My Genealogy

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

23rd June 1963 - Purchase of the Land

We now look at the contract dated 23rd June 1963 within which my now late grandfather Antonio bought the share of the field known as tal-Katina. It is also the source of the family tree sketch drawn by my father in the Spark.

Listed are the following, referred to as the Barbara siblings.
- Leonardo, a farmer, father of Antonio Barbara listed below, and husband to Clara Grixti, Antonio's mother
- Marianna, wife of Leonardo Camilleri, son of the late Francesco Camilleri and Concetta nee Zammit
- Francesca, widow of Giovanni Zammit
- Giovanna, wife of Policarpio Abdilla, son of the late Giuseppe Abdilla and Giovanna Rosa nee Camilleri
- Rosa, widow of Antonio Camilleri

The above are listed as being the children of the late Carmelo Barbara nd Giuseppa nee Briffa of Zurrieq.

These are the sellers, selling to the buyer, Antonio Barbara son of Leonardo Barbara and Clara nee` Grixti.

The sale is of 1/2 of 5/6 of the field known as tal-Katina, for the sum of Lm25.

The document goes on to explain how this property came to their possession: each one had 1/6 (thus the 5/6) of one half of this field (thus 1/2 of 5/6) through the inheritance from their father Carmelo Barbara (who died on the 15th of July 1942) and Giuseppa nee Briffa (who died on the 21 October 1930) with wills dated 2nd November 1920 and 8th July 1936 from the notary Francesco Farrugia.

So, let's recapitulate.

Carmelo and Giuseppa Barbara owned 1/2 of this field.
This was split between their six children, each receiving one sixth.
Antonio Barbara, son of one of these children, bought the shares of five of these children, thus getting 5/6 of 1/2 of the field, or 1/2 of 5/6 as written in the text, thus 5/12 of the whole field - almost half, except for the missing sibling's share.

In a letter written by my father's lawyer to the person to which the field was tenured, the share is written as 1/2 of 5/6 of the field, agreeing with the above.

So the fraction of 5/24 claimed in the causa mortis seems to be an incorrect calculation, itself in conflict with the stated purchase of 1/2 of 5/6 in the same document.(EDIT: Probably the 5/24 is 1/2 of 5/12 as he had bought this when he was married to Nicholina nee Borg, so the other half belongs to her).

Two more things need to be found: who owns the other half, and who owns the missing 1/6. Who is the missing sixth sibling?

A possible source for this information will be the records of the tenures paid in the past, which will fall under our scrutiny in the coming days...

Redemption of Sufferance

Before we look at the purchase of the field, a glance at the document regarding the redemption of the due mass of sufferance indicates that a payment of Lm20, so 50 times the annual fee due for the mass in sufferance of Carmelo and Carmela Mamo was paid by Antonio Barbara to the Zurrieq Parish Church. The document also states that this annual fee had been paid annually since prior the year 1900. This occured on the 1st of November 1964.

Causa Mortis : Antonio Barbara

I shall start from a very recent but important document: the causa mortis (succession) document of my paternal grandfather who deceased on 7th March 2000 AD, with the document being compiled on the 5th of June 2000AD which lists my father and his surviving four siblings as their heirs. This document is important as it summarises the inheritance through my grandfather and thus provides documentation to explain how this inheritance came about. Of interest is the field known as tal-Katina, l/o Qrendi.

The document explains how Antonio, my late grandfather, owned 5/24 of this field which approximates to 20.8 % of the field, which has an area of 17,840 metres squared (so roughly, 3716.667 metres squared). It is also explained that this field, in its totality, is rented to third parties for Lm4 (EUR9.32) per year.

The document then explains how this came to be owned by Antonio: On the 23rd of June 1963 he bought one half of five sixths (1/2 of 5/6 == 5/12) whilst he was married to his wife Nicholina nee Borg. Then he subsequently redeemed from the parish church of Zurrieq the perpetual due of holy mass to the worth of 8 shillings on the 1st of November 1964.

Ok, hold it.

How did Antonio own 5/24 when he had bought 5/12? Why half? Is it because the other half belongs to his wife? I think not, as the description before this statement states that at the time of his death, Antonio owned the following which belong to the communcal acquisitions existing between him and his late wife. So the ownership of the 5/24 includes that of his wife.


So a look at the original document wherein the purchase was made beckons...

In the footsteps of my father and of his father...

