My Genealogy

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Greetings to Sunday Circle readers

If you've reached this blog after reading my article on the Sunday Circle, then I'm sure I piqued your interest :) Thank you very much for visiting!

This blog basically narrates my research in the parish records of Attard, Zurrieq, Zabbar and other localities. I tried to transcribe the records and provide a translation to give you a head start in the right direction if you plan to research your own family tree.

As with all blogs, the most recent entry is shown first, so if you want to start reading you should start from the first blog, here:

Once you've read this, if you're interested in my own family tree, feel free to visit

I am sorry to refuse any request for doing any research on your behalf - I barely have time to do my own! - not even against payment.

Beleive me, if you have the time, nothing beats the joy of finding unknown ancestors, one by one. The experience brings you face to face with records written by parish priests who have had face-to-face contact with your own ancestors. These are invaluable documents - so make sure you take good care of them!

I would appreciate any comment you might wish to leave to this blog.

Thanks for your time


Photos by Rene Roussignaud

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Fenech + Buttigieg 1696

Ottobre 1696
Die decima tertia Octobris 1696 Denuntiationibus premisis tribus diebus fassiuis(?) quarum pa. fuit die 23 7bris 1696, 2a fuit die 29 eiusdem, 3a fuit die 30 puedicti ing missae parrochilais solemnia habita, nulloq. legitimo impedimento detecto. Ego Sylvius Paci parochus Ecclesia parrochialis Casalis Attard Laurentius Fenech filius legitimus et naturalem qdm. Vincentii Fenech et Maria viventis obim coniugi ex Parrochia Casalis Attard, et Gratia virgine, filia legitima et naturalem Ignatii Butigieg, et Catharina coniugi ex eadel Parrochia, interrogavi, corumque mutuo consensu habit(?) per verba de presenti matrimonio coniunxi presentibus testibus artis(?) Angelo Debono sacrista, et Joanne Camilleri et postea in celebrazione missa ex vitu S. Matris Ecclesia Ego Parochus qui supra benedixit.
October 1696
13th October 1696 marriage banns made firstly on 23rd September 1696, secondly on 29th of the same month, third on the 30th .... no legal impediment detected. I Sylvius Pace parish priest of the parish church of Attard interviewed Lawrence Fenech legitimate and natural son of the late Vincent Fenech and his widow Maria from the parish of Attard, and Gratia virgin, legitiamte and natural daughter of Ignatius Butigieg and his wife Catherine from the same parish. who verbally gave their mutual consent for this wedding in front of Angelo Debono sacristan and John Camilleri. At the end of the celebrated mass in the church of St Mary, I the above mentioned parish priest, gave my blessings.
There is a bit of a quandary here. The marriage is dated 1696, but their daughter (Rosa Fenech below) was born 2 years earlier, in 1694. In her baptismal record, Gratia is mentioned as being the wife of her father Lawrence (which she would not have been if she only married 2 years later) and in this marriage record Gratia is said to be a virgin (thus would not have had kids yet).
The truth is I could not find any other couple marrying in Attard with the names of Lawrence Fenech and Gratia. Moreover , Rosa is said to be the legitimate daughter of her father in her wedding's record.
This leads to two possibilities: either Rosa's parents were not married in Attard, thus the absence of their marriage record - or they married after having Rosa, whilst the Church buried it under regular wordings to hide the scandal.
But how can I, 300 years later, try to uncover the truth? An impossible task really. What I might do is to take a family profile (look up all the children born to a Lawrence and Gratia) and see if there are any overlapping pregnancies (babies being born within 6 months or less of each other) which would mean that there were two couples named Lawrence Fenech and Gratia in Attard, one of them married elsewhere.
I could also look at the godparents of the baptised children to seek some common links.
Watch this space!

Monday, July 2, 2007

B. Rosa Fenech 1694, Lawrence Debono 1690

Maggio 1694
Die decima sexta Maij 1694 ego Sylvius Pace Parochus Ecclesia Parrochia Casali Attard baptizavi filia heri nata ex Laurentius Fenech et Gratia conig. cui impositum nome Rosa Maria. Matrina fuit Maria Rosa Vassallo ex eadel parrochia.
May 1694
16th May 1694 I Sylvius Pace parish priest of the Parish church of Attard baptized a daughter born yesterday to Lawrence Fenech and Gratia his wife who gave her the name of Rosa Maria. Godmother was Maria Rosa Vassallo from the same parish.


Die nona novembris 1690 Ego Sylvius Pace Viceparochus Ecclesia Parochis Casalis Attard baptizavi filio nato ex Angelo Debono et Gratia coniugibus, cui imposuit est nomen Laurentius Clemens. Patrinus fuit Philippus Debono ex aede Parrochia.

9th November 1690 I Sylvius Pace vice-parish priest of the parish church of Attard baptized a son born to Angelo Debono and Gratia his wife, who gave him the name of Lawrence Clemens. Godfather was Philip Debono from this same parish.

