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ASPECTS OF THE SOCIAL HISTORY OF MOSTA (1630-1650)

Carmel Calleja

Dissertation submitted to the Department of History at the Royal University of Malta, Malta 1973


The digital version of this unpublished dissertation may have some differences from original introduced during the scanning process which due to the limited resources didn't have time to completely verify and is another reason why one has to seek the original version (located at UOM) when needs to quote references from it.


CHAPTER FIVE


A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF CHRISTIAN NAMES AND SURNAMES


(p.89) On considering carefully the surnames in Table XVIII84, it can be proved that many of the Maltese surnames, which are in common use today, were already well-established in Mosta by 1650. Nevertheless, one meets with a number of rare surnames like Giarasco, Gaietani, Malechi, Mellehi, Liftech, Dolfa and Gilestri. The concentration of the surname Galia which was so prevalent in 1419 and the 1480s remained even more so in the 17th century.85 However, certain Semitic surnames like Burasi, Chumi, Felu, Hakim, Heleu, Lukisi, Mahnuq and Muzangar disappeared from Mosta. The fact that many of the surnames at Mosta in the period 1630-1650 were non-semitic does not necessarily imply a foreign origin to the families to which they belong. The clergy and notaries tended to be deeply influenced by the culture of Sicily, Spain and Europe generally, and they kept their records in a European language, and tended to translate surnames as they wrote.


(p.90) The surname Cumbo, which was relatively common in the 1480s, is less so in the period 1630-1650. After checking all the surnames in the Birth, Marriage and Death Registers I came across only three persons with that surname living at Mosta, namely Petrucia86, the local midwife Antonina87, and Gratiam.88 The decline in the surname may have been the result of the Barbary corsairs’ attack on Mosta in 1526 when Mosta was almost depleted of all its inhabitants.


The modern Maltese ‘j’ or long ‘i’ were often denoted by ‘y’ like in Calleya, Hibeyer, Xebyras and Pisayla.


It may also be pointed out that the Birth Registers for the period 1630-1650 contain 62 different names for boys and 47 for girls, the most popular being Dominicus89 and Jo:Maria for boys; and Maria, Gratia, Chaterina and Dominica for girls.90 The name, Joannes (the patron saint of the Order), is relatively not very common, but we find it on many occasions combined with other names like Jo:Maria, (p.91) Jo:Paulus, Jo:Dominicus, Jo:Petrus, Jo:Lucas, Jo:Andreas and Jo:Vincencius. There are some names which would appear very strange today like Therasmus, Marinus, Blasius, Lucius and Martius for boys; and Camilla, Argenta, Galicia, Flaminia and Natalia for girls. Furthermore, I came across only one nickname, namely, Catherina Galia alias Spadi.91


TABLE XVIII

(pp.92-98)

ANALYSIS OF SURNAMES (1630-1650)
EXTRACTED FROM THE BAPTISM AND DEATH REGISTERS
(This list is arranged alphabetically according to the spelling one may reasonably expect the reader to be most familiar with)
Normal Spelling Variants in Registers Total
Agius 9 Haius 29 39
Hagius 1
Aquilina 7 7
Axisa 1 1
Azzopardi 0 Azzopard 2 7
Aciopardi 1
Aciopardo 3
Acipardi 1
Bartolo 2 Bartlo 22 33
Barthlo 6
Bartholo 1
Bartoli 1
Bartolus 1
Bezzina 0 Bezina 6 6
Bonello 3 Bunello 1 4
Bonnici 0 Bonici 2 2
Borg 50 50
Buhagiar 0 Bucagiar 9 15
Buchagiar 6
Busuttil 5 Busutil 30 35
Buttigieg 0 Butgeg 3 3
Cachia 1 1
Calleja 2 Calleya 6 11
Calleia 2
Callejja 1
Camenzuli 1 Camezuli 2 3
Camilleri 4 Camelleri 15 22
Cammilleri 2
Cameleri 1
Capello 7 Cappello 1 8
Cardona 4 4
Caruana 2 2
Catania 3 3
Cauchi 16 Chauchi 3 19
Ceci 1 1
Chetcuti 10 Cetcuti 6 24
Ceticuti 4
Cheticuti 2
Cetchuti 1
Chetchuti 1
Ciappara 0 Chiopara 2 2
Corceppo 2 Cerceppo 1 4
Carceppo 1
Cumbo 2 2
Cuschieri 0 Cuscheri 3 7
Cusceri 3
Chuscheri 1
Darmenia 0 De Armenia 1 2
de rmenia 1
Debono 5 Dibono 2 8
de bono 1
Deguara 0 Digouara 8 9
Di Gouara 1
Dimech 1 Zimech 4 5
Dingli 2 2
Dolfa 1 1
Ebejer 1 Hybeier 4 14
Hibeyer 3
Hibeier 3
Habeyer 2
Habeier 1
Farrugia 0 Farugia 4 4
Fenech 20 Fenec 86 106
Frendo 22 22
Gaietani 1 1
Galea 0 Galia 144 144
Gatt 0 Gat 3 3
Gauci 2 2
Giarasco 2 2
Gilestri 4 Gilestro 1
Gelestri 1 6
Grech 4 Grec 10 14
Grima 14 14
Haber 0 Chaber 2 4
Habor 1
Caber 1
Liftech 3 3
Malechi 1 1
Mallia 6 6
Mangion 8 Mangon 1 9
Mellehi 1 I
Micallef 0 Micalef 1 2
Michalef 1
Mifsud 15 15
Muscat 7 7
Portelli 39 Purtelli 1 40
Psaila l Pisayla 1 2
Pulis 3 3
Regitano 1 Rigitano 1 2
Sammut 3 Samut 77 80
Sapiano 0 Sapian 2 3
Sapiani 1
Schembri 0 Scembri 11 14
Schébri 3
Sciberras 0 Xebyras 29 41
Xheberras 7
Xebiras 3
Scheberras 1
Sebyras 1
Scicluna 1 Sicluna 4 7
Schicluna 1
Xicluna 1
Sciriha 0 Sciricha 3 7
Siricha 2
Xirica 1
Schiricha 1
Seychell 0 Seichel 3 3
Spiteri 1 1
Tanti 5 5
Tonna 10 10
Vassallo 33 Vassalli 2 36
Vassal 1
Vella 26 26
Xerri 26 26
Zammit 1 Zamit 11 12
Zarb 9 Zarba 1 10

