Chapter 5 Notes


Despite the increasing presence of other goods, cotton is still king at the close of the eighteenth century and opening of the nineteenth. We have only encountered the details for Barcelona for three months: October 1798, half of October 1800 and part of April 1802 (ACA, Sección Hacienda. Inventario I Volumes 490, 7532 and 37 respectively). During a period of around seven weeks there are a total of 7l entries for clearance of goods through customs by Maltese of these 56 refer to cotton from Malta and 8 refer to textiles on their way to the Kingdom of Valencia handled mostly by Miguel Zammit. The remaining seven represent a variety of goods such as hemp from Genoa, almonds, vitriol, glass and rubber from Malta and oil and honey from Almería.


Vilar 1988, Tomo 3 p. 184.


AHN, Estado Leg. 629-3.


ACA, RA, Acordadas Registro 582, Año 1784


According to Martín Corrales, a certain Gauchi contributed to the Catastro between 1724 and 1735 (Martín Corrales 1991, p. 127). His source is Fernández Díaz but the latter in fact refers to a Gausi in his table nº 11 of contributors to the Catastro, where he is referred to as un confitero frances (Fernandez Diaz 1988. pp. 510-51l).


NAM, CM, AO Vol 46 Year 1753 Antonio Caruana f. 24


Molas i Ribalta 1970 p. 276


NAM, CM, AO Vol 55 Year 1759 Gilestri/Mauricio f. 300.


Molas i Ribalta 1970 p. 276 and Rodrigo i Campama 1986 p.249. Business relations between the Maltese and the Corredors or brokers were reinforced by marriage. In 1779 Felipe Camilleri, one of the most important cotton merchants in the eighteenth century, and his wife Theresa Gomis, possibly a member of the important family of Mercaderes de Lienzos gave their daughter, Josepha, in marriage to Anton Cortada y Abriat, Corredor Real de Cambios of Barcelona (AHPB, José Ponsico Contractum 1779 f. 94 ss.)


Molas 1970 p. 276


BC, Allegacions Judicials 19/11


AHPB José Ponsico De Contractibus Años 1765, 1766, 1767 f. 128 ss.


Felipe Camilleri, for example, appears as one of the parties in at least 20 lawsuits in the period 1763 - 1785, out of a total involving Maltese merchants of 169 in the second part of the eighteenth century. Magro, on the other hand, is involved in 27 out of a total relating to Maltese merchants in the opening decades of the nineteenth century of 91, but a good number of these relate to a dispute with his father Francisco.


A similar story, though perhaps on a smaller scale, was being acted out in Marseille, where Carriere has identified at least a dozen Maltese merchants established there in the eighteenth century (Carriere 1973 Volume I. p. 273). In 1778 - 1779 some shippers sent cotton to both Marseille and Spain. Some companies, such as the Cinis, maintained agents in both ports, and relations between Maltese merchants established in Barcelona and Marseille seem to have been fairly frequent. Joseph Audivert, for example, was asked in 1808 by Paolo Savono, a Maltese merchant established in France to procure cotton seed for France's second attempt at introducing cotton cultivation (Bonello 1990 pp. 6 --10). A first, unsuccessful, attempt at the time of the placing of the Continental blockade in 1806, had been headed by Mikiel Anton Vassalli, a francophile cotton merchant commonly held to be the father of Maltese grammar (Cassar 1981 pp. 18 - 19). Mikiel Anton Vassalli had been exiled in 1801 after the French withdrawal from Malta and during his time away from the island had lived in France and Spain, particularly Barcelona, where his son Savier was born in 1817.


ACA, RA, TRCC, Pleito 1989. The letter and a statement dated 15 December 1787 describe a market in a continual state of flux with the cotton, for which Gilibert obtained a total of L 3,621-3s -11 d, being sold at terms varying from 6 to 18 months. From this sum Gilibert deducted L215-11s-2d for expenses consisting mostly of sales commisions (26%) and freight (25%). The remaining 11% was spent on transport and carriage ashore, watchmen, weighing, storage and various port charges and taxes. The proceeds of the sale were remitted to Delceppo via his nephew Andreas Gines.


AHPB, Marina, Anónimo Nº 7 Registro de Traducciones de Lenguas ff. 28 v - 30.