Note the later addition of the name Lawrence to the baptism record. Was this a forgotten name or a late change?

P.S. For the record, the second and fourth entries are unrelated to the infants listed here or to me. They are

Second: Baptism of Dominic Fenech on 19th May 1694, born the previous day to Joseph Fenech and his wife Dominica, with godparents Dominic Fenech and his wife Bellica from Lija.

Fourth: Baptism of Joseph Scerri on 3rd November 1690 born to Michael Xerri and his wife Dominica with godparents Mautirus Pullicino from the same parish. (Joseph died 10th February 1691).

Debono + Fenech 1715

Die 13 Januarii 1715

Premisis tribus Denunciationibus trid: Diebus festivis de precepto inter pollotis provt moris est, inter missavid sollemnia, quorum 1ma duit die 30 Dicembris 1714, 2a fuit die 1 Januarii 1715 3a fuit die 6 Januarii Ego Aracangelus Debono Parochus, Laurentii Debono filio legitimo et naturalem quondam Angeli Debono et Gratiam ohm Conigi et Rosa filia virgine et legittima et naturalem Laurentii Fenech et Gratia conigi de Casali Attardo interrogavi, et corumque mutuo consensu per verba de presentei intellecto, matrimonio coniuxni presentibus Joseph Giuliano et JoanneMaria Aquilina, postea in celebrazione Missa ex vito S. Matris Ecclesia benedixit Red. Simon Pullicino.

13th January 1715

(Marriage banns made as requested by laws) 1st being 30th December 1714, 2nd being 1st January 1715 , 3rd being 6th January. I Arcangelus Debono parish priest interrogated Lawrence Debono legitimate and natural son of the late Angeli Debono and Gratia his wife, and Rose virgin, legitimate, and natural daughter of Lawrence Fenech and Gratia his wife from Attard.who verbally gave their mutual consent for this wedding in front of Joseph Giuliano and John Mary Aquilina. At the end of the celebrated mass in the church of St Mary, Rev. Simon Pullicino gave his blessings.
The couple were married 19 years before the birth of their daughter Anna Victoria, who did not have the chance to meet her paternal grandfather who was already dead at the time of the wedding.

Anna Debono born 1734

Die 27 Ottobris 1734
Ego Arcangelus Debono Parochus baptizzavi fila nata ex Laurentio Debono et Rosa Coniugi; cui impositum suit nomen Anna Victoria Debono. Patrini Mauritio Tanti de Casali Attardo.
27th October 1734
I, Arcangelo Debono parish priest baptised daughter born to Lawrence Debono and Rose, his wife who gave her the name Anna Victoria Debono. Godfather was Mauritio Tanti of Attard.
I had made it a habit to start looking for the baptism of females 16 years before their marriage. Anna Debono was born in 1749, so I started looking from 1733 backwards.
After searching through 20 years of baptism without success, I tried again, but to no avail.
Then I started my search later, to find Anna being born only 15 years earlier.
Anna got married early in her life, at exactly 14 years and 2½months!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Sammut + Debono 1749

Die 12 Januari 1749
Premisis evib. denuntiationibus evib diebus festivis de precepto (rit iuvis est) inter ??? sol(l)emnia, quavid fuit die 15 Xbris 1748, 2da fuit die 26 eiusdem mensis, 3ca denuis fuit die 29 eiusdem mensis, nulloq. impedimento detecto Ego Arcangelus Debono Parochus interrogavi Laurentio Sammut filio legali et nat. Jo:Maria Sammut, et Maria (Cini?) coniug. de Casali Musta et Anna Debono filia et mat. Laurentis Debono et Rosa Coniug. de Cas. Attard, conuig(?) mutuo consenso ???? per verba de presenti matrimonio coniunxi, presentibus testib Redo. D. Joanne Vassallo, Laurentio Debono, et ??? in celebratione missa ex vitu S. Maria Ecclesia benedixit Revus. D. Antonius Griscti de mea licentia.

12th January 1749
(Marriage banns made as requested by laws) first being 15th December 1748, second being 26th of the same month, third being on 29th of same month: no impediment detected. I, Archangel Debono, parish priest, interviewed Lawrence Sammut legal and natural son of John Mary Sammut and Maria (Cini ?) his wife from the town of Mosta and Anna Debono legitimate and natural daughter of Lawrence Debono and Rosa his wife from the town of Attard: who verbally gave their mutual consent for this wedding in front of Reverend Don John Vassallo, Lawrence Debono. At the end of the mass celebration held in the Church of Santa Maria, Rev Anthony Griscti gave his blessings, by my authority.

Commentary: the bride's mother's maiden surname is 99% Cini - the only doubt is the difference in calligraphy when writing the C, as compared to other capital Cs in the script (such as that of Casali and Coniug) which have no leading line into the C.

