a receiver (also a knight) and a secretary. This lasted until 1660 after which the administration was entrusted to three knights, one a Grand Cross as president. Up to 1690 the meetings of this commission were held in the vestry of St. John’s Conventual Church, but after this date they were held in the house of the president, who was nominated by the Grand Master.

In the early days of the institution, in order not to allow the Moslems to take undue advantage of the foundation, the ransom paid for a Maltese slave was fixed at Sc. 70 but later it was augmented to Sc. 120 and from 1707 to 1787 it was fixed at not more than Sc. 150; however, after this it rose to Sc. 500 plus expenses for repatriation.

After the consolidation of the funds of the Monte di Pietà with those of the Monte della Redenzione degli Schiavi, the new title of the institution was “Monte di Pietà e Redenzione” and the administration was conducted by a Knight Grand Cross, as president, and a commission consisting of four knights and four Maltese gentlemen. The first commission of the new institution consisted of Bali Fra Agnace d’Argote, as president, and Comm. Fra Francesco d’Andrea, Comm. Fra Antoine, Baron de Neveu, Chev. Fra Francois Marie Siffrene Daurel, Chev. Fra Jacques Bannuls de Montferrete, one jurat pro tempore of the Università of Valletta, Marquis Enrico Testaferrata, Baron Gaetano Pisani and Baron Calcedonio Azzopardi. [32]

On their arrival, the French approved of the Monte and ordered it to continue its functions;[33] however, on the insurrection of the Maltese against the Republican government the French stripped the Monte of every article, money and pawns, which at that moment amounted to Sc. 443,484 (over £36,957)[34] on the pretext of the need of subsidising the troops and inhabitants during the blockade, promising that the French Republic would repay this amount when things settled down.

One of the first cares of the British Government was the re-establishment of this useful institution and Sir Alexander Ball ordered its re-opening on October 10, 1800,[35] the local Treasury advancing £4,000 whilst money was received on loan from the inhabitants at 4% and later 3%.

The cessation of slavery put to an end the old charge for ransoms and the revenues of the Monte di Redenzione were devoted to the payment of interest and to the extinction of loans.

The Monte di Pietà still functions today and still achieves the worthy object of its founder — the helping of those in temporary need.

 

BANCA GIURATALE

Municipal_palace

Opposite the Monte di Pietà e Redenzione stands the ancient “Banca dei Giurati” (197, Merchants Street) later also known as the “Palazzo della Città.” In 1841 the Packet Office was transferred to this building until 1886. Afterwards this building housed the Public Registry Office until 2008 and now it is the Ministry for Economy, Investment and Small Businesses

This house originally belonged to Dr. Gio. Batta Piotto[36] who sold it to Michele Ducos for Sc. 3,200.[37] The Treasury, however, on July 16, 1665, exercised its right of pre-emption requiring the said house for a public purpose.

On January 13, 1668, the premises were let to Comm. Fra Gio. Francesco Ricasoli,[38] a florentine knight, whose zeal for the Religion is commemorated  by Fort Ricasoli.

When the foundation stone of the new Cottoner Fortifications was laid on August 28, 1670, Comm. Ricasoli donated Sc. 80,000 towards the building of these fortifications. He was called before the Council by Grand Master Nicholas Cottoner and thanked for his generous and pious deed. It was ordained that the money donated was to be applied to the fortification of the Punta d’Orso which was henceforth known as Fort Ricasoli.[39]

After Ricasoli’s death on July 26, 1673, the palace was let to the Bali of St. Eufemia, Fra Gio. Batta Ansidei, from September 11, 1673, to June 24, 1685, and from May 1, 1687 to April 30, 1692, to Comm. Fra Paolo Emilio Argeli, a Bolognese knight who had been captain of the Grand Master’s galley in 1672. On June 27, 1692, it was let to Aloysia widow of Gio. Batta Dorel.[40]

We find that on July 30, 1721, these premises were exchanged by the Treasury with the Università for the building opposite, and the Banca’ dei Giurati was then transferred to the building under review.[41]

From the earliest days Malta was governed by an autonomous commune known as the “Università” which had its seat at the Città Notabile or Mdina as it is known to this day. After the coming of the Knights there were three “Università” and consequently three “Banche Giuratali,” one in Mdina, another in Valletta and the third in Gozo. The “Giurati,” as the executive members of the Università were called, were presided over, in Notabile (Mdina), by the “Capitano della Verga” or Captain of the Rod, so called because he was followed by a page bearing a rod of office; to the local inhabitants this official was known as the “Ħakem.” The Capitano’ della Verga had pre-eminence over the Giurati at all functions in the Cathedral and elsewhere, and when the Bishop celebrated pontifical mass, it was his privilege to pour water on to the Bishop’s hands at the “lavabo.”[42] The Giurati of the Università of Valletta and the three cities round the Grand Harbour were presided over by a Seneschal Bali (Siniscalco).

It was the charge of the Giurati to provide corn and other provisions for the population under a system of complete monopoly, thus ensuring the price of bread in times of abundance or scarcity of corn.

As the population increased in numbers the Università was required to buy greater quantities of corn, and to meet this extra outlay, it raised loans under an administration termed “Massa Frumentaria” (great store of wheat). As a small interest of 3% was assured the Maltese eagerly invested their money in these loans. The capital of the Massa’ Frumentaria is still in the hands of the local government and today amounts to £79,000, the interest on which is still duly paid at the Treasury in the month of March.

The Grand Masters, perceiving the influence which the Giurati had on the people, whilst steadily curtailing their powers, were prodigal in granting them privileges and favours. The Italian Grand Master Zondadari granted the jurats the privilege of wearing the “Toga Senatoria” or senatorial toga of black damask with a tight red sleeve somewhat loose at one of the ends, called  chaperon by the French. They were also allowed the privilege of the “currile” (magisterial chairs) in municipal churches and other places when the Grand Master made an appearance. Zondadari further granted the Giurati of Notabile the privilege of being preceded by a silver mace when in a body.[43]

The building in Merchants Street, used as the Banca’ Giuratale, was reconstructed and embellished by Zondadari, an event commemorated by a tablet over the front door reading:–

MARCUS ANTONIUS ZONDADARIUS M.M.

HAS AEDES COMMODIOREM FORMAM REDACTAS

PUBLICIS MELITAE NEGOTIIS

ET PUBLICAE PIETATI APERUIT

ANNO DNI. MDCCXXI

From its beginnings at Borgo we find that the Council of the Università for the cities grouped round the Grand Harbour included, besides the Castellan and the three officers of Public Health (Sanità), two cattapani,[44] two consuls for goldsmiths and silversmiths, two consuls for tailors, two for carpenters, three for cobblers and saddlers, one for caulkers, one for the millers and one and sometimes two for the masons. This would indicate that the arts and crafts had a say in communal matters very much on the lines of the Liveried Companies of the City of London.[45]

Grand Master Lascaris, on March 13, 1647, assigned the precedence of the Consuls as follows: — (1) Goldsmiths, (2) Locksmiths, (3) Tailors, (4) Cobblers, (5) Carpenters. On June 1, 1708, the Consuls for Barbers, Cutlers and Tin-smiths were added to the above. In the Vilhena Codex, Tit. XIII on the Università, among the voters in the Popular Council with the feudatories, Capitano della Verga, jurats, judges, and constables for the villages, one notes besides the Consoli’ del Mare, the Chancellor and the Cattapani of Notabile and Valletta, the five Consuls of the arts and crafts mentioned by Lascaris.[46]

The palace in Merchants Street also housed the “Consolato del Mare,” a commercial tribunal for maritime commerce.

At one time maritime questions regarding Malta were regulated by the Consolato’ del Mare at Messina; however, on September 1, 1697, Grand Master Perellos organised the Consolato’ del Mare in Malta on the model of that of Messina and Barcelona. He legislated that every year the Grand Master was to nominate four merchants, expert in maritime affairs, who under the name of Consuls would administer justice from the 1st September onwards. These four consuls were increased to six by Grand Master Manoel de Vilhena on September 1, 1722, and again reduced to four by Rohan on May 26, 1784.[47] In these Consuls we see the Judges of Her Majesty’s Commercial Court of today.

During the French Occupation the Università continued its functions regarding the Corn Monopoly and on the 30 Prairial (18 June) 1798 Napoleon issued the following order:— “The establishment named the Università for the supply of corn to the Island is to remain separated from the ancient administration to date from the 1st Messidor (19 June) and the Government Commissary is charged to organise it in such manner as not to give any anxiety to the Republic regarding the supplies of the Island.”[48] As we have already seen Napoleon slept in this building on the night of the 13/14 June 1798 before moving to Palazzo Parisio.

Sir Thomas Maitland, the British Governor of Malta, by a proclamation dated January 24, 1822, announced the suppression of the Università, which was to take place on July 1, 1822,[49] on which date the commerce of grain of every kind was to be thrown open in the Islands. Though the corn monopoly was abolished the “Government Grain Concern” was established with a view to ensuring the maintenance of a reserve stock of wheat in order to guard the inhabitants against scarcity or exorbitant prices. The Government thus became a sort of merchant having its own brokers, a certain Mr. Ninian Douglas and his son Benjamin. The office of the Grain Department was established in the Banca Giuratale, and from here this concern carried on its operations until it was definitely suppressed on July 27, 1830.

In 1841 the British Packet Office was moved to this building until it was transferred to the site of the General Post Office at Palazzo Parisio, and the Public Registry was then housed in this palace until 2008 when it started housing the Ministry for Economy, Investment and Small Businesses

This is one of the few non-ecclesiastical buildings designed by Romano Carapecchia. The building was intended as the administrative quarters of the Universita’.

This building then known as the Municipal Palace was reconstructed and embellished by Grand Master Zondadari, an event commemorated by a tablet above the front door. The lower part of the façade on Triq il-Merkanti is composed of three bays.

The side bays have square-headed doors of shops (botteghe) with oval windows above them set under a blind arch with pronounced keystone. The main entrance has an arched doorway framed between Doric columns elevated on bases supporting an open balcony.

The upper level consists of a series of rectangular windows with ornate, omega shaped pediments with intricate carved decorations. A highly decorated cornice crowns the roof level with projecting consoles alternated by roundels. At the center above the balcony door is a marble inscription within a rectangular frame flanked by two escutcheons.

Above this is a unique composition consisting of a wide open drape with side sways within which is a monumental sculpture representing the Royal cipher of the British monarchy.

Mepa scheduled the Banca Giuratale as a Grade 1 national monument as per Government Notice number 276/08 in the Government Gazette dated 28 March 2008.

 

CASA BELLOTT

At the corner of Merchants Street with Old Theatre Street stands the Casa Bellott,[50] which was donated to the Assembly of Conventual Chaplains by Chev. Fra Carlo Bellott senior. The Assembly of Conventual Chaplains demolished this house in 1745-47, and rebuilt it in its present form, viz. 3 houses, 4 mezzaninos, 7 shops and 2 stores.

 

COLLEGIO DEL GESU’ AREA

Leaving Archbishop Street, on the right we find the Jesuit Church and the large block of the “Collegio del Ġesù” or Jesuit College. Opposite this is a house, No. 179 Merchants Street, completely destroyed by enemy action during the Second World War and now rebuilt, which came to the Monte della Redenzione degli Schiavi through the succession of Caterina Vitale.[51]

House No. 173 in the same street belonged to the “Collegio del Ġesù” and was known as the Casa Zoitana.[52] Adjoining this house is the Casa Albergotti (Nos. 170/172 Merchants Street) which belonged to the foundation of the Tuscan family of that name. By a Government decree dated March 12, 1824, the premises were handed back to Chev. Tomaso Albergotti, who was to enjoy the property on condition that a certificate was produced every year attesting that he was still living. By a decree of February 4, 1835, the Albergottis were  allowed to sell the property and invest the proceeds in Tuscany.[53]

In 1886 these premises were owned by Giovanni di Niccolo Pappaffy, a Greek gentleman, who was born in Salonica and who settled down in Malta in 1810. Mr. Pappaffy bequeathed the property, together with a capital of £10,000, to the people of Malta stipulating that the income was to be utilised in helping poor young men, between the ages of 18 and 24, to emigrate. [54] Giovanni di Niccolo Pappaffy died in Malta on February 16, 1886, and was interred at “ta’ Braxia” Cemetery.

ROSELLI-MASSA HOUSE

The Rosselli-Massa house stands at the corner of Merchants Street with St. Christopher Street (No. 167 Merchants Street) and on the façade can still be seen the Rosselli arms with the initials P.R. and A.M. This house once belonged to Pietro Rosselli and Aloysia Massa. In her will[55] Aloysia Massa directed that she and her husband, Don Pietro, were to be buried in the Chapel of St. Pietro in Vincoli at the Jesuit Church, Valletta, in which chapel the Rosselli arms are conspicuous. She also willed that the feast day of St. Pietro in Vincoli was to be celebrated with due solemnity in this chapel. All the property was bequeathed to works of charity including that of providing a dowry to spinsters of the Rosselli-Massa families who wished to contract marriage or take the veil.

THE CAMERATA

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Opposite the Infermeria or Hospital of the Order was a large house called Camerata where some knights led a pious life and at fixed hours in the morning and at night betook themselves to their chapel to pray and meditate.

The Camerata was erected in 1593 during the Grandmastership of Cardinal Lubenx de Verdalle, and the saintly Father Giobattista Carminata, a Jesuit who was then preaching in Malta, greatly helped in establishing this institution.[56] The first director of this establishment was the Prior of Navarre, Fra Bernardo de Spelletta, who shortly after was appointed General of the Galleys. The other founders and directors were Comm. Fra Cataliano Casati, later Prior of Lombardy, Fra Jacques Cordon d’Evieux, later Marshal of the Order, Fra Maximilien d’Ampons, later Bali of Morea, Fra Gio Paolo Lascaris Castellar, later Grand Master, Fra Pompeo Rospigliosi, uncle of Pope Clement IX, later Bali of Cremona, Fra Lanfranco Ciba, later Admiral of the Order and many others.[57]

On December 3, 1629, the Council approved a project for setting up the Camerata as an official residence for French, Spanish and Italian knights on probation, each langue having separate quarters; a few years later, however, it was decided to use Fort St. Angelo for this purpose.[58]

During the last years of the rule of Grand Master Lascaris the pious union of knights declined and the premises were in a very dilapidated state, but they were restored to their pristine state through the zeal of eight knights who  obtained the necessary funds from the Treasury on condition of repayment at the rate of Sc. 500 per annum. [59]

Later, the Camerata was known as the “Lingeria” and served for the storage of the linen necessary for the Hospital.

This house was demolished in the early eighties and it was rebuilt with machine cut stones from the factory of Bishop Casolani.[60] Until 1950s it was used as Royal Naval Barracks. Now it is serving as a Government Social Housing Block.

There was a very fine chapel at the Camerata with seats of inlaid wood, and silk tapestry; the altar piece was by Mattia Preti and represented the Agony of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemani. It is very probable that this painting is the one now in the St. Ursola Church, Valletta.

The original design of the Camerata was meant to be a nine-storey edifice with 23 apartments on each storey, housing 828 individuals. In 1862 only five of the nine storeys containing apartments were constructed.

The importance of this building arises from the considerations for highly improved sanitary and social conditions incorporated in its design as one of the earliest housing projects.

It is planned around a large central courtyard with a staircase located on one side of this courtyard. Damp is reduced through the use of Coralline limestone for the lower courses, a ventilated basement and double leaf external walls with an intermediate air cavity. Above the first four Coralline limestone courses, the building is constructed using Globigerina limestone blocks cut in an experimental smaller size than that normally used in Malta for easier and safer handling by workmen.

Aesthetically, the building is quite bare with large plain rectangular windows on the upper floors, and semi-circular arched windows at ground floor level.

A heavy cornice crowns the edifice above which is a plain roof parapet wall.

On the site of the Camerata there was originally a building which served as a retreat house for the Knights set up by the Jesuit Giovanni Battista Carminata in 1593. The Jesuits built a house for private spiritual retreats for the knights near the hospital at the end of Valletta.

Mepa scheduled the Camerata as a Grade 2 building as per Government Notice number 276/08 in the Government Gazette dated 28 March 2008.

 

OSPIZIO MADDELENA

 

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The block next to the Camerata is the Maddalena.

Grand Master Verdalle, in 1588, instituted in Malta the nuns of St. Ursola and converted the palace at Borgo for their reception. The nuns were assigned a grant of money and an allowance of wheat and oil to be supplied by the Treasury in proportion to their numbers. The Chapter General of the Order held in 1583 also decreed that the new nunnery was to receive a share of all prizes made by the fleet of the Religion, equal to that of the Castellan and of other officials of the Castellania. Some nuns from the convent of St. Mary Ara Coeli in Syracuse were brought over to govern the new institution. [61] As the sisters professed to the form established for brother chaplains, the Prioress or Mother Superior was allowed to wear a knight’s badge, the full cross, whilst the sisters wore a donat’s badge or demi-cross. In 1593 all the nuns were allowed to wear the full cross.

By a Brief of Pope Gregory XIII of June 1, 1585, the convent and inmates were placed under the immediate jurisdiction of the Grand Master and of the Prior of the Conventual Church. By this same Brief the Grand Master was given instructions to “collect poor and abandoned young women whose virtue was in danger and place them in the same nunnery, but in a place apart from the nuns” there to remain until they either professed or were given in marriage.

In 1595 the nunnery was transferred to Valletta in the building which had been prepared for them by Verdalle. The branch establishment occupied by the young women was transferred, in 1609, to a building in the neighbourhood of Fort St. Elmo still known today as “St. Mary Magdalen of the Penitents” or “Maddalena.”[62]

As the Magdalenes were now separated from the nunnery of St. Ursola, special revenues had to be provided for this institution, and for this purpose the Treasury sanctioned an annual grant of Sc. 200. In 1612 the proceeds of a duty of four tarì on every cask of imported wine was also allotted to the convent of the Maddalena. These revenues were further augmented by the bequeathing of the fifth part of the estates of all prostitutes, whose wills were made illegal and invalid unless they contained that contribution towards the nunnery.[63]

When the property of a certain Girolama Ciantar, yielding a yearly rental of Sc. 500 was incorporated to the foundation, the revenue from all sources amounted to Sc. 2,000 by which 66 nuns under the habit and rule of St. Claire were maintained.

On the 18th June 1798, Napoleon issued Article 12 wherein it was declared that the hospitals were to be reorganized on a new system and the property accruing from closed convents was to be used for that purpose. On the 29th July 1798, the French Commissioner ordered some of the nuns and women inmates of the Mary Magdalen Asylum situated in the vicinity of the Casetta to vacate the premises. On the French occupation of Valletta in 1798, the Republican government converted the Magdalen Asylum into a hospital for the civilian population, so that the Infermeria could be cleared and used as a military hospital. All monastic institutions were dissolved and their endowments seized, the inmates being given the liberty to return to the world or to their homes;[64] however, few of the Magdalenes availed themselves of the permission to return to their families and fewer to the world. The majority of the inmates were received into the Convent of St. Catherine, an institution originally created in 1606 for the reception of “daughters of scandalous and licentious women” and was hence called “Il Ricettacolo per le Orfane della Misericordia.”

On the 21st August, the Commission of Government appointed a sub-committee of three members to report on the suitability of transferring the male civil patients to the Casetta. The committee reported that the Casetta and adjoining Casa delle Alunne – a home for illegitimate children – could accommodate 210 beds. They proposed, however, that alterations to the edifice structure should be made to separate the two sexes so that the hospital would accommodate 108 beds for males and 170 beds for females. On the 21 December 1798, 70 civilian male patients were transferred from the Sacra Infermeria to the new wards. This arrangement was short-lived, and alternative accommodation was arranged in the nearby Mary Magdalen Convent and Asylum. On the 4th May 1799, the Bishop was ordered by the French to desecrate the church of the former monastery so that this would serve as a casualty ward.

The upper floor of the monastery was used as fever wards, while the lower floor housed the surgical wards and the stores. The basement housed the mental patients. The professional staff consisted of five physicians, five surgeons and two barber-surgeons.

With the capitulation of the French, the Hospital Civil was taken over for use by the sick Neapolitan troops, but in November 1800 reverted to civilian use. The management of the renamed Civil Hospital became the responsibility of the Presidents of the Hospitals and a set of regulations for its management were drawn up in 1802. The professional staff consisted of four Physicians, seven Surgeons, a Maestro di Fisica and four apprentices responsible for bloodletting and applying vesicants, a chirurgo d’apparecchio and a braghista responsible for applying splints, bandages and trusses, besides a number of surgical students. The pharmacy was under the direction of a Principal Apothecary and four assistants. By 1837 the wards had become overcrowded. All forms of disease were treated in the hospital with separate wards being provided for cases of scabies, cancer and ophthalmic disorders. In May 1850 the sick inmates were transferred to the newly established Central Hospital at Floriana. The former convent was in 1851 reorganized as an orphan asylum accommodating 50 boys and 60 girls aged 5-10 years. The building was destroyed during the Second World War and only the church, now used as a store, survives

In 1829 Pope Pius VIII granted the British Government permission to incorporate the funds of this institution with those for the support of a “House of Industry“ which was to be established at the Maddalena,[65] and in which one room was to be allotted for the reception of such fallen women as might present themselves for admission. These never exceeded six in number and were employed in sewing and patching bedding and clothing for the use of the children. The Royal Commission of 1836 suppressed this institution and the few penitents still there were transferred, on November 1, 1848, to the Ospizio in Floriana under the care of the Sisters of Charity, which order had been introduced into Malta by the Archbishop at the request of the Governor, Richard More O’Ferrall.

As soon as the sick in the convent of St. Mary Magdalen were transferred to the Central Hospital in Floriana, the premises were converted into a House of Industry for children of both sexes, and the Hospital for Women was converted into a Hospital for Incurables as in former days.

Up to the beginning of World War II, when the premises were practically destroyed by a German parachute mine, the Maddalena was used as an Orphan Ayslum for children of both sexes.

After the World War II a Primary School was built on the area previously occupied by the Ospizio

The Church of the “Maddalena” is an excellent architectural example of the baroque, and that the altar piece is by Filippo Paladini.

 

THE CASETTA

Opposite the Maddalena was the Hospital for Women, more commonly known as the Hospital far Incurables. This had its origin in the charity and religious fervour of a certain Caterina Scappi, known as “Senese” as she was born in Siena, who at the beginning of the 17th century commenced to practice her piety by erecting this hospital, for which purpose she had bought a house situated near the cemetery of the Infermeria from the executors of the “Nibbia Foundation.”[66] For this house Caterina paid Sc. 1747.7.3 which sum was allocated to the Church of Santa Maria della Pietà which had been built and  founded by Comm. Fra Giorgio Nibbia.[67]

By the dispositions of her will, Caterina Scappi nominated Comm. Fra Giulio Cesare Accarigi and Fra Ottavio Bandinelli, both Sienese knights, as her executors and stipulated that the Grand Master was always to nominate two Sienese knights as protectors of the Hospital.[68]

In the year 1655 Caterina Scappi, the pious woman who had done so much for the poor incurable women, died and was interred in the Carmelite Church, Valletta. The protectors of the institution then nominated her niece to take her place as “Spedaliera” or matron of the hospital. The Grand Hospitaller, however, objected to this pretending that only he had the right to make such nomination. A commission appointed to examine this contention decided that the Grand Hospitaller had no rights or pre-eminence on the said hospital. The Grand Hospitaller did not submit to this ruling, pointing out to the Council that by the second ordinance “de Hospytalitate” the keeping of incurables outside the Infermeria had been abolished. Time showed the evil of this disposition and Grand Master de Redin instructed the Prior of the Conventual Church to re-examine the whole question. On November 11, 1659, agreement was finally reached, and the Hospital for Incurable Women or “Casetta,” as it was often called, was re-established, the Grand Hospitaller reserving the right that he or his lieutenants could visit the hospital, at any time, to see that the patients were properly tended.

Since the Sacra Infermeria during the period of the Knights was reserved exclusively for male patients, a need for a number of beds to care for sick women was felt. In 1625, Catherine Scapi had set apart a small house in Valletta, known as Santa Maria delle Scala for the care of poor infirm women, the house eventually being moved to different premises.

This small hospital was closed down after the founder died in 1655. A new woman’s Hospital known as the Casetta or Ospidaletto was re-established in Valletta by Grand Master Martin de Redin in April 1659. The running of the Casetta was left under the direction of the Governess who resided in the institution, while the medical care was left to two physicians and two surgeons. A number of female nurses and a midwife were employed in the hospital serving various functions. Alterations to the building were carried out in the early decades of the eighteenth century so that by 1727 the bed compliment was increased to two hundred, each having a canopy for privacy. The hospital’s conditions deteriorated in the late eighteenth century. Under British rule, the management of the hospital was entrusted to the Presidents of the Hospitals. In 1850 the women patients in the Casetta were transferred to the newly established Central Hospital in Floriana, and the Casetta was reserved exclusively for inmates of both sexes suffering from incurable disease.

The Casetta was destroyed during the Second World War, while the adjoining orphanage was demolished to make space for a new government school [Evans Laboratories]

______________

Notes

[1]           Government pawning office.

[2]           Records of Notary Ascanio Scaglia of 27 September 1608.

[3]           Records of Notary Pietro Paolo Natale of 8 July 1717.

[4]           The writer is indebted for this information to Chev. Vincenzo Bonello.

[5]           Anderson Aeneas, A journal of the Forces on a Secret Expedition. London, Wilson & Co. 1802, p

[6]           Records of Notary F.S. Camilleri of 24.3.1887, 27.1.1891 and 28.3.1891.

[7]          Repertorio de Decreti Lett. G.J. Compendio Istorico Cronologico de Gran Maestri.

[8]           The Visconti were the Police Officers. The Gran’ Visconte was the Chief of Police.

[9]           Costituzioni di Malta 1509-1681 “Dell Officio del Castellano della Grande Corte della Castellania” R.M.L. Ms. 740.

[10]         G. Darmanin Demajo in “Archivio Storico di Malta” Vol. III p. 207 note 13.

[11]         Ciantar, Giovan Antonio, “Malta’ Illustrata” Vol. I Lib. I Not. I, XXXVI p. 69.

[12]         Government Notice No. 73 of 1895.

[13]         Prof. A.V. Bernard in “Times of Malta” 4 September 1940.

[14]         Records of Not. Ascanio Scaglia of 20 January 1606.

[15]         Records of Not. Francesco Imbroll of 11 January 1644.

[16]         One Maltese scudo is equivalent to 1s/8d. 12 scudi = £1.

[17]           Repertorio’ di tutti i beni stabili dell’Università della ’Valletta — R.M.L. Treas. A. 178 fol. 74.

[18]         Liber Concilioram An. 1718-21 R.M.L. Arch. 140 fol. 161.

[19]         Records of Not. Giuseppe Callus of 30 July 1721.

[20]           Distinto’ Ragguaglio della temeraria sedizione ordita l’anno 1749 contro’ l’Isola di Malta da Mustafa prima Bassa di Rodi ed ora schiavo in quella — National Museum Library Ms.

[21]         R.M.L. Ms. 404.

[22]         Decree of 12 April 1720 signed by Bali Fra Emmanuel Pinto, Vice Chancellor.

[23]         Records of Not. Aloysio dello Re of the 16 May 1699.

[24]         Vincenzo Grech “Foundation & History Monte di Pietà” R.M.L. Ms. 404.

[25]           Dr. R.C. Xerri — “Origini e Progresso del Monte di Pietà e Redenzione” R.M.L. Ms. 404.

[26]         Municipal body.

[27]         Cabreo’ del Vend. Monte della Redenzione degli Schiavi R.M.L. Treas. B. 309.

[28]         Dal Pozzo, Bartolomeo, Historia della Sacra Religione di Malta, Vol. I, page 533.

[29]         Records of Not. Simeone de Lucia of 28 March 1618.

[30]         Records of Not. Lorenzo Grima of 5 September 1625.

[31]         Dr. R.C. Xerri, op. cit.

[32]           Cabreo’ Originate del Vendo. Monte della Redenzione degli Schiavi, R.M.L. Treas. B. 309.

[33]           Registre des Deliberations de la Commission du Gouvernement des Iles de Malte et du Gozo Fructidor an VI (21 Aug. 1798) R.M.L. Arch. 6523c p. 17.

[34]         Vincenzo Grech, op. cit.

[35]         Government Notice of October 1, 1800.

[36]           Repertorio’ di tutti i beni stabili dell’Università della ’Valletta — R.M.L. Treas. A. 178 fol. 76t.

[37]         Records of Notary Aloysio dello Re of 27 June, 1665.

[38]         Libro’ Beni Stabili del Tesoro “B” R.M.L. Treas. A. 1, fo. 32.

[39]         Dal Pozzo, Bartolomeo, op. cit. Vol. II page 890.

[40]         Libro’ ’Beni’ Stabili del Tesoro “B,” R.M.L. Treas. A. 1 fo. 82.

[41]         Records of Notary Giuseppe Callus of 30 July 1721.

[42]         Ciantar, Giovanantonio, op. cit. Vol. I, Lib. I, Not. V.

[43]         Ibid. Vol, I., Not. I XXXV.

[44]           The Cattapani were officials attached to the Università whose duty it was to check weights and measures for foodstuffs. It was a very honourable office.

[45]           Mifsud, Mons. Alfred, I nostri Consoli e le Arti ed i Mestieri in Malta, Tip. Critien p. 2.

[46]           Leggi e Costituziani Prammaticali Renuovate de S. E. Fra D. Antonio Manoel de Vilhena — Malta 1724, Tit. XIII — XIII page 52.

[47]         Mifsud, Mons. A. op. cit. p. 30.

[48]           Registre des Deliberations de la Commission du Gouvernement des Iles de Malte et du Gozo, 30 Prairial an VI (18 June 1798) R.M.L. Arch. 6523a.

[49]        Proclamation No. IX of the 24 January 1822.

[50]         Cabreo Assemblea Vol. IV. R.M.L. Treas. B. 295 fo. 30v.

[51]         Cabreo Originale del Monte della Redenzione degli Schiavi R.M.L. Treas. B. 309.

[52]         Urbani Vol. III 1808-1814, R.M.L. Treas. B. 107 fo. 24.

[53]           Libro Maestro, Beni Urbani, Valletta Lib. II 1829-1843 R.M.L. Treas. B. 131 fo. 80. B. 131 fo. 80.

[54]         Records of Notary Achille Micallef of 18 April 1879 and 28 November 1883.

[55]         Records of Notary Giacinto Cauchi of 24 June 1682.

[56]         Ciantar, Giovanantonio, op. cit. Lib. I, Not. I, XXVIII.

[57]         Dal Pozzo, Bartolomeo, op. cit. Vol. I, p. 482.

[58]           Mifsud, Mons. Alfred, Knights of the Venerable Tongue of England, Malta Herald, Malta 1914, p. 137.

[59]         Ciantar, Giovanantonio, op. cit. Lib. I., Not. I, XXVIII.

[60]         Zammit, Sir Them., Valletta, Malta, Empire Press, p. 34.

[61]         Dal Pozzo, Bartolomeo, op. cit. Vol. I., p. 240.

[62]         Dal Pozzo, Bartolomeo, ibid Vol. I., p. 376; R.M.L. Ms. 409.

[63]         Brief of Pope Clement VIII of the 16 November 1612.

[64]         R.M.L. Ms. 409.

[65]         Brief of Pope Pius VIII of 22 November 1829.

[66]           Cabreo dei Beni Spettanti allo Spedale delle Donne Incurabili — R.M.L. Treas. B. 307 p. 3.

[67]         Records of Notary Ascanio Scaglia of 15 February 1625.

[68]         Records of Notary Pietro Vella of 20 June 1643.

_______

ST. MARK STREET, Valletta

St. Mark Street, though only a very small street, has some houses of interest.

De Quiqueran Beaujeu House

Over house number 6, in this street, is a tablet recording that the premises had been erected by Chev. Fra Jacques de Quiqueran Beaujeu in 1684 and donated by him to the Church of St. Barbara which belonged to the Langue of Provence. Chev. Jacques does not seem to have been the only member of his family to have taken an interest in the Provençal church, as the epitaph of Chev. Fra Antoine Honore de Quiqueran Beaujeu, who was buried here in 1769, records that he too was a benefactor of this church.

No 22

When Canon Don Alfio d’Arena sold the Falconry (No. 102 Britannia Street) to the Lascaris Foundation in 1636, he also sold house No. 22 St. Mark Street. This is still owned by the Malta Government to this day.

No 49

One of the persons who visited Malta during the turbulent days of the Italian Risorgimento was Adriano Lemmi (1826-1906), a friend and follower of Mazzini, Secretary to Kossuth and later Grand Master of the Italian Freemasonry. Lemmi arrived in Malta on February 5, 1852, on board the French steamship Lycurgue. On January 19 of that same year Giuseppe Mazzini had written to Emilio Sceberras informing him of Lemmi’s arrival and asking him to treat him as a friend and brother.

During his stay in Malta. Lemmi lodged at No. 49 St. Mark Street for which he paid Sc. 480 for six months’ rent. [1]

In October Lemmi was asked to leave Malta by the Superintendent of Police, owing to his political activities.

ST. JOHN STREET, Valletta

St. John's co- cathedral Valletta Malta 1870s

St. John Street Valletta Malta 1881
St. John Street, once known as “Strada del Monte” and under the French as “Rue du Peuple”, is surprisingly poor in houses of interest and only one is worthy of mention, the Casa Mosquet which once faced St. John’s Conventual Church, and which after being badly damaged in 1942 has now been demolished to make way for the new square fronting this church. This house, together with several mezzanines and smal house’, was donated to the Assembly of Conventual Chaplains by Fra Giovan Pietro Mosquet, Sub Prior of the Conventual Church and Administrator of the Chapel of our Lady of Philermos.[2] Fra Giovan Pietro Mosquet. who sang the solemn high mass on the occasion of the laying of the foundation stone of the city of Valletta, donated this property to the Conventual Chaplains, subject to the celebration of one daily mass and one mass on the anniversary of his death, for the repose of his soul and for his intentions.

From the books of the Assembly of Conventual Chaplains we gather that the premises were rebuilt with funds of the Assembly, and among the tenants of the house we find Chev. Fra Zeferino Zerno (1705-1712) and the Prior of Catalogna, Fra Girolamo Ribas (1712-1718).[3]

ST. LUCIA STREET, Valletta

St. Lucia Street Valletta Malta 1881

St. Lucia Street is also extremely poor in houses of any special interest. In the days of the Order this street was named “Strada della Vittoria”; the French renamed it “Rue des Defenseurs de la Patrie”.

At the corner formed by this street with St. Ursola Street is the property of the Bagnano Commandery (Nos. 188/9 and 190 St. Lucia Street).

The Commandery was founded by Fra Girolamo Antonio Danielli da Bagnano. Bali of Cremona, who left the usufruct of his property to his family. When the family became extinct the property passed to the Langue of Italy and was constituted into a Commandery to be enjoyed by the knights of the Italian Langue in accordance with the dispositions of Bali Danielli da Bagnano.[4]

A fine palace in this street is the Palazzo Ferriol (No. 163 St. Lucia Street). This property originally belonged to Diego Antonio Ferriol who established a. perpetual fideicommissum in favour of his son. Dr. Michele, a judge of the Curia Gobernatoriale of Gozo.[5] The Ferriol male line became extinct and the palace passed to Vincenza Ferriol, wife of Dr. Pietro Paolo Galea.

It is still related by the Galea family that, from the balcony of this house, Lorenzo Galea, Baron of San Marciano, gave the signal to the bellringer of St. John’s Conventual Church to sound the tocsin on the disembarcation of the Napoleonic troops.

Premises bearing numbers 155/8 in this street formed part of the Cabrera Foundation. Most of this property has been turned into flats.

When the S.S. “Valletta” of the P. & O. Line anchored in Marsamxett Harbour in the early hours of Wednesday, March 23, 1864, Malta received the visit of yet another of the protagonists of the Italian Risorgimento, Giuseppe Garibaldi.

On the 21st March the S.S. “Valletta” whilst on her way to Malta from Marseilles had anchored off the island of Caprera, Garibaldi’s home, and had there embarked the General, his two sons, Menotti and Ricciotti, and some other persons.[6] On arriving at Malta, Garibaldi asked for permission to land and lodged at the Imperial Hotel, later St. James’ Hotel (No. 184 St. Lucia Street). This building has been completely destroyed by enemy action and a cinema theatre built on its site.

From the newspapers[7] of the time one gets the impression that Garibaldi received a mixed reception in Malta; whilst he was received with enthusiasm by the liberal section of the population and by the English garrison and residents, several hostile demonstrations were held by another section which, extremely Catholic, saw in the leader of the Red Shirts the arch-enemy of the supreme Pontiff.

Garibaldi was at this time still suffering from a wound which he had received at the battle of Aspromonte and was confined to his hotel during the whole of his stay in the Island . Here he was visited by Nicolo Fabrizi, who was then in Malta, and by a large number of people amongst whom were General Atherly, Sir Victor Hulton, the Baroness Angelica Testaferrata Abela, who presented the General with an address of welcome. Marquis Testaferrata Olivier, Judge Bruno, the Rev. and Mrs. Wisely and many others.

On March 23, Menotti Garibaldi was invited to drinks at the Casino Maltese and also at the Casino della Borsa, today known as the Exchange.

Giuseppe Garibaldi left Malta for Southampton at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 24, on board the S.S. “Ripon” also of the P. & O. Line.

OLD THEATRE STREET, Valletta

Strada Teatro Valletta Malta 1876

In the early days of Valletta. Old Theatre Street was named Strada del Salvatore; the French Republican Government changed this into Rue de la Fraternité.

House No. 37 in this street formed part of the Casa Bellott which was donated to the Conventual Chaplains by Chev. Fra Carlo Bellott, senior. This house was erected when the old building was demolished in 1745-47 and rebuilt in its present form.

Facing the Palace Square was the entrance to the Pagery or house of the Pages of Honour of the Grand Master (No. 46 Old Theatre Street).[8] It is possible that the entrance was originally from Strait Street, but was transferred to Old Theatre Street when Grand Master Lascaris reduced the premises in Strait Street to their present form.

After the expulsion of the Jesuits and the establishment of the University by Grand Master Pinto, it was decreed that, as from August 1, 1771, the Pages of the Grand Master were to vacate the house under review and were to reside in the Jesuit College together with their headmaster, Fra Jacques Matagne, a Chaplain of the French Langue. The Pages offered some resistance to this disposition and some of them asked and obtained permission to sleep in their old quarters. With the beginning of the new academic year matters worsened. Matagne was dismissed from his post and Fra Domenico Biancone, a Genoese, appointed in his stead. On the 10th November the Pagery was closed and the Pages forced to reside and study at the new University.

Old Grand Master Pinto died on January 24, 1773, and on February 28, immediately after the singing of the Te Deum for the election of the new Grand Master, the Pages again changed their quarters and returned to the old Pagery.[9]

The Jesuit College owned the house in this street bearing number 69. This was bequeathed to the College by Romoalda Lanza.[10]

We now come to the Manoel Theatre [11]

Opposite the Manoel is the house (No. 77 Old Theatre Street) which once belonged to Flaminia Ciantar and which, later, was acquired by Comm. Fra Francesco Villalonga y Zaporella, of the Langue of Aragon and Prior of Catalogna.[12]

In 1725 the Prior donated the premises to the Assembly of Conventual Chaplains for the foundation of two daily masses to be celebrated in the Chapel of Our Lady of Philermos in the Conventual Church.

Fra Francesco died in the Convent on August 12, 1750, and was interred in the Conventual Church.[13]

This house has been altered considerably in 1950s and here Joseph Howard, first Prime Minister of Malta under Self Government lived and died.

The house bearing number 84 formed part of the property of Fra François Vion de Tessancourt, Prior of Champagne and later Grand Prior of France. The Grand Prior directed that after his death the property was to pass in usufruct to the knights of the house of Vion Tessancourt who might be residing in Malta. If there were no knights of the family in the Order, the Treasury was to enjoy the rents, for the time being, on condition that the property was kept in a good state of repair.

ARCHBISHOP STREET, Valletta

The street today known as Archbishop Street was known in the days of the Order as “Strada del Popolo” and sometimes as “Strada dei Greci”. The latter name was probably due to the church of the Catholic Greek Rite being situated in this street. The French renamed it “Rue des Liberateurs de la Patrie” and until the Second World War it was known as “Strada Vescovo”.

On the death of Caterina Scappi in 1655, the Hospital for Incurable Women or “Casetta” came into possession of house No. 144 in this street.[14] This house originally belonged to Cecilia Xiblia of Syracuse from whom it was purchased by Caterina Scappi[15] and bequeathed by her to the “Casetta”.

Caterina Vitale owned house bearing No. 138 Archbishop Street, this, she bequeathed to the Monte della Redenzione degli Schiavi in 1618.[16] This property was totally destroyed by enemy action in 1942 and has been completely rebuilt.

The great benefactress of the Monte di Redenzione also owned the adjacent house (No. 135 Archbishop Street). In her will, Caterina Vitale left the premises to the Monte di Redenzione stipulating, however, that they were to be enjoyed by a relative, Annica Faienza, during her lifetime. Annica died in 1660 and the house became the full property of the Monte di Redenzione.[17]

In 1696, the house and underlying shop were given on lease for 100 years to Aloysio Hellul [18] and in 1785 they were sold by the Monte di Redenzione to Comm. Lorenzo Fontani.

Still faintly visible on house No. 120 Archbishop Street are the arms of the Monte di Redenzione. This house originally belonged to Oliviero Pontis and his wife Gioannella and was sold by them to Fra Luca Gamier[19] for the sum of Sc. 900 which were paid as to Sc. 600 on the signing of the deed of sale and the remaining Sc. 300 on the 5th March 1653.

Fra Luca Gamier bound the Monte di Redenzione, to which he had donated[20] the property, and Don Aloysio Fanale, to whom he had granted the life usufruct, to pay a certain sum of money yearly to Bellica, wife of Michele Casha, and to her sons Giuseppe and Francesco during their lifetime.[21]

We now come to the property (Nos. 111/113 Archbishop Street) which was owned by Fra Jean Jacques de Verdelin. of the Langue of Provence, who was nominated Grand Commander of the Order in 1666.

The largest of these houses was the “Hostel de Verdelin” which is also known as the “Casa delle Colombe” from groups of doves which decorate the exterior.

In 1662 Jean Jacques de Verdelin donated the premises to his brother, Paul, and after him to his eldest son and then to the primogenital descendants in the male line, ad infinitum, bearing the name of Verdelin. Failing these, and then those of the female line. the houses were to revert to the Religion. In the deed the donor reserved the right of revoking the donation. After the death of Jean Jacques de Verdelin, the donees were to pay a Spanish doubloon to the Religion by way of recognition. Further, the Grand Commander ordered that if there were knights of his family in the Order, the rents were then to be divided equally between the primogenito and the knights in question. Finally the donor stipulated that, on receiving the doubloon, the Order was to inspect the premises and ascertain that they were kept in a good state of repair.[22]

On August 30, 1670, Verdelin altered his donation and ordered that on his death the houses were first to pass to his brother, Comm. Fra Jean François de Verdelin ,and then to his nephews Chev. Michel and Chev. Jean Jacques; after  the death of these the property was to pass to the persons mentioned in the first donation.[23]

Grand Commander Jean Jacques de Verdelin was the nephew of Grand Master Hugues Lubenx de Verdalle, who, when created Cardinal by Pope Sixtus V, erected a column, at one end of the Palace Square, to commemorate the event. Time corroded this column and Ciantar relates[24] that in 1672 Verdelin affixed an inscription on the base of this monument recording that it had been repaired by him.

Jean Jacques de Verdelin died in the Convent on April 20, 1678, at the age of 88 years and was interred in the Conventual Church.[25]

In this same street, premises numbered 35/37 were once owned by the Villages family.[26] These seem to have been completely rebuilt during the last century.

At the corner formed by Archbishop Street with Old Mint Street is another house (No. 53 Archbishop Street) once owned by the “Casetta” or Hospital for Incurable Women. This was bequeathed to the Casetta by Maria Cajetano who in her will[27] ordered that after the death of Carlo Gregorio and Rosa, his mother, the house was to pass to the Religion, on condition that, after deduction of maintenance expenses, the remainder was to be applied to the care of infirm Maltese women in the Hospital.

After the death of Gregorio and Rosa the premises were administered by the Treasury, however, the rents were not applied to the infirm Maltese women as directed by the testatrix. On a petition of Comm. Fra Agostino Bargagli, administrator of the Casetta, the property was adjudged to the Hospital on December 20, 1753.

We find that, later, the house was given on a life lease to Francesco Marantono, Engineer of the Order.[28]

Fronting this house was the Courçelles Palace which, in the latter part of the 19th. century, was demolished by the building speculator and converted into a large block of flats.

The palace is referred to, in the rent books of the Treasury,[29] as the house of the Balì Valence; this is possibly due to its having been occupied, at some time, by the Balì Fra Francesco de Valentia. In this same book it is also related that the Venerable Prior of Champagne, Fra François de Courçelles Rouvaij, in virtue of two deeds dated November 16, 1650, and June 14, 1651, in the Records of Notary Michele Ralli, donated the premises to his nephews in the Order, Chev. Fra Albert de Roncerolles, of the Langue of France, and the Noble Tancguy de Courçelles Rouvaij. They were to enjoy the use of the building as simple usufructuaries during their lifetime, it being stipulated that if only one of these nephews resided in the Convent he was to enjoy the whole usufruct.  After the death of these knights, the house was to go to other professed knights and novices, in the direct line, of the Rouvaij and Roncerolles families. In the case of the extinction of both families the property was then to pass to their nearest consanguineous descendants, and if there were no knights of these families, in the Order, the Treasury was to enjoy the usufruct until there were such knights.

The knights living in the Convent were always to be preferred and, if all were absent, the usufruct was then to be divided equally among them.

This house is also sometimes referred to as the “Casa Boniface” and this is undoubtedly due to its having been enjoyed by three brothers Boniface in 1760.[30]

We now come to the Archiepiscopal Palace which was built on the designs of the Maltese architect, Tommaso Dingli.

In 1622, the Bishop, Fra Baldassare Cagliares, thought of establishing his residence in Valletta and commenced the building of a palace in the new city. At first the Religion took no notice of this, thinking that the premises were destined for other purposes, however, realising in due course that the new edifice was to serve as the Bishop’s residence, and pondering seriously on the matter, Grand Master Alof de Wgnacourt and the Council came to the conclusion that the Bishop’s intentions interfered with the Order’s jurisdiction. The Religion pretended that as Valletta had been raised from its foundation solely by the Order, this was to be exempted from any other jurisdiction or, at least, that the Bishop, who exercised the most ample jurisdiction over the whole Island, should not transplant to the new city his residence and Curia which, prior to the advent of the Religion in Malta, had been situated in the Borgo (Vittoriosa). For these reasons, wishing to impede by legal measures the building from proceeding further, an inhibition was obtained from Pope Urban VIII and the Roman Rota.

To these pretensions the Bishop effectively countered that since the time of Paul the Apostle, the Bishop of Malta had exercised their jurisdiction over the whole Island and the building of the new city should not prejudice this in any way. Further, it was asserted that it was necessary for the Pastor to have his residence where the flock was most numerous and undoubtedly the flock was more numerous in Valletta than at Borgo. Finally, it was pointed out that as it was permissible for any person to inhabit Valletta and to build a residence therein, it would ill befit the piety of the knights if these rights were denied only to the Bishop.[31]

After this, the controversy cooled down and the palace was built, if not completely, at least, into a comfortable habitation and here the Bishop established his residence and Curia; the prisons and criminal courts remaining at his old palace at the Borgo.

Many tales are still related of the measures and counter measures adopted by Bishop and Order during this dispute, but, these have no serious documentation.

From the disproprium of Bishop Cagliares drawn up in the year 1631 we learn that the Bishop, in erecting the palace, had spent about Sc. 12,000 out of the diocesan funds and for this reason he bequeathed the premises to the Cathedral Church never to be let, lent, sold or mortgaged, but, ever to be used as the residence of the Bishop, his successors or Capitular Vicars and, should these not want to reside here, the palace was to be used as an ecclesiastical tribunal.

An oratory dedicated to St. Joseph was built in the palace by Bishop Cagliares who directed that during mass in the oratory the celebrant was to offer prayers for the repose of his soul.

Cagliares also ordered that, in case of siege, the Bishop or the Vicar of the Vacant See was to hand over, free of any charge, half of the whole palace to the Canons and Clergy of the Cathedral for them to live in and here celebrate the divine offices and also to preserve the jewels and ecclesiastical vestments of the Cathedral Church.[32]

In 1730 Bishop Fra Paul Alpheran de Bussan, at his own expense, added a loggia and many amenities to the palace, however, it was left to His Grace Monsignor Michael Gonzi K.B.E., Metropolitan Archbishop of Malta, to build part of the first storey which had been left unfinished owing to the litigations between Bishop Cagliares and the Order.

Opposite the Archiepiscopal Palace is the “Casa del Brio” (No. 56 Archbishop Street). This was bequeathed to the Jesuit College by Don Baldassare del Brio[33] who stipulated in his will that should Baron Vincenzo Viani desire to acquire the property the Jesuit Fathers were obliged to sell it to him. Availing himself of this disposition in the will, Baron Vincenzo Viani purchased the house and later sold it to the Manoel Foundation for Sc. 1,440.[34] Great improvements and modifications were made to the property by the Foundation. [35]

Comm. Fra Domenico Cloria of the Langue of Italy, who died on the 11th April 1695, was the owner of the house, in this street, which today bears number 89. In his will Comm. Cloria left his house to the Assembly of Conventual Chaplains subject to the celebration of a certain number of masses for the repose of his soul. On his death it was found that a debt of Sc. 950 existed in favour of the Holy Office and from the accounts of the Assembly we learn that the premises were let at Sc. 65 per annum part of which were utilized to pay for the celebration of masses and the remainder for the gradual extinction of the debt.[36]

Notes

[1] MICHEL, Ersilio, Adriano, Lemmi Esule a Malta (1852), Malta Letteraria, Nuova Serie, Vol. II page 261.

[2]Cabreo Originale dei Beni Amministrati dalla Procura delle Distribuzioni, R. M. I. Treas. A. 73 fo. 34.

[3]Conti Amministrazioni Procura delle Distribuzioni R.M.L. Treas. A. 75.

[4]Liber Bullarum.R.M.L. Arch. 577 fo. 144v.

[5]Records of Notary Gio. Batta Curvisieri of 12 September 1666.

[6]LAURENZA. Vincenzo. Archivio Storica di Malta Vol.III page 143.

[7]The Malta Times & United Services Gazette, 24 March 1864.

The Observer, 24 March 1864.

L’Ordine, 24 March 1864.

Il Mediterraneo, 26 March 1864.

II Portafoglio Maltese, 26 March 1864.

[8]Registro Proprietà — Urbani — Vol. VI R.M.L. Treas. B. 149 fo. 330.

[9]LAURENZA, Vincenzo, Il Primo Rettore e i Primi Statuti, Malta Government Printing Press. 1934, pages 18 and 22.

[10]Libro Maestro dei Beni della Comp. di Gesù 1739-48 R.M.L. Treas. A. 122.

[11]DENARO, Victor F., The Manoel Theatre, Melita Historica Vol. 3 pages 1-4, Giov. Muscat & Co. Ltd.. Malta, 1960.

[12]Cabreo Assemblea Fiernalda Vol. I R.M.L. Treas. B. 297 fo. 39.

[13]CARUANA, Pietro Paolo, “Collezione dei Monumenti etc.. nella Chiesa di San Giovanni” Vol. Ill Tav. CCCXXIV.

[14]Cabreo Ospedale delle Donne, R.M.L. Treas. B. 807 fo. 9.

[15]Records of Notary Ambrosio Xiberras of the 9 November 1618.

[16]Cabreo Originatl Monte della Redenzione degli Schiavi R.M.L., Treas. B. to. 20.

[17]ibid. fo. 16.

[18]Records of Not. Baldassare de Modica of the 7 March 1696.

[19]Records of Not. Michele Ralli of the 18 January 1650.

[20]Records of Not. Michele Ralli of the 9 March 1650.

[21]Cabreo Originale Monte di Redenzione degli Schiavi R.M.L. Treas. B. 809.

[22]Records of Notary Tommaso Hagius of 15 August 1662.

[23]Libro Beni Stabili del Tesoro “B”, R.M.L., Treas. A. 1 fo. 64.

[24]CIANTAR, Conte Giovannantonio, “Malta Illustrata” Lib. I. Not. I., xxix, Stamperia del Palazzo, Malta, 1772-1780.

[25]CARUANA, Pietro Paolo, op. cit., Vol. II, Tav. XIV.

[26]Libro Maestro — Beni Urbani 1829-1843 Treas. B. 132 fo. 230.

[27]Records of Not. Tommaso Vella of the 4 March 1704.

[28]Cabreo dei Beni Ospedale delle Donne Treas. B. 307 fo. 80.

[29]Libro Beni Stabili del Tesoro “B” Treas. A. I. fo. 62.

[30]Deliberazioni delta Camera del Tesoro 29. 12. 1760. A.O.M. 634 to. 31.

[31]DAL POZZO. Bartolomeo. “Historia della Sacra Religione di Malta”, Vol. II, page 704, — Giovanni Bomo. Verona 1703-15.

[32]Judiciale Inventarium Bonorum Spectantium ad Mensam Episcopalem to. 83.

[33]Records of Not. Giuseppe Callus of the 20th. June 1716.

[34]Records of Not. Gaspare Domenico Chircop of 23rd. Oct. 1731.

[35]Repertorio di varie notizie compre stabili Fondazione Manoel Treas. A. 35 fo. 69.

[36]Cabreo Assemblea Fiernalda Vol. II Treas. B. 298 fo. 29.

_______

 

OLD MINT STREET, Valletta

In the early days of Valletta, Old Mint Street was known as Strada San Sebastiano, later, owing to the Mint being housed in this street, it became known as “Strada della Zecca” or “Strada Zecca.” The French, during their short occupation of the Island, named the street “Rue de la Monnaie.”

As early as 1570 the French Langue acquired a site measuring 572 square canes [1] (22 canes x 26 canes) for the purpose of building their auberge. [2] This site was bounded by South Street, Scots Street, Windmill Street and Old Mint Street. On this site the first Auberge de France was raised; however, the French knights soon found out that the site was unsuitable and in the Chapter of April 2, 1588 [3] the French Langue insisted on transferring their auberge to a site in South Street and to incorporate into it the house of Bali Fra Christopher le Bolver dit Montgauldry which stood at the corner of South Street with Old Bakery Street. Thus after only fifteen years the first auberge was abandoned by the French knights, and on the 10 February 1604, by a decision of the Chapter General, we find the old auberge lent to the German knights until repairs were effected in their auberge. [4]

Today, of this first auberge, we can still see the supports for the standards of the langue and the Religion, four windows and one rusticated pilaster, and except for the door the facade is nearly intact. In the interior, on the ground floor, part of the groined vault with the fleur-de-lis on the boss is still visible. [5]

In due course, part of the premises (Nos. 2 and 3 Old Mint Street) were leased by French Langue to the Treasury at a rent of Sc. 65 per annum [6] and here the Mint or “Zecca” of the Order was set up until it was transferred to the Conservatoria in 1788.

The earliest known coins of the Order are the silver pieces struck in Rhodes in 1310 during the grandmastership of Fulke de Villaret. Grand Master Dieudonne de Gazon was the first to introduce gold coinage. In Malta, the Grand Masters continued to mint their own coins and the art of striking gold coins vent through a steady progress until we come to the exquisite finesse of the  coins struck by Grand Master Manoel de Vilhena (1722-1736). Grand Master Marc’Antonio Zondadari was the first Grand Master to substitute his bust for the head of John the Baptist on the coins of the Order. [7]

In 1566 the Master of the Mint was a Fleming, Simon Prevost, who engraved and struck the special coins and medals which were placed in a copper urn under the foundation stone of Valletta. [8]

The salary of the Master of the Mint was Sc. 20 per month up to 1673 and this was then reduced to Sc. 15 per month. On 15 September 1682 a certain Valentino Gandolfo was appointed as assistant to the Master of the Mint at a salary of Sc. 5 per month. [9]

The standard or sample coin in Malta was the zecchino and we find that over two hundred thousand of these coins were struck at the mint between 1722 and 1727.

Token coins, were first struck by Grand Master de la Valette to provide for the pay of the workmen during the building of Valletta, other Grand Masters continued to coin these. Grand Master Lascaris coined Sc. 250,000 in copper coins in pieces of 2 and 4 tarì [10] but, perceiving and regretting his error, he sought means to withdraw these from circulation and, for this purpose, proposed that a tax of 5% be levied on the property of the Order. In this manner Sc. 60,000 were withdrawn from circulation when the death of Lascaris put an end to this project.

About the year 1758 a monetary crisis seems to have arisen in Malta due to the increase of the price of the Spanish doubloon from 7 sc. 6 tarì to 8 sc. 5 grains without a proportional increase being made in the price of the Maltese zecchino and from 1738 the zecchino began to disappear from circulation. This brought about a severe shortage of gold and silver coins in Malta, causing the Mint to close. Zenobio Paoli was called in to suggest remedies to improve the situation. [11]

In 1774 a report was drawn up by the Balis Debarres and de Tibas, Commissioners of the Mint, to the effect that the Master of the Mint, either through ignorance or otherwise, was causing the coinage to be debased and was thus deceiving the public by uttering coinage which was not up to the standard value. Three pieces, taken at random by the Commissioners, were assayed by a former Master of the Mint and then sent to the Mints of Lyons, Genoa and Naples for a further assay. The Assayers General of Lyons and Genoa confirmed the finding of the former Master of the Mint. [12]

About 1788 the Mint was transferred to the Conservatoria, as the premises in Old Mint Street were required by the French Langue. [13]

During the French occupation the Master of the Mint was a certain Joseph Lebrun and his notes, still preserved in the Royal Malta Library, [14] give us interesting information regarding the melting of the treasures seized by the French from St. John’s Conventual Church and other churches as also from the Monte di Pietà. The story of the Mint has been dealt with by the writer in an article which appeared in the Numismatic Chronicle. [15]

In a public auction at the Court of the Castellania held on the 8 March 1706, the Bali Fra Trajano Gironda bought, for Sc. 2,015, the house in Old Mint Street corner with St. John Street, No. 34 Old Mint Street. [16]

The Bali Gironda, in his disproprium, appointed the knights who at any time lived in the Camerata as administrators of this property, stipulating that out of the rents, after provision having been made for repairs and maintenance, a yearly sum of Sc. 60 was to be earmarked to pay for the celebration of a daily mass for the repose of his soul. Foreseeing the time when the knights would no longer occupy the Camerata, the Bali Gironda ordered that in such an event the house was to be administered by the Prior of the Hospital. [17]

Fra Trajano Gironda died in the Convent in August 1719 at the age of 71 and was interred in the Conventual Church. [18]

The “Casa Casaux” (Nos. 115/116 Old Mint Street) was the property of the family de Beon de Casaux and was enjoyed by members of this family who formed part of the Religion. As in 1739 there were no knights of the de Casaux family in the Order, the premises were leased for the term of two lives to Comm. Bisigniani. [19] From the 1st May 1779 the house was incorporated with the Plaignes Commandery [20] which had been founded, in juspatronage, by Fra Paul François de Beon de Casaux, Prior of Toulouse. [21]

Opposite the Casa Casaux is a house (No. 40 Old Mint Street) which once belonged to Chev. Fra Louis d’Essuard Besaure who, in his disproprium of the 5 December 1663, [22] directed that the property was to be enjoyed by knights in the Order who bore his name and arms, failing which, the premises were to pass to the Assembly of the Conventual Chaplains with the sole obligation of offering prayers for the donor’s soul and for the souls of his parents. [23]

Fra François de Vion Tessancourt, Prior of Champagne and later Grand Prior of France, owned two houses in Valletta, a large one (No. 54 Old Mint Street) and a smaller one opposite the Carmelite Church, which he bequeathed in usufruct to Chev. Fra François Charles de Vion Tessancourt, to be enjoyed during his lifetime, stipulating that the latter could not sell or mortgage the property in question which, after the death of Chev. François Charles, was to pass in usufruct to the knights of the house of Vion Tessancourt who might be residing in Malta. In the event of there being more than one knight of the family residing in the Convent, the property was to be occupied by the knight nearest to the main line. If there were no knights of the family in the Order, the Treasury was to enjoy the rents, for the time being, on condition that the property was kept in a good state of repair.

Chev. François Charles de Vion Tessancourt died in the Sacra Infermeria on 16 January 1675. We now find the larger house occupied by the Prior of Auvergne, Fra Jacques de St. Mours, from 19 December 1674 to 7 April 1676, and by the Venerable Bali of Morea, Fra Christophe Perot de Malmeyson, from 8 April to 7 October 1676. On 24 April 1676 the Noble Pierre de Vion Tessancourt was admitted into the Order and was entitled to enjoy the usufruct of these premises. After having been occupied by Chev. Fra Gerlando d’Alfano and the Nobles Schrosberg and Vestram, we find the house leased, in 1685, to the Bali Carlo Filippo, Baron Freidac, to be enjoyed during his lifetime. [24]

At the corner of Old Mint Street with Old Theatre Street stood the Priory of Navarre. This consisted of four houses, two fronting Old Mint Street and two Old Theatre Street. In 1731 Grand Master Manoel de Vilhena, wishing to erect a theatre, purchased the two houses of the Priory which had a frontage on Old Theatre Street for Sc. 2,186 and paid a further Sc. 2,000 to the knights of Navarre to enable them to reconstruet the two remaining houses (Nos. 87 and 88 Old Mint Street) which henceforth became known as the New Priory of Navarre. [25]

The houses Nos. 81/84 Old Mint Street once formed part of the Fiol et Allard Foundation.

The Manoel Foundation owned house No. 63 Old Mint Street. This was bought from the widow of Isidoro Gambalina [26] and then completely demolished and rebuilt. From 1787 to 1798 this house was occupied by Comm. Vespoli. [27]

ST. PATRICK STREET, Valletta

Even lowly St. Patrick Street, what was until recently known as the Manderaggio Quarter, had a house of considerable interest. Here at No. 10 was the house which belonged to Mattia Preti, “Il Calabrese,” who painted the vault of  the Conventual Church of St. John. Mattia Preti was born in 1613 at Taverna (Calabria) and studied art in Rome. Besides being a brilliant painter he also seems to have been a brillant swordsman as, at the instance of Donna Olimpia Borghese Aldobrandini, Princess of Rossano, he challenged to duel and killed a German knight who had insulted the Roman aristocracy. Preti fled from Rome and escaped from Civita Vecchia to Naples on one of the galleys of the Order. Here he met the Prior of Navarre, Fra Martin de Redin, then Ambassador to the Court of Naples. On his being elected Grand Master, de Redin invited Preti to Malta to paint the vault of the Conventual Church. De Redin died soon after and the painting was commenced in 1662 under Raphael Cottoner and completed in 1675 during the rule of Grand Master Nicholas Cottoner.

On 15 September 1661 Mattia Preti was admitted into the Order as a Knight of Grace. [28]

In his disproprium on 28 December 1698, Mattia Preti directed that the house under review was to be enjoyed by Cleria Loret and after her death it was to pass to the Chapel of Our Lady of Philermos in the Conventual Church, the rents of the property being devoted to the celebration of masses for the repose of his soul and for the repose of all the souls in Purgatory. [29]

Mattia Preti died in the Convent on the 3 January 1699 at the age of 86 and was interred in the Conventual Church which he had done so much to embellish.

Unfortunately the house in which the great painter lived has been demolished owing to the scheme for the reconstruction of the Manderaggio area.

WEST STREET, Valletta

There are a number of interesting houses in West Street which was known as Strada San Michele in the days of the Order and then Strada Ponente up to 1941. Under the French this street, together with Scots Street, was named Rue des Moulins au Vent.

In this street, the first house of any interest is number 10. This belonged to Chev. Fra Pierre Mailly who, in his disproprium of the 26 April 1617, donated the premises, together with other property, to the Assembly of Conventual Chaplains with the obligation of their celebrating a daily mass for the repose of his soul. [30]

On the site of a palace often referred to as the “Palazzo Britto,” today occupied by the St. Paul’s Buildings (No. 20 West Street), stood, in 1658, the palace of the German Bali Christopher ab Andalau, Grand Bailif of the Order. Later it passed into the possession of Bali Antoine de Puget St. Marc who died in the Convent on the 26 March 1664 when the property passed to the Treasury through his spoglio. From May 1667 to April 1696 it was let to Comm.  Fra Antonio Correa de Sousa at a yearly rent of Sc. 110 and on the 1st May 1696 it was let to the Bali Fra Melchior Alvaro Pinto, Grand Chancellor of the Order, to be enjoyed during his life time [31] ; then, this palace was occupied by the Pereyra Coutinho family. [32]

Soon after the British occupation the premises were converted into the Beverley Hotel which numbered among its illustrious guests Sir Walter Scott who, together with his son, Major W. Scott, 15th. Hussars, and his daughter, Miss Anne Scott, arrived in Malta on the 21 November 1831 on board H.M.’s Frigate Barham. [33] Here he remained until the 13 December 1831 being feted by all sections of the population. Scott was enamoured of Malta calling it “an island or rather a city like no other in the World”; he described Valletta as “the splendid town quite like a dream.” [34]

On the death of Comm. Fra Gerolamo Bolino, early in the 17th. century, his house (No. 85 West Street) passed to the Langue of Italy. In 1684 the house was provided with water by means of a subterranean channel, [35] whilst in 1702, for the greater comfort of the Italian knights, it was decided to add another storey to the premises. The architecture of the new floor was to be in the same style as that of the rest of the building, and on the 5 July 1702 Comm. Fra Mario Bichi and Chev. Fra Annibale Vimercati presented to the Langue the designs submitted by various architects. [36] The estimated cost of the new floor was Sc. 2,600 and it was agreed to fix the rent of the Casa Bolino at Sc. 100 per annum. It was let to Comm. Fra Giuseppe Emanuele Palla in 1699 [37] and in 1731 we find it occupied by Chev. Fra Pietro Crescimanno. [38] When Self Government was restored to Malta in 1947 the Prime Minister’s Office was housed here; however, when this Ministry was transferred to the Auberge d’Aragon on the 25 November 1950, the Casa Bolino was converted into the British Institute.

Near the Church of Our Lady of Pilar is a house (No. 22 West Street) which was built in 1647 by the Langue of Aragon as residence for the chaplain pro tempore of their church. [39]

The Jesuit College owned house No. 23 West Street which has been totally rebuilt and converted into flats. [40]

Opposite the Pilar Church was the house of Comm. Silvestro Fiteni (No. 71 West Street) referred to in rent books as the “Casa dell’Alba.” [41] Comm. Silvestro founded the Commandery of St. Silvestro donating various houses and lands for this purpose, on condition, however, that he was to be admitted into the Religion with the exemption of presenting the required proofs of nobility. On the death of Comm. Silvestro Fiteni, the knights of the Langue of Aragon petitioned that the property of the St. Silvestro Commandery be applied to the new church of Our Lady of Pilar and it is probable that this house was thus affected. [42]

At the corner of West Street with St. Christopher Street (No. 64 West Street) stands the house of the Bali of Maiorca, Fra Raymondo Soler, a great benefactor of the Pilar Church in which he established a chaplaincy, for the maintenance of which be assigned a house near St. Elmo in Valletta. The house under review came to the Religion on the 6 May 1687 in virtue of a sentence of the Camera dei Conti. [43] Later this house was referred to as the “Casa Cintraj” possibly owing to its having been occupied at some period by Bali Fra Jean François Chevestre de Cintraj, Grand Prior of France. Among the tenants of this house were Comm. Fra Carlo Sarvio in 1786 and Comm. Fra Giovanni Spelletta from May 1787 to April 1796.

The house (No. 63 West Street) at the corner opposite the Soler house came to the Treasury, together with a house in St. Christopher Street, through the spoglio of the servant-at-arms Fra Filippo Burgess. It was let to Chev. Fra Paule Antoine Quiqueran de Beaujeu from 1677 to 1679 and from 1679 to 1680 to Chev. Fra Ignace de Valbelle Merargues. Comm. Fava held it from 1680 to 1681. Chev. Fra Paolo Bindi Peruzzi from 1687. [44] From 1767 this house is found, in the rent books of the Treasury, under the designation of “Casa Buongiardina.” Other tenants were Chev. Nett 1767-1775, Comm. Fra Giorgio Serra 1775-1778, Bali d’Abri Descallar 1780-1781, [45] Chev. Fra Giuseppe Rogadeo 1791 and Chev. D’Andelare 1791-1796. [46]

ZACHARY STREET, Valletta

Zachary Street, the short narrow street opposite the main entrance to St. John’s Conventual Church, was occupied, on the right hand side facing the Church, by the Auberge of Italy from South Street to Melita Street and by the houses of the Priory of Castille from Melita Street to St. John’s Street.

At the corner of Zachary Street with South Street stood the house (No. 55 Zachary Street) of Fra Paul Antoine de Robin Graveson, Prior of Toulouse, who died in the Convent on March 10, 1674, at the age of 87 years and was interred in the Conventual Church. [47]

On the 20 June 1667 the Prior of Toulouse left the usufruct of the premises to his three nephews, all knights of the Order, Fra Richard, Fra Jean François and Fra Guys de Robin Barbantane, directing that after their death the property was to pass to those descendants in the male line of Paul Antoine de Robin Barbantane, who formed part of the Religion, and should these fail, it was then to pass to those members of the Order, descendants from the male line of Jean de Robin Beauregard. If there were no knights of these families in the Order, the property was to pass, for the time being, to the Assembly of Conventual Chaplains, subject to the celebration of a certain number of masses. [48]

The house was restored, in September 1819, to Chev. Etienne Claude de Barbantane Beauregard to be enjoyed by him during his lifetime. [49] These premises have now been greatly modified.

In the records of Notary Gio. Batta. Curvisier of the 26 February 1663, Comm. Fra Giulio Vitelli donated his house (No. 42 Zachary Street) to Don Vincenzo Bonafede on condition that after the death of Don Vincenzo the premises were to pass to the Treasury. Don Vincenzo Bonafede died on the 7 May 1697 and the Treasury then took possession of the property. [50]

The house was leased in 1767 to the Bali Suffren de Saint Tropez for the duration of his lifetime. [51]

Contiguous with the Casa Vitelli is the house (No. 40 Zachary Street) of Notary Ascanio Scaglia who was nominated Secretary of the Langue of Italy in 1595. [52]

Notary Scaglia had a son, Fra Gio. Bartolomeo, a chaplain of the Langue of Italy, who had the misfortune of falling into Moslem hands whilst serving as chaplain on board one of the two galleys of the Religion, the San Francesco and San Giovanni, which were captured by the Tunisians on the 26 June 1625 off Augusta.

Fra Gio. Bartolomeo was at first enslaved in Tunis from whence he was transferred to the dread bagno of the Seven Towers in Constantinople. Here, Young Scaglia continued to minister to the needs of his fellow slaves, administering the sacraments, tending the sick and comforting and exhorting the poor Christian slaves to bear their plight with fortitude. Later, on leaving the Seven Towers, we find him the slave of a man reputed to be of saintly character by his own people and who was willing to give Fra Gio. Bartolomeo  his liberty in exchange for that of two Turkish slaves of the Religion. Heartbroken, Notary Ascanio Scaglia turned for help to the Langue of Italy which he had served faithfully for thirty years pointing out that he was a poor man and that it was impossible for him to fulfil the conditions which would obtain the ransom of his son. In the deliberation of the 19 June 1627 the Langue of Italy granted the sum of Sc. 100 to Notary Scaglia to help him out of his difficulty. [53]

For some unknown reason Notary Scaglia was forced to leave the house in Zachary Street in which he had resided for twenty five years and was lodged in the Casa Pensa, which he petitioned the Italian Langue to be allowed to occupy during his lifetime, so as to enable him to serve the Langue better by residing close to the auberge in which he worked. [54]

TREASURY STREET, Valletta

At the rear of St. John’s Church is Treasury Street, the greater part of which is occupied by the Royal Malta Library or Bibliotheca and underlying shops.

The Casa Cabrera (No. 26 Treasury Street) is at the corner formed by this street with St. Lucia Street. This building once belonged to Comm. Fra Bernardo de Cabrera and in the records of the Assembly of Conventual Chaplains it is stated that the premises first appeared on their books in 1605, in which year the Assembly took possession of one half of the property and the Priory of Catalogna of the other half, although it had not been possible to trace the will of Comm. Cabrera. In the notes of the administrator pro tempore of the Assembly it was indicated that out of the rent of the one half accruing to the Assembly, one third was to be earmarked for repairs and maintenance and the remaining two thirds were to be devoted to the celebration of masses for the repose of the soul of the donor. [55]

In 1724 the premises were demolished and rebuilt in their present form, one house fronting St. Lucia Street and the other Treasury Street. The Conventual Chaplains took the house in St. Lucia Street as their share and the Priory of Catalogna the one in Treasury Street, [56] the latter house being acquired by way of purchase by the Assembly of Conventual Chaplains in 1787. [57]

The Malandrino Commandery owned house No. 30 Treasury Street which was originally the property of Dr. Gio Batta Piotto and sold by him to the Langue of Italy. As the Commandery owed the Treasury the sum of 300 doubloons for passage and mortuary fees, the Ven. Camera del Tesoro decided that rents for the house in question should be paid into the Treasury until the debt was extinguished. At a later date the house was given on perpetual lease to the Monte della Redenzione de Schiavi.

The Malandrino Commandery was founded by the Baron of Regifili, Gio. Matteo Malandrino of Noto, for the Chaplains of the Italian Langue, [58] and it was accepted by the Venerable Council of the Order on the 25 February 1641. [59]

Comm. Fra Simone Rondinelli leased the premises from 1667 to 1669 and Comm. Fra Nicola Valadier St.

Andiol occupied them in 1670. From March to August 1670 the house was let to Chev. Fra Pietro Novi and from 1670 to 1676 to Fra Giovanni Marion.

The Cottoner Foundation owned a house (No. 16 Old Treasury Street) which was indicated on the old rent books as the “Casa Formosa.”

FREDERICK STREET, Valletta

In narrow Frederick Street there is a house (No. 8 Frederick Street) which once belonged to the Langue of Castille and which today is annexed to the Exchange Building whilst the house contiguous to it (No. 9 Frederick Street) once formed part of the Spinola property. This, together with other houses was granted on perpetual emphyteusis to Marquis Testaferrata Bonici; on the division of the Testaferrata Bonici property in 1824 this house passed to the Marchioness Angelica Apap. [60]

In this street we also find a house numbered 16 which was owned by the Monte della Redenzione de Schiavi. [61]

ST. PAUL STREET, Valletta

It is remarkable that, in comparison with other streets, very few records can be traced relating to the houses in St. Paul Street and St. Ursola Street. This is perhaps due to the fact that most of the buildings in these streets belong to private local families who have kept no records of their property.

At the head of St. Paul Street is a fine house (No. 348 St. Paul Street) which originally belonged to the de Robertis family. Count Ciantar in his Malta Illustrata [62] writes that this property belonged to Captain Giacomo de Robertis, a Bolognese. The house passed to the Testaferrata family and is today owned by Marquis Cassar Desain.

In the street under review we find house No. 335 which belonged to the Jesuit College [63] and No. 99 which was owned by the Monte della Redenzione de Schiavi. [64]

On the 17 April 1809 the Governor ordered that part of the University (Collegio del Gesù), including the large hall (Aula Magna) was to be segregated] from the University building and let to the merchant community to serve as a meeting place or Bourse. [65] The lease was for 8 years certain and 8 years optional and the entrance was from a shop No. 112 St. Paul Street.  Today the premises are once more annexed to the Old University.

Nearly opposite the Old University is a house (No. 217 St. Paul Street) which once belonged to the Bonnici family. This house is worthy of mention because it was the birthplace of Gerald Lord Strickland, Baron Sizergh and 6th. Count della Catena, who was elected to the Malta Council of Government in 1887 and in 1888 was appointed Assistant Secretary to Government and shortly after Secretary to Government. On returning to Malta, after having served as governor of the Leeward Islands, Tasmania, Western Australia and New South Wales, Sir Gerald Strickland, as he was then known, formed the Constitutional Party in 1921 and was elected to the Malta Legislative Assembly. He was raised to the peerage in 1928 and from 1927 to 1932 was Prime Minister of Malta. Lord Strickland died on the 22 August 1940 and was interred in the Cathedral Church, Mdina.

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At No 223 St. Paul Street we find Palazzino Sapienti housing the World Headuarters of the Russian Grand Priory.

The first records of the history of this beautiful baroque building dates from 1629, when Fra Nicolò Sollima, a member of an ancient and illustrious Sicilian family and a Knight of St. John of Jerusalem, is recorded as a resident here. However, the palace is antecedent, as it is already clearly identifiable on the various maps of Valletta since 1582.

The presence of a carved Tudor Rose, found in the main hall (now the Throne Room) and two windows that open onto the courtyard, indicate that the building was originally inhabited by the Knights of the Langue of England.

Besides Fra Nicolò Sollima, Palazzino Sapienti was the home of several other major characters including Capitano Antonio Garzin who was very active in Valletta between 1626 and 1650 and was among the benefactors of the parish church of St. Andrew the Apostle in Luqa in 1626 and in1630 designed the Dominican Priory of Our Lady of the Grotto in Rabat. Capitano Garzin lived in at least three different addresses in Valletta, one of which is Palazzino Sapienti.

After Garzin another illustrious owner of Palazzino Sapienti was Mgr Onorato Bres, Commander of the Order of St. John, the Apostolic Delegate, head of the Pontifical Province of Frosinone (1821) and author of various essays, among which the most famous is “Malta antica illustrata” published in Rome in 1816.

After the Monsignor, it was the turn of John Austin (1790-1859) Royal Commissioner to Malta and considered by many as the creator of the law school, friend of thinkers such as Jeremy Bentham a British philosopher, jurist and social reformer; Thomas Carlyle, a Scottish historian, essayist, and philosopher; James and John Stuart Mill, father and son, and both of them also Scottish historians, philosophers and economists, John Stuart is also considered one of the greatest exponents of liberalism and utilitarianism.

The predecessor of the Russian Grand Priory was Sir Luigi Camilleri (1892-1989), lawyer, member of the first Legislative Assembly in Malta and President of the Supreme Court.

During the Second World War the premises were used by the British Royal Air Force for the decoding of enemy aerial operations. Pallazzino Sapienti survived two very near enemy bomb misses, one obliterated the court yard of the Royal University of Malta. Whilst another bomb destroyed and heavily damaged the buildings next to its right – buldings between St Paul Street and Archbishop Street.

Between 1945 and 1955 the building was used as a Government elementary school for the Valletta children. (The school was being rebuilt after it was destroyed during WWII)

The Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Knights Hospitaller has its Seat or Centre of Administration at 223 St. Paul Street, Valletta, Malta. The building also is the office of the Russian Grand Priory of Malta. This building was purchased in 1981 with significant contributions from the Priory in Switzerland. The origins of the present organization on Malta date back to a formal establishment of the Commandery of Malta on February 1, 1963. The Commandery was raised to the status of a Priory of the Order on March 8, 1964 and, on February 22, 1970, it became the Grand Priory of Russia. (Information provided by Chev Saviour Garcia KJSJ)

The houses numbered 117 to 131 St. Paul Street formed part of the Cottoner Foundation and were built on the site of the “Polverista” or powder magazine. This site bounded by St. Paul Street, St. Christopher Street, Merchants Street and St. Dominic Street had been reserved for the Auberge of England in the event of the re-establishment of the English Langue when England returned to the Catholic faith. On the 12 September 1634 there was a serious explosion at the Polverista when twenty lives were lost and the site was abandoned for forty years. On the 22 September 1664 Grand Master Nicholas Cottoner informed the Council that he intended to build a block of buildings on this site, the rents of which were to go to the Cottoner Foundation.

