My Genealogy

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The tree returns to its roots...

In my second post on this blog, The Spark, I had mentioned how
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...

Yesterday I received a phone call from my dad who needed some information regarding some ancestors' places and dates of birth and deaths to give to the lawyer who was taking care of the said inheritance. I was able to furnish the results of my research as requested.
After 8 years, the research for my family tree helped provide some answers spurred by the same inheritance that sparked off the whole research!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Bona, Algeria!

Earlier in my blog, specifically here: I had shared with you my desperation in not being able to trace my paternal line. All I knew about my paternal great great great grandpa was that he was born in Bona.

On 23rd May 2006 I came across a post by Mr Jean Bernard Mifsud indicating his Algerian-Maltese ancestry and asking for help. See here:

On seeing a possibly Algerian person with an interest in genealogy I immediately threw in a reply, asking for any leads into seeking my own ancestor's records there.

To my post, another forum member Mr Frederic Messud from Australia(!) gave me a link to CAOM - Centre d'Archives d'Outre-Mere - where the French government was giving an online catalogue of birth, marriage, and death records in its colonies, including Bone, Algeria. He even gave me two possible records for my ancestor's births: one in 1838 in Bone and another in 1894 in Mascara.

I was overjoyed! The one in Bone fit perfectly as he would have been 19 when his son would be born in Malta. The catalogue is very dry in information, giving only what happened, to whom , which year and which commune. The website has strict rules not to communicate via email, and to my request for the birth record, or at least for information as how to get it, I was asked to supply a postal address which I did.

In the meantime I found myself subscribing to the pieds-noir mailing list. These 'black foots' are sons of the European immigrants to Algeria who were forced to leave the country after the Algerian-French conflict. Through this mailing list I received an email from a certain Ms Collonna who told me that she'd been to Aix-en-Provence (the place where these records are located) and seeing my request had brought it for me! I gave her my postal address so she could send it to me.

As luck would have it, Aix-en-Provence sent me a letter describing how they do not do research and that you have to go personally or send someone in your stead, BUT FOR THIS ONCE, THEY SENT ME THE RECORD! A civil record detailing the birth of Antonio Barbara to Barbara Giuseppe and his wife Rosa nee Vella (my gggggrandparents!) who were from Malta.

Against all odds, here was the birth record that I had given up of ever coming across!


A couple of months later I was looking in the parish archives of Zurrieq (where Antonio Barbara whose birth record I received above got married) for records relating to Antonio's wife's ancestors... and I was leafing through the records and noticed a page alien to the book, in that it was pasted onto the book. I had a look at the page and saw an Algeria mark. I remarked how strange it was for it to be in the book and did not give it any second thought.

Until I was packing up to leave and a second thought finally made it to my mind. I checked again the page. It was the parochial record of the baptism of Antonio Barbara in Bone Algeria! My GGGGrandpa! Here in Malta!

Whilst I had given up, came across a link by chance, and got through all the trouble of getting the record from France, it was all the time available in Malta! What a surprise!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Quandary Explanation

It's been almost a year now and I have not had the chance to carry out the family profile that I promised in

May I now explain the problem that I have met and how I plan to find evidence to prove a possible alternate situation that may have led to the records met.

Refer to Figure 1 below, which depicts an event timeline of a normal family:

A couple are born, marry, and have kids. For them to be legally recognised, they ought to be born AFTER the marriage. Each sibling is expected to be born at least 9 months after the previous sibling (9 months being the gestation period of humans) unless the siblings are twins (or triplets or quadruplets, etc) and are born on the same occasion (as for siblings 2 and 3 above). Another case is when the child is born prematurely - but they did not have incubators back then so they would have died on being born.

Now the evidence found so far shows that my ancestor Rosa was born BEFORE her parents' marriage. Figure two below demonstrates this:

This is after having searched for the marriage of Lawrence and Gratia prior to 1694 with no success and only finding a record of such a marriage in 1696, 2 years later.

This could mean that Rosa was born out of wedlock, even though there is no such record of this in the parish archive but rather the mother is specified as being the wife, and the bride is specified to be a virgin.

Now all this could only be true if the parents of Rosa were NOT married in the SAME parish but were married somewhere else, which would explain the missing marriage record prior to Rosa's birth.

But why is there a marriage AFTER the birth? This could be if there was ANOTHER couple named Lawrence Fenech and Gratia who married in the same parish where Rosa was born. The Figure below should help explain this:

The fact that Gratia's surname is not listed in Rosa's birth record makes this fact still possible.
But how can it be proved?
The only tool available is the fact that siblings need to be 9 months apart. What I plan to do is to take a family profile: that is finding all the children born to Lawrence Fenech and his wife Gratia to try to find overlapping births - which would indicate two parallel couples in the same parish.
In which case I would need to identify which parish were Rosa's parents from, maybe by looking at the godparents of the children who might be specified to be from some other parish.
Wish me luck!