Once again a branch takes us away from the town of Attard, into that of Mosta, but the research continued up the bride's ancestors, thus remaining in Attard.
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Saturday, June 2, 2007

Research Checkpoint

At this point, it merits to recapitulate our progress so far.

One path has trailed off to Zebbug, the other path opened another trail into Qormi, whilst further up it split between Rabat and Attard.
In the figure above, the yellow path shows the records of the family in Attard.
So next in line is the marriage of Lawrence Sammut and his wife Anna Debono in Attard.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Maria Xaveria Sammut Born 1765

Die 31 eiusdem
Ego Franciscus Felice Par. baptizzavi infatem heri natam ex Laurentio Sammut et Anna coniug. cui impositum nomen Maria Xaveria Liberata. fuerunt Augusto Fenech fil. qdam Antonij et Maria uxor Joseph ? omnes de mea Parochia.

Day 31st of same month (July 1763)
I, Francis Felice parish priest, baptized child born yesterday to Lawrence Sammut and Anna his wife, who gave her them name Maria Xaveria Liberata. Godparents were Augusto Fenech son of the late Anthony and Maria, wife of Joseph ? , all from my parish.

Joanne Fenech + Maria - Rabat?

Lawrence's parents' marriage was not to be found in the parish records of Attard.

A subsequent family profile (visiting all brothers and sisters of Lawrence) led to the discovery of his younger sister Anna Saveria Magdalena Paola, daughter of his parents Joanne Fenech and Maria. Her godmother was a Anna Fenech, daughter of the late Peter Fenech from Rabat.

This leads me to think that the godmother Anna is sister to Lawrence's father Joanne, making Joanne also from Rabat and possibly that's where I should be able to find his marriage to Maria.

Rabat is a town next to Attard - so this makes it very possible (as against it being a faraway town).

Laurentius Fenech Birth 1763

? die
Perillis et Admo Rdus Dnus D Pasqualis Grima Arciq. Sancta Parig. Colleg. et Parils Eccles. Divi Pauli Apli Civitas Valletta in hoc mea Parli Ecclesia de mea licentia, imo me presente baptizavit infante hodie natum ex Joanne Fenech et Maria iugalibus de mea Parochia cui impositum fuit numen Cajetanus, Laurentius, Anettus. Patrini fuerunt Perillis Dnus J.U.D. Cajetanus Grima fili quondam ? et Dna Clara fil Dni Anetti Pullicino de Civitas Valletta.
Same Day (previous record was 30 Sept 1763)
Architect and most reverend Lord Don. Pasquale Grima Archpriest of San Paul's Church in Valetta, in my parish and under my permission, in my presence baptized a child born today to Joanne Fenech and Maria his wife from my parish, who gave him the name Gaetan Lawrence Anetto. Godparents were Architect and Lawyer of Courts Lord Gaetan Grima son of the late ? and Lady Clara daughter of Lord Anetti Pullicino of Valletta.
Apart from the usage of the secondary name later on in life, as mentioned in my previous post, of note is the fact that the baptism was performed not by the parish priest but by the Archpriest of one of Valletta's most important parishes - that of Saint Paul. Moreover, his godparents were another architect and the daughter of another lordly noble from Valletta.
What connections did Lawrence's family have with the nobles of Valletta?

Saturday, May 5, 2007

The Importance of Secondary Names

Most often than not, when we travel back in time through our research in parish birth records we find that a person is not identified by just a name and surname, but has a number of secondary names given to him/her by her parents and god-parents. This list can be quite short ( 3 names, one each) or quite long - ( 6 names, two from each). The names given by the god-parents are usually only there in their honor and not used during that person's lifetime. These names are usually the names of the god-parent him/herself, of someone related to that godparent, a parent or grandparent, or some other name as they desire ( a patron saint or other religious figurehead).

Now the matters get complicated when the names given by the god-parents are listed before, and not after, the primary name. This would mean that the name written along the side-margin for easy identification would enlist a secondary name rather than the one you would be looking for!

This happened to me when I was looking for the birth of Lawrence Fenech, father of Joseph Fenech, husband of Maria Debono, whose marriage is listed below. I could not find an entry for the birth of a Lawrence Fenech to a John and Mary Fenech. So I performed what I call a family profile, that is, I started looking for all the baptisms to this family. The closest entry I could find to Lawrence's estimated birth date (thanks to his death record listed here) was this:

I will not go into detail on this record as it merits its own undivided attention, but the name listed is Cajetanus Laurentius Annettus Fenech - where Lawrence is the second name, not the first. Here's to prove my point: his godparents were a certain Cajetanus and a Clara, daughter of Annettus... so that leaves Lawrence as the name given by his parents. It is that name with which he got married, and died of plague at the end of his days.

In a similar way, his granddaughter Xaveria, listed as Rosa Xaveria Marcella after her god-mother Rosa.

So I must stress that when you look for, and record, the baptismal names, list them ALL as you might need them for cross-linking.