House Number 198 in this street was acquired by the Assembly of Conventual Chaplains in virtue of the dispositions contained in the will of Petrisa Scaramuri. [66]

Among the exiles in Malta during the Italian Risorgimento was Nicolò Fabrizi who came to Malta in 1837 and resided at No. 183 St. Paul Street, Valletta. [67] He was the connecting link between Mazzini and other Italian exiles. Fabrizi left Malta in 1848 but again returned alter the failure of the Venetian revolt. Here he prepared a small expedition which he called ‘`I Cacciatori del Faro’ and which, from Malta, disembarked at Pozzallo in Sicily on June 2, 1860. [68]

The Tressina Commandery, founded by Comm. Fra Giovanni Tressina, owned premises numbered 180 to 182 in this street. [69]

ST. URSOLA STREET, Valletta

St. Ursula Street Valletta Malta in 1875

St. Ursola Street was known in the days of the Order as Strada San Pietro and during the French occupation as Rue de la Constitution. House number 4 in this street was held by the Langue of Italy and probably formed part of the old Casa Caraffa.

In 1699 Comm. Fra Giovanni Marion of the Langue of Provence purchased from Maruzza Bonifacio, widow of Didaco d’Amico, house No. 6 St. Ursola Street for the price of Sc. 2,500. [70] Comm. Marion bequeathed the property to his sister Anna Boneu Marion [71] who left as her sole heir, her son, Captain Aloysio Marsiglia Marion. In 1724 Captain Marsiglia Marion, represented by Fra Melchior Alpheran, Prior of the Conventual Church, sold the premises to the Manoel Foundation. This house was later used as a home for spinsters under the management of the Conventual Prior and a Commission. [72]

The premises numbered 248 to 254 in the street under review belonged to Cesare Passalacqua, an old clerk of the Common Treasury, who in 1660 donated all his property to the Religion as a sign of gratitude and devotion. In 1682 he added to his donation, other property of a total value of Sc. 20,000, the yearly rental value of which was Sc. 600. The donor directed that the property could not be alienated and that the rents were to be employed in the purchase of candles and incense for the use of the Conventual Church. [73] Cesare Passalacqua died in 1683 and the foundation, which included the premises in St. Ursola Street, was approved by the Council. [74]

Fra Stefano Maria Lomellini, Prior of England, President of the Monte della Redenzione de Schiavi, on the 12 July 1672 bought, on behalf of the Monte, the premises 104 and 105 St. Ursola Street from Isabella, widow of Notary Lorenzo Grima, for the price of Sc. 1,900. [75]

EAST STREET, Valletta

East Str 1878

There is very little to record in East Street which under the Order was known as Strada San Luigi and then Strada Levante.

A mezzanine numbered 102 was the property of the Vice Chancellor Fra Francesco Abela who donated it in 1655 to the Assembly of Conventual Chaplains on condition that the rents were to be applied to pious works. [76]

House No. 70 in this street was erected by the Manoel Foundation on the site of an old house belonging to the bequest of Domenico Bologna. In exchange for the site of this house the Manoel Foundation gave to the trustees of the bequest the fields “tad-Dar,” “ta’ Roner” and “tan-Nudar.”

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ST. CHRISTOPHER STREET, Valletta

St. Christopher Street was at first named “Strada della Fontana” as a spring or fountain of fresh water was struck in its vicinity whilst a well for the storage of water was being excavated during the building of Valletta. The French Republican Government altered the name to “Rue des Droits de l’Homme” this being again changed to Strada Cristoforo by the British Government.

The first house in this street (No. 2 St. Christopher Street) belonged to the Manoel Foundation. This, together with house No. 70 East Street, was erected by the Manoel Foundation on the site of an old house belonging to the bequest of Domenico Bologna.

Opposite this house, on the site at present occupied by a very large block of flats, stood the Slaves’ Prison or bagni. After the conspiracy of the slaves during the reign of Grand Master Pinto, it was decreed that all slaves were to be locked in the bagni during the night.

At the corner which this street forms with St. Ursola Street, is the Maison Shelley, which belonged to the English knight, Sir James Shelley, later Prior of England, brother of Sir Richard Shelley, the Turcopilier.

On August 2, 1577, Sir James bought the house under review and later bequeathed it to the Assembly of Conventual Chaplains with the express reservation that “should the Kingdom of England return to the bosom of Mother Church and if the English Langue were re-established the premises were to serve as an Auberge for the English knights.

In the records of the Assembly of Conventual Chaplains [77] we read that the house was enjoyed by the Assembly, from the early days of the new city, through a donation made by a knight of the name of Angles and, in a petition by Comm. Pier Antonio Fiore, we find that it was presumed that this house was burthened with five masses per week for the repose of the soul of the said Chev. Angles. This discrepancy in names is probably due to the error of some copyist who omitted the name James Shelley and only inserted Cavalier Angles (i.e. English Knight). From this petition we also learn that, in the event of the re-integration of the English Langue, the house was to revert to this Langue, free of all burthens, naturally, the Assembly being also freed from the burthen of masses.

In 1718 the building was judged, by the Assembly, to be in a ruinous state. The old house was demolished and rebuilt in its present form at the expense of the Assembly which, for this purpose, employed Sc. 2,500 from the Foundation of Fra Don Carlo Caraffa, Prior of Rocella. [78] As in 1789 the Shelley Foundation was debtor by Sc. 6,319 towards the Assembly and the Caraffa Foundation, it was decided to suspend the celebration of masses until the debt was paid up.

The French Demanial Commission, in 1799, still called the house in question “Maison Anglez et Schelley” and described it as being situated in front of the residence of the then Justice of the Peace for the West (Valletta-Floriana). [79]

Adjoining the Maison Shelley is a house (No. 178 St. Christopher Street) which once belonged to the Balbiano family. By a letter dated March 30, 1824, the British Government restituted the premises to Marquis Gaetano Simeone Balbiano, who was the rightful owner, through his attorney in Malta, Dr. Filippo Torregiani. [80]

The next house, number 168 in this street, belonged to the Marchesi family whilst house No. 24, today the Office of the Notary to Government, was the property of Comm. Fra Anacleto Zarzana. [81]

The Hospital for Incurable Women came into possession of premises Nos. 37/39 St. Christopher Street on the death, without issue, of Gio Martin Pitardi in 1728. [82]

This property originally belonged to Flaminia Pitardi and was later inherited by Anna Maria Pitardi who, in her will, [83] left as her universal heir Gio. Martin Pitardi, subject that if he died without issue the property was to go to the Hospital for Incurable Women or “Casetta.”

Casa Corti (144 St. Christopher Street) belonged to the Italian Langue.

In the Deliberations of this Langue we find that the house was taken on life lease by Comm. Fra Augusto Piccolomini in 1683 and on March 3, 1711, it was given on ordinary lease to Comm. Fra Felice Orlandini. It was successively occupied by Chev. Fra Lorenzo Ruggieri (1717), Chev. Fra Giuseppe Provana da Colegno (1732), Chev. Fra Deodato Capitani (1745), Chev. Fra Tommaso Dini (1749), Comm. Fra Diego Gargallo (1752) and Chev. Fra Guido Sambrani (1752).

On the death of Chev. Fra Guido Sambrani in 1753, it was taken by Comm. Fra Antonio Griselia and then by Comm. Fra Diego Emle Roveri (1773) and Comm. Fra Gio. Maria Nobili (1782).

In 1807 the British Government gave the house on lease for 99 years [84] at a rent of Sc. 130 per annum [85] to Marquis Giuseppe Vincenzo Testaferrata K.C.M.G. to whom it was sold in 1828.

These premises have been considerably modified.

The Sant Fournier family own the palace (No. 143 St. Christopher Street). Here, on the 28 October 1864, died Monsignor Publio de’ Conti Sant, Bishop of Malta.

Adjacent to the Sant Fournier house is the Casa Rocca Grande (No. 141 St. Christopher Street) built by Fra Pietro La Rocca, Prior of Santo Stefano, towards the end of the 16th. century.

In 1585, Prior La Rocca was sent to Naples to congratulate the new viceroy, Don Diego Enriquez de Guzman d’Alva de Lista. He was appointed resident ambassador in Rome in 1593, where he was to point out that the easy hearing of appeals, at the Roman Courts, from members of the Order who had been punished in the Convent for misdeeds, was making members lose respect towards their superiors and causing discipline to become lax in the Convent. In 1598, Fra Pietro La Rocca was appointed Admiral of the Order and later created Bali of Santo Stefano.

On Bali La Rocca’s death, the house passed to the Italian Langue and it was henceforth occupied by many of its important dignitaries.

Fra Francesco Saccano, Prior of Santo Stefano, held it in 1614 [86] and Comm. Fra Gio. Batta Macedonio in 1643. [87] It was next let to Fra Carlo Gattola, Prior of Capua, who was appointed Admiral in 1681 and who died in the Convent in 1684 at the age of 80 years.

Fra Carlo Spinelli, Bali of Armenia and Captain General of the Galleys in 1687, then occupied the house [88] and he was followed by Fra Mario Bichi, on whose death it was taken over by Bali Vincenzo Caravita, [89] Admiral of the Order in 1709. In 1722 we find the premises in possession of Bali Fra Pietro Platamone, [90] Lieutenant to the Admiral in 1723, who was followed by Comm. Fra Francesco Pappalettere (Admiral 1745) and Comm. Fra Francesco Paterno. [91]

The house was leased, in 1751, to Comm. Fra Baldassare Torres [92] (Lieut. Admiral 1755) on whose death, in 1757, it was occupied up to 1767 by Comm. Fra Giuseppe Provana da Colegno. [93] The next occupier was Comm. Fra Massimiliano Buzzacarini Gonzaga [94] who took the house on a life lease in 1773. [95] It was let to Comm. Fra Galgano Scozzini [96] in 1788, Comm. Fra Francesco Mazzei in 1785, [97] Comm. Fra Michel’Angelo Arezzo in 1791, who relinquished the lease the same year, when it was taken over by Comm. Fra Michele Benedetto Grimaldi. [98]

The French Republican Government sold the house to Citoyen Francesco Sant [99] (Count Francesco Sant) on the 14 Fructidor year 6 of the Republic (21 August 1798). Later, the premises were purchased by Count Messina from whose heirs they were purchased by the late Professor Vittore Stilon de Piro.

The estimated value of the Casa Rocca Grande, in 1685, was Sc. 4,478.

In a Deliberation of the Langue of Italy, confirmed by the Council on July 16, 1783, it was agreed to revalue the rent of the houses belonging to the Italian Langue, and the rent of the house under review was fixed, by the Commissioners appointed for this purpose, at Sc. 360 per annum.

Comm. Fra Francesco Mazzei, the lessee at the moment, thought that the estimate was exorbitant, especially as a few years previously the rent for this same house had been assessed at Sc. 135. Mazzei appealed to the Council which, on June 3, 1786, after having appointed assessors, reduced the rent to Sc. 240 per annum.

The block of flats at No. 139 in this street stand on the site of the house once the residence of Nicholas Cottoner before his elevation to the Grand Mastership, and nearly opposite this was another house (No. 62 St. Christopher Street) belonging to Grand Master Adrien de Wignacourt which, in his disproprium, [100] he directed was to be enjoyed by Comm. La Marche and Chev. Vespe during their lifetime. On the death of Comm. La Marche the premises passed to the Treasury.

The Assembly of Conventual Chaplains owned house No. 77 which, in the records, is found under the name of “Casa Staina.” [101] One hall of the premises was acquired at a sale of the Court of the Castellania on the 27 May 1683 for Sc. 661 and the other hall was purchased from Dr. Pasquale Xiberras. [102]

House No. 117 together with No. 63 West Street came to the Treasury through the spoglio of the servant-at-arms Fra Filippo Burgos.

ST. DOMINIC STREET, Valletta

St. Dominic Street, once known as “Strada di San Marco” and under the French as “Rue des Patriots,” lies parallel to St. Christopher Street. Here we only find two houses of interest.

Monsignor Gaspare, Cori Mancini, Bishop of Malta (1722-1727), owned house No. 122 situated under the Nunnery of St. Catherine. [103] In his disproprium, dated July 19, 1721, the Bishop left his house to the Treasury on condition that the usufruct was to be enjoyed by his nephew, Rev. Gio Francesco Gori, and by a relative Rev. Rocco Vannoccini. Bishop Gori Mancini further stipulated that the two cellars beneath the house were to be enjoyed by his freed slave, Anna Maria, during her lifetime.

The Treasury took possession of the house after the death of Rev. Gio. Francesco Gori on the 9 January 1733 and it was let to the Bali Trento from 1767 to 1776, to the Chev. Bonelli from 1777 to 1783 [104] and to the Conventual Chaplain Fra Felice Grixti from 1783 to 1798.

Contiguous with Bishop Gori Mancini’s house is a fine building (No. 120 St. Dominic Street) often referred to as the “Casa Diannuzzi Vivier.” [105] It is recorded that this property belonged to Rev. Gio. Butta Vivier and was sold by him, in 1712, to the Cottoner Foundation for Sc. 6,300. [106]

The premises were later occupied by Comm. de Rouville, and in 1741 were taken on life lease by Comm. Fra Alessis de Montefroy. [107] In 1767 the house was let to Comm. Fra Giovanni Battista Amalfitani [108] of the Langue of Italy who took it on lifelease on the lst. April 1772 at Sc. 140 per annum.

OLD HOSPITAL STREET, Valletta

In Old Hospital Street, formerly “Strada della Fortuna” is a house, numbered 82, which once belonged to Comm. Fra Prospero Lopresse. By a deed in the Records of Notary Ascanio Scaglia, dated March 6, 1606, Comm. Lopresse donated the premises to the Assembly of Conventual Chaplains, subject to the celebration of a certain number of masses. [109]

NORTH STREET, Valletta

Comm. Fra Massimiliano Dampun bought house No. 10 North Street, then known as Strada di Sant’Elmo, and later as Strada Tramontana. In 1640, Comm. Dampun gave this property to Suor Speranza, sister of Pietro Balzano, to be enjoyed by her during her lifetime, after which it was to revert to the Religion. [110]

Notes:

[1] One cane equivalent to 2 yards 10¼ inches.

[2] Records of Notary Placido Abel of 19 July 1570.

[3] Liber Bullarum 1588-1589 R.M.L. Arch. 444, fol. 32.

[4] DARMANIN DEMAJO, G., Archivio Storico di Malta Vol. II page 61.

[5] The writer is indebted to Chev. Vincenzo Bonello for this information.

[6] CARAVITA, Giov. Maria, Trattato del Tosoro Vol. I R.M.L. Arch. 1679 fo. 120.

[7] CALLEJA SCEMBRI, Canon H., ‘Coins and Medals of the Knights’ page 8, Eyre and Spottiswoode, London 1908.

[8] BOSIO, Giacomo, ‘Storia della Sacra Religione’ Vol. III, page 745, A. Pazzi, Naooli 1684.

[9] CARAVITA, op. cit. p. 120.

[10]One tari equivalent to 1 8/12d.

[11]PAOLI, Zenobio — ‘Trattato della Zecca,’ R.M.L. Arch. 6409.

[12]Relation presentée a S. Emee. par les Ven. Baillys Debarres et de Tibas R.M.L. Arch. 6409.

[13]BOISGELIN, Louis, ‘Malta Ancient and Modern’ Vol. I, p. 316, T. Davidson 1805.

[14]R.M.L. Library Ms. 437.

[15]DENARO, Victor F., ‘The Mint of Malta’ Numismatic Chronicle, Sixth Series, Vol. XV, 1955, pp. 173/187.

[16]Dispropriamenti Italiani Fascio No. 8. R.M.L. Arch. 931.

[17]Records of Not. Giuseppe Callus of 31 January, 1714.

[18] CARUANA. Pietro Paolo, ‘Collezione dei Monumenti etc. nella Chiesa di San Giovanni’ Tav. CCV.

[19] Decreti della Ven. Camera 9.11.1739, R.M.L. Arch. 650 fo. 81.

[20] Decreti della Ven. Camera 1.5.1779, R.M.L. Arch. 657.

[21] DAL POZZO, Bartolomeo, ‘Historia della Sacra Religione Militare di S. Giovanni Gerosolimitano’ Vol. I., p. 347 Giovanni Berne, Verona, 1703.

[22] Libre Dispropriamenti Francesi “B” fo. 230. R.M.L. Arch. 931.

[23] Cabreo Assemblea Vol. IV fo. 29 and 525 R.M.L. Treas. B 295.

[24] Libro Beni Stabili del Tesoro “B” fo. 63 and 270 R.M.L. Treas. A. 1.

[25] Repertorio Fond. Manoel — R.M.L. Treas. A. 25 fo. 65.

[26] Records of Not. Gaspare Domenico Chircop of 11 Nov. 1730. Repertorio Fondazione Manoel R.M.L. Treas. A. 25 fo. 41.

[27] Conti Economo Beni Fond. Manoel R.M.L. Treas. A. 28.

[28] Lib. Bull. 1661-2 R.M.L. Archives, 478 fo. 328.

[29] Dispropriamenti Italiani fasc. 5 No. 28. R.M.L. Arch. 931.

[30] Cabreo Assemblea Fiernalda Vol. III fo. 23 and 326 R.M.L. Treas. B. 299. Urbani Vol. III 1808-1814 R.M.L. Treas. B. 107 fo. 152.

[31] Libro Beni Stabili del Tesoro “B” fo. 28 R.M.L. Treas. A. 1.

[32] Strade — R.M.L. Arch. 902.

[33] Malta Government Gazette of the 23rd November 1831.

[34] LAFERLA A.V. — Sir Walter Scott’s visit to Malta, Arch. Melitense Vol. II p. 71/e.

[35] Deliberazioni Lingua d’Italia 1.7.1684, R.M.L. Arch. 2133 fo. 278.

[36] Deliberazioni Lingua d’Italia 5.7.1702, R.M.L., Arch. 2135 fo. 207.

[37] Ibid. fo. 190.

[38] Procure della Lingua d’Italia, R.M.L. Arch. 2179 fo. 4.

[39] Liber Concil. 1674 R.M.L. Arch. 125 fo. 7.

[40] Libro Maestro Comp. di Gesù — R.M.L. Treas. A. 122 fo. 140.

[41] Urbani Vol. II 1808-1814 R.M.L. Treas. B. 106 fo. 328.

[42] Scritture Fondazioni Lingua d’Aragona, R.M.L. Arch, 2189 fo. 322.

[43] Libro Beni Stabili del Tesoro “B” R.M.L. Treas. A. 1., fo. 25.

[44] Libro Beni Stabili del Tesoro “B” R.M.L., Treas. A. 1. fo. 26.

[45] Libro Esigenziale dei Beni del Tesoro 1767-81 R.M.L., Treas. A. 2, fo. 14.

[46] Libro Esigenziale dei Beni del Tesoro 1781-1790 R.M.L., Treas. A. 3, fo. 11.

[47] CARUANA, Pietro Paolo, op. cit. Tav. XI.

[48] Fondazioni Assemblea dei Cappellani Conventuali dal 1727 al 1795 fo. 29 R.M.L., Treas. A. 80.

[49] Libro Maestro — Famiglie Estere 1814-27 fo. 45 R.M.L. Treas. B. 121.

[50] Libro Beni Stabili del Tesoro “B” fo. 64 R.M.L. Treas. A. 1.

[51] Records of Not. O.V. Grillet Xiberras of 9 June 1767.

[52] Deliberazioni della Lingua d’Italia of R.M.L. Arch. 2127 fo. 251.

[53] Ibid. fo. 261.