It is with a mixture of great trepidation, and of great anxiety, that I delve into that part of family history which initiated my interest in genealogy. Anxiety as, as with all genealogical research, unearthing the past, especially one's personal past, is always an exciting and rewarding experience. Trepidation as I know that my father had already gone this way, and gave up on it a couple of years back.

As briefly explained in The Spark, the passing away of my paternal grandfather landed an inheritance of part of a field in the lap of my father, who had to trace the owners and the third parties who were working the land. To explain this he had drawn out a small family tree which had spurred my interest in genealogy, as explained in that article.

I have now in my possession the details that my father received, as well as those that he uncovered over the ten years since he was trusted with its care and follow up by his four siblings. It is through inherited responsability, and through personal interest that I dare walk back into the past and read documents relating the details of such inheritance. I also have the original document from which the family tree sketched by father was extracted.

I was tempted to start a separate blog for this, but given its close links to my research and itself being an attempt to understand past documents and infer information, I beleive it still falls within the remits of this blog.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Arrival of the Two Acts!

Surprises Ahoy!

Monday I received the SMS notification that the acts were dispatched, and today, Thursday, they arrived:
two full extracts of two birth records, for a grand total sum of EUR18.64.

These are the records of Emmanuele Giuseppe Grazio VELLA and Maria Gaetana Marianna BUSUTTIL, being the paternal grandparents of my mother-in-law.

The first surprise was that the paternal grandfather of Emmanuele VELLA was a Michele, and not a Lorenzo as per my records. I have as yet to pinpoint the exact source of my error but I do believe it to be an error from my wife's 3rd cousin who had been researching the Maltese Govt database.  This means that I do not know name of the paternal grandmother.

The second surprise was that Emmanuele's father Antonio was 70 years old at the time of his birth! SEVENTY! Still going strong! And his wife Francesca, was 38 years younger than he. A big possibility that she was his second wife, and she was born in Zejtun to Felice Cardona.

A third surprise, but to a lesser degree, was that his wife was not born Marianna, but Maria Gaetana Marianna, with her given name being Maria, not Marianna. This name, by which it was known by her granddaughter, may have been more used within the house - but not officially. Her two grandfathers were Giovanni Busuttil and Giuseppe Frendo, both from Gudja.

This leaves us with SIX remaining ladies to be found from my wife's tree - just like my Decade Challenge.
Two of them are GGGrandmothers of her father, the other four GGGrandmothers of her mother.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Second Attempt

In A Second Objective I attempted to find my wife's missing elements to complete my kids' family tree up to 7 generations, and I failed miserably when I tried to find the below marriages through the Malta Public Registry online form.

The marriage of Andrea Fenech to Maria Galea
The marriage of Antonii Vella to Francesca Cardona
The marriage of Antonii Busuttil to Feliciana Frendo
Having completed my own six-generation family tree, the interest is back to a second attempt.

This time I will attempt a different strategy: I will seek the full birth-certificate of the children of the above couples (see orange boxes below), namely

Maria Anna Busuttil,
- born 4 Aug 1892 in Gudja Malta
- daughter of Antonii Busuttil and Feliciana Frendo

her husband, Emmanoel Joseph Gratio Vella,
- born, 17 Oct 1885 in Zabbar Malta
- son of Antonii Vella and Francesca Cardona

The full birth-certificate will give not only the parents of the child (so possibly correcting any spelling mistakes in the names) but also his/her grandfather's name.

This should help retreive THREE (yellow boxes below) of the EIGHT missing 6th generation ancestors of my wife.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A friend in need is a friend indeed - even if he's your cousin's friend!

Mission accomplished! Delayed by six months... and through a helping hand from my cousin's friend Kevin - who I salute and thank wholeheartedly.

In Decade Milestone, I described how on the decade of my research I set myself the challenge to find the six missing great-great-great-grandmas to complete all six generations. I had found four, with only two remaining:

Mrs Micallef,

wife of Saverio Micallef and mother of Carmelo Micallef who was born abt 1854 in Rabat, Malta

Mrs Galea
wife of Fedele Galea and mother of Teresa Galea born abt 1862 in Rabat, Malta

Kevin helped me by looking up the birth records of Carmelo Micallef and Teresa Galea at the Mdina Parish Records, and surely enough, their mothers' names were listed there.

Mrs Micallef was born Theresa Camilleri whilst Mrs Galea was born Grazia Camilleri.