An interesting exercise I would like to make to this regard is mapping the god-parents mentioned in the brothers and sisters of Xaveria Fenech to the children of Ignatio Debono and Joanna Zammit, the parents of her mother, Maria Debono.

First I would like to list once more the children of Ignatio and Joanna:
  • Gregorius Aloysius Antonius Albertus born 1797
  • Paola Magdalena Caterina born 1794
  • Maria Anna Francisca born 1791
  • Vinartus Pasquali Bartolomeus Domincus born 1788
  • Joseph Bartolomeo Antonius born 1786
  • Petris Michel Felix born 1784
  • Joanne Maria Josephus Bartolomeo born 1782

Next I would like to list the godparents of Xaveria's siblings mentioned as being children of Ignatio:

  • Michael Debono son of Ignatio
  • Rosaria Debono wife of Vicenti
  • Catherine Debono daughter of Ignatio Debono
  • Anna daughter of Ignatio Debono
  • Ignatius son of Ignatio Debono

Have you spotted them?

Let me rewrite them, putting the corresponding names in bold:

  • Gregorius Aloysius Antonius Albertus born 1797
  • Paola Magdalena Caterina born 1794
  • Maria Anna Francisca born 1791
  • Vinartus Pasquali Bartolomeus Domincus born 1788
  • Joseph Bartolomeo Antonius born 1786
  • Petris Michel Felix born 1784
  • Joanne Maria Josephus Bartolomeo born 1782

No, I did not find all matching pairs... but the point is that they were all using their second or third name in their every day life.

So let that be a lesson to you: keep track of ALL given names!

Friday, May 4, 2007


I had promised earlier (See here) that I would go back to seek Xaveria Fenech's birth record. I have kept my promise, and I was rewarded with a triple surprise!

But here's how I got down to it...

Ok, my search was for the birth record of Xaveria Fenech. I knew she was married in 1850, and that her parents had married in 1815. So I had a search span of 35 years less 15 years (approximate average age of when girls got married) which made it 20 years.

So I brought up the baptism records and started looking for births into the Fenech family from 1815 onwards.

First up was Joanna Carmela Fenech on 23rd October 1816. Since I had some doubts on the whereabouts of the parents of Xaveria's mother Maria, I took note of any Debono godparents listed in these births. Joanna had Michael Debono son of Ignatii as her godfather nad a Rosaria Debono wife of Vincentii from Valletta. I can't tell if she, or probably he, since she'd have his surname, have anything to do with our Ignatio.

Four years after that first shock, Xaveria's parents Joseph and Maria had another go and out comes Lawrence Fenech on 16th January 1820 - a younger brother for the 4-year old girl.

Seems Joanna wasn't happy with a brother, and asked for a sister. She was soon made happy when Ignatia Anna Maria Fenech was born just two and a half years later on the 20th of November 1822. Her Godmother was Catherina daughter of the late Ignatii Debono.

Hmm. "Late". As in "dead". I put a mental side note to look up his death record starting from 1822 and working backwards.

I kept on looking. I was already in 1824. I glanced at Xaveria's marriage date. 1850. 26 years. "We're getting close." I murmured to myself. I was alone in the archives of the Attard parish church. Alone with so many people. I felt like I was shaking hands with every person whose record I was skimming through.


Wait, that's not Xaveria Fenech. That's Rosa Fenech. Let's take a look at the second names. Rosa XAVERIA Marcella. Deja vu? Had she been baptised with a name but took to her second name during the better part of her life? This had happened before with Cajetanus Laurentius Annettus Fenech (her grandfather) - where he kept Lawrence as his name for marriage and death. He was given Cajetanus by his godfather - so probably his parents decided to call him by the name THEY wanted to give him - Lawrence. Was it the same in this case? Who was the godparent of Rosa Xaveria Marcella?

Rosa, wife of Philippi Formosa from Valletta.

Double Bingo!

That's it then - she was given Rosa by her godmother, Xaveria from her parents, and when the godmother wasn't around - basically the rest of her life - her parents called her by their chosen name: Xaveria. And that's how she got married - as Xaveria Fenech.

Click! a 2Mb photo.

Click! a 6megapixel photo taken - with Macro focus.

Happy to have accomplished my mission, a smile adorning my face, my eyes settled once more on the yellowish page.

What's that there?




Triple Bingo!!!

Rosa Xaveria Fenech was not the only one born on the 21st September 1825 into the Fenech family! With her were her twin brothers Ignatius Joseph Salvator and Mattheus Franciscus Seraphim! What joy in the family they must have brought! What panic to the father! He had been maintaining a wife and three kids. Now they had doubled in number!!

The page had Trigemini written next to Ignatius's entry and a large bracket enveloping the three infants' baptism records.

Click! another 6megapixel Macro shot.

A quick look at the godparents of the boys revealrd an Anna Debono and Ignatius Debono both children of the late Ignatio Debono.

Which reminded me in the mental note I made earlier to seek his death record.

