Notarial Registers Archive, Valletta​

History and Legislation

Although the notarial profession in Malta is documented as early as 1271 with Notary Daniel de Danielis, few records of this period and the succeeding centuries have survived. The earliest notarial deeds preserved at the Notarial Archives today date to the fifteenth century. The first archive housing these notarial records was established in 1640 by a decree issued by Grand Master Giovanni Paolo Lascaris Castellar (r. 1636-1658). This archive changed its location frequently throughout its history, with notable interludes at Mdina and the Auberge d’Italie in Valletta. Following the bombing of the Auberge d’Italie during the Second World War (1939-1945), the collection was moved to St Christopher Street in December 1945. In the 1960s, the Notarial Archives collection was split into two separate buildings: whereas the original volumes were transferred to M.A. Vassalli Street, the register copies and bastardelli were deposited at St Christopher Street. The archive at St Christopher fell into a general state of neglect and the Notarial Archives Foundation, founded in 2004, obtained funding for the collection’s preservation. In 2016 an ERDF Development Grant (2014-2020) was awarded to the Notarial Archives to transform it into a centre of excellence. In 2020 the Notarial Archives were legally transferred to the Ministry of National Heritage, the Arts, and Local Government, and were placed under the guardianship of the National Archives of Malta. This archive is now known as the Notarial Registers Archive (NRA).

The Buildings

The two palazzi of 24, St Christopher Street, and 217, St Paul Street, today house the Notarial Registers Archive (NRA). The construction of these palazzi harks back to when the city of Valletta was being built on the plans of the Order of St John, following their arrival in Malta in 1530 and the experience of the Siege of 1565. The notarial deeds of Notary Placido Abela (active 1557-1585) document the sale of the two plots of land now housing the NRA. Whereas Francisco de Andrea de Minicuchi from Pisa had bought the plot on St Christopher Street on 31 August 1570 for the price of 9 scudi and 2 tareni, Julio Bustra from Cyprus had purchased the St Paul Street plot on 9 November 1569 for 11 scudi.

Although the buildings underwent various alterations over time, the two palazzi were built in the architectural style of the Baroque, popular in the seventeenth- and eighteenth-centuries. The buildings served different functions over time, ranging from shops to apartments and public offices.

Today, the palazzo of 24, St Christopher Street houses the repository of the NRA collection and the palazzo of 217, St Paul Street accommodates the archives’ administration and the NRA Museum.

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