Pandolfo Testaferrata de Noto married Rosina née Olivier de Puget Ducros when he was twenty-five years old, but following the death of his first wife, he married Rosalia née Mallia Tabone on 3 February 1777. This marriage was blessed by many children and the first offspring was Nicolò who was baptised at St Paul’s Shipwreck church, Valletta.

Testaferrata married Vincenza dei Baroni Testaferrata Viani on 22 March 1811 and they had many children. The couple employed a good number of servants to run the house. They lived in St Christopher Street, Valletta, but in the summer months it was customory to go to the country house. The family’s biggest country residence was at Żejtun, at Palazzo Xejba. Testaferrata de Noto also loved to spend long periods at his Senglea house in Sirens Street.

Between 1801 and 1858 Nicolo Testaferrata like his father was involved in the political scenario of his time, and he played a very important role in the presentation of the petition of the Maltese between 1811 and 1812.

Testaferrata’s letters to Sir Hildebrand Oakes, the Civil Commissioner to Malta, were described as a scandalous libel upon His Majesty’s Government, who was administering the islands. In September 1811 Testaferrata left Malta on a special mission to England, where he was presented by John Richards and W. Eton to the Duke of Sussex. He presented various petitions which reflected the principal aspirations and grievances of the Maltese. Amongst these were the restoration of the Consiglio Popolare, and that of the Università be put on its former footing. He also asked for the establishment and independence of the Courts of Justice and the freedom of the press. Subsequently a special commission was sent to Malta to inquire into the situation.

In 1836, Testaferrata was elected President of the Comitato Generale Maltese, and as such he wrote to Mr William Ewart and thanked him for backing the cause of the Maltese Liberals. The Comitato Generale Maltese had for many years argued for press liberty in Malta. Testaferrata and his fellow nationalists fought arduously and tenaciously for press liberty since 1811. But it was in November 1839 that the Government Gazette carried a proclamation promulgating ‘Ordinance number IV’ on the abolition of censorship. Another feat for Testaferrata and his followers was the granting of the Constitution with a Council of Government in 1849 - a crowning achievement for many years.

Some English Imperialists labelled Nicolò Testaferrata de Noto as ‘a fanatical’ and ‘a vociferous person’, while L’Ordine, a month after his death wrote: ‘Nicolò Testaferrata ha dato prova di rare energie e di sublime patriottica abnegazione e che fu uno dei primi che sotto il governo Brittanico capitanasse il movimento per la concessione di libere istituzioni a pro del nostro paese’.

In the first election to the Council of Government held in August 1849, Testaferrata de Noto received only one vote, but this is not surprising, since he did not want to stand for election as he had been out of active politics for many years, and had retired from political involvement shortly after leaving the Comitato Generale.

Testaferrata de Noto felt suddenly ill, collapsed, and died while he was in his Senglea house on 26 May 1858. He was buried in St Lawrence church in Vittoriosa in a family tomb.

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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