It didn't take me long, he died on 12th February 1820 (just over one month after the birth of his grandson Lawrence Fenech mentioned above) at approximately 76 years of age - making him about 37 years old on his wedding day.


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Wednesday, May 2, 2007

My Genealogy Video on RootsTelevision

A small break in my narration to broadcast the fact that my genealogy video (a re-edited version of the above with a different legal soundtrack) has been accepted and being put on display on

Just follow this link:

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Fenech + Sammut 1785

Die 16 Januari 1785

Premisses evibus denuntiationibus evib die festivis de precepto, quarum pa fuit die 19 Xbris 1784, sda fuit die 26 eiusdem 3a dabrum fuit die 2 Januarii 1785; nullo impedimento detecto, ego Petrus Delicata Parocus interrogavi Laurentium Fenech fil. leg. et nautam Joannis et Maria conju et Xaveriam fil. virg. leg. et nauram Laurentii et Anna de Sammut conjum meas parochianoi; covumq mutuo consenso habito per verba de presenti matrimonio coninunxi presentibus testib. mihi notis Michaele Calleja filio qndam Ignatii et Joanne Muscat sacrista. Postea iuxta neum S. M. data Rdus Gio Maria Muscat eis benedixit.

16th January 1785

(Marriage banns made as requested by laws) first being 19th December 1784, second being 26th of the same month, third being on 2nd January 1785: no impediment detected. I, Peter Delicata, parish priest, interviewed Lawrence Fenech legal and natural son of Joannis and Maria his wife and Xaveriam natural, legal and virgin daughter of Laurentii and Anna Sammut, all my parishioners: who verbally gave their mutual consent for this wedding in front of Michael Calleja son of the late Ignatii and Joanne Muscat, sacristan. At the end of holy mass, Rev John Mary Muscat gave his blessings.

This being the marriage of my 5th great grandparents (ggggggrandparents).
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Lawrence Fenech D 1813

Joseph Fenech, husband of Maria Debono below, had lost his father two years earlier.

Lawrence Fenech, died of plague, which had entered the Maltese islands just over 3 months earlier on 28 March 1813 aboard an English merchant vessel [See The Plague of 1813-1814 by Ray Spiteri].

The extract from his death entry in the parish records of Attard describes the effect of pestilence on his corpse:

Die 4 Juli 1813
Laurentius Fenech viv Fransisca Xaveria filius qdam Joanni annos 45 circite natus, pestis ? crassante correptus; Sanctissimo Viatico voboratus, extremum diemo claryit; cujus cadaver in ejus domo crematum, cineresque in coemeteris St Maria sub invocationes Providentia conditi sunt.

4th July 1813
Lawrence Fenech, husband of Francisca Xaveria, son of the late Joanni born about 45 years ago, fattened and corrupted by pestilence; "visited" by the Holy Eucharist (administered to the sick), <>; whose body was cremated in his house, and his ashes residing in St Maria cemetery (Attard) by agreed invocation of Providence.
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The Elusive Debonos...

I could not find the marriage of Ignatio Debono and his wife Joanna Zammit, parents of Maria Debono whose birth is shown below. Then I remembered a rule that I learnt by experience:

When looking for a marriage of a newborn's parents you could be lucky and find them marrying soon before - if the newborn is their first born.

Or they could've married 20 years earlier - if the newborn was their youngest child...

Or they could've married in another parish.

With this in mind, I went to look for further siblings to Maria...

and I found...


  • Gregorius Aloysius Antonius Albertus born 1797
  • Paola Magdalena Caterina born 1794
  • Maria Anna Francisca born 1791
  • Vinartus Pasquali Bartolomeus Domincus born 1788
  • Joseph Bartolomeo Antonius born 1786
  • Petris Michel Felix born 1784
  • Joanne Maria Josephus Bartoloemo born 1782
Thus Maria was the youngest of 8 children. I searched the marriage between the parents Ignatio and Joanna in the marriage registry of Attard from 1782 backwards, but to no avail.

But from the births of her sibilngs, I gleaned some clues as to the origins of Maria's parents. One of the godparents was a certain Paoli Debono from Casali Pinto. Another was Joseph Zammit, son of Bartolomeo and Maria, also from Casali Pinto.

If you haven't seen the clues yet, Paoli shares the same surname as Ignatio, and Joseph shares the same surname as the mother's maiden surname: Joanna Zammit.

Could these two be the brother and sister of Maria's parents?

If so, then my research will take me elsewhere: Casali Pinto.

Casali Pinto refers to the town to whom the Grand Master Emmanuel Pinto de Fonseca gave his name and made it a city: Qormi

Will I find the marriage of Ignatio and Joanna Zammit in the parish records of Qormi?

First I need to identify which parish to visit: Qormi has two parishes: St George and St Sebastian. A visit to the parish website reveals that St Sebastian was built in 1889, thus it's too late in the day. The parish that interests me is St George, which was already existant in 1436.

Births: Maria Debono (1800) and Joseph Fenech (1790)

Die 28 Juli 1800
Ego, F. Francisus Onoratus Cap. Vic Baptizavi infantem heri natam ex Ignatio Debono et Joanna Conjbus, cui impositum est nomen Maria Theresia Catarina. Patrini fuerunt Ludovicus ..... filius... de ... et Liberata Gristi filia Petri de hac parochia.

28th July 1800
I, Fr Franciscus Onoratus Vice Chaplain baptized a child born yesterday to Ignatio Debono and Joanna his wife who gave her the name Maria Theresia Catarina. Godparents were Louis son of... and Liberata Griscti daughter of Peter, from this parish.

Die 12 9mbris 1790

Ego Petrus Delicata Parocus baptizavi infantem die 10 eiusdem mane hora 4 post media noctem natu ex Laurentio Fenech et Xaveria congiux; cui imposium fuit nomen Josephus Joannes Laurentius; Patrini fuerunt Paullis Dnijmatus Gregorius Mifsud filius qndam Joseph de Cli Zeitun et Rosa Morfosa uxor Philippi de Cli Attard

12th November 1790

I, Peter Delicata Parish Priest baptized child born 10th of same month at 4am born to Lawrence Fenech and Xaveria his wife; who gave him the name Joseph John Lawrence; Godparents where Paul 'Dnijmatus?' Gregory Mifsud son of the late Joseph from Zejtun and Rosa Morfosa (Corruption of Formosa?) wife of Philip from Attard.
P.S. Casali means Town or City

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Fenech + Debono 1815

Alas, I failed to find Xaveria's birth record...

To be honest I had forgotten about this - I aim to go back and look it up again.

But I did find her parents' wedding record...

Die 4 Junii 1815

Promisis Denuntiationbus a Conc. Trid. ordinati quroum una fuit die 14 Maii, secunda fuit die 21 ejusdem, tertia denun fuit die 28 prodicti: nulloq canonico Imepdimento intellecto.Ego Martinus Zerafa Parochus interrogavi Maria fil virg. leg. et nato. Ignatii Debono, et Joanna Zammit: et Josephum fil. leg. et nato. qdam Laurentii Fenech et Xaveria Sammut, utrosque de hoc Parocia, habitoque corum mutuo consenso per verba de p'nti eos Matrimonio coniunxi in faciem Ecclesia coram Joanne Sayd filio Vincentii et Gregorio Magri filio Josephi a eadem Parocia. Deinde in fine Missa eis Sacerdos Aloysius Magri benedixit.

4th June 1815

Marriage banns as ordered by the Tridentine Council were made on 14th May, secondly on 21st day of the same month, thirdly on the 28th as above - no impediment was made aware of. I, Martin Zerafa, parish priest interviewed Maria virgin and legal daughter of Ignatius Debono and Joanna Zammit and Joseph , legal and natural son of the late Lawrence Fenech and Xaveria Sammut, all from this parish, who verbally gave their consent to this marriage in front of Joanne Sayd son of Vincent and Gregory Magri son of Joseph, both of this parish. At the end of the mass, they were blessed by Fr Aloysius Magri.

Fenech + Abela 1850

Die 10 Novembre 1850

Premisis tribus denuntiationibus factis Tridentini in hoc Sancto Parrochialis Ecclesia, cum in Archipretali Ecclesia Casalis Zebbug, sin die 21 8bris et die 1 Novembris et 7 ejusdem mensis 1850, nulloque canonico impedimento detecto, ut etiam colligere licet ex Atteptazione ad modum _______ Xaveri Vassallo Archipresbiterus C. Zebbug.
Ego Antonius Vassallo ___ Xaveriam Fenech, filiam vir. et nat. Josephi et Maria Debono sponsom de hac Parrochia et Joannes Mariam Abela filium leg. et nat. defunctorum Andre et Maria Cilia ex Casali Zebbug interrogavi ambitoque cin mutuo consenso per verba de praecenti ex matrimonio coniunxi praesentibus notis mihi leg ___ Joanne Debono sacrista et Josephi Debono _____________ Paolus Zarb de mea licentia.

10th November 1850

Marriage banns as requested by the Tridentine Council made in this parish, as in the parish of Zebbug on 21st October, 1st November and 7th of the same month 1850, no impediment detected by myself or Saviour Vassallo, Parish priest of Zebbug.

I, Anthony Vassallo parish priest (married) Xaveria Fenech virgin and natural daughter of Joseph and Maria debono, his spouse, from this parish and John Mary Abela legal and natural son of the late Andrew and Maria Cilia from Zebbug...

Going back 6 years takes us to this joyful day of marriage between John Mary from Zebbug and his wife from Attard. We also learn that the groom's father was already dead by this date and his mother's maiden name is Cilia - this will help confirm any records found in Zebbug parish records.

Wanting to stay searching within the records of the Attard parish, the next search is for the birth of Xaveria Fenech...

Take Off

Having learnt that Carmena Abela (the groom's mother in the photo of the previous post) died in 1940 at 80 years of age and was born in Attard, I set off to the locality's parish records seeking her birth record. I was lucky enough to find the man in charge of the records present in the office and he helped me search her record. After a frantic search eyeing the names down the sides of the book, he found her - his trained eye finding her listed down as Maria Carmela Abela. He even made a photocopy for me :)

Die 5 ejusdem

Ego Antonius Vassallo Parochus baptizavi infante heri natam ex Joanne Maria Abela, et Xaveria Fenech jug. cui impositum suit nomen Maria Carmela, Antonia, Rosa. Patrini fuere Laurentius Fenech filius Josephi , et Joanna uxor Josephi Debono ambo ex hoc casali.

5th day of same month (Feb 1856)

I, Anthony Vassallo Parish Priest christened a child born yesterday to John Mary Abela and Xaveria Fenech his wife who gave her the name Maria Carmela Antonia Rosa. Godparents were Lawrence Fenech son of Joseph and Joanna wife of Joseph Debono, both from this town.

I was in ecstasy! I had found written proof of my great great grandmother's birth! I had even learnt who were her parents - even her mother's maiden name! And speculation told me that her Godfather Lawrence was her uncle, being Xaveria's brother. This gave me courage to go look for her parents' marriage...

My gggrandma was a cousin to the 'Alfaran' family, ancestors to today's family Abela who hold the contractors' company with the name "Alfaran"

Borg 1914

Photo taken at wedding of Joseph Mary Borg (left) to Catherine Chirchop (2nd from left) in 1914, in Zebbug Malta. Also in picture are Joseph's brother Andrew (centre standing) who later emigrated to the USA and his sister Maria Saveria (rightmost seated) together with their parents Carmena and Carmelo (center). Standing around Andrew are Carmena's sisters and rightmost standing is the bride's sister. Seted in front is the daughter of Maria Saveria

Notice how the seated ladies are lifting their skirts to show off their lace underskirt.

Joseph and Catherine are my father's maternal grandparents..

My father was also the only relative to visit his great-uncle Andrew in the USA in 1976.

On the right is a picture of Joseph Borg, the groom in the above picture.

Micallef - 1908

The photo above depicts a mother (second from left, front) and her 10 children in a photo dated approximately 1908.

It is special in that the children at the back were not present for the photo - they were added later. At the time they had already emigrated to the Unites States of America. The family was never reunited. The young boy in front is Joe Micallef - father of Eda, who later married Albert Adreveno - also in the USA.

The girls on the right (the only two girls in the family) remained in Malta. The rightmost is 16 year old Teresa, who 9 years later married Carmelo Vassallo (see below). She is my great grandma - mother of Cristino and his siblings.

The other girl is Grace Micallef. Her son's son (my mother's second cousin) married my aunt Catherine Barbara, my father's sister. This relationship can be seen in the descendency chart below. Carmelo Barbara and Catherine Barbara are brother and sister.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Maltese in Algeria

I am posting this here because I will need it in a future post. It highlights the position of the Maltese immigrants in Algeria:

"The Maltese, the poorest of the arrivals and a previously colonized people under British rule, were placed at the bottom of this settler hierarchy. They were targeted by terrible anti-Maltese sentiments as early as the 1840s, and these have lasted in some circles to this day in France."


"The difficulty of finding work at home, coupled with the decrease in trade with foreign countries, made the Maltese worker look to emigration as a solution to this double problem. Maltese had been emigrating to the lands bordering on the Mediterranean for many years and there were Maltese colonies in Egypt, Tripolitania, Tunisia and Algeria" Malta Migration

"Like all newcomers, the Maltese in Algeria did at first encounter hostility from the French. Continental Europeans looked down on other Europeans who came from the islands such as the Sicilians and the Maltese. It is true to admit that most insular Europeans were poor and illiterate. Some did have a criminal record and were only too ready to carry on with their way of life in other parts of the Mediterranean where their names were not publicly known" Malta Migration


"Following the departure of the Knights of Malta (1798), the ensuing Anglo-French struggle in the Mediterranean led to considerable prosperity of the Maltese economy. However, by 1813 the economic boom was at an end. By the 1820s famine was rife. A cholera epidemic in 1837 killed nearly 5% of the population and the subsequent quarantine restrictions closed all Mediterranean ports to Maltese imports and produced great hardship. The conditions of life were miserable."

