Title in succession: 8th
Date created: 13 July 1717
Grant by: Victor Amadeus, King of Sicily, and Duca di Savoy
Granted To: Mario Testaferrata de Robertis
Rep: Testaferrata Olivier (dormant)
Remainder to: his legitimate natural descendants in perpetuity
Present Holder: Paul Olivier Testaferrata
Olivier (never registered with Com. of Privileges)
Note: Title never registered in Malta, but Grand Master Pinto
addressed Pandolfo (younger son) as Marquis in 1745
British Crown recognition: 1883
Abeyance: Passed into abeyance 1968 and brought out 1983 by the Com. of
Privileges, currently residing in the USA.
Foreign Titles not recognised by the Royal 1878 Commission: Baron
Testaferrata Moroni Viani
Further notes: USA
Jean Ollivier des Seigneurs de Puget, c. 1653
Sir Guiseppe Vincenzo Testaferrata de Noto KCMG,
Son of the 1st Marquis Testaferrata Olivier, and grandfather of the
Marquis Apap Testaferrata
The Title of Marquisate
Testaferrata-Olivier is one of the formations along with the
Marquisate di San Vincenzo Ferreri, Testaferrata, Cassar-Desain, which
were granted in 1717 to Mario Testaferrata de Robertis at Chambray by
Victor Amadeus, King of Sicily, and Duca di Savoy. The remainder was to
all his legitimate and natural descendants (see
This title was never
registered in Malta, However Grand Master Pinto address the grantee’s
Grandson Pandolfo Testaferrata (younger son the 2nd Marquis di San
Vincenzo Ferreri and Testaferrata) as Marquis in
Pandolfo Testaferrata, married to Rosina
Olivier de Puget-Ducoss, which the surname of Olivier was added to all
descendants of this marriage. Pandolfo was succeeded by his son Guiseppe
Enrico Testaferrata-Olivier in 1816.
Guiseppe , the
2nd Marquis was a Major in the Royal Malta Regiment, and married secondly
in 1796 to a Daughter of the Marquis “Cassar-Desain” and sired several
sons. Giuseppe firstly married a daughter of the Barony di Castel Cicciano
and had one child , a daughter, who later married and is ancestress to the
Counts Sant and Barons di Ghariexem e Tabia.
Men’Andrea Testaferrata-Olivier LL.D succeeded after his father’s death in
1839 as the 3rd Marquis, though died unmarried, and succeeded by his
brother Gio Paolo in 1850.
Point in History: Gio Paolo Testaferrata-Olivier married a member of the Casolani family, a
very rich family at that time and sired several children. He served as
President for the Malta Society and Arts Manufacture and Commerce, from 1863 to
1875 and from 1877 to 1855, serving for 12 years. He had been instrumental with
the exhibition 'Esposizione Industriale', was organised at the National library
in Valletta. It consisted of works exhibited by craftsmen and Industrialists. A
record attendance of 4000 persons visited the exhibits. Medals certificates and
letters of honorable mention were introduced during this time, for recognition
in achievements. Notably Arch. E.L Galizia was presented one for the planning of
the Adolorata Cemetery, Mikelang Sapiano for his works on clocks and watches,
Emanuel Decelis for his sculpture, restoration and inlaying at the Mdina
to the title, after his death on the year of 1888, was Louis.
of the strangest cases ever to come before the 1878 Royal Commission was
the title of Marquis Testaferrata.
The decision of the Royal
Commissioners concerning this title as presented in their report was
However, the petition subsequently
presented by the Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobility, together
with its acceptance by the Colonial Government must surely rank amongst
one of the most absurd happenings in the history of the Maltese
On 13th, July 1717,
Victor-Amadeus, King of Sicily and Duke of Savoy conferred the title of
Marchese Testaferrata upon Mario Testaferrata. This was the same
Testaferrata who had received the non-title of Marchese di San
Vincenzo Ferreri in the Kingdom of Naples on 10th. November 1716 at the
hands of King Philip V of Spain, at a time when that Sovereign lacked any
territorial Sovereignty over Naples as a consequence of the Treaty of
Utrecht-see my article concerning this title which also appears on this
Certain points need to be to be made here
concerning the grant of Marchese Testaferrata (underlining is
1. The title was granted by Victor-Amadeus as King of
Sicily (which he then undoubtedly was thanks to the Treaty of Utrecht)
NOT as Duke of Savoy.
The concluding words of
the patent were “Given at Chambrey, on the 13th. July, in the fourth year
of our reign” Victor-Amadeus ascended the throne of Savoy in 1675, 22
years before the grant in question; he ascended the throne of Sicily in
1713, as a direct result of the treaty of Utrecht, that is four years
before the grant in question; this latter is the time scale referred to in
Victor-Amadeus ordered that the patent be
registered in the Principal Secretariat of State for his Dominions; in
pursuance of that command, the patent was registered and not simply
recorded in the Registry of the Privileges of the Kingdom of Sicily and
NOT in the Duchy of Savoy
2. The title was granted
to “Don Mario Testaferrata and his legitimate and
a. In this
grant, no mention is made of the ‘title’ of Marquis (of San Vincenzo
Ferreri) bestowed by the King of Spain on Mario Testaferrata eight months
earlier (see my article). The title was granted to Don Mario not to
Marquis Mario Testaferrata. This confirms the questionable nature of the
San Vincenzo Ferreri ‘title’.
b. It was not an open grant
extended simply to all ‘his descendants’ but to his descendants
successively i.e. one at a time.
3. The title was never
registered in the Chancellery of the Order of St. John in
The Royal Commission
was faced with a rather comical situation!
claimed the right to use this title simultaneously on the premise that it
was open ‘to all descendants of Mario Testaferrata’ not just to the
first-born male in the primogenial line. One gentleman (primogenial male
line) claimed it exclusively.
Royal Commissioners made some preliminary comments on this claim- see the
Royal Commission Report, page 27 paras. 127 &
(We will not reproduce here the lengthy legal
arguments gone into as these can easily be read in the Royal Commission
report by anybody with the time to spare!)
However, the salient
points, which emerged from these arguments, were;
The grant was never registered in Malta, and it was not recognised in
Malta therefore no one could claim it.
When King Charles V
ceded Malta to the Order of St. John, he ceded the Order the dominium
utile-thus, the Grandmaster, as Sovereign Prince held the fons honorum
over Malta and he had to officially recognise all foreign
2. Various documents were produced to show that one
or other of the claimants ancestors were recognised as Marchesi by the
Order despite the lack of registration;
The two with the most
documents were Gio. Paolo Testaferrata Olivier and Lorenzo Cassar Desain-but most of the documentation also applied in common to the other
Amongst the ‘most important’ (!) documents which
Gio. Paolo Testaferrata Olivier produced were,
certificate authenticated by Fra. Ferdinand de Hompesch as Grand
Chancellor of the Order; in this certificate, Gio. Paolo’s ancestor is
styled Marchese; therefore, Gio. Paolo maintained that he was recognised
as a Marquis. However, close scrutiny of this document by the Royal
Commissioners showed that Hompesch was only authenticating the signature
of the notary concerned and not the contents of the certificate itself.
(see paras. 139)
Documents by the Senate of Messina (18th.
August 1793, 12 July 1791) in which his ancestor (not the first-born) is
styled Marchese. ‘Irrelevant’ said the Royal Commissioners, since it was
not the Order but a foreign power who issued these documents. (see paras.
Various Passports issued by Kingdom of The Two
Sicilies (8-5-1789, 30-08-1789, 7-01-1790)-again all ‘irrelevant’ said the
Royal Commissioners, since again, it was not the Order but a foreign power
that had issued these documents.
In point of fact, most of
the documents presented by the petitioners were considered to be totally
irrelevant since they were in the nature of either private and /or
A couple of documents were
produced which, the claimants felt were very important to their cause
since they referred to the fact that their ancestors were styled Marchese
when their election to the post of Jurat was announced by the
The documents relating to the claim entered by Gio.
Paolo Testaferrata Olivier are dealt with first; (see page 31 paras. 146,
147) (Document 3)
Unfortunately, the Royal Commissioners
did not share the petitioner’s enthusiasm and they summarily dismissed
these documents as being both irrelevant and
Most of the other claimants who relied on
virtually similar documentation were similarly dismissed.
Cassar Desain had also attached great importance to the fact that his
ancestor was styled Marchese when his election to the post of Jurat was
announced by the Order. (see page 33 paras. 156-158)
conclusion of the Royal Commissioners was pretty conclusive, referring to
all the various claimants, including Gio. Paolo Testaferrata Olivier and
Lorenzo Cassar Desain, they said;
“Having premised these
circumstances we think that the gentlemen who appeared to assert their
rights to the present title have failed to show that those under whom they
claim were under the government of the Order lawfully recognised as
Marchesi by the sovereign authorities of the
Other documents were then analysed by the
These documents were offered as proof by
Gio. Paolo Testaferrata Olivier and by Lorenzo Cassar Desain that the
British Crown had actually recognised their titles.
assortment of letters, press cuttings as well as school certificate from
the Lyceum was presented.
This motley collection also
failed to impress the Royal Commissioners who stated inter alia (on page
36 para 165) that;
“…The above stated circumstances lead us
to conclude that no great importance was formerly attached by the Local
Government to a proper use of the titles of
and (in para 166)
With reference to the forgoing papers, by which the above-named claimants
have attempted to establish the recognition of the title (of Marchese
Testaferrata) now under consideration, on the part of the British
Government, we beg to refer his Excellency’s attention to the fact, that,
as far as we are aware, such official documents emanating from the head of
the Local Government and other authorities of the island, were not issued
pursuant to orders received from Her Majesty or her predecessors, who are
the source of all honours and distinctions.”
proven that this title of Marchese Testaferrata had not been recognised
either by the Order or by the British Crown, the Royal Commissioners then
(para. 166a) categorically rejected the argument that the title allowed
for several simultaneous lines of succession by virtue of the jure
longobardum as opposed to jure francorum since it was granted in Sicily
not in Savoy.
Under the jure longobardum, operating
in Germany, Lombardy and in other parts of Italy including the Duchy of
Savoy, titles of nobility annexed to fiefs (which in those countries were
divisible) as well as those which were purely nominal descended after the
death of a title-holder to all his sons who all assumed the
In Sicily, where the jure francorum operated, as a general
rule, fiefs were not divisible and the joint possession by more than one
person was unknown in that country.
So in summary, what the
Royal Commissioners said was that
1. The title of Marchese
Testaferrata, (which I hasten to add was a perfectly legitimate title) was
never recognised in Malta by the Order and therefore it should not be
given recognition by the British Crown
2. Even if it were
recognised (which it wasn’t) there could not be more than one holder since
it was granted in Sicily not Savoy. The rightful line would then be found
in the primogenial male line.
By this line, the title would
have devolved to Emanuele Testaferrata Bonici Ghaxaq (1843-1903)
all other lines being irrelevant to the succession.
the title of Marquis Testaferrata was disallowed.
the claimants, including Gio. Paolo Tetaferrata Olivier and Lorenzo Cassar
Desain were recognised as title-holders.