Now in Planning the Search for the Five , I had remarked:

INTERESTING POINT: Targets 4 and 5 would most probably have met each other, at least at their children's wedding. Questions come to mind: were they acquaintances before? were they always trying to keep up with each other? did they seek each other's company, or avoid it best they could? Sadly, no records would be able to cement these for us in their future...

Coincidentally, Targets 4 and 5 were both Camilleris. Were they even related? Cousins perhaps!

Only further research will unravel the mystery!

For now, I will cherish the complete six-generation tree, reproduced below:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Silver Link with the Past

Four years ago, less one month, in my post Laurentius Fenech Birth 1763 I transcribed the birth record of the son of Joanne Fenech and his wife Maria, to whom they gave the names Cajetanus Laurentius Annettus. His Godparents were two eminent personas at his time: Cajetanus Grima: Architect and Lawyer of Courts, and the daughter of Annetto Pullicino. Moreover, the baptism was celebrated by the Archpriest of Valletta, rather than the parish priest of Attard. There I had posed the question: what linkages was there between this family and Valletta noblemen?

Having recently discovered the Geneanum website, I discovered one possible clue: His mother Maria was born Vassallo, daughter of Mro Angelo Vassallo and Maddalena nee Magro. This link to higher class would explain such important people present at his baptism. But who was Annetto Pullicino?

Searching online there was little to be found, save for an auction listing with a Maltese Silver sugar basin by Annetto Pullicino dated 1723 which was sold by auction last year. Turns out that Sig Annetto Pullicino was a silversmith during the time of the Knights, specifically during GrandMaster Pinto's reign. This led me to a search through Valletta for some trace of his work... from the Museum of Archeaology to the Palace Armoury where the curator, the kind Robert, suggested I refer to two books by a certain Jimmy Farrugia: Domestic Silver and Ecclesiastic Silver. Off I went to the National Library next door and managed to find the Domestic Silver book. Looking at the index there were only two mentions of the name Annetto Pullicino, and were text-only and little informative. However, as there were a number of illustrations, I starting looking through the pages and, certainly enough, under the section 'Other Silver' I found this lovely mid-18th century oil lamp bearing the mark of Annetto Pullicino. EUR 0.23 got me a photocopy of it which I am reproducing hereunder.
According to an online dictionary on oil lamps, the items hanging from the central rod are "snuffers, tweezers and estinguishers" and the emblem bearing the client's noble family's coat-of-arms served as a shade. Unfortunately I was unable to decipher the family's surname on the shade.
Whilst I will be on the lookout for more items silver items of this Master Craftsman, I wil for now cherish this find, giving me a tangible silver link to the past...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Farewell Dad

A few minutes past midnight of Monday 18th April 2011, my father's respiratory system broke down, giving him trouble for one last time. Pampered by the nurses of the Intesive Therapy Unit at Mater Dei Hospital, Dad expired after spending his last fifteen days in a lethargic coma, unaware of his surroundings or state.

We visited him daily, were welcomed with an opened eye on being called by name for the first few days, but was constantly asleep thereafter. On one occasion, wearing an oxygen mask and his eyelid pulled back, he did follow me with his gaze.

But during the last week, there was no response. On Sunday the monitor showed measurements of a healthy person - the sunshine before the storm. Later that night we got the dreaded phone call. Arriving first, we were, alas, too late by twenty minutes.

The following Wednesday, a funeral service was held at St Marija Parish Church of Attard at 9:00am, well attended by relatives, friends, and colleagues of the family. Subsequently he was taken by hearse to Addolorata Cemetery where he was buried in the Police Section - where he had always wished to be buried. He was proud to belong to the Malta Police Force, where he served as a Police Sergeant for the better of the 28years of service.

He was a man of few hobbies: caring for his little yard with lots of plants and flowers and cathing up on the latest news through the local and foreign newspapers. He kept his brain busy playing Sudoku and guessing the correct answers on TV quizzes.

Rest in peace Dad: I started this genealogical adventure thanks to you, and in your memory I plan to continue this neverending journey through history. Our history.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Quandary solved(?)

In Mystery Solved - Another Emerges I had come to the conclusion that there were two couples giving birth to children in Attard sharing the same father's name, surname and the mother: Lorenzo Fenech and Gratia. One of the couples was married in Attard, whilst the other had married earlier. This was initially pointed out in Quandary Explanation.

Well, Geneanum comes to the rescue!

