Patriot

The son of Camillo Sceberras* and the Noble Maddalena née Ravanelli, Emilio was educated in Italy and showed an active sympathy with the Italian Risorgimento movement.  He was the friend of Crispi, Bixio, Rachi, and others. Emilio joined Giuseppe Mazzini’s Giovine Italia. Mazzini held Emilio in great esteem and respected him for his total dedication to the Mazzini ideals.

In the late 1845, following a bitter clash with his father, Emilio left Malta, where he had had no specific employment. Camillo was a very authoritative and demanding father who often had a clashes with his sons. Emilio left for France from where he sailed to Algiers, where the Giovine Italia had formed a nucleus and where Emilio worked as a part-time interpreter. He found life in Algiers rather tough and he often felt depressed. There too he received news of the death of his brother Rinaldo and his tragic news saddened him for a long time.

In 1848, when Emilio was becoming more and more desparate over his living conditions in Algiers, Mazzini came to his rescue by writing long letters which kept up his spirits. Emilio in a lonely and desperate mood, had planned to return to Malta in June 1848 and he had informed Mazzini of his intention. Back in Malta, he became Mazzini’s principal agent on the island.

When Emilio Sceberras returned to Malta in June 1848, Richard More O’Ferrall was Governor of Malta. One of the big problems of Governor More O’Ferrall was that of political refugees, mostly Italian, who were coming over to Malta. On many occasions Governor More O’Ferrall refused the embarkation of Italian Liberal refugees and so become very unpopular both with the Italian liberals and their Maltese sympathizers. Emilio was one of the forty-eight Maltese who signed a memorial which was presented to the Governor, protesting against his refusal to give permission to the passengers aboardb the ship to disembark.

Emilio and his brother Tancredi Sceberras were both members of the secret society, the Associazione Patriottica Maltese, which was formed on 5 November 1848.

Emilio never got married and when, in 1855 his father Camillo died, he continued living with his mother, his brother Tancredi, and his unmarried sisters in  their house in Strada Reale, Valletta.

Sceberras assisted the government for many years in the administration of Charitable Institutions and in 1865 he was nominated a member in the Commission of Inquiry on public instruction. He took part in active politics till 1860, but could not be persuaded by his friends, to stand for election to the Council of Government.

Between 1855 and 1860 many important events took place in Italy culminating in the unification of that country. In October 1860 Emilio left Malta for Naples. With the beginning of the socilian revolt many Italian political refugees in Malta left to join Garibaldi. In Italy Emilio met many of the members of the Giovine Italia who had been exiled in Malta and he continued to work for the Mazzinian ideals even on Italian soil.

It was due to his efforts that Garibaldi passed without being molested through Malta in 1863.  He took an active interest in education as well as politics.

Following the unification of Italy, Emilio led a very quite life in Naples, where he owned a villa in Capua and a house in Naples where he was frequently visited by old-time friends.

In Naples, Emilio lived for a while at Riviera di Chiaia, and first he was made Commendatore of the Order of Saints Mauritius and Lazarus, like his brother Tancredi, and in 1889 he was promoted to Grand Ufficiale of the same Order for the precious work that he had done in favour of the Italian liberal exiles, especially those in Malta.

He experienced a strong desire to return to Malta. Illness however prevented him from doing so. Emilio died in Naples on 1 November 1891, aged 73.

In 1853 Sir William Reid offered him a commission in the Royal Malta Militia, a volunteer corps, but Sceberras preferred to wear the uniform of a subtle soldier.

This biography is part of the collection created by Michael Schiavone over a 30-year period. Read more about Schiavone and his initiative here

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