This decision not surprisingly led to howls of
The Committee of Privileges of the Maltese
Nobility, newly formed after the 1878 Royal Commission report, sent a
petition to the British Colonial Government, in May
This report, entered specifically, on behalf of Gio. Paolo Testaferrata Olivier and Lorenzo Cassar
“…the above named two noblemen have laid before this
Committee several official copies of authentic documents preserved in the
Government Archives, wherein repeated direct recognition are found of the
title of ‘Marchese’ on the part of the Grandmasters as possessed
simultaneously by their respective immediate
And again the Committee of Privileges
report refers to
“…the reiterated direct recognitions,
custom, possession, and prescription upheld also during the British rule
by several public official acts in their favour, as well as in that of
their immediate male ancestors…”
It bears stating
that these documents were the very same documents which had been presented
to the Royal Commissioners and which had been dismissed by them as totally
The Committee of Privileges then state
in their petition that Gio Paolo Testaferrata Olivier’s title of Marchese
should be recognised from 1745 since his ancestor was addressed as
Marchese by the Order of St. John in that year (the ‘Jurat’ document
referred to above).
They also stated that Lorenzo Cassar
Desain should be recognised from 1749 for the same reason (the other
‘Jurat’ document-also referred to above).
In effect they
were asking that the Colonial Government should regard these two ‘titles’
as having been created in 1745 & 1749 respectively by Grandmaster
Pinto while the ‘parent title’ of Marquis Testaferrata would remain
unrecognised even though both gentlemen actually drew their status of
title-holders from that unrecognised title.
The fact that the
Grandmaster in question never signed anything even vaguely resembling a
patent of creation did not seem to trouble the members of the
Thus the ‘titles’ of Marquis Testaferrata
Olivier and of Marquis Cassar Desain were conceived as a face saving
Walt Disney could not have come up with a better
It bears stating that all the arguments in
the Committee’s petition had already been examined in great detail by the
Royal Commissioners and found to be totally spurious!
It also bears
stating that Lorenzo Cassar Desain was a very active member in the
Committee of Privileges; he became its Hon. Secretary for a number of
He was a member of the Council of Government
(1881-1882) and was in fact appointed CMG in 1885.
considerable clout, both in the nobility and in
Enough clout, it would seem for the Colonial
Government to backtrack on its acceptance of the Royal Commissioners’
report and to accept this rather silly petition presented by the Committee
of Privileges which contained nothing they had not already heard, and
previously rejected out of hand.
In my article (on this Website)
concerning the title of Count of Beberrua,
I state: “…One has to understand the background to this acceptance;
the British Government had become totally exasperated with the local
nobility, which they considered to be a veritable nuisance! The Committee
perpetually bombarded the British Government with lengthy communications
about the most trivial items. One has only to read the heated
correspondence exchanged between Malta and London to appreciate
In order to get the Committee of its back-you can just
feel the exasperation of the British Civil Servants screaming at you from
the official correspondence - the British Government decided to re-instate
a number of titles, which its own Royal Commissioners had disallowed. This
resulted in some very strange titles getting through.
statement applies equally to the ‘titles’ of Marquis Testaferrata Olivier
and Marquis Cassar Desain both of which were, and indeed still are,
These two ‘titles’ were conceived by the
Committee of Privileges and delivered into this world by the British
Would the British Government have dealt
in this way with a British Peerage?!
Let us be absolutely
clear about the precedents set here:
1. A title bestowed on a
grantee with remainder to “his descendants’ (“successively”) was taken to
mean that all his descendants could hold the title simultaneously,
2. Any form of communication emanating from the
Government of Malta which
contained a reference to a title of
nobility was to be taken as an official act of recognition; there was (is)
no need for a specific act of recognition.
succeeded as the 5th Marquis, and married into the Casolani family, which
produced six children.
Their eldest child, Camille, married
in 1900 to Lt. Col Charles Barnard-Bonham, a member of the English Barony
The second child was Marguerite, died
The third child was Henri, who succeeded as the 6th
Marquis, , but died unmarried in 1950.
The fourth Child was
Ida, who married in 1916 to a member of the Northcote family, who were
Earls of Iddesleigh
The fifth Child was Jean Paul, which will
treat in the next paragragh.
The sixth child and the youngest
was Robert, who moved to Western Australia, and brought property to run a
sheep farm, which his descendants still hold today.
