My Genealogy

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...