Typical of such sales was the operation carried out on 30 December 1786 between Mifsud, a Maltese merchant, and Magi Pujadas y Compañia, an Indiana manufacturer, involving eleven bales. It was posted in the manufacturer's books as follows; "30 Debre 86. Haven comprat al Señor Mifsud Maltes por medi del Señor Gil Grau y Ribo Corredor Real de Cambis 11 balas Cuto de Prima qualitat a 52 pesos de 8 (l) lo quintal Plazo 18 mesos pagaderas en diner fisich y no vales Reales o be pagar lo dany y franch y drets per lo venedor, al condicio que dau lo dit Vendedor pagarlos y carregarlos en lo vale Total L4.712.11s.3d" (AMHB Fondo Comercial B 120 Llibre de Compras de la Fábrica de Magi Pujadas y Compañía).


Grau i Lopez 1974 pp. 26 - 27. In 1771 agents of the Junta de Comercio of Barcelona had said, "Reconocieron aquellos fabricantes que la dilatada y penosa maniobra de los hilados tenía absorvida una buena parte de los fondos de sus fábricas con anticipación al primer uso que podían hazer del algodon hilado, y por conseguiente es regular entrassen en cálculo de comparación haciendo la cuenta que, pudiendo apenas circular por una tercera parte de su fondo aplicandose a los algodones de America, difícilmente podía dejarles un seys por ciento sobre su caudal aun quando aprovechasen diez y ocho sobre lo girado; en lugar de que empleando los algodones de Maltha hilados que les conceden a 12, 18 y 24 meses de plazo, pudiendo circular por cinquenta con un fondo de treynta mil pesos, les quedavan diez por ciento libres, aunque sobre lo circulado ganaron sólo una tercera parte de lo que con los de America" (BC, JC Lligall 51 nº 1 fol 5 vº 6 cited in Grau and López 1974 p. 26)


ACA, Real Audiencia Registro 823 Consultas Año de 1786 ff. 205 - 207. Maixé claims that "Los malteses ofrecían un aplazamiento en el pago que, para el periodo que estudiamos, según J.M. Delgado, oscila entre los dos y los quince meses" (Maixé Altés 199l, p. 185). We have not yet had the opportunity of consulting Delgado's article, but all the records we have consulted in Malta and Barcelona, including those relating to the Corredors Reials de Canvi, show terms of up to eighteen months as claimed by Espinosa.


Thomson 1990, pp. 124 -125.


Ruiz y Pablo 1919 p. 6l and Sánchez Suárez 1987 p. 745


Sánchez Suárez 1989 p. 76.


We have yet to see the article by Delgado cited by Maixé Altés, but the matter of credit terms must have been a very complex issue depending not only on prevailing market conditions, which undoubtedly set the parameters within which traders operated, but also on a set of variables unique to each deal such as the financial status of seller and buyer, the quality and quantity of the purchase, etc. (Maixé Altés 1988, p. 369). On 6 October 1785 Jaume Caruana sold L5,874.9s.7d worth of cotton to Isidro Catala and Co. payable in 12 months (ANC Libro Mayor Manual Lletra A de Rafael Valldejuli y Mallachs, Libre 134 p. 273). Eighteen days later Caruana sold Catala another L5,702. 11s. 3d worth of the same quality (lª qualitat a 73 pesos) payable in 15 months (Ibidem p. 276). Five days later Caruana sold L8,278.10s.0d worth of the same quality cotton to Francisco Parellada payable in 18 months (Ibidem p. 278). In 1787 in just over one month (33 days) Francesco Bonnici sold cotton of the same quality for amounts varying between 761 and 3,022 Catalan libras to three different customers for terms ranging from 6 to 18 months (NAM, CM, AO, Vol 93 Year 1788 Francesco Bonnici f. 7 v.)


At the time of his death in 1802 Joseph Bertis's estate was worth L107,202.lls.0d Catalan money in cash, Vales and empeños though we lack information concerning the house he lived in and its contents or any other property he may have had. This sum was made up of L13,347.13s.9d in cash and Vales Reales; L2,396.2s.0d in Empeños which reflect a sideline in pawnbroking, and L91,458.15s.3d. in Vales Particulares payable at terms between 2 to 18 months (ACA, RA, TRCC, Pleito 4131). By way of comparison La Compañía de Aragón, in 1777, had 8 partners and an inventory worth 111,202 libras Catalanas, of which 48,000 libras were amounts owing to them (Navarro Miralles 1977 p. 147).