Testaferrata-Olivier, succeeded his brother in 1950, and settled in the
USA, with his family.
Died in 1968, and succeeded to his son,
and the present heir, Paul Olivier.
Paul Olivier Jr, was an
attorney at law in the USA, and succeeded as the 8th Marquis Testaferrata-Olivier .
His heir is his son Mark Thomas Olivier as
the Marchesino Testaferrata-Olivier.
A Genealogical Account of
the Marquis's Testaferrata Olivier
Louis Testaferrata Olivier
(1855-1912), 5th Marquis Testaferrata Olivier, married 1882 to Elise
1. Henri Testaferrata Olivier (1886-1950), 6th Marquis
Testaferrata Olivier , dunm.
2. Jean Paul Testaferrata Olivier
(1888-1968), 7th Marquis Testaferrata Olivier, married 1927 to Mary Thelma
2.1. Paul T. Olivier, Jr (1929- ., 8th Marquis Testaferrata
Olivier, married 1951 to Ruth Marie Baxter
2.1.1. Mark Olivier (1955-.,
Marchesino Testaferrata Olivier, married 1984 to Karen Anne
2.1.2. Lynn Marie Olivier (1960-., married 1987 to Benny Joe
184.108.40.206. Justin Joe Olivier (1990-
Marie Cunningham (1993-
3. Robert Testaferrata Olivier (1898-1980),
married 1940 to Frances Sewell
3.1. Jean Paul Testaferrata Olivier,
LL.B, (1942-., married 1979 to Caroline Anne Fisher
3.1.1. John Paul
Testaferrata Olivier (
3.1.2. Robert Charles Testaferrata Olivier
3.1.3. Gabriella Camilla Testaferrata Olivier (1982-
Robert Testaferrata Olivier, B.Sc, (1948-., married 1968 to Lyndell Marie
3.2.1. James Testaferrata Olivier (
Testaferrata Olivier (
4. Camille Testaferrata Olivier (1883-1952),
married Lt.Col. Charles Bernard Bonham, D.S.O. with issue
Barnard-Bonham, O.M, (1901-
4.2. Henry Barnard-Bonham (1903-
Elaine Barnard-Bonham (1902-
4.4. Enid Barnard-Bonham (1905-
Marguerite Testaferrata Olivier (1884-
6. Ida Testaferrata Olivier
(1887-1978), married 1916 to Major Leonard Stafford Northcote
Henry James Stafford Northcote (1922-, married 1949, Div 1961 to Sheila
(IF THERE ARE ANY UPDATES TO ANY TREES, PLEASE
SEND AN EMAIL TO 'firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com '
stating site you seen the genealogical tree and
References: 1) Gauci,C.A.," The Genealogy and
Heraldry of the Noble Families of Malta", Gulf Publishing Ltd, Malta,
2) Gauci,C.A.," The Genealogy and Heraldry of the Noble Families
of Malta, Volume Two", Publishers Enterprises Group (PEG) Ltd, 1992.
Gauci,C.A and Mallet, P.,"The Palaeologos Family- A Genealogical Review"
,Publishers Enterprises Group (PEG) Ltd, 1985
4) Gauci, C.A.," A Guide
to the Maltese Nobility", Publishers Enterprise Group (PEG) Ltd, Malta,
5) Montalto, J., "The Nobles of Malta-1530-1800", Midsea Books
Ltd, Malta, 1980.
6) De Piro, N., "Casa Rocco Piccola", The Conde' Nast
Publications 1999.' Http://www.vol.net.mt/casarocca '
7) Giles Ash, S.,
"The Nobility of Malta", Publishers Enterprises Group (PEG) Ltd,
8) Said Vassallo, C.M., Unpublished research papers.
Vassallo, C.M., Maltagenealogy.com Research site a member of the 'Triple
Alliance Site- Maltese Nobiliy'.
10) Kidd, C.,& Williamson, D.,
"Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage, 1995 Edition", Macmillan Reference
Books, 1995, London.