"The Maltese who crossed over to Algeria did establish a good rapport with their French rulers. Although poor and illiterate they were able to improve their lot through sheer hard work. Like their countrymen in Egypt, they realised the importance of a good education and they made sure that their offspring received that kind of education which in Malta they never got." MaltaMigration


"The first free Maltese settlers came to Australia during the late 1830s. The Maltese did not leave home because of political or religious oppression. Most of them wanted to build a better economic future for their children and for themselves..." English and Maltese in Malta:
History, Language Usage and Attitudes
by Nadine Angermann (


"Meanwhile, however, the French made Algeria an integral part of France, a status that would end only with the collapse of the Fourth Republic in 1958. Tens of thousands of settlers from France, Spain, Italy, and Malta moved in to farm the Algerian coastal plain and occupy significant parts of Algeria's cities. These settlers benefited from the French government's confiscation of communal land, and the application of modern agriculture techniques that increased the amount of arable land.Algeria's social fabric suffered during the occupation: literacy plummeted,while land confiscation uprooted much of the population."


"Upon experiencing the primitive conditions in Algeria, colons with means fled home to France, or, at least, to Algiers or Oran, where they felt protected...
Many of the colons who remained in Algeria complained bitterly about the deficiencies of their situations...
Many colons soon became ill with local diseases...
By 1834, the Maltese were third in number of immigrants to Algeria, outnumbered only by Spaniards and Sicilians. Algeria was for many years the most important destination for Maltese migration within the zone of the Mediterranean. (14) By 1847, the number of Maltese living in Algeria calculated to 4,610 people, so many that the Maltese church dispatched two Catholic priests during Lent to deliver sermons in Maltese. By 1850, about half of all Maltese emigrants chose Algeria as their final destination. Most Maltese emigrated because of the high population density and unemployment on Malta and adjacent archipelago islands. Most were agricultural workers, which fit the needs of Algerian colonies"


Saturday, April 14, 2007

"From Bona"

An important part of every family tree is the paternal line (your father, his father, his father, his father, etc) - from where your surname comes.

My dad had photos of his grandfather Leonard (right), whose father, Carmelo, had been given the nickname "La Karm".

The only information I had about Carmelo's father (my 3rd Great grandpa) was that he was born in Bona, but his parents were Maltese.

Some geographical research located Bona (Bone) in Algeria, North Africa. His birth there was estimated to be in the 1830s and he would've been part of the European Colonization of Algeria.

"Colonization by Europeans (½ of whom were French and the rest mainly Spanish, Italian, and Maltese) began c.1840 and accelerated after 1848, when Algeria was declared to be French territory. "

Attempts to contact Algerian nationals via genealogy forums proved futile and when a reply arrived to one of my emails (a month later) it had nothing to offer.

Alas, for now I had given up of finding anything much about this important ancestor. But time would present other opportunities... will tell you all about it in the near future

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Another source of info was my mother's maternal aunt, a nun, may God grant her eternal rest. A visit to her convent had given me some three more generations back thanks to some birth and marriage certificates that she possessed.

This is a photo of her father - my ggrandpa, a policeman in Birkirkara.

Unfortunately, to date I have not yet researched any further along this line...


Amongst the sources of information are the pictures that descend from father to son to grandson. A number of these came into my possession or at least within shooting distance and are a treasure to behold.

Here on the right is my maternal great great grandpa in his sailor suit during World War I. He was with the British Navy and here is seen with an Italian Sergeant Major, a good friend of his.

This photo was taken in 1917, when my gggrandpa was 41years old (b. 1876). It is possible that he was not present for his son's (my ggrandpa) wedding which took place within the year as can be gleaned from the message written on the back by the father to his son:
The writing is in Maltese and says:
"27th April 1918 Carmel, this sergeant major and I are great friends - we're always together on land.
A.Vassallo Italy"

The wedding took place in Rabat, Malta on 22nd Sep 1917 when the groom was 17 years old and his bride was 8 years his senior: a lady from nearby Dingli. He was the oldest of the family and the first to leave the nest. He went on to have 7 kids, one of whom my maternal grandpa.

Monday, April 9, 2007

The Spark

A few days after the passing of my paternal grandfather, my dad drew a sketch (see right, darker annotations were made at a later date by myself) to explain how there was an inheritance of 7 /11 of a field in the South of Malta. He listed himself and his siblings, his parents and his aunts, his grandparents and their brethren and their father and his siblings and their father and his father...

"...and then they are somehow related to these"

That somehow, that gap, brought forth a mystery which my mind, hyperactive due to being in thesis mode, gladly took in as a challenge. I downloaded a freeware DOS program (Family) and began entering all the persons on the sketch. Then my dad contributed with more people and their descendants, dead or alive, neighbours or emigrants abroad and afar. We soon had 230 people in our records.

Then I finished my thesis...
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I am starting this blog to share with you my endeavours in researching my family tree over the past eight years or so - what started as a small pastime has become a massive addiction.

Who was I when I began?

It was the year 2000 A.D. I was in my final year of studies reading a degree in Computer Science at the University of Malta, the only university available on this island back then. At 22 years of age I had just lost my paternal grandfather - I was his only grandson able to carry on his surname. My mind was on hyperdrive due to the pending thesis but I wanted to do anything except the thesis...

Who am I now?

Today I'm a husband of 28 years of age, proud father of the next Barbara, owner of a genealogy research topping the 4000 ancestor mark...