The Army Medical Department
And the Malta Garrison

The Malta Garrison – 1802

Malta Garrison

On 1 May 1802, the Malta garrison consisted of a total of 6,625 officers and men. There were: 296 Commissioned and Warrant Officers, 537 Non Commissioned Officers, 5,136 Rank and File fit for duty. 50 Commissioned and Warrant Officers were absent and 606 Rank and File were sick.

Maj-Gen Henry Pigot left Malta on 18 Sep 1801. Sir Charles Cameron received the Government of the island from General Pigot on 3 July 1801. Cameron served as Civil Commissioner for the Maltese Islands up to 24 July 1802, when he resigned the Government. The population of the Maltese Islands had fallen by 17,000 during the French administration. The French carried nearly 8,000 of them to Egypt, few of whom ever returned. Thousands perished during the first year of the blockade from lack of food and the effects of an epidemical fever (typhus), and a few departed with the French on the British taking possession.

Maj Gen William Anne Villettes took command of the garrison on 31 July 1802.

Peace Treaty of Amiens – 27 March 1802

In accordance with Article X Para 4, Britain had to withdraw her garrison within three months of the ratification of the treaty, (ratified 18 April), and return Malta to the Order of St John of Jerusalem.

Article X Para 12 stipulated for His Sicilian Majesty to garrison Malta with 2,000 Neapolitan troops for an initial period of one year, so as to guarantee the neutrality of the island.

On 30 Apr 1802, the Cabinet instructed Lt-Gen H. E. Fox, commanding the British Forces in the Mediterranean, to withdraw the Malta garrison in accordance with the Treaty of Amiens.

Capt Alexander John Ball RN

Alexander Ball
Sir Alexander Ball (1757 – 1809) (National Maritime Museum Vittoriosa)

During the uprising of the Maltese against the French, Capt Alexander John Ball RN, was appointed the representative of the King of the Two Sicilies in Malta.

On 4 Oct 1798, Ball was ordered to proceed with his squadron from Naples and blockade Malta, where he arrived on 12 October. Ball was temporary relieved from his naval duties by Lord Nelson so as to conciliate the Maltese factions and co-ordinate the blockade against the French.

Ball went back to sea on 19 Feb 1801. He returned to Malta on 10 July 1802 as Minister Plenipotentiary to the Order of St John following the signing of the Preliminaries of the Treaty of Amiens.

Ball became Civil Commissioner and administered Malta's from 1802 to 1809. His instructions were to co-operate with General Vial, his French counterpart, to hand over Malta to the Order of St John. On 12 July 1802, Ball considered 3,000 to 4,000 men sufficient for the security of the island, and arranged for a 100 men to be removed from the island as a sign of faith in complying with Article X of The Peace Treaty of Amiens. In Autumn 1802, France annexed Piedmont; in October, Ball was instructed to suspend the evacuation of British troops from Malta.

Sir Alexander Ball died at San Anton Palace Attard on 25 October 1809, after a severe illness of short duration. A monument was erected to his memory at Lower Barracca Gardens.


The 48th, 63rd and 20th were severely affected by fever during the months of July, August and September.

On 12 Aug 1802, Maj-Gen William Anne Villettes reported to Lord Hobart, that: the fever which generally prevails here at this season every year has been felt with considerable violence by some of the troops particularly the 48th. I am in great hopes, however, that its worst effects are nearly over, and am happy to add that a great proportion of men returned sick are in a convalescent state.

Villettes' optimism was short-lived, for on 3 Sep 1802, he declared that: the 48th and 63rd are still in a weak state and the sickness which I reported in my last still prevails, though in two of the regiments, in one of them at least, it has not undergone as yet any very favourable change. In the 48th the fever is I hope nearly subdued, but has increased in the 20th. Though every pain has been taken to check it, and their loss during the last month has been considerable, I trust, however, that as the weather grows cooler, we shall get the better of it. Though the season is generally very unhealthy, the other regiments have not materially suffered.

Quarantine Department

Lazaretto on Manoel Island built in 1643 during the Grandmastership of Jean Paul Lascaris Castellar (1635-1657).

On 14 Aug 1802, Superintendent of Quarantine William Eton, applied for leave of absence to return to England, on the grounds that his health had suffered by constant application to business. In my own department I have had to watch over the health of the British and French troops from Egypt, and the numerous transports and ships of war that have entered this port, of all descriptions that have had pratique at the health office.

Plague was brought over from Egypt by the troops, but the contagion had not spread. Eton concealed those cases so as to prevent neighbouring ports from precluding vessels from Malta. Though I have had in the quarantine harbour among other ships, transports with convalescents of the plague, and a number of suspicious deaths, none of these circumstances transpired in any infection being spread. Besides the deaths called suspicious, I had two accidents of real plague which were known to no one out of the department, but Mr Charles Cameron.

Eton did not return from his leave and the management of the quarantine department fell upon the Army's Principal Medical Officer, William Franklin.

Prize Money – Capture of Malta

On 30 July 1803, the London Gazette notified the payment of prize money to the captors present at the surrender of Malta on 5 Sep 1800.

Shares from the proceeds of the sale by Prize Agents of the property captured in Malta were distributed to the following regiments and ships: Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers, 30th Foot, 1st/35th Foot, 2nd/35th foot, 48th Foot, 89th Foot, Maltese Corps, Neapolitan Artillery, Neapolitan Infantry, Northumberland, Genereux, Success, Santa Teresa, Princess Charlotte, Penelope, Champion, Bull Dog, Vincejo, Port Mahon, Bonne Citoyenne, Strombolo, Minorca, Arab Tender, La Cruelle Cutter.

The first distribution of shares to Staff Officers, Captains, Lieutenants, Warrant Officers, Naval Officers, Non Commissioned Officers and privates of the army commenced on Thursday 25 August 1803 by the agent Andrew Lawrie of Robert Street Adelphi; naval shares were paid by the naval agent John Jackson at No 9 Broad Street London. The final distribution was made on 26 July 1804.

The sum of £116,083 14s 10d was paid in prize money, the army portion of which amounted to £61,129 18 shillings (first payment) and £20,769 12s 6d (final payment). All shares left unclaimed after three years from the first day of payment were paid to the Royal Hospital for Soldiers Chelsea and the Hospital for Sick Sailors Greenwich.

On 5 April 1809, the army portion of unclaimed shares equivalent to £2,144 1s (from first payment) and £931.18d (from final payment) was paid into Chelsea Hospital.