Maltese Surnames

Maltese surnames are relatively identifiable in their vast majority, but because of the different cultures that have impacted the Maltese island, they have various origins:

Sicilian & Italian surnames

Widespread, these names are often due to the close proximity of Sicily and Italy, as: Bonello, Camilleri, Cremona, DalliGiglio, Delicata, Licari, Magri, Massa, Rizzo, Troisi, Vassallo, etc.

English surnames

We must not forget that Malta was part of the British Empire during the 19th century, so that we came across of: Bickle, Carabott, Edwards, Haidon, Harmsworth, Atkins, Mattocks, Wallbank, Smith, Jones, Turner, Henwood.

Semitic surnames

Semitic family names are common. They are due to the presence of many Eastern Mediterranean influences (Arabs, Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Turks) and southern (Normans, Sicily, Romans, Spaniards, French, English) suffered by the Maltese Archipelago since prehistoric times. Example: Busuttil, Cutajar Ebejer, Sammut, Xuereb, Xerri, Grixti, Xriha, the last three were Italianised and gave Surname Scerri, Griscti, Sciriha under the influence of the Italian alphabet used until the 19th century for acts or official documents.

Act from Vittoriosa

Spanish surnames

Spanish surnames also exist, the most common are: Galea (Aragon), Calleja and Galdes Galdies or carried by a single family, are less common: Enriquez, Herrera, Inguanez, Carabez, Navarra.

Greek surnames

As: Agius (saint in Greek), Alamango, Cascun, Cuschieri (broken arm in Greek), Papagiorcopoulo, Dacoutros, Vasilopoulos, Vasilis, Trakosopoulos.

French surnames

As: Arnaud, Lautier, Lebrun, Martin, Montfort.

Berber surnames

Zarb, Zammit (Muslim slave), Zerafa

German surnames

These names date back to the Middle Ages and gave Von Brockdorff, Von Hompesch, Engerer, Hyzler, Schranz, Von Schembri (Germanic family originally from the Rhine valley) Wismayer, Craus.

Jew surnames

Jews have also left traces of their presence on the island with names like: Abela, Ellul, Azzopardi and Cohen. The latter is derived from the Hebrew Safardi, which means « Jew from Spain". Most of came from Tolède or Madrid. Indeed in 1492, when the edict of Isabella the Catholic, Jewish reduced far to practice their religion in secret, were forced to convert to Catholicism. This means that for more than 500 years Azzopardi became Catholic in spite of the origin of their name.

Double surnames

A marriage, some women in Malta in order to preserve their family name to die for, in addition to their name than their husbands. The surname then transformed indicates the status of the family. The name becomes for example: Borg-Olivier, Cachia-Zammit, Caruana-Curran, Fenech-Adami, Mifsud-Bonnici, Sammut-Alessi, Sammut-Testaferrata, Sant-Fournier, Spiteri-Gonzi, Vella-Maistre.

Surnames indicating places in Malta

Some names Maltese family originated in the places where these families lived. Example: Chircop, Curmi, Dingli, Dimech, Farrugia, Lia, Balzan, Valletta, Xiberras, Sciberras (hill on which Valletta was built).

Bajada originates mainly Gozo. In Munxar, Gozo, the majority of the population carries one of two surnames: Curmi or Brincat. Gauci means Gozzitain in Maltese.

Surnames of new foreign migrants

Currently, due to the migration of new third world country, new family names appeared: Nwoko after the naturalization of football player Mandrins Nwoko. Mention may also be: Okoh, Ohaegbu, Yekoko, Stefanov, Bogdanovic, Giorev, Mohamed, Abu Shala, Abu Shamala.

Usages

Women usually take the surname of their husbands in marriage. Example:Maria Borg born Zammit in official documents, is Maria Borg in everyday life. Children are mostly the name of their father, but some can only be that of their mother or append both.

By custom, the first initial before a name indicates a whole family, such as talking about the "D. Saliba" family "G. Cassar"

Despite these origins, the Maltese do not attach much importance to the origin of their surnames and all coexist smoothly.

Some names Maltese family

Some examples of names in Malta:

A : Abdilla ; Abela ; Agius ; Anastasi ; Ancilleri ; Apap ; Aquilina ; Arpa ; Arrigo ; Asciak ; Attard ; Axisa ; Azzopardi

B : Bajada ; Baldacchino ; Balzan ; Barbara ; Barbaro ; Bartolo ; Bencini ; Bezzina ; Bickle ; Bilocca ; Bisazza ; Boffa ; Bonanno ; Bonavia ; Bonello ; Bonnici ; Bontempo ; Borg ; Briffa ; Brincat ; Bruno ; Bugeja ; Buhagiar ; Busuttil ; Buttigieg

C : Cachia ; Calamatta ; Calì ; Calleja ; Calus ; Camenzuli ; Camilleri ; Cannataci ; Carabott ; Caruana ; Casha ; Cassar ; Cauchi ; Cefai ; Chetcuti ; Chircop ; Ciantar ; Ciappara ; Cils ; Cini ; Coleiro ; Coppini ; Cortis ; Crémone ; Cucciardi ; Cumbo ; Curmi ; Cuschieri ; Cutajar

D : Dalli ; Dalmas ; D'Amato ; Darmanin ; Debattista ; Debono ; Debrincat ; Decelis ; Degabriele ; Degiovanni ; Deguara ; Delia ; Delicata ; Demanuele ; Demicoli ; Desira ; Diacono ; Dimech ; Dingli