It seems that apart from the couple marrying in 1696 in Attard, there was an earlier couple marrying in 1671 in nearby Birkirkara. This 1671 makes more sense as their first child was born in 1674. Thus, it seems, the quandary is solved, THREE years later!

The new addition to the family tree are Lorenzo FENECH, son of Gio(vanni) Paolo and Grazia, and Grazia BORG, daughter of Domenico and Domenichella. They were married in Birkirkara on 13th June 1671.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Before Bone, Algeria: Casal Bisbuti!

Let me recapitulate what this story has been so far...

In "From Bona" I explained how my search for the paternal line took me across the Mediterranean Sea to Algeria looking for my GGGGrandpa...

In Bona, Algeria! I shared the discovery of CAOM and online access to summaries of the Algerian archive ...

In Tragedy and Happiness in Bona, Algeria I noted the birth of a brother to my GGGGrandpa but also his father's death just after the latter's first birthday.

In Before Bone, Algeria I explained that having found my GGGGrandpa, and thus his parents, it is now time to move on, and trace their origins - something to which no help could be sought from the Algerian records as the only detail was Malta, and not the place of origin.

This took me through various sources, including the passenger list of ships and in A Surprise at the National Archives I documented how, when looking through the Passpot Registry, I discovered that his mother had gone to Algeria with a daughter in tow. Sadly, I learnt that she had died a year after arriving...

With her age listed on her death certificate, Antonia gave me another way to finding the place of origin of her parents, and in In Search of Antonia I narrated my search for her birth records in three parishes in and around Zurrieq, but to no avail. I still had Qrendi and Kirkop to search though...

In An Uncle in Bone? and One Dead End I tell of a wild goose chase for a possible Uncle, I finish the latter with a postscript:  As Giuseppe's mother is Caterina, Zejtun could be another place worth visiting...

However, even though Zejtun is a neighbouring town to my hometown Zabbar, I never found time to continue the search... until Geneanum brought it to my own screen. Searching for the marriage of a Barbara Giuseppe and Vella Rosa, I was rewarded with one entry dated 13th June 1820, twelve years prior to Antonia's birth, in ZEJTUN! Somewhere else I discovered that this place was originally also known as Casal Bisbut. I couldn't further confirm by finding Antonia's birth there as there were no records for that time period.

Looking further along on Geneanum, I was unable to trace back anymore on the Barbara line (apart from learning that Giuseppe's mother's maiden name was Gristi (Grixti)) but on his maternal Vella line, I went back a further six generations, with her GGGrandpa hailing from Zabbar.

Funny we closed the circle by returning thefamily line into Zabbar!

One issue remains to be solved here: on Geneanum, Giuseppe's mother is listed with the same name of his wife, Rosa, whilst on Giuseppe's death certificate, his mother's name is listed as Caterina (the same hint that brought me to Zejtun in the first place.)

 I will still need to visit the Zejtun records, get the entry for the marriage of 13th June 1820 and, maybe, also lookup Antonia's birth record to concretise the link...


Spurred by the new contact below, I went to check the Malta Genealogy Forum for any updates, as I had not looked here for ages.

A post by Josyanne Massa, an on-line acquaintance of mineon the subject for over 7 years caught my eyes: new free web site for Maltese Marriages. I was aware that Josyanne had been working on a website on the matter and this was extremely good news to me.

Instantly I went on the website, , had some false clicks around the site as I missed the baptism, marriage, etc links on the right hand side, but finally made some trial queries to get a feel of the engine. Then I started looking up some details on my mother's Vassallo side and added up some six new couples to my ancestors on that line.

Then I remembered my 2010 challenge, the Decade Milestone, and tried to look up my last two target ancestors, but they were too early for the records.

Just as I was going to switch off and head to sleep... I remembered something very important that History still owed me... the Barbaras who went off to Algeria!


This blog gets revived thanks to a surprise email I received from a certain Jane in Australia claiming to be a cousin through a common ancestor, Eva Del Bosco.

Once confirmed, this led to a flurry of emails across the globe as we shared data on past and current acquaintances.

She too was looking for some information on an ancestor who hailed from Algiers and I led her to the online search engine that the French government has put up with all the records they had taken a copy of when they left Algeria. Unfortunately none of the records made sense in matching her search.

I've actually worked out her exact relationship with my family, and she is the 13th cousin of my father's.

It's always lovely to discover far-away relatives in far-away places!