As an example we could look at the case of Jose Sarrallach who in 1793 gave a bill of exchange for L1797.5s.2d to Leopoldo Attard for 2 bales of cotton. Attard, in his turn, endorsed it in favour of Francisco Xavier Cini but the latter was not able to collect because Serrallach went bankrupt. Cini was obliged to take Jose Gironella, "en calidad de sindico de la masa de acreedores de Jose Serrallach,", to court to try to get his money, but this did not happen until 1808 (ACA, RA, TRCC Pleito 5471).


In 1780 for example, Joseph Bertis sought permission to extract "11,000 pesos por 48 Balas de algodon, dos caxas y dos sacos de Algodon Ylado que vinieron en 18 de Enero 1780" but he and another six Maltese merchants had their applications amounting to 52,350 pesos returned owing to a suspension in the export of specie in 1780 (AGS, SSH, Leg. 1108 Cataluña Años 1777 - 1780).


In 1794, for example, 28 Maltese merchants were caught trying to smuggle gold and silver out of Barcelona on the brigantine of Captain Pedro Olzen (NAM,CM, AO Vol 109 Year 1798). But for merchants based in Barcelona the overland route may have been more attractive because in the 1790s there is frequent reference in notarial documents to the channelling of funds via Perpignan. In 1790, for example, Desidero Laferla sent ten bales of cotton to be sold by Paulo Laferla in Barcelona and the sum of money "ricavata dalle dette bale 10 fu da Barcelona rimessa per via di Perpignan é per Marseglia alla direzione di Saverio Cini li 31 Marzo 1790 in Gorde Numero 2384" (NAM, CM, AO Vol 105 Year 1795. Desiderio Laferla). This system of channelling money out was apparently well established and secure. Laferla only had to pay a charge of l/2% in contrast to the 3 - 4 % payable on official exports.


According to Braudel, bills of exchange had been rediscovered in Europe in the thirteenth century and there is evidence of endorsement as early as 1410 (Braudel 198l Vol I p. 472). In the following centuries they must have become increasingly important instruments of cross border settlements because Courdurie has calculated that bills of exchange between Palermo and Marseille in 1789 had reached an average of 3.4 endorsements per bill (Courdurie 1976 p. 39). The benefits of bills of exchange were not lost on Maltese merchants. In a letter dated 5 November 1776, the Receiver of the Order in Barcelona wrote to the Camera de Comercio in Malta: "Mui Señores mios. En seguimiento de mi encargo, no cesando mi eficacia en el logro de cambiales en esta Plassa, he conseguido con ventaja dos segundos sobre Paris a 90 dias assendiendo juntas 2623.18.8 de moneda tournesa" (ACA, OM, Gran Prior Libro 809 Copiador de Cartas). Out of 21 loose letters inserted within the Copiador, covering the period 25 May to 13 December 1776, 17 make reference to the negotiation of additional bills of exchange. It is clear that despite their marked preference for silver and gold, the Maltese were fully aware of the possibilities offered by bills of exchange. Malta represented a modest 4.29% of bills of exchange protested in Marseille in 177l (Emmanuelli 1979 p. 7l).


AHPB Marina Anónimo 7. Registro de Traducciones del Año 1802 f. 28 v ss.


Martínez Shaw 199l


AHMB, Registro de Despachos Tomo VIII Año 1806


ACA, Hacienda Inventario I Volumen 490


ACA Hacienda Inventario I Volumen 37


AHMB Cadastre IV 5 Indice de los Colegios y Gremios, Bagos, Pintores y Zirujanos que están continuados para el pago Personal en el año de 1793. pp. 284 and 617.


AHMB, Sobre Contribuciones de Guerra. Papers Solts Contribuciones Varies 1800 - 1817 Catastre x7.


ACA, RA, TRCC, Pleitos 1377, 1379).


Though we have reiterated the paramount importance of cotton above all else in the eighteenth century, it is nevertheless clear that other goods were handled by the Maltese from early on. In 1761 Peramás, Berti y Compª chartered a Dutch brig captained by Thomas Kleyn to carry generos, Mercadurias y licores from Barcelona to different Mediterranean ports (AHPB José Ponsico De Contractibus Anos 1760, 61 y 62 ff.103 ss). But goods other than cotton probably became much more important later. According to Martínez Shaw the wine trade acquired considerable importance in 1814 - 1816 (Martinez Shaw 199l1 p. 230).


