My Genealogy

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: