The Army Medical Department
And the Malta Garrison

The Malta Garrison – 1827

Malta Garrison 1827

Effective Strength Malta Garrison 25 Jan 1827
Col –
Surg Assist
Sgt Drm Rank
& File
70 3 4 4 4 123 43 2041†
Returns of the Adjutant General's Office showing the Effective Strength of the Garrison including Colonial Corps, Artillery and Engineers.
† One regiment detached to Gibraltar not included in the returns.

Battle of Navarino

Notice Fort Ricasoli
Declaration dated 3 Nov 1827, placing the Naval Hospital at Fort Ricasoli into quarantine. (Maritime Museum Vittoriosa)

On 20 Oct 1827, the Allied Fleets of Great Britain, France and Russia destroyed the Turkish Navy at the Battle of Navarino. The Combined Fleet returned to the Grand Harbour Valletta, where the wounded were treated in a Temporary Naval Hospital set up at Fort Ricasoli, as the Naval Hospital at Vittoriosa was in the wrong location and unsuitable for the treatment of the casualties. The fort was converted into a lazaretto and placed under quarantine under the superintendence of Mr Greig, Superintendent of Quarantine.

Fort Ricasoli
Fort Ricasoli

On 14 Feb 1827, Maj Gen Frederick Cavendish Ponsonby became Lieutenant Governor of Malta. The new Governor supported the Admiralty in converting the country residence of Giovanni Bighi on the San Salvatore Promontory, into a Naval Hospital.

The foundation stone of the Royal Naval Hospital Bighi was laid down on 28 Mar 1830. It opened on 24 Sep 1832, and served the Mediterranean Fleet until 1960.

Greek Pirates

On 14 April 1826, First Lt E William Tupper RN joined HMS Sybille in the Mediterranean. The Sybille was at Alexandria on her way from Malta to the coast of Syria when she was informed of the plunder of a Maltese and a Sardinian vessel by a strong party of 200 Greek pirates, who had taken possession of a small barren island on the south eastern coast of Candia.

During the disastrous attempt to flush out the pirates, Lt E W Tupper was shot in the chest. The surgeon of the Sybille, Mr George Johnstone, was unable to stem the flow of blood. On 26 June 1826, Lt E W Tupper RN died of his wounds in Malta on board HMS Sybille. He was interred in the Quarantine burial ground, where a monument was erected to his memory by his brother officers. It was placed between the graves of Mr Theodore Gatton and that of Mr Charles Lock, the British Consul General for Egypt who had died in quarantine from plague.

In the same attack were also killed midshipman J M Knox and 12 men, while midshipmen William Edmonstone, Robert Lees and 32 sailors were severely wounded, of whom five died in a few days.

In Feb 1828, in the Piracy Court at Malta, the captain and eight of the crew of the Greek schooner Heracles were indicted for having on 29 July 1827 boarded and plundered a Maltese merchantman between Candia and the Barbary Coast. The captain and six of the crew were found guilty, but a young fellow aged 17 years was found not guilty. In Maltese law the verdict of the jury had to be unanimous for the sentence of capital punishment to be passed.

Barrack Accommodation

A regimental officer stationed in Malta in 1827 wrote thus about the barrack situation on the island:

Coped up in a garrison for years, it is natural for officers to make themselves as comfortable as their means will allow. But a late order from home strictly confines the barrack accommodation of officers to the letter of his majesty's regulations. To comply with these a very considerable expense was incurred in shutting up doors of communication between contiguous rooms. Government has so many buildings here to appropriate for the accommodation of officers which they can turn to no other purpose, that half of them must remain shut up, and suffer from dilapidation.
Owing to the heat of the country that part of them which is occupied, has in may instances had its communicating walls blocked up which make them, through poor ventilation, unhealthy and uninhabitable in summer. Farther, Maltese apartments are not fitted to afford the accommodation which you find in an English barracks. They have no closets, cupboards or fire places no coal boxes, indeed coal is not issued. Taking all these into consideration, in place of barricading the doors and shutting up the spare rooms, government might have directed a more equitable distribution than was practised and at least have adopted less rigorous and more liberal measures than those now complained off.
Regimental officers and their families are the principal suffers; for changing barracks yearly, as they are obliged to do, they can never expect to be comfortable. Residents on the staff and officers of the Commissariat and Medical Department, if not provided with permanent quarters, can hire a house at a moderate rent; but regimental officers necessarily unsettled, shifting at least annually, cannot hire but at disadvantage as they are constrained to live in the vicinity of the barrack occupied by their men. Instead of allowing barrack accommodation for the full establishment of officers, absent or present from the station, a regiment does not get possession of a complete barracks. The number of rooms turned out is calculated by the number of officers present; the rest being locked up and the keys kept by the barrack master.
Some of these buildings previously occupied as officers' quarters have been let at trifling rents while at the same time others are reserved and stay empty. The barracks now appertain to the Ordnance Department. Besides the barrack masters there are the commanding officer of engineers, the commanding officer of artillery and the ordnance store keeper, with their subalterns in the Engineer Department to whom the repairs and alterations are confided, who having no interest in barrack accommodation themselve exert their utmost energies, not so much for the benefit of the service, but to showing their power in acting up to the letter of these instructions. It adds little to our satisfaction to find officers of corresponding rank in the Ordnance and Commissariat Departments occupying splendid quarters and such of them as cannot be provided to their satisfaction are allowed lodging money at a rate which enables them to pocket one half of it by providing themselves. The merging of the Barrack Department in that of the Ordnance Department must long remain a subject of regret to foreign garrisons.

Baptisms Marriages 1827

  • 18 Mar Baptism of Arthur Pritchard born 27 Feb 1827, son of Mary and Barrack Sgt Richard Pritchard.
  • 15 July Burial of Anne La Valletta Filder aged 17 months, daughter of Deputy Commissary General William Filder.
  • 1 Oct Marriage of Widower Maj Robert Terry Town Adjutant at Malta, son of Thomas Terry Esq of Dummer House Hants and spinster Amelia Marianna Hurter, daughter of John Christopher Hurter, a merchant of Malta.
  • 1 Oct Baptism of Cordelia Whitmore Mary Cuming born 10 Sep 1827, daughter of Mary Ann and Deputy Commissary General Samuel Cuming. S Cuming became DACG on 11 Dec 1812.
  • 10 Oct Private baptism of Martha Melvin born 20 Sep 1827, daughter of Jane and Barrack Sgt Thomas Melvin. The child was publicly admitted into the church on 14 Oct 1827.
  • 11 Oct Burial of Sarah Richardson aged 25 years, Medical Department.