Martín Corrales 1988 p. 41 and 1990 p. 155. Once again there is evidence that the Maltese had participated in the grain business even earlier, but not on the scale of the nineteenth century. In 1778 Francisco Cini made reference to "…21,000 torns importe del trigo, cevada y garvanzos…", which he had earlier remitted to Cini and Susanno in Malta (AHPB Marina Anonimo 5. Registro de Traducciones de Lenguas del año 1792 f. 144). For Alicante Gimenez López has noted the arrival from Malta of at least 36 ships carrying grain during the second half of the eighteenth century compared to 66 from Genoa and 29 from Leghorn. Malta itself depended on imports for most of its own consumption so most must have originated elsewhere (Gimenez López 1981 p. 357). Other Maltese grain merchants based in Barcelona were Pau Laferla, who acted on behalf of Desiderio Laferla, and Joseph Amayra (AHPB Marina Anonimo 5. Registro de Traducciones de Lenguas del año 1792 f. 119), Pablo Radmili (AHPB Marina Anonimo 9. Reg. de Traduccions de Lenguas Ano 1806 f. 263) and Francisco Javier Cini who in 1794 imported 1950 Measures of hungarian wheat from Trieste (ACA, RA, TRCC, Pleito 558.


ACA. RA, TRCC Pleito 6473.


Martínez Shaw 1991 p. 231


ACA, RA, TRCC, Pleito 3579


NAM, CM, AO Vol 109 Year 1798


ACA, OM, Gran Prior Leg. 1016 Letras de Cambio y Correspondencia del Gran Maestre a los Recibidores del G.P. de Cataluña


AHN, Estado Leg. 632/2 Año 1794


Sánchez Suárez 1987, p. 266


ACA, RA, TRCC Pleito 14468 f. l


ACA, RA, TRCC 14101


ACA, RA, TRCC 14468


Ruiz y Pablo 1919 pp. 67 - 70; Carrera Pujal 1943 pp. 144 - 145; Delgado Ribas 1990 pp. 166 - 167 and Maixé Altés 1991 p. 185


Debono 1976 p. 26


AGI Indiferente General Leg. 2466


Martín Corrales 1991 p. 121




ACA, RA, TRCC Pleito 1209


Martín Corrales 199l p. 121


Marina Alfonso Mola has pointed out the existence of at least one case of a Maltese merchant family undertaking the process of naturalization that enabled foreigners to participate in the American trade in the eighteenth century, the Azzopardo of Cadiz, although she also mentions the Benavista who were already established in New Granada (Alfonso Mola 1991). In Valencia, the other important centre of Maltese trade in Spain, we only know of Don Francisco Amaira's participation in the trade. At the time of his bankruptcy in 1803, he was owed L355.14s.4d, Valencian money, for 200 pairs of shoes which had been shipped on his behalf by Don Cayetano Farrugia of Cadiz to Havana (AMV, TC, Caja 313 nº 4). He also owned, together with Vicente Burlo, three shares, "… despachadas a su favor del nº 67 a 69 inclusive de la suscripcion hecha en esta capital para la adquisicion y manutencion de Buques con destino a las expediciones directas desde este Puerto a los avilitados de America…" (AMV, TC, Caja 313 nº 4). But as Martínez Shaw has pointed out, Valencia's participation in the trade to the Americas was not particularly brilliant (Martínez Shaw 1986 p. 154).


Maixé 199l p. 187


Sánchez Suárez 1987. Thesis p. 761. As Sánchez has pointed out, the period 1779 - 1783 saw many complaints by Catalan manufacturers of the exorbitant prices being charged by Maltese merchants for their cotton.


ACA, Hacienda. Inventario I, Volumen 490 Hojas de Entrada del Mes de Octubre de 1798. Aduana de Barcelona and Ibidem Volumen 37 por Abril de 1802 and Ibidem Volumen 7532 Octubre de 1800. Martín Corrales, who has worked extensively with the documents of Sanidad in Barcelona, has informed us of the existence of only one health certificate with 35 Maltese surnames on it in 1791 (AHMB Patente de Sanidad C 61). We have not encountered others.


AMV, TC, Caja 293, nº 8 f. 4 ss.


ACA, RA, TRCC Pleito 7262 f 2 ss

Source: Corsairing to Commerce: Maltese Merchants in XVIII Century Spain by Carmel Vassallo (Malta University Publishers, 1997. ISBN: 99909-45-04-7). They are for private study and reference only. Reproduction and distribution are prohibited. Copies of this book may be purchased from the Mediterranean Institute, University of Malta, Msida, Malta.

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