[54] Deliberazioni della Lingua d’Italia R.M.L. Arch. 2129 fo. 210.

[55] Cabreo Assemblea Fiernalda Vol. I fo. 28 R.M.L. Treas. B. 297.

[56] Cabreo Assemblea Fiernalda Vol. II fo. 79 R.M.L. Treas. B. 298.

[57] Records Not. Alessandro Patricio Spiteri of 7 July 1787.

[58] Fondazioni della Lingua d’Italia Vol. II fo. 71 and Vol. III fo. 26. R.M.L. Arch. 2160, 2161.

[59] Liber Concil. 25 February 1641. R.M.L. Arch. 113.

[60] Records of Not. Cristoforo Frendo of the 12th April 1824.

[61] Cabreo Monte della Redenzione de schiavi fo. 12 R.M.L. Treas. B. 309.

[62] CIANTAR Conte Giovannantonio, Malta Illustrata, Vol. I Lib. I. Not. I, XVI.

[63] Libro Maestro Comp. di Gesù 1739-48 fo. 119 R.M.L. Treas. A. 122.

[64] Cabreo Monte della Redenzione de Schiavi fo. 28 R.M.L. Treas. B. 309.

[65] Libro Ordini 1800-1812 fo. 84 R.M.L. Treas. B. 210.

[66] Cabreo Assemblea Fiernalda Vol. I fo. 27 R.M.L. Treas. B. 297. Records. Not. Vincenzo Xiberras of 22 August 1641.

[67] Laferla A.V. — British Malta Vol. I page 251. A.C. Aquilina & Co., Malta 1947.

[68] Enciclopedia Italiana — Fabrizi, Nicolò, Vol. XIV page 704.

[69] DENARO, Victor F., Houses inRepublic Streetand Old Bakery Street, Valletta. Melita Historica Vol. II No. 4 p. 211.

[70] Records of Not. Michele Giovanni Bonavita of 4 April 1699.

[71] Sproprii Francesi “E” fol. 554 to 556 of 17 July 1719. R.M.L. Arch. 929.

[72] Repertorio della Fond. Manoel R.M.L. Treas. A. 25 fo. 17.

[73] DAL POZZO, Bartolomeo, op. cit. Vol. II page 507.

[74] Registro Cons. Cancelleria 1681, 1682 and 1683 fo. 204. R.M.L. Arch. 127.

[75] Records of Not. Pasquale de Bono of 12 July 1672.

[76] Cabreo Procura Anziana Vol. I fo. 20. R.M.L. Treas. B. 292. Records of Not. Andrea Vella of 2 May 1655.

[77] Cabreo Assemblea Fiernalda Vol. I fo. 38 R.M.L. Treas. B. 297.

[78] Decreti della Ven. Assemblea 18 January 1718 fo. 230 R.M.L. Arch. 1989.

[79] Mons. A. Mifsud — Knights of the Ven. Tongue of England, page 102/3 The Malta Herald 1916.

[80] Libro Maestro Famiglie Estere 1814-27 fo. 37 R.M.L. Treas. B. 121.

[81] Beni Urbani Vol. II fo. 80. R.M.L. Treas. B. 90.

[82] Cabreo Ospedale delle Donne fo. 9 R.M.L. Treas. B. 307.

[83] Records of Not. Gaspare Domenico Chircop of 12 February 1717.

[84] Records of Not. Diego Vella of 28 January 1807.

[85] Records of Not. Diego Vella of 27 Oetober 1828.

[86] DAL POZZO, Bartolomeo, op. cit, Vol. I. page 347.

[87] Deliberazioni Lingua d’Italia R.M.L. Arch. 2127 fo. 257.

[88] ibid. R.M.L. Arch. 2129 fo. 213.

[89] ibid. R.M.L. Arch. 2134 fo. 128.

[90] ibid. R.M.L. Arch. 2137 fo. 346.

[91] ibid. R.M.L. Arch. 2139 fo. 396.

[92] ibid. R.M.L. Arch. 2141 fo. 290.

[93] ibid. R.M.L. Arch. 2143 fo. 387.

[94] ibid. R.M.L. Arch. 2144 fo. 212.

[95] ibid. R.M.L. Arch. 2149 fo. 159.

[96] ibid. R.M.L. Arch. 2153 fo. 258.

[97] ibid. R.M.L. Arch. 2154 fo. 245.

[98] ibid. 23.9.1791 R.M.L. Arch. 2157.

[99] Stati Beni Urbani Vol. II, R.M.L. Treas. B. 90.

[100] Sproprio Emti. Lett. B. fo. 15 R.M.L. Arch. 925.

[101] Cabreo Assemblea Vol. IV fo. 32 R.M.L. Treas. B. 295.

[102] Records of Not. Michele Giovanni Bonavita of 3 June 1685.

[103] Dispropriamenti Italiani “G” fo. 2 R.M.L. Arch. 927.

[104] Libro Esigenziale Beni Tesoro fo. 90 R.M.L. Treas. A. 3.

[105] Fond. Cottoner Libro Esigenziale — Urbani fo. 156 R.M.L. Treas. A. 51.

[106] Records of Not. Giuseppe Callus of 6 July 1712.

[107] Records of Not. Giuseppe Callus of 8 March 1741.

[108] Registro Beni Urbani Fond Cottoner 1753-92 fo. 66 R.M.L. Treas. A. 43.

[109] Cabreo Assemblea Fiernalda Vol. I M. 27 R.M.L. Treas. B. 297.

[110] Records of Not. Tommaso di Candia of 26 Nov. 1640.

_______

 

SOUTH STREET, Valletta

In the early days of Valletta, South Street was named “Strada del Palazzo” as it was the original intention to build the magisterial palace somewhere near the site at present occupied by the Auberge de Castille. Later this street became known as the “Strada dell’Albergia di Francia.” The French renamed it “Rue du Genie” whilst up to the beginning of World War II it was known as “Strada Mezzodi.”

The first house of any importance in this street is that numbered 60. This property belonged to Grazia Torrensi and on January 4, 1726 it was sold for Sc. 4,000 by the Procurators of the Common Treasury to Grand Master Manoel de Vilhena[1] who applied the premises to the Foundation which he had established,[2] stipulating however, that this house was to be enjoyed by his three grand-nephews, sons of Don Sancio Manoel, and then by all knights in the male line of Don Sancio Manoel, when these were residing in the Convent. By a judgment of the “Tribunale delle Cause Delegate” of January 12, 1745, it was ordered that those who enjoyed the house were to pay 5% of the yearly rental value to the Foundation to defray expenses for repairs and maintenance which the Foundation would have to make.[3]

If no knights of the male line of Don Sancio Manoel resided in the Convent, the Manoel Foundation was then to enjoy the rents deriving from this property.

On July 1, 1860, the British Government granted the premises on long lease to Gio. Batta Schembri[4] and in due course they passed to Miss Agnes Schembri. Miss Schembri died in 1919 and in her last will dated June 17, 1918 left the ‘utile dominium’ of the property, by way of legacy, to the local Government with the obligation of the Government using the income thereof for the maintenance abroad of one or more Maltese youths who desired to become proficient in an art or trade, including that of motor mechanic or piano tuner.[5] The value of the scholarship has been fixed by Government at £200 per annum and the course of training, is for a period of two years.

Contiguous with the Casa Torrensi was the palace and property of the noble de Lussan family. From old plans of Valletta it would seem that the premises, of which nothing remains today, were built at the beginning of the  17th century by Fra Pierre Desparvez de Lussan, Prior of St. Giles. The St. Andrew Scots’ Church today stands on part of the site once occupied by this property.

At the corner formed by South Street with Old Bakery Street once stood the house belonging to Fra Christopher le Bolver dit Montgaudri, Bali of Lango, who was Governor of Valletta in 1571, Captain General of the Galleys in 1573 and Grand Hospitaller in 1577. It is probable that the entrance to this house was from Old Bakery Street.

When the French Langue decided to transfer their Auberge in 1588, this house was incorporated with the new building.[6] No trace remains of these premises which were completely destroyed by enemy action in 1942. On the site the Union Press, belonging to the General Workers Union, has now been built.

Opposite the Auberge de France were three fine houses belonging to the French Langue, known as the Demandolx houses. These passed to the Monte di Pietà e Redenzione in 1800. One of these houses had the misfortune of being destroyed by a German bomb and on its site a building has been erected which is completely out of harmony with the two remaining houses.

Admiralty House Malta 1892

We now come to the Museum of Fine Arts formerly Admiralty House (No. 53 South Street). This palace was among the first to be erected in the city of Valletta, as we find that the site was acquired as early as 1569, by Chev. Fra Jean de Soubiran dit Arafat[8] of the Langue of Provence, who had taken part in the Siege of Malta of 1565 and who was captain of the galley “San Giovanni” in 1602.[9] It would seem that on the site which he acquired Chev. de Soubiran built two houses, one large and one small. [10] Later, the premises passed to Comm. François le Petit de la Guerche, also of the Langue of Provence, captain of the galley “Santa Maria” in 1654.[11] When this knight died outside the Convent on June 21, 1663, the Treasury took possession of the property on September 1st, 1663. [12]

From May 17, 1668 to November 16, 1669, both houses were let to Comm. Fra Eustachio Bernard d’Avernes for a yearly rent of Sc. 120. The premises were then let successively to three members of the de Fleurigny family: Chev. Fra François Octave de Fleurigny from November 17, 1699 to May 16, 1670, Chev. Fra Louis de Fleurigny from May 17, 1670 to October 31, 1670 and Chev. Fra Hugues de Fleurigny Vauvilliers from November 1st 1670 to July 31, 1671. On August 1st, 1671, they were taken on lease by Comm. Fra Simone Rondinelli of the Langue of Italy who held them up to January 31, 1673.

The Treasury again leased the property to Chev. Hugues de Fleurigny Vauvilliers and to his brother Jacques from February 1st, 1673, to the end of January 1682.[13] In virtue of a deed dated January 27, 1682, the premises were given on lease to Chev. now Commander Louis de Fleurigny for the duration of his lifetime,[14] but at the reduced rent of Sc. 110 per annum, and on January 16, 1697, it was agreed that Chev. Fra Jacques de Fleurigny Vauvilliers should also enjoy the use of the house during his lifetime, together with his brother Comm. Louis.[15]

Louis de Fleurigny was a gallant naval commander who took part in many a naval engagement against the Moslems and who was appointed Captain General of the Galleys of the Religion in 1709[16] and later promoted Balì “ad honores.” Balì Fra Louis de Fleurigny died in the Convent in 1716 and was interred in Conventual Church.[17]

After the Fleurignys the house was given on lease to Chev. Fra. Boniface de Castellane of the Langue of Provence on May 14, 1720, [18] though, Sir Hannibal Scicluna states that, before this, the brothers Jean and Charles Dou had taken the house on lease but had later renounced their rights to the continuance of same. [19]

We now find the premises occupied by the wealthy Balì of Lessa, Fra Raimondo de Sousa y Silva. It is averred that the Grand Master was anxious to get Don Raimondo to fix his abode in Malta in order to secure his wealth for the Religion on the making of his spoglio, and for this purpose, persuaded him to take the house under review on lease for his lifetime; [20] however, at the request of Don Raimondo, the Treasury consented to allow him to occupy the premises on ordinary lease and for his benefit rebuilt the house in its present form between 1761 and 1763.

After enjoying several important positions in the Order, Balì Raimondo de Sousa y Silva died in the Convent on January 13, 1782 at the age of 94 and he too was buried in the Conventual Church.[21]

Following the death of the Balì of Lessa, we find the house div ided into several apartments and occupied, from March 1783 to April 1785, by several knights among whom we find the names of Fra Luca d’Argence, Fra Vincenzo Perelli and Fra Daniele Berlinghieri who later represented the Order at the Congress of Vienna.

On April 7, 1785 the premises were again let as a private residence to the renowned French naval commander, the Balì Pierre André Suffren de Saint Tropez, Captain General of the Galleys of the Order in 1780, who occupied them until his death outside the Convent on December 8, 1788. After his death they were let, on the same conditions, to his brother, Comm. Fra Paul Julien  Suffren de Saint Tropez, until June 1795 when the palace was taken on lease by Chev. Fra Antonio Miari di Belluno, Secretary to Grand Master Ferdinand von Hompesch,[22] who occupied it, at the yearly rent of Sc. 250, until the Order was driven out of Malta by Napoleon in June 1798.

The French Republican Government offered the palace to the Bishop, Monsignor Vincenzo Labini, as an episcopal seminary,[23] but owing to the revolt of the Maltese this project was never effected.

After the capitulation of the French garrison, “Casa Miari,” as the palace was then known, was occupied by the Commander of the Anglo-Maltese troops, Captain Alexander Ball R.N., the house having been refused by Canon Francesco Caruana, to whom it had been offered by the British Commissioner in recognition of his services during the campaign against the French.

The next occupant of the residence was Mr. Alexander Macaulay, Secretary to the Civil Commissioner, who leased it from August 1802 to June 1803 at a rent of £24, 15. 6 per annum.

By an Order given on May 12, 1808, His Excellency the Governor ordered that the palace be reinstated for the immediate reception of His Royal Highness the Duke of Orleans.[24]

Mr. G. Darmanin Demajo[25] relates that Louis Charles, Vicomte de Beaujolais, and his brother, Louis Philippe, Duke of Orleans, arrived in Malta on May 16, 1808 on board the French warship “Voltaire” and lodged in the “Casa Miari” where the Vicomte de Beaujolais died on May 29, 1808. The Vicomte, who was a Knight of Malta, was buried in St. John’s, Conventual Church; however, before expiring he directed that his heart was to be embalmed and interred in the Church of Our Lady of Liesse in Valletta. The Duke of Orleans, together with his two sisters, returned to France on January 2, 1809.

From 1808 to 1820 the house was occupied by the British Military Authorities without payment of rent.

On January 1st, 1821 the premises were given on lease[26] to the Naval Authorities for twenty one years and the palace remained the official residence of the Commander-in-Chief of the British Mediterranean Fleet, until 1961 when it was taken over by the Maltese Government.

The palace was officially inaugurated as the National Museum of Fine Arts in 1974 and has since then been Malta’s most important museum for the arts. Highlights from the collection on display include paintings by leading local and internationally acclaimed artists, precious Maltese silverware, statuary in marble bronze and wood, fine furniture items and splendid maiolica pieces. The collection also includes works by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) and Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902), Valentin de Boulogne (1591-1632), Jusepe Ribera (1591-1652) and Guido Reni (1575-1642). The large piano nobile halls house works of art from the Early Renaissance to the High Baroque with a focus on the corpus of works by the Italian Baroque painter Mattia Preti. This is the biggest corpus of works by Mattia Preti on display in any public museum.

Contiguous to the Museum is the house (No. 52 South Street) of Fra Aloysio Mazzinghi, Prior of Capua and later Balì of Santo Stefano,[27] who in 1630 donated the premises to Giacobo and Ugolino, sons of his nephew Filippo Mazzinghi,[28] and to all those in the male line of the Mazzinghi family who, at any time, might be members of the Order. Balì Mazzinghi stipulated that should the male line of the Mazzinghi family become extinct the property was then to pass to the Religion.

The Balì Mazzinghi seems to have been very partial towards his nephews, for when the galleys “San Giovanni” and “San Francesco” were lost, off Augusta, in 1625 in a battle with the Tunisian galleys and the Capitana of the Religion broke action and set sail for Malta, the Balì Mazzinghi was among those who clamoured most vehemently for the punishment of the person guilty for the flight of the flagship; however, when after investigation it resulted that his nephew, Chev. Fra Francesco Mazzinghi, was the person responsible, the Balì completely reversed his altitude and by his machinations contrived to protract the proceedings to such an extent that they were finally abandoned. [29]

On January 1st, 1862 the house was given on lease for 99 years to Sir Victor Houlton, Chief Secretary to Government, and from July 1st, 1900, the lease was taken over by His Serene Highness Prince Louis of Battenberg who later transferred it to Mr. Charles Strickland, brother of Lord Strickland — it is now in possession of the Schembri family.

Another house in this street is that of Chev. Fra Giovanni Battista Mimbretta of the Langue of Italy which, on the death of Chev. Mimbretta, passed to the Italian Langue. This house today bears number 33.

Among the occupants of the premises were Chev. Fra Lutis Alimento in 1684,[30] Comm. Fra Orazio Bovini 1697-1701,[31] Comm. Fra Gaetano Lapparelli, who took the house on lease on September 23, 1739 after the death of Comm. Fra Francesco Citta,[32] and Chev. Fra Alessandro Rovida who leased it after it had been vacated by Chev. Fra Amadeo Baratri on January 16, 1743. [33]

We now come to the “Casa Scaglia,” at Nos. 47 and 48, which has often erroneously been shown as occupying the site of the “Casa Mazzinghi.”

Balì Fra Bernardino Scaglia, Prior of Capua, availing himself of the facility accorded by the Chapters General, of 1569 and 1574 which permitted knights who erected buildings in the new city to dispose of their property without a dispensation, erected these premises [34] and, in 1588, donated the property to the Chapel of Our Lady of Philermos in the Conventual Church, subject to the celebration of one daily low mass, one high mass on the first day of each month and one requiem mass on the anniversary of the donor’s death. After the payment of all expenses, the remainder of the rents was to be devoted to the endowment of two spinsters. This last clause was rescinded in 1694. [35]

Fra Bernardino Scaglia was appointed Admiral of the Order on September 12, 1582.[36]

In 1594 the Prior of Capua was deeply involved in the dissensions which arose in the Convent between certain Balìs and other high dignitaries of the Order and the Grand Master, Cardinal Hugues Lubens de Verdalle. The chief cause of discontent was the arming and maintenance of private galleys by the Cardinal Grand Master. The malcontents sent a memorial to the Supreme Pontiff setting forth their grievances, to which the Grand Master responded with dignity rebutting the various charges.

By a Brief dated June 25, 1594, Pope Clement VIII exhorted the conflicting parties to compose their differences in face of the difficult times through which the Church was passing. This Brief was read in the Council and for a time there was an apparent reconciliation. The matter soon flared up again and the Pope, seeing this, cited the five dissident Grand Crosses, including the Balì Scaglia, to appear before him; at the same time, the Cardinal Grand Master was invited to send his own representatives. Hearing both sides the Holy Father did not push the investigation further.

The Grand Master was taken dangerously ill on March 23, 1595 and calling the members of the Council to his presence read to them his spoglio by which he left all his wealth to the Religion without even reserving to himself the one fifth to which he was entitled.

When Prior Bernardino Scaglia donated the house under review he disposed that the property could be alienated. Balì Scaglia died in the Convent on January 13, 1600 at the age of 78[37] and the premises were sold, in 1606, to Comm. Fra Puccino Puccini for Sc.2, 600.[38]

We next find the “Casa Scaglia,” in 1764, occupied by Balì Fra Claude de Saint Simon who had bought it and deposited the sum of Sc. 1,100 in the Bishop’s Court as per judgment of the said court of July 23, 1768. (Balì de Saint Simon vs. the Augustinian Priory, Valletta). Balì de Saint Simon was also to pay a yearly burthen of Sc. 45 to the Rev. Alessandro Gouffre during his lifetime.[39] On the death of Balì de Saint Simon, in the Convent in 1777,[40] the premises reverted to the Treasury.

On February 13, 1794, the house was sold by the Treasury to Comm. Fra Bartolomeo Mignanelli for the sum of Sc. 3,140,[41] Comm. Mignanelli donated this house to Teresa Palamida on March 12, 1794[42] and disposed that the premises were to be enjoyed by her during her lifetime. This donation was made in recognition of the care which Teresa had taken of Comm. Mignanelli’s household. After Teresa’s decease the property was to pass to the Hospital for Incurable Women, of which Comm. Mignanelli was a Protector, on condition that a certain number of masses were to be celebrated for the repose of the donor’s soul and for that of Teresa Palamida. When Teresa died the British Government took possession of the premises.

Adjoining the Casa Scaglia (at the corner formed by South Street with  St. Andrew’s Street) once stood the palace of the noble Guadagni family of Florence. Today nothing remains of this palace which was erected, most probably, at the end of the 16th. century. It was demolished by the building speculator towards the end of last century to make way for a modern block of flats known as the Alexandra Mansions.

