The Papiol family did not originally come from Vilanova i la Geltrú. The earliest records of the family are found in another town nearby: l’Arboç (Baix Penedès). They settled in Vilanova (when it was still Vilanova de Cubelles) in the mid-seventeenth century and their power grew until they became one of the most influential families in the society of the time, as can be seen from the fact they were able to build a house of this size. Very few families could have afforded to build a five-storey house in the main street. Over the years the Papiol family accumulated a great deal of land, some of which they bought and some of which they acquired through matrimonial alliances.
The importance of the Papiol family
We can judge the family’s importance, even before Can Papiol was built, from their role as founders and patrons of the Capuchin monastery. Joan Papiol and his Vilanova-born wife Maria Raventós gave their support to the order, which came to the municipality in 1644. The monastery, which stood in the area surrounding the present Plaça de l’Ajuntament, disappeared after the ecclesiastical confiscations but its existence is reflected in the name Carrer dels Caputxins, one of the main shopping streets in the town’s pedestrianised centre. Another indication of the family’s gradually increasing influence is the appointment of Joan Papiol i Raventós (grandson of the earlier Joan) as mayor of the town. During the War of the Spanish Succession he was imprisoned by troops supporting Philip of Anjou
A period of splendour
His son, Lluís Papiol i Balaguer, devoted all his energy to his inheritance, adding extensive landholdings, including the estate formerly belonging to the Barons of Jafra, as a result of his marriage to Maria Àngels Martí Catà. Thanks to the acquisition of this land, his heir, also named Lluís, received a knighthood from Charles III and was entitled to have his own coat of arms. The fact that he now held the barony of Jafre placed him at the highest level of society. We could say that this was the family’s period of greatest splendour.
Construction of the house
It was his son, Francesc de Papiol i Padró (1750-1817), who had a new house built for the growing family. As he had no direct descendants when he died, the subsequent generations who inherited the house did not bear the Papiol name.