Lewis Mizzi Lawyer, philologist, and mineralogist

Lewis Mizzi hailed from a distinguished family of lawyers and politicians. His father, Francesco, was a magistrate who practised in Gozo, and helped exiles who found refuge in Malta during the Risorgimento; his eldest brother was the eminent lawyer and politician Dr Fortunato Mizzi, and his many nephews included Dr Enrico Mizzi, prime minister.

Mizzi was educated at the English Jesuits' College and at the College of the Augustinian Fathers, at a time when Fr Gaetano Pace Fomo, later bishop of Malta, was rector; he received his higher education first at Pisa and then at the UM, from where he graduated LL.D. in 1868.

In 1872 he proceeded to Greece, and later to Constantinople; where he practised his profession for the next 45 years, becoming closely acquainted with English and Continental law. He was acclaimed as one of the leading European lawyers in Constantinople. Mizzi was a polyglot: besides Maltese, English, and Italian, he could speak a dozen languages, including Oriental ones, and had a complete mastery of Turkish and Modern Greek; he was also well versed in Greek classics.

Mizzi returned to Malta in 1917 to defend his nephew Enrico who was court martialled by the British for sedition. In the 1920s Mizzi joined Lord Strickland's CP, which was labelled as pro-British and anti-Italian. In 1923 he published a pamphlet, entitled What is the Maltese Language, in which he makes a strong case for the Maltese language; he also became a member of the newly-formed Ghaqda tal-Kittieba tal-MaIti.

Mizzi had many interests outside his profession: he indulged in scienfic research and amassed a large mineralogical and crystallo graphical collection; this latter collection he bequeathed to the Maltese nation and now forms part of the collection at the Museum at Mdina. He sat an antiquities committee and was appointed curator of the mineralogical section of the Malta Museum. He was also a memebr of the Geological Society of London.

For his achievievment Mizzi was created a companion of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George, Knight of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, Knight of the Royal Greek Order of the Redeemer, Knight of the Royal Order of the Star of Rumania, Knight commander of the Royal Order of Greece, Knight of the Imperial Order of Medjdie of Turkey, Knight grand commander of the Imperial Order of Osmani of Turkey, and grand official of the Sun and Lion of Persia; besides he was also awarded the medal of the Jubilee of Charles I of Romania. Mizzi's obituary was published in The Times of London.

Source: Maltese Biographies of the Twentieth Century (1997), editors Michael J. Schiavone and Louis J. Scerri

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