MELITA STREET, Valletta

Melita Street, formerly Britannia Street, which runs parallel to South Street, was first named Strada Pia in honour of Pope Pius V who took a great interest in the building of the new city; later, this street became known as the Strada della Falconeria due to the falconry being situated here — the French renamed it “Rue de la Félicité Publique.”

The house number 13, now number 8, belonged to Chev. Fra Bernardino della Ciaja and was sold by him, for Sc. 800, to Comm. Fra Giulio Accarigi, Admiral of the Order in 1638 and later Prior of Venice, in virtue of two instruments recorded in Siena in the Acts of Notary Santo de Cennis of March 4, 1647 and May 26, 1649. Comm. Accarigi then donated the house to the Hospital for Incuraible Women.43] In 1698 the premises were given on perpetual emphyteusis to Dr. Pier Damiano Caxar.[44]

The Collegio del Gesù or Jesuit College owned house No. 181 in this street,[45] whilst the houses numbered 160 and 163 belonged to the Priory of Castille and were built by the Castilian Langue.[46] The house which today bears munber 155 belonged to the Langue of Italy.

The house adjacent to the Auberge de Provence (No. 137 Britannia Street) was built by the Provençal Langue in 1574. [47]

House No. 133 formed part of the building known as “La Peintressa” which was bought by the Manoel Foundation in 1726 and which later was div ided into two houses, one being the house under review; whilst the other had its entrance at No. 11 Old Bakery Street.[48]

At the corner formed by Britannia Street with Old Mint Street stands a fine house (No. 121 Britannia Street) which once belonged to Comm. Fra Jean Baptiste de Gallean Chateauneuf.

In a disproprium made in Syracuse on October 11, 1634, Comm. de Gallean Chateauneuf left this property to the Commandery of Nice with the obligation for the Commander pro tempore of having two masses celebrated every week, one for the repose of the soul of the donor and the other for the repose of all the souls in purgatory. This building is at present being used as a Labour Office and a tablet on the first floor records the disposition of Comm. de Gallean Chateauneuf anent this house.

Close to the above property was the house known as the “Casa della Falconeria” or the Falconry[49] (No. 122 Melita Street).

The premises originally belonged to Chev. Fra Ludovico Caminado who sold them, for Sc. 1,000, to Canon Don Alfio D’Arena and who, in his turn, sold them, for the same price, to the Lascaris Foundation in 1636.[50]

During the lifetime of Grand Master Lascaris the house was never let in conformity with the reserve which be had made in the usufruct and was used by him as a falconry.

According to the Act of Donation of the Island of Malta by the Emperor Charles V to the Order of St. John dated March 23, 1530, the Islands of Malta and Gozo and their dependencies, together with Tripoli, were donated to the Grand Master of the Religion and the Order of St. John to be held by them in feudal tenure under the sole acknowledgement of a hawk or falcon, which, every year, on the festival of All Saints, was to be presented, by the person or persons duly authorised for that purpose, into the hands of the Viceroy of Sicily in token and recognition of fealty. The offering of falcons was later extended to France, Portugal and Naples.

The person responsible for the delivery of these falcons was the Falconer, a member of the Grand Master’s household, who was a Commander or at least a Knight of Justice and who was appointed to his office by the Grand Master in person.[51]

According to Boisgelin the expense for the keeping and presentation of these birds amounted to Cr. 1039.3.19 equivalent to £103.18.7.[52]

The Falconer was also in command of the corps known as “Cacciatori” or Chasseurs.

The “Casa della Falconeria” has been rebuilt and now consists in apartment dwellings.

Opposite to the Falconry is the palace (No. 77 Melita Street) of the Balì Fra Gio. Batta d’Afflitto, Prior of Lombardy. This house originally formed part of the property which, in 1632, was sold by Grand Master de Paule to the Balì Carlo Valdina, [53] of whom more will be heard. These premises passed to the Lascaris Foundation in 1655 and were sold by the Treasury to the Balì d’Afflitto in 1766, the proceeds of the sale being deposited with the Università.[54]

In his disproprium, the Prior of Lombardy disposed that after his death the house was to go to his nephew, Don Nicolò d’Afflitto, Count of Lizzanello, and to his legitimate descendants in the direct line, and failing this, to the collateral line of his descendants. Should there be more then one collateral line, it was to be understood that the line nearest to the direct line of the said Count Nicolò was always to be preferred. The Prior further stipulated that, should the d’Afflitto family become extinct, the house in question was to revert to the Religion with the burthen of a certain number of masses.[55]

Balì Gio. Batta d’Afflitto died in the Convent in 1778 and was interred in the Conventual Church. [56]

It would seem that by the year 1788 the Casa d’Afflitto had again reverted to the Treasury as, from the Rent Books of the Order,[57] we find that it was leased to Balì Pignatelli from September 1st, 1788 to June 30, 1791 and from July 1791 to June 1796 to the Balì Fra Giovanni Battista Tomasi who was elected Grand Master of the Order in 1803.

Today the house is in possession of the Royal Air Force and is named “The Falconer’s House” which misnomer is apt to lead one into thinking that this house was the old Falconry.

M.A. VASSALLI STREET, Valletta

At right angles to South Street and Britannia Street is M.A. Vassallo Street formerly Scots Street. This short street stretches from Windmill Street to St. Mark’s Street.

The houses numbered 1 and 2 at the head of this street were donated, together with house No. 10 West Street, by Chev. Fra. Pietro Mailly to the Assembly of Conventual Chaplains, in 1617,[58] subject to certain pious burthens. The adjacent house, number 3, belonged to the Langue of Italy.

Comm. Fra François de Budes Tetreiouan of the Langue of France owned house No. 9 Scots Street.[59] This he donated to Comm. Fra Olivier de Bodes Tetreiouan stipulating that, after the death of Comm. Olivier, the premises were to pass to the Noble Arnaud and the Noble Claude Budes Tetreiouan. On the decease of these, the property was to be enjoyed by the descendants, in the male line, of Christopher de Budes Tetreiouan, and failing these, by the descendants of his sister, Marie Budes, who were received into the Order. Failing all these, the premises were to pass to the Religion.[60]

On the death, outside the Convent, of Comm. Fra Rinaldo de Budes in 1688, the Treasury took possession of the house,[61] and from 1728 to 1733 we find the premises let to Comm. Fra Fabrizio Francone at a rent of Sc. 50 per annum. [62]

In virtue of a decree dated May 2, 1780, the premises were given on emphyteusis to the distinguished French geologist and mineralogist, Chev. Fra Deodat de Gratet de Dolomieu, at Sc. 130 per annum, to be enjoyed by him during his lifetime and then by a person to be nominated by him, the latter, however, having to pay Sc. 140 per annum. By a judgment of the Court of Appeal of May 30, 1806, the house reverted to the Government.[63]

Deodat de Dolomieu was born at Dolomieu (Isere) in 1750 and was admitted into the Order of St. John during early childhood. He was one of the most brilliant members of the Langue d’Auvergne. At the age of 18 we find him Lieutenant to the Grand Marshal of the Order. Whilst on his first caravan be killed one of his comrades in a duel, was condemned to death but pardoned by the Grand Master,[64] Dolomieu took an active part in the turbulent politics of the 18th Century, and in 1798, forming part of Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt, he again visited Malta. He seems to have enjoyed high favour with Napoleon as Chev. Miari had recourse to him in the Grand Master’s name asking him to intercede on behalf of the Order.

During the time that he was Lieutenant to the Grand Marshal of the Order, Dolomieu formed a rich collection of natural history. General Vaubois, commanding the French troops in Valletta, was so anxious to have this collection sent to France that General Graham, later Lord Lynedock, promised to have it sent over after the evacuation of Valletta by the French; this he did on board the vessel “Triton.”[65]

Dolomieu died at the age of 51 at Chateauneuf (Saone-et-Loire) in 1801.

Fronting the Casa Budes is the Casa Valdina (No. 14 Scots Street) which, together with the house later known as the Casa d’Afflitto, was bought in 1632 by Fra Carlo Valdina, Balì of Santo Stefano, from Grand Master de Paule for the sum of Sc. 6,000.[66]

Towards the end of April of the year 1599 Fra Carlo Valdina was involved in an incident which caused widespread commotion in the Convent. Whilst Chev. Valdina was in the yard of the old Hospital at Borgo (Vittoriosa), he felt himself provoked by some indiscreet remarks made by the Inquisitor’s Secretary and proceeded to box his ears. On hearing of this the Inquisitor, Monsignor Antonio Hortensio, insisted on arresting this knight and inflicting meet punishment on him. All the Langues were moved by these pretensions and to obviate any disorder the Grand Master first sent three Balìs and then the Bishop to appease the Inquisitor. Hortensio would not hear of appeasement and persisted in his pretensions. The Grand Maser then referred the matter to Rome representing to His Holiness the state to which the Convent had been reduced by the Inquisitor’s claims. He also asserted that this prelate had the right to try cases which purely affected matters of faith only.[67] Valdina was exiled from Malta for one year. [68]

In 1631 the Grand Cross “ad honores” was conferred on Fra Carlo Valdina by his bosom friend Grand Master Antoine de Paule.

The Balì Valdina, in his disproprium, left the house under review as to one half to his nephew, Comm. Fra Geranimo Branciforte.

Comm. Fra Carlo Valdina who owed the Università of Valletta a large sum of money wanted to settle his debt and Fra Carlo’s brother, Prince Valdina, and his familiar, Gio. Batta Pugliese, a native of Palermo, both wished to help him in effecting a settlement. Fra Carlo gave in part payment, the undiv ided half of the property which had come to him through his uncle’s spoglio which was valued at Sc. 4,500, whilst Prince Valdina and Pugliese  paid, out of their own private means, the difference required to make up the total sum of Sc. 12,488. [69]

As the Università of Valletta, at that time, owed the reigning Grand Master the sum of Sc. 15, 000, the jurats ceded this property in part payment of their debt.[70] The house was then applied to the Lascaris Foundation.

In 1658 the premises were occupied by Comm. Fra Pietro de Blacas Carroz at a rent of Sc. 100 per annum. Previously they had been let to Comm. Count Saro. From 1668 to 1670 the house was leased to Comm. Fra Bernardo Gilibert Cappel and from 1670 to 1671 it was leased jointly to Chev. Merodes, Chev. Schenkinigh and Chev. Falche. Other occupants of this house were the Balì Dumiers 1672-1687, Comm. Fra Gio Batta de Semesons 1687-1719 and Balì Fra Sextio de Ricard 1719-1728.[71]

STRAIT STREET, Valletta

strait-street

Between and parallel to Republic Streetand Old Bakery Street lies Strait Street, once a residential quarter, and till the mid 1970s mostly occupied by sailors’ bars, restaurants, cabarets and cheap lodging houses. Now Wine Bars are opening in this  street once known as the gut.

Behind the Franciscan Friary stood the house owned for a short while by Comm. Fra Gaspero Gabuccini da Fano of the Langue of Italy[72] who, after having been captain of the galley “San Nicola” in 1652, succeeded Fra Giovanni Bichi to the Priory of Capua in 1676.[73] Comm. Gabuccini bought this house from Gregorio Carbone on May 3, 1666 for Sc. 2,000[74] and sold it to the Treasury on the 24th of the same month[75] for the same price at which he had bought it. It is not possible to ascertain the exact locality of the house in question though possibly it may have been either No. 187 or No. 188 Strait Street.

In 1788 the Langue of Provence erected a number of houses on the site of the garden of their Auberge, the money for this purpose being borrowed from the funds of the Langue.[76]

These premises today bear Nos. 163 to 170 Strait Street. The houses numbered Nos. 163 to 168 were built by Stefano Ittar, a well known architect who also built the Bibliotheca or Royal Malta Library in Valletta.

Through the spoglio of the Bali of Gaspe, Fra Antonio Sans de Lallosa, who died in 1701, the Treasury came into possession of the house (No. 27 Strait Street) which Fra Antonio had bought for Sc. 1,650 at a public sale of the Court of the Castellania.[77] The premises were let to Chev. Fra Giuseppe Maxado de Mendoza from June 1st, 1763 to April 30, 1774, and to Comm. Fra Martino la Plata from 1774 to 1776. From 1776 to 1796 the property was tenanted by Chev. Gio. Francesco Sanfelix.

The Langue of Auvergne owned the premises Nos. 149 to 153 Strait Street.

Fra Tommaso Gargallo, Bishop of Malta (1578-1614) donated half of his house (No. 45 Strait Street) to the Chapel of Our Lady of Montserrat in the Jesuit Church, Valletta. The other half he donated to the chapel of the same name and also of St. Eulalia and St. Sebastian in the Parish Church of St. Lawrence, Vittoriosa.[78]

Near this house is the Casa Falzon-Debono (No. 49 Strait Street) where the Venerable Ignatius Falzon was born and where he lived and died. Ignatius Falzon, son of a Maltese judge, was born on July 1st. 1813. At the age of 21 he graduated at the Malta University as Doctor of Canon Law. Though not ordained priest, he received minor orders and devoted the whole of his life to the welfare of souls. Ignatius Falzon died on the July 1st. 1865, his fifty-second birthday, and was interred at “ta’ Gesu” Church in Valletta.[79]

Opposite the Gargallo house was the house of the Balì of Aquila, Fra Ottavio Bandinelli, (No. 144 Strait Street) who left the premises to his nephews Chev. Fra. Scipione Bandinelli and Agostino Bandinelli, giving them the faculty of selling the property if they so desired. In 1672, Chev. Fra Ottavio Tancredi, as attorney of the Bandinellis, sold the house to the Monte della Redenzione de Schiavi, represented on the deed by Comm. Fra Stefano Maria Lomellini, Prior of England.[80]

The house was very badly damaged during the blitz of 1942 and has been completely altered.

The Order built house No. 142 Strait Street for use by the Treasury and this was a dependency of the Casa del Comun’ Tesoro in Republic Street.

The Religion further built a house (No. 141 Strait Street) for the use of the Pages of Honour of the Grand Master. This was later reduced, at the expense of Grand Master Lascaris, to its present form of four shops and various other small tenements, the rent of which was to be applied as salary for the teachers employed for the instruction of the pages.[81]

Originally the pages were eight in number, but, in 1612 this was increased to sixteen, at the discretion of the Grand Master. It was decreed that no person under the age of twelve years was to be admitted for this service and that no one absent from the Convent was to be received. It was further stipulated that those received as pages were to remain in the service until they had attained the age of sixteen.

At the corner of Strait Street with Old Theatre Street stood another house (No. 58 / 59 Strait Street) of the Tressina Commandery. This house, which was badly damaged by enemy action, has been rebuilt with the main entrance in Old Theatre Street.

The Assembly of Conventual Chaplains, through a donation inter vivos, acquired from Comm. Fra Cristoforo Granier, his. house No. 66 Strait Street,  with a perpetual burthen of masses for the repose of the soul of the donor. This donation was ratified by the Procurators of the Assembly on March 15, 1644 and, after improvements having been carried out in the house in question, it was let at Sc. 65 per annum which sum was employed in accordance with Comm. Granier’s dispositions.[82]

The Conventual Chaplains Fra. Pietro Stiges and Fra Giovanni Cirviglias, uncle and nephew, who owned house No. 71 Strait Street in common, each donated his part of the house to the survivor on condition that after their death the house was to pass to the Assembly of Conventual Chaplains with a burthen of the celebration of masses for the repose of their souls without, [83] however, their having stipulated the number of masses to be celebrated. When the Assembly took over the house, it was decreed that the number of masses should be twenty four each year. [84]

In 1713 the premises were given on perpetual lease to Dr. Gio. Batta Glinsciano.[85]

Comm. Fra Nicole de Cintraj was the original owner of house No. 122 Strait Street. This he sold to Virgilia Fioccari [86] who, in her will, left it to her grand child Olimpia, daughter of Giacobo Corogna.[87] Olimpia donated the property to her brother Francesco, reserving the right of enjoying the usufruct.[88] In 1731 Francesco and Olimpia sold the premises to the Manoel Foundation for Sc. 2,875.[89]

Casa Viani (No. 119 Strait Street) was bought by Vincenzo Viani at an auction sale of the Seneschal’s Office. Vincenzo Viani entailed all his property, with the exception of this house which was left, free of entail, to his son Isidoro, 1st Baron Viani, who in his turn entailed the abovementioned premises, as primogeniture, in favour of his son, Gio. Batta.

Baron Viani owed the Università a sum of Sc. 80,000 and in 1734 he and his son petitioned the Grand Master to disentail part of their property in order to pay this debt. Permission was granted and the house under review was ceded to the Università as part payment of the amount due.

The premises were sold on July 13, 1734, at a public auction of the Seneschal’s Office and were acquired by the Manoel Foundation.[90]

The Balì of Caspe, Fra Agostino Sans de Lallosa, owned another house (No. 114 Strait Street) which came to the Religion through the spoglio of Fra Agostino who died in the Convent on December 26, 1701.

In Strait Street there are many other fine houses of which, unfortunately, it has not been possible to trace the origin owing to the present owners not having any records in their possession.

ST. JOSEPH STREET, Valletta

Humble St. Joseph Street at the eastern end of Valletta, together with St. Anne Street, was once known as the “Strada dei Francesi.” This street has two houses which may be included in this work.

The Casa Ferrari (No. 45 St. Joseph Street) was owned with certainty by the Assembly of Conventual Chaplains from the year 1646. For, although there appears to be no document showing how the Assembly acquired this property, Procurator Cagliola, in 1646, stated in his books that the premises first belonged to a certain Gio. Batt Ferrari and then to Tommaso Scaglia who transferred them to the Assembly of Conventual Chaplains in settlement of a debt.[91]

In 1762 the house was given on lease for 99 years to Michele Farrugia.

House No. 82 St. Joseph Street was assigned to the Lascaris Foundation by Clara, widow of Giacomo Paschali, in settlement of a debt contracted by Pio Paschali with the said Foundation and for which Clara had stood as surety.[92]

HOUSES ON THE BASTIONS AND OTHER HOUSES

St. Michael's bastion Valletta Malta circa 1870s Telegraph Company at 6&7 Marsamscetto Road Valletta Malta circa 1880s

St. Barbara bastion Valletta Malta circa 1860s

Castille Place 2

On the Castile Square, near the Upper Baracca, is a house (No. 2 Castile Place) which belonged to Fra Girolamo Caraffa, Prior of Barletta. The Prior donated this house, in 1599, [93] to the Langue of Italy under certain conditions, one of which was that the property was to be enjoyed by the senior Italian knight, present in the Convent, capable of succeeding to a Commandery.[94]

Close by, under the walls of the St. James Cavalier, is a small low building over the door of which is a Latin inscription which has been translated as follows: —

“Do not be surprised if under the auspices of Grand Master Gregorio Caraffa a granary was joined to a fort, for here Ceres joins Bellona for the common weal. This granary was erected in 1686 under the care of the Jurats Giuseppe de Allard, Salvatore Mangion, Alessandro Ramozzetti and Vincenzo Viani.”[95]

In this building, often referred to as the “Casa della Annona,” all business in connection with the importation of cereals and other foodstuffs (Annona) was transacted.

Also under the shadow of St. James Cavalier is another small building over which is a marble tablet recording that it belonged to the Manoel Foundation; this was known as the “Casa del Giuoco” (House of Games). This house was built in a public space, in the year 1735, at the expense of the Manoel Foundation and was let to a certain Grezio Falzon for Sc. 80 per annum. Falzon was granted the sole and exclusive privilege of holding bowling games in the open space between the posts of Italy and France.[96]

Saveria Campion or Champion owned house No. 1 Alexander Street, now completely demolished, which she sold to the “Congregazione di Guerra” (War Ministry), in 1786, for the sum of Sc. 450, for the use of the Regiment of Malta.[97]

At the time of the elevation of Francisco Ximenes de Texada to the Grandmastership there was widespread discontent in the Island. This was greatly fomented by a tax on bread which the new Grand Master levied. In 1775 a plot to overthrow the regime of the Order was hatched and carried into execution by a priest, Gaetano Mannarino. After some initial success, the rising failed miserably, some of the ringleaders being executed and others, including Gaetano Mannarino, imprisoned. In order to prevent any similar risings in the future the Grand Master and Council established a new force known as the “Regimento di Malta” for the protection of the city of Valletta. This regiment was to consist of 1,200 men of which two thirds, at least, were to be foreigners recruited at Marseilles, Naples and Genoa.[98] The new force, which was composed of the riff raff of Europe, caused so much trouble, and desertions were so numerous, that it was disbanded in 1795.

