Genealogy

Charles has been actively studying the subject of genealogy for several years now, having principally began in the exploration of his own heritage and family journey.

If you have a question about how best to study your own family history, or have a question about the history of Cheshire, contact Charles using the Contact page.

A selection of the most interesting figures in the tree can be seen below:

The De Apapis Dynasty

The De Apapis name does not appear on the militia muster rolls from the 1400s in Malta, so must have been confined to Malta’s sister Island, Gozo in the early days. The family may have been of Greek extraction, as it is said that the surname is a Latinisation of the Greek word apapy, meaning “Dandelion”. Whether this was used to describe the physical appearance of its namesake or describe where they lived is unknown. Alternatively, and perhaps more likely, the surname could come from apibus Latin for “from the Bees”, denoting a beekeeper. Bees feature on the family crest, but it is not known whether that is a result of false etymological practices or the maintenance of a genuine tradition.

As a result of genetic research, the early origins of the family can be speculated upon. The family belongs to the Y DNA subclade R1a1a1b1a2b, which is a clade of R1a, and is incredibly rare amongst the Maltese population (R1a accounting for around 3.2% of males). The subclade emerged around 4000 years ago in Eastern Europe and is most associated with the Corded Ware people, who were a predominantly R1a (and often specifically R1a1a1) carrying people whose culture existed from around 3000 to 2000BC. Nowadays, the subclade is most common amongst the Slavs, as this below heatmap generated by the Phylogeographer tool demonstrates:

It is unknown when or from whence the R1a1a1 carriers came into Malta, as further terminal SNP research needs to be done to determine this. It could be the result of a prehistoric migration of Eastern Europeans into Southern European via very slow genetic drift, or a more recent historical migration such as that of the Visigoths, Ostrogoths or Vandals who were all Eastern European peoples who possessed high amounts of R1a, many of whom were employed by the Roman Empire and could have come to Malta during this time. The above heatmap shows a small cluster of the subclade’s carriers living in Palermo and the surrounding areas, which would seem to be the most likely entry point from a purely geographical standpoint.

The only potential flaw in the Ostrogoth hypothesis is that there don’t appear to be many carriers in central and northern Italy, but perhaps this can be explained by the fact that Northern Italy has had more admixture from Northwestern Europeans who have moved in the last 1000 years and are mostly carriers of the R1b haplogroup.

The first known standard bearer of the De Apapis lineage is Milite Lancia de Apapis, born circa 1420 in Ghawdex (Gozo), Malta’s sister island. Lancia was captain of the Citadel of Rabat, pictured below. He played a vital role in preventing the Ottoman invasion of the Maltese islands and is the first attested individual to use the De Apapis name. Whatever his origins were, they were not humble, as he married Chiusa de Chiaro, baroness of Montechiaro and member of the Chiaramonte family. The Chiaramontes belong to the Sicilian nobility and and warrant a genealogy all of their own, though I will briefly mention that many beautiful palazzos have been built in Sicily in their name. The Chiaramontes were originally Siculo-Norman, and their progenitor, Manfredi Chiaramonte came from Normandy. Before this, they were Nords from Scandinavia.

The Citadella, Ir-Rabat, Gozo, Malta. Lancea De Apapis was responsible for ensuring the safety of Ir-Rabats citizens during the Muslims razzias (raids).

Lancia De Apapis had several children: Leonardo, Andreotto, Lauria, Federico, Bartolomeo and Lorenza. The unusual name given to his daughter Lauria may be a clue as to his origins, as Lauria is a small town in Southern Italy. All of Lancea’s children were successful, but his son Leonardo De Apapis, my 13th great grandfather, is the most well-documented and likely the most successful of the clade, as none of the other children’s lineages still survive in the main line of descent. He married another noblewoman: Margherita Debbus.

His son Salvatore, my 12th great grandfather, married Leonora De Nasis, the daughter of Pino De Nasis, a giurato (Juror) who may have been related to the Italian De Nasi family, who it is said have Sephardic Jewish roots and descend from King David (nasi meaning “king” in Hebrew). His father in turn was Paolo De Nasis, also a giuarato and captain of The Citadella from 1430 to 1435.

If you are a relative of mine in the main line of descent, please do not hesitate to contact me using the details as given on the Contact section of the site. This summer 2020, I am to undertake a YDNA test and will post the results here for the educational benefit of others of my kin.