The Army Medical Department
And the Malta Garrison

The Malta Garrison – 1826

Malta Garrison 1826

Effective Strength Malta Garrison 25 Jan 1826
Col –
Surg Assist
Sgt Drm Rank
& File
73 4 4 5 3 119 40 2032
Returns of the Adjutant General's Office showing the Effective Strength of the Garrison including Colonial Corps, Artillery and Engineers.
Francis Rawdon Hastings
General Francis Rawdon Hastings was interred in St John's Bastion Valletta.

The Marquess of Hastings General Francis Rawdon Hastings died at sea off Naples on 28 Nov 1826 and was succeeded by Sir Patrick Cavendish Ponsonby, who took office in Feb 1827. Ponsonby, however, only became a Lieutenant Governor, as following the death of Hastings, Malta was placed on the establishment of a Lieutenant Governorship.

On 12 May 1826, the British Government decided that as the Maltese were subjects of the Crown, they were entitled to volunteer for military service. Those regiments stationed at Malta, the Ionian Islands, and Gibraltar were to enlist men in the proportion of 5 Maltese for ever 100 men present on the regimental establishment.

Commanding officers had to apply to the Secretary at War for authority to charge from time to time the established rate of bounty for such Maltese recruits as were enlisted.

Officer's Mess
Floriana Officers' Mess

In Dec 1826, the regimental hospital of the troops in the Cottonera District was moved from Fort Ricasoli to the Inquisitor's Palace Vittoriosa. The hospital from Fort Ricasoli was moved to the barracks at the Isola Marina.

Floriana Officers' Mess

Floriana Officer's Mess
Plan of the Floriana Officers' Mess
Officer's Mess
Brass plaque showing the expenditure involved in the conversion of Floriana Market into an officers' mess

On 1 Jan 1826, work commenced to convert the Floriana Market into an Officers' Mess. The market covered an area of 145 by 105 feet, and overlooked the granaries.

The new Floriana Officers' Mess was completed on 31 July 1826 and occupied by the 95th Regiment on 1 August. The work was superintended by Col George Whitmore RE, and was completed on budget. Its estimated expense was £1300 9s 10d; its actual expense £1301 4s 6d.

It was recommended to affix a marble commemorative plaque to the entrance wall as the engineers were unable to obtain an engraved brass plate at Malta of the required standard. This suggestion was rejected, and a brass plate was engraved under the direction of the Principal Clerk of Works at the Tower and forwarded to Malta at a cost of seven pounds.

Board of Health

The Board of Health, which had been suppressed by Sir Thomas Maitland, was re-established on 28 Feb 1826.

On 5 Apr, the Government vested the exclusive control of the Sanitary Laws of Malta in the Board of Health, which met for the first time on 6 Apr 1826.

Military Burial Grounds

1851 Map of Floriana showing the Quarantine and the Msida Bastion burial grounds outside the Valletta fortifications (TNA:MPH 1/889/10).

The Floriana burial grounds outside the Valletta fortifications, included the Military and Civil Cemetery, the Quarantine Bastion Cemetery and the Msida Bastion Cemetery. They overlooked the Quarantine Harbour, or Marsamxetto Harbour, and Pietà and Msida Creeks.

The Floriana cemeteries were located off the road leading to the Hay Wharf from the Great Siege Road, to the north east of the Msida Married Quarters and to the south-west of the Great Siege Road.

Burial grounds
Map of part of the Floriana Lines overlooking the Quarantine Harbour dated 1853 showing the Floriana Burial Grounds (TNA MFQ 1/329/56).

A Protestant Cemetery had previously existed on the esplanade of Floriana, but was levelled down in 1827. The breakup of the burial ground happened, shortly after Major General Frederick Cavendish Ponsonby became Governor of Malta (15 Feb 1827), in order to enlarge the parade ground. By then, it had been closed for over 20 years. The remains were disinterred and reburied at the extremity of the parade site. Shortly afterwards the whole ground was raised and the great vault which had formed part of the original cemetery converted into tombs. The few monuments which remained were moved to the lower burial grounds, which were then in use. The engineers rebuilt the bastion connected with that ground and threw down the enclosure.1

Image of the Civil and Military Cemetery and the Quarantine Bastion Cemetery Floriana.

The Military and Civil Cemetery Floriana was in use from 1801. According to a survey of the tombstones conducted in May 1939 by the Rev Denis Beauchamp Lisle Foster MA, Assistant Chaplain General Western Mediterranean, the cemetery had recorded burials from 1801 to 1865; the Quarantine Cemetery was in use from 1819 to 1867.2

The Msida Bastion Cemetery superseded the Quarantine Bastion Cemetery in the 1830s.

Fortifications of the Cottonera showing Rock Gate leading from Zabbar Gate between Windmill Bastion and Firenzuola Bastion (TNA:MPH 1/889).

During the cholera of 1837, the interior of the Horn Work in Floriana was used as a burial ground for the military. The Horn Work remained in used for the occasionally burial once the epidemic had subsided.

Ta' Braxia Cemetery Pietà opened in 1857 to replace the congested burials in Msida Bastion, the Quarantine Bastion and a considerable portion of the glacis which included a burial ground for members of the Greek Orthodox religion.

In May 1866, Rinella Military Cemetery replaced Rock Gate Cemetery which had been used for burials for the Cottonera District and employees of the Royal Naval Dock Yard.

Plan of the Royal Naval Hospital Bighi dated 1901 showing the RC Cemetery, Bighi Burial Ground and Rinella Military Cemetery (TNA:MPI 1/765/1).

A Garrison Standing Order dated 1881, laid down the cemeteries to be used by Protestant soldiers and their families. Those dying in the Valletta District, Forrest Hospital St Julian, and Citta Vecchia were to be buried in the Protestant Cemetery Strada Dolori Pietà. Protestant deaths in the Cottonera were to be interred in Rinella Cemetery.

Roman Catholic soldiers dying in the Valletta/Cottonera Districts were to be conveyed to the Addolorata Cemetery which opened on 1 July 1872. Roman Catholic soldiers dying in Citta Vecchia were to be interred in the cemetery in Citta Vecchia.

Baptisms Burials 1826

  • 1 Apr Baptism of Anne La Valletta Filder born 2 March 1826, daughter of Anne and Deputy Commissary General William Filder.
    W Filder became DCG on 22 October 1816.
  • 7 May Baptism of Elizabeth Melville born 17 March 1826, daughter of Jane and Barrack Sgt Thomas Melville.
  • 14 Sep Burial of Elizabeth Melville aged 6 months, daughter of Barrack Sgt Thomas Melville.
  • 5 Dec Private baptism of John William Gordon Woodford born 23 November 1826, son of Charlotte Mary Ann and Maj Gen Alexander Woodford CB Lieut Governor of Malta.
  • 24 Sep Burial of Capt William Forbes aged 24 years, unattached, previously 52nd Regiment.
  • 24 Dec Baptism of Charles Graham Bowman born 19 November 1826, son of Eliza and Deputy Commissary General William Flockhart Bowman.