My Genealogy

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!