TABLE XIX

(pp.99-101)

ANALYSIS OF CHRISTIAN NAMES (BIRTHS ONLY) 1630-1650

Male Total Female Total
Dominicus (Dominico) 75 Maria (Mariette / Mariettina) 84
Jo: Maria (Gio: Maria) 68 Gratia 59
Joannes 20 Chaterina 48
Gratius 19 Dominica 41
Clemens (Clemencius) 17 Paulina (Paula) 20
Matteus (Matteolus, Matteolo) 16 Margarita 18
Petrus 14 Clemencia Clementia) 16
Jo: Paulus 13 Joannella 12
Gregorius 12 Angelica 8
Josephus (Joseph) 12 Sperancia (Speratia / Speranza) 6
Paulus 11 Theresa (Teresa) 6
Andreas 10 Agnes 3
Thomas 10 Geronima 3
Marius (Marianus, Mario) 9 Marteola 3
Salvator 9 Nuncia 3
Jacobus 7 Raymonda (Munda) 3
Michael 7 Argenta 2
Jo: Dominicus 6 Augustina 2
Bartolomeus 5 Francisca 2
Ignatius 5 Imperia 2
Laurencius (Laurentius) 5 Pasqua (Pascha) 2
Vincencius (Vincentius) 5 Petronilla 2
Antonius 4 Romana 2
Blasius 4 Scholastica 2
Lucas 4 Agata 1
Simon 4 Aloysia 1
Angelus 3 Andre ana 1
Carolus 3 Anna Maria 1
Damianus 3 Antonia 1
Filippus (Philippus) 3 Barbara 1
Jo: Baptista 3 Camilla 1
Jo: Petrus 3 C’lena 1
Leonardus 3 Cleria 1
Pasqualis 3 Evangelista 1
Theramus 3 Flaminia 1
Bernardus 2 Galicia 1
Franciscus 2 Innocencia 1
Geronimus 2 Laurencia 1
Joachim 2 Linora 1
Jo: Lucas 2 Madalena 1
Julianus 2 Monica 1
Matthias 2 Natalia 1
Sebastian us 2 Rosa 1
Aloncius 1 Sapencia 1
Ambrogius 1 Valencia 1
Augustinus 1 Venera 1
Baldasar 1 Vittoria 1
Benedictus 1
Cirillus 1
Constantinus 1
David 1
Jo: Andreas 1
Jo: Vincencius 1
Lazarus 1
Lucius 1
Marcellus 1
Marinus 1
Martius 1
Petrus Paulus 1
Publius 1
Valerius 1
Victorius 1

REFERENCES

  1. See pp. 92-98.
  2. For this chapter I have consulted the two articles by G. Wettinger, “The Distribution of Surnames in Malta in 1419 and the 1480s,” Journal of Maltese Studies, 1968, No. 5; and “The Militia List of 1419-20,” Melita Historica, 1969, Vol. 5, No. 2.
  3. A.P.M., D.L, I (1612-1640), p. 57.
  4. A.P.M., B.L. II (1630-1697), f. 1v.
  5. A.P.M., M.L. I (1611-1701), p. 48.
  6. The popularity of the name Dominicus was probably the result of the devotion to the Holy Rosary, which was spread by St. Dominic of Guzman. It must be remembered that in the parish church of Mosta there was a Confraternity and an altar dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary (see p. 76).
  7. See Table XIX, pp. 99-101.
  8. A.P.M., D.L. I (1612-1640), p. 85.

Other Chapters from this Dissertation

Bibliography, Chapter: I - Background, II - Population Growth, III - Economy, IV - Socio-Religious Life, (V - Names / Surnames Analysis), VI - Conclusion.