E : Ebejer ; Ellul ; Esposito

F : Falzon ; Farrugia ; Fava ; Fenech ; Ferriggi ; Filletti ; Fleri (rare) ; Formosa ; Francalanza ; Frendo ; Friggieri ; Fsadni

G : Gafa'; Galdes ; Galea ; Gambin ; Gatt ; Gauci ; Gerada ; Ghigo ; Ghirxi ; Gonzi ; Grech ; Grillo ; Grima ; Griscti ; Grixti ; Gusman

H : Haber ; Herrera ; Hili ; Hyzler

I : Imbroll ; Incorvaia ; Inglott

L : Laferla ; Lanfranco ; Lautier ; Lewis ; Lia

M : Magri ; Magro ; Mahoney ; Mallia ; Mamo ; Manduca ; Mangion ; Marmara ; Massa ; Meilak ; Meli ; Mercieca ; Micallef ; Mifsud ; Mintoff ; Mizzi ; Montebello ; Montalto ; Mugliett ; Mula ; Muscat ; Musumeci

N : Nani ; Naudi

P : Pas ; Padovani ; Plus palmier ; Parascandolo ; Paris ; Parnis ; Pavie ; Penza ; Pirotta ; Pisani ; Piscopo ; Portelli ; Privitelli ; Psaila ; Pule'; Pulis ; Pullicino

Q : Quattromani ; Quintano

R : Rapa ; Rapinett ; Refalo ; Rizzo

S : Sacco ; Saidon ; Salerno ; Saliba ; Sammut ; Sant ; Sapiano ; Sapienza ; Savona ; Scerri ; Sceberras ; Schembri ; Schiavone ; Sciberras ; Scicluna ; Scriha ; Seguna ; Seychell ; Spagnol ; Spina ; Spiteri ; Stivala ; Suda ; Sultanine

T : Tabone ; Tanti ; Tedesco ; Testa ; Theuma ; Tonna ; Trapani ; Troisi

V : Valletta ; Vassallo ; Vella

X : Xerri ; Xuereb

Z : Zahra ; Zammit ; Zarb ; Zerafa ; Zrinz

 

The Ranking of Surnames

BORG is leading: 1 Malta on 25 carries this name.

Following:VELLA, FARRUGIA, CAMILLERI et ZAMMIT

The table below shows the ranking for the first 120 surnames:

1 BORG 21 CALLEJA 41 AZZOPARDI 61 BONELLO 81 CILIA 101 PULLICINO
2 VELLA 22 PORTELLI 42 PSAILA 62 FORMOSA 82 CURMI 102 AXISA
3 FARRUGIA 23 GATT 43 VASSALLO 63 CASHA 83 TEUMA 103 GAFA
4 CAMILLERI 24 GRIMA 44 ZAHRA 64 CIANTAR 84 GRISTI 104 BAJADA
5 ZAMMIT 25 BUGEJA 45 SALIBA 65 ZERAFA 85 BALZAN 105 PULIS
6 GRECH 26 MALLIA 46 CACHIA 66 TONNA 86 AZZOPARDI 106 ABDILLA
7 GALEA 27 MIZZI 47 AZZOPARD 67 DALLI 87 DINGLI 107 GRECH / GREG
8 CARUANA 28 BUSUTTIL 48 MAGRO 68 CHETCUTI 88 SAYD 108 FITENI
9 AGIUS 29 SAMMUT 49 MANGION 69 FRENDO 89 CAMENZULI 109 GERADA
10 CASSAR 30 ABELA 50 BARBARA 70 DARMANIN 90 PARNIS 110 CASSIA
11 ATTARD 31 GAUCI 51 MAMO 71 BONAVIA 91 CUMBO 111 RIZZO
12 MICALLEF 32 FALZON 52 BARTOLO 72 TANTI 92 CREMONA 112 CORDINA
13 MIFSUD 33 XERRI 53 BEZZINA 73 CALLUS 93 ABEJER 113 DELIA
14 SPITERI 34 XICLUNA 54 XUEREB 74 SANT 94 CATANIA 114 CIAPPARA
15 PACE 35 BUTTIGIEG 55 ZARB 75 FELICI 95 CARDONA 115 COLEIRO
16 MUSCAT 36 CAUCHI 56 CUTAJAR 76 DE BRINCAT 96 CUSCHIERI 116 SULTANA
17 BONNICI 37 AQUILINA 57 BUHAGIAR 77 BRIFFA 97 CINI 117 BIGENI
18 FENECH 38 ELLUL 58 DIMECH 78 CHIRCOP 98 GALDES 118 STIVALA
19 SCHEMBRI 39 TABONE 59 MERCIECA 79 PISANO 99 SACCO 119 SOLTANA
20 DEBONO 40 XIBERRAS 60 BALDACCHINO 80 SEICHEL 100 REFALO 120 XIRIHA
  • Top 10 surnames represents for about ¼ of all surnames
  • The top 40 represents for half of all
  • 120 first represents ¾ of the whole.

For some spelling variations have evolved significantly over the years and acts.

Therefore, Mrs. Aurore Verie identified several variants for FALZON and AZZOPARDI surnames (source : Maltais en France):

  • FALZON : FALCZUNI, FALCZONE, de FANCZONE, de FANCZONUS, de FANCZONO, FALCUNI, FANZONO, FALSONE, FALZONI, FALZUN and finally FALZON
  • AZZOPARDI : ZUPARD, ZUPPARDU, ZUPARDU, AZUPARDU, AZOPARDO, AZZUPARD, AZZOPARD and finally AZZOPARDI.
Sources :

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