The house No. 2 St. Andrew Street was built at the expense of Comm. Fra Antonio Stefano Toupard following a decree which he obtained from the Grand Master on the 29th. December 1792. [99]

The Treasury came into possession of house No. 5 in the same street through the spoglio of Chev. Fra Martin Chevalier who died in 1635. It was sold by the Treasury, in 1648, to Prior Fra Dionisio de Pollastron de Lailliere for Sc. 720.[100] who donated the property to the brothers Girolamo and Andrea de Cassar, and it was div ided between them, Girolamo getting the portion facing Marsamxett whilst the other portion was seized by the Treasury on July 29, 1667 on account of a debt which Andrea owed the Treasury.[101] In 1783 we find the premises given on lease for the duration of two lives to Chev. Fra Domenico Paradines Barsac and in 1803 they passed to Teresa Delatra Paris. [102]

Both houses in St. Andrew Street have been totally destroyed.

A house which has been totally demolished by the building speculator is that which once bore number 135 Marsamxett Street. This, together with house No. 108 Britannia Street, was bequeathed to the Nice Commandery by Comm. Fra Jean Baptiste de Gallean Chateauneuf in his disproprium made in Syracuse on the 11th. October 1634.

In the same street is the house (No. 61 Marsamxett Street) which was owned by Fra Ippolito Malaspina, Balì of Naples,[103] General of the Pontifical Galleys in 1603. The Balì left the fifth part of his spoglio, amounting to Sc. 2,000, to the Convent of the Magdalenes, the interest on which capital  was to be applied to the endowment of repentant women who wished to take the veil.

The house under review was bequeathed to Marchese Malaspina who sold it to Chev. Fra Ottavio Costa. In his will dated January 13, 1639, Chev. Ottavio left this house, after the death of Chev. Fra Antoniotto Costa, to the members of his family, in the male line, who, at any time, formed part of the Order, and failing these to members in the female line; the senior member of the male line being always preferred. [104] Chev. Fra Antoniotto Costa died outside the Convent on August 27 1674.

The Noble Filippo del Carretto claimed the usufruct of the house in 1688, and his claim was upheld by the Camera dei Conti.[105]

During the 18th. Century this house is often referred to as the “Casa Ferretti” and we find that, in 1763, in accordance with the terms of the will of Fra Antonio Costa, the Treasury took possession of the premises on the death of the Balì of Turin, Fra Benedetto Ferretti, probably the last beneficiary under the terms of Chev. Costa’s will.[106]

Giuseppe and Antonio brothers Manuso, sons of Giovanni and Diana Manuso, owned house No. 38 in this street. This they sold in 1673, to the Monte della Redenzione degli Schiavi for the sum of Sc. 1,200.[107]

The three fine houses numbered 31, 32 and 33 Marsamxett Street were built at the expense of the Langue of Aragon in 1692 and assigned to the knights of the Priory of Catalogna.

Also in this street is house numbered 7 and 8 which is referred to in the rent books of the Order as the “Casa Viani.” It is so named as it probably formed part of the property of the Vaini Family. The entrance of this house was originally at No. 10, St. Michael Street, but, when the level of this street was lowered the entrance was transferred to Marsamxett Street.

From 1767 to 1784 we find the premises let to Comm. Fra Alberta Mirelli and after him to the Conventual Chaplain Fra Gio. Domenico Barbaro.[108]It was later the Malta Head Office of the Eastern Telegraph Company and is today used as a Masonic Temple.

In Irish Street, house number 11 was purchased in 1714 by the Cottoner Foundation from Michael’Angelo Sguro and Maria Madrenza for the sum of Sc. 650.[109] This house is found in the records under the name of “Casa Sguro” although it is sometimes referred to as the “Casa Madrenza.”

On the St. Barbara Bastion houses Nos. 2 and 6 were built at the expense of Grand Master Nicholas Cottoner and were included in his Foundation, whilst houses Nos. 12 to 37 were built at the expense of Grand Master Gio. Paolo Lascaris Castellar. [110]

Here we also find a house (No, 40 St. Barbara Bastion) which was built  by the Treasury, in 1666, to serve as the residence of the Chief Master Gunner (Capo Mro. Bombardiere).[111]

Another house (No. 41 / 43 St. Barbara Bastion) was known as “La Niviera.” In the records we read that, on November 19, 1760, the Congregation of War acceded to a request made by the shareholders of the concern for the importation of snow, and allotted these this locality for the storage of the snow which they imported from Sicily.[112]

In Malta, snow was then considered as one of the chief necessaries of life and it was imported mainly for the use of the hospitals, the Grand Master, and the Auberges. The hospitals always received a priority and when there was a scarcity of this commodity, the whole supply in the Island was reserved for the use of the sick.[113]

Although it was not the intention to mention any of the Auberges in this work, an exception has had to be made in the case of the Auberge de Baviere.

This palace was built in 1696 by Fra Gaspare Carnerio, Balì of Acre, on the site of an old lime kiln which was leased to Balì Carnerio for the term of two lives. On the expiration of this term, the Treasury was to receive Sc. 21 per annum, corresponding to the rent of the pre-existing building, and the remaining balance was to be invested in the purchase of bronze guns for the defence of the fortress or for the galleys or in the purchase of a “gioia” or gift for the Conventual Church.[114]

From September 13, 1702 to April 13, 1719 the palace was let, for Sc. 260 per annum, jointly to Fra Ottavio Tancredi, Prior of Messina, and Comm. Fra Marc’ Antonio Zondadari, nephew of Pope Alexander VII.[115] Fra Marc’ Antonio Zondadari was elevated to the Grandmastership in 1720, and tradition says, without confirmation, that the Grand Master continued to reside in his palace up to the time of his death.

By a letter from the Ambassador of the Religion to the Holy See, dated January 17, 1725, Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena was informed that, in view of the great merits of the Religion, the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Benedict XIII had signified his intention of presenting the Grand Master with the Stoc and Pilier,[116] and that these would be brought to Malta by the Papal Legate, Monsignor Giovanni Francesco Abbati Olivieri. This news caused universal jubilation in Malta, and as this signal honour had never been conferred on any other Grand Master, a commission was set up to regulate the ceremonies and procedure; this consisted of Balì Count Nesselrode, the Prior of St. Giles Grimaldi, the Prior of Lombardy Solaro and the Balì of the Holy Sepulchre Contreras.

The Papal Legate arrived in Malta from Leghorn on April 19, on board a French vessel and was conducted with due pomp to the Palazzo Carnerio, which had been magnificently furnished to receive the distinguished visitor.

On the morning of May 3, a procession, composed of the Papal Legate, all the Convent, and the Prior of the Conventual Church, left the Carnerio Palace and passing beneath numerous triumphal arches lavishly decorated in the rococo style of the period, which had been erected in Strada San Giorgio (Republic Street), wended its way to the Conventual Church where the Grand Master was formally presented with the Papal gifts.

When Grand Master Emanuel de Rohan instituted the Anglo Bavarian Langue, the Carnerio Palace was bought to serve as the auberge of the new Langue. The site was then valued at Sc. 11,656 irrespective of the value of the building which was fixed at. Sc. 39,602. The palace was made over to the Anglo Bavarian knights for the sum of Sc. 20,000 which was less than one half of the real value of the property.

In 1824 the building was handed over to the British Military Authorities and it was only returned to the Civil Government after the grant of Self Government in 1921. It is today a government school and though it suffered minor damage in the Second World War it is still in its original state.

With the Palazzo Carnerio this story of the palaces and houses of Valletta draws to a close. Many of the houses and palaces have disappeared and their sites can hardly be identified, however, it is hoped that this short work may, perhaps, serve future generations in tracing these forgotten mansions and conjure up a vision of this city which was the crowning glory of the Knights of St. John.

Notes:

[1]Repertorio compre Stabili Fondazione Manoel fo. 29 R.M.L. Treas. A. 25. Records of Not. Giuseppe Callus of 4 January 1726.

[2]Records of Not. G. Domenico Chircop of 14 January 1726.

[3]Conti del Economo Fondazione Manoel fo. 18 R.M.L. Treas. A. 28.

[4]Records of Not. Luigi Vella of 1st July 1860.

[5]Records of Not. Francesco Zarb of 17 July 1918.

[6]Liber Bullarum 1588-1589 fo. 2 R.M.L. Arch. 444.

[7]SCICLUNA, Han. P., ‘Notes on the Admiralty House, Valletta’ Archivum Melitense Vol. IX, pp, 57-72.

[8]Records of Not. Placido Habel of 7 Oct. 1569 & 8 July 1570.

[9]ROSSI, Ettore, ‘Storia della Marina dell’Ordine,’ S.E.A.I. Roma-Milano 1926.

[10]Libro Beni Stabili del Tesoro “B” fo. 33 R.M..L Treas. A. 1.

[11]ROSSI, Ettore, op. cit. page 144.

[12]Records of Not. Aloysio dello Re of 1st September 1663.

[13]Libro Beni Stabili del Tesoro “B,” fo. 33 R.M.L. Treas. A. 1.

[14]Records of Not. Aloysio dello Re of the 27 January 1682.

[15]Records of Not. Aloysio dello Re of the 16 January 1697.

[16]ROSSI, Ettore op. cit. page 138.

[17]CARUANA, Pietro Paolo, “Monumenti Chiesa di San Giovanni.”

[18]Decreti della Ven. Camera del Tesoro fo. 207 R.M.L. Arch. 648.

[19]SCICLUNA, Hannibal P. op. cit. page 5.

[20]The Admiralty House at Valletta R.M.L., Mss. 399.

[21]CARUANA, Pietro Paolo op. cit. Vol. II Tav. CCLXXXI.

[22]Libro Esigenziale dei Beni del Tesoro, 1781-1790 fo. 133 R.M.L. Treas. A. 3.

[23]Stati Beni Urbani R.M.L. Treas. B. 89 fo. 7.

[24]Libro Ordini 1800-1813 fo. 73 R.M.L., Treas. B. 210.

[25]DARMANIN DEMAJO, G., Archivio Storico di Malta Vol. II page 75.

[26]Records of Not. Dr. Diego Vella of the 15 June 1822.

[27]Libro dei Beni Stabili del Tesoro “B,” fo. 52 Treas. A. 1.

[28]Records of Not. Salvatore Ciantar of the 26 February 1630.

[29]DAL POZZO, Bartolomeo ‘Historia della Sacra Religione Militare di S. Giovanni Gerosolomitano” Vol. I p. 743 Giovanni Berno, Verona, 1703.

[30]Deliberazioni della Lingua d’Italia fo. 251 R.M.L. Arch. 2133.

[31]Deliberazioni della Lingua d’Italia fo. 201 R.M.L. Arch. 2135.

[32]Deliberazioni della Lingua d’Italia fo. 339 R.M.L. Arch. 2141.

[33]Deliberazioni della Lingua d’Italia fo. 339 R.M.L. Arch. 2142.

[34]Cabreo della Ven. Cappella della B.V. di Filermo fo. 1 R.M.L. Treas. B. 30.

[35]Records of Not. Jacobo Sillato of the 12 February 1588.

[36]Rossi, Ettore op. cit. page 128.

[37]Caruana, Pietro Paolo op. cit. Vol. III Tav. CCCI.

[38]Records of Not. Francesco Imbroll of the 11 May 1606.

[39]Libro Beni Stabili del Tesoro “B” fo. style=”mso-spacerun: yes”> 394 R.M.L. Treas. A. 1.

[40]CARUANA, Pietro Paolo op. cit. Vol. I Tav. CXXXIV.

[41]Records of Not. Giuseppe Natale Monreal of the 13 Feb. 1794.

[42]Records of Not. Vittorio de Caro of the 12 March 1794.

[43]Cabreo Ospedale delle Donne fo. 7 R.M.L., Treas. B 307.

[44]Records of Not. Pietro del Fiore of the 8 July 1698.

[45]Libro Maestro della Comp. di Ġesù “V” 1739-48 fo. 122. R.M.L., Treas. A. 122.

[46]Liber Bullarum 1610-11-12 fo. 31, R.M.L., Arch. No. 457.

[47] Liber Bullarum 1574-75 fo. 48, R.M.L., Arch. No. 435.

[48]Repertorio della Fond. Manoel fo. 33, R.M.L. Treas. A. 25.

[49]Cabreo Fondazione Lascaris fo. 7 R.M.L., Treas. B 301.

[50]Records of Not. Lorenzo Grima of the 30 July 1636. Beni della Fondazione Lascaris — R.M.L., Ms. 1302.

[51]L’Heritte — Essai sur l’Ordre des Hopitalliers de St. Jean de Jerusalem page 7.

[52]Boisgelin, Louis ‘< and Ancient>’ Vol. I, p. 317, T. Davidson 1805.

[53]Cabreo della Fondazione Lascaris R.M.L. Treas. B. 301.

[54]Records of Not. Vincenzo Grillet Xiberras of 14 Oct. 1766.

[55]Dispropriamenti Italiani “H” fo. 7 R.M.L. Arch. 928.

[56]Caruana, Pietro Paolo, op. cit. Vol. III Tav. CCXCII.

[57]Libro Esigenziale dei Beni del Tesoro “B” 1781-90 R.M.L. Treas. A. 3.

[58]Cabreo Assemblea Fiernalda Vol. I fo. 30 R.M.L. Treas. B. 297.

[59]Libro dei Beni Stabili del Tesoro fo. 64 R.M.L. Treas. A. 1.

[60]Records of Not. Michele Ralli of the 30 April 1633.

[61]Records of Not. Aloysio dello Re of the 12 June 1688.

[62]Libro Beni Stabili del Tesoro “B” fo. 64 R.M.L. Treas. A. 1.

[63]Registro Beni del Tesoro e Fond. Lascaris fo. 322 R.M.L. Treas. B. 96.

[64]Larousse du XXeme Siecle — Dolomieu.

[65]DARMANIN DEMAJO, G., Arch. Storico di Malta Vol. II Fasc. IV p. 205.

[66]Records of Not. Lorenzo Grima of the 16 June 1632.

[67]Dal Pozzo op. cit. Vol. I pages 415-418.

[68]Mifsud, Ignazio Saverio, R.M.L. Ms. 2 page 293.

[69]Beni della Fondazione Lascaris fo. 115 R.M.L. Mss. 1302.

[70]Records of Not. Michele Dalli of the 3 March 1655.

[71]Libro Beni Stabili del Tesoro “B” fo. 6 R.M.L. Treas. A. 1.

[72]Libro Beni Stabili del Tesoro “B” fo. 35 R.M.L. Treas A. 1.

[73]DAL POZZO, Bartolomeo, op. cit p. 208.

[74]Records of Not. Tommaso Agius of 3 May 1666.

[75]Records of. Not. Aloysio della Re of 24 May 1666.

[76]Delibrations de la Langue de Provence, 1772/1795 fo. 203 R.M.L. Arch. 2089.

[77]Libro Beni Stabili del Tesoro “B” fo. 331 R.M.L. Treas. A. 1.

[78]Records of Not Gio. Domenico Debono of 25 October 1604.

[79]AGIUS, Salvu — Il Chiericu Venerabli Serv t’Alla Nazju Falzon Empire Press 1936.

[80]Cabreo Originale del Monte della Redenzione de Schiavi fo. 37 R.M.L., Treas. B. 309.

[81]Liber Conciliorum 1647 fo. 91. R.M.L., Arch. 116.

[82]Cabreo Assemblea Fiernalda Vol. I fo. 31 R.M.L., Treas. B. 297.

[83]ibid. fo. 35.

[84]Records of Not. Giorgio Zelivo of the 28 May, 1596.

[85]Records of Not. Giuseppe Simon of 16 March 1713.

[86]Records of Not. Gio. Luca Mamo of 10 December 1676.

[87]Records of Not. Giuseppe Callus of 4 October 1702.

[88]Records of Not. Pietro Paolo Natale of 8 February 1729.

[89]Repertorio della Fon. Manoel fo. 45 R.M.L. Treas. A. 25.

[90]Libro Beni Stabili del Tesoro “B” fo. 33 R.M.L. Treas. A. 1.

[91]Cabreo Assemblea Fiernalda Vol. I fo. 36 R.M.L., Treas. B. 297.

[92]Libro Beni Stabili del Tesoro “B” fo. 357 R.M.L., Treas. A. 1.

[93]Records of Not. Ascanio Scaglia of 9 September 1599.

[94]Fondazioni della Lingua d’Italia Tom. I fo. 346 &, 360 R.M.L., Arch.

[95]Translation from “Valletta” by Sir Them. Zammit p. 62.

[96]Cabreo Fondazione Manoel Vol. II fo. 18 R.M.L., Treas. B. 311.

[97]Cabreo Congregazione di Guerra fo. 731 R.M.L., Treas. A. 104.

[98]PORTER— Major General Whitworth — Knights of Malta Vol. II page 424 Spottiswoode & Co. London.

[99]Registro Suppliche Congregazione di Guerra Letter K fo. 327 Arch. 1023.

[100]Records of Not. Michele Ralli of the 28 July 1648.

[101]Libro Beni Stabili del Tesoro “B” fo. 37 Treas. A. 1.

[102]Urbani, Vol. III 1808-1814 fo. 31 R.M.L., Treas. B. 107.

[103]CIANTAR, Giovan Antonio, “Malta Illustrata” Vol. I Lib. I, Not. I XVI.

[104]Libro Beni Stabili del Tesoro “B” fo. 29 Treas. A. 1.

[105]Liber Audienza 29.3.1689 R.M.L., Arch. 670.

[106]Deliberazioni della Ven. Camera del Tesoro 21.2.1763 fo. 87 R.M.L., Arch. 634.

[107]Cabreo Originale Monte delta Redenzione de Schiavi fo. 56 R.M.L. Treas. B. 309.

[108]Libro Esigenziale dei Beni del Tesoro 1767-81 Treas. A. 2.

[109]Records of Not. Giuseppe Callus of the 7 November 1714.

[110]Liber Concil. 1647, 1648 & 1649 fo. 9 R.M.L. Arch. 116.

[111]Libro Beni Stabili del Tesoro “B” fo. 64 Treas. A. 1.

[112]Deliberazioni delle Congregazioni di Guerra 1759-93 fo. 20 R.M.L. Arch. 1015.

[113]Boisgelin op. cit. Vol. I page 120.

[114]MIFSUD Monsignor Alfred — Knights of the Ven. Tongue of England page 106.

[115]Libro Beni Stabili del Tesoro “B” fo. 336 Treas. A. 1.

[116]“Sword and Hat” signal honour conferred by the Pope on heads of State.

__________
Sources of Old Valletta Photos:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/51841741@N07/
https://www.facebook.com/bayretro

 

 

13 responses to “Some Houses in Valletta

  1. Mary Mills

    March 14, 2016 at 11:45 pm

    Is there much known about how ordinary folk in Valletta, lived, the likes of servants, seamstresses, tailors, carpenters, bakers, cobblers, the miller ….. .

     
  2. yvonne

    July 8, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    have you any houses of britania street vittoriosa please

     
    • vassallomalta

      July 8, 2015 at 12:26 pm

      Brittania Street has been renamed Hilda Tabone Str.

       
  3. Kevin azzopardi

    June 28, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    Very interesting indeed .being of valletta origin myself.and my grand parents the late carmelo and mary bugeja.( bugejja tal helu ) confectinary opposite ta gizu church. I am the new tenent of the frascati cafe bar in strait street valletta. If your kind self would come about any info or old pictures of the bar pls contact me. Mr kevin azzopardi. thanking you in advance . Rgs k,azzopardi

     

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