The Army Medical Department
And the Malta Garrison

The Malta Garrison – 1849

Malta Garrison

The average strength of the garrison was 3,054 men.

On 11 Apr 1849, the Governor sought permission to repatriate two prisoners, Pte John Naylon 88th Regt aged 36 years and Pte Mathew Mahony 69th Regt aged 22 years. Both had been imprisoned by virtue of sentences passed on them by local tribunals. Section 24 of the Mutiny Act, in respect of the disposal of white convicts sentenced to transportation by Court Martial in HM Foreign Possessions, directed that all white convicts sentenced in the manner mentioned in the 24 Section of the Act shall be sent to England.

In Mar 1843, John Naylon had been imprisoned for life for killing Dr Martin, Deputy Inspector of the Naval Hospital, while on sentry duty over the residence of the Rear Admiral Superintendent of the Dockyard. He had served 6 years, had behaved well in prison, and could read and write.

Mathew Mahony had been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for firing at and wounding a citizen while on sentry. He had served 9 months, was of good conduct, and could read and write.

The Governor's request to return both prisoners to England was turned down by the Home Government.

Chest Infections

According to the PMO, James Barry, pulmonary congestion was the result of the men inhaling moisture. Barry stated that bed boards took a long time to dry up after being washed to remove bugs. As the headboards lay against porous stone, and the men's head also came in close contact with the wall, which being porous retained much damp.

Barry surmised that when acted upon by the atmosphere, the moisture was inhaled by the men, thus rendering it extremely deleterious, generating pulmonic and rheumatic affections, both of which prevail to a great extent in Malta among the civil and military, often proving fatal.

Corradino Prison

On 25 June 1849, an ordinance was enacted for the establishment of a prison at Corradino. The Great Prison in Valletta, on the site now occupied by the Valletta Market, ceased to function after 1849, with the completion of Corradino Prison.

The prison was intended for 129 inmates. Dr V D Portelli was appointed Governor of Corradino Prison. Portelli had been sent to England by the Governor, so as to acquaint himself with the systems of Pentonville and Millbank penitentiaries.


In the last week of May 1849, an extreme case of diarrhoea was reported at the Naval Hospital Bighi. A marine developed diarrhoea after a session of hard drinking.

He was in a short time effectively cured by repeated draughts of water mixed with two pounds of common salt, a little ammonia, and a small portion of cream of tartar. It was reported that this cure has not been generally known and makes an excellent, simple, and specific cure.

Valletta Hospital

The United Service Gazette of 16 June 1849, alluded to the fact, raised by a Bombay Medical Officer, of the hardships to which the sick at Fort Ricasoli were subjected in being compelled to walk to the military hospital under a boiling sun. The walk was said to be one of the most fatiguing. The United Service Gazette recorded that it had been pained to see the suffering of the sick.


The PMO James Barry, recommended the following treatment for Ophthalmia: Leeches, purgatives and in the first instance strong solution of nitrate argenti followed by a weaker occasional application of sulphate of copper, and now and then a few drops of Verrium Opice introduced within the eyelids.

Civil Hospital

S L Pisani
Salvatore Luigi Pisani (27 May 1828–27 Oct 1908).
(Maritime Museum Vittoriosa)

On 5 April 1849 the Governor More O'Ferall wrote: With reference to my letter of 15 April 1848, recommending the expenditure of £1,925 for the removal of the Civil Hospital to Floriana, the works are progressing towards completion.

The improved regulations and strict discipline introduced into the present hospital has already reduced the expenditure at the rate of £1,520 a year as compared with £1,846, but has also had the effect of rendering the prostitutes in the hospital ungovernable.

On 24 December 1849, Dr Salvatore Luigi Pisani was appointed Chief Surgeon at the Central Hospital Floriana. Pisani had served in the Crimean War. In 1885, he became the first Chief Government Medical Officer.

Ordinance for the regulation of
medical officers to the public service

The medical officers of the Central Civil Hospital, of the Lunatic Asylum, of the Prison of the Ospizio and of the branch hospitals at Rabat, Notabile and Gozo constitute the Public Medical Establishment of Malta. They are ranked as follows:

1st Grade: The Senior Physician and Senior Surgeon of the Central Civil Hospital, the PMO of the Lunatic Asylum and the Medical Superintendent of the Corradino prison.

2nd Grade: The PMO of the Ospizio and of the two branch hospitals.

3rd Grade: The junior physicians and junior surgeons of the Central Civil Hospital, the resident assistant of the Lunatic Asylum and the assistant medical superintendent of the Corradino prison.

4th Grade: The assistant physician and assistant surgeon of the Central Civil Hospital.

5th Grade: The resident assistants of the Central Civil Hospital.

6th Grade: The assistants of the of the Ospizio and the two branch hospitals.

In any vacancy occurring in the medical establishment leading to promotion, the place of the assistant of the branch hospital at Gozo is to be open to competition by examination of all medical men under the age of 30 years and duly qualified to practice medicine and surgery.

Promotions between the 6th and 2nd grade are to be by seniority, but if promotion is declined, the next junior accepting the vacancy is henceforth to rank over all those seniors who had declined the post.

A vacancy in the 1st Grade of senior physician or senior surgeon of the Central Civil Hospital is to be filled by election subject to confirmation by the Head of the Civil Service.

The members of the Committee of the Charitable Institution being the professor of medicine of the university, the medical examiners of the university not on the establishment, the dispensers of medical relief to the poor in the towns and country districts shall each have one vote in the election to fill the vacant posts of senior physician and surgeon of the Central Civil Hospital. All medical men in the public employment of whatever rank and of 10 years standing in their profession who had graduated in the University of Malta, whether previously employed in the public service or not shall be deemed qualified for election to the office of senior physician or surgeon.

Baptisms 1849

  • 8 Mar John Pakenham Pipon born on 10 January 1849, son of Elizabeth Anna and Maj James Kennard Pipon Acting Military Secretary was baptised by the Rev William Hare, Chaplain to the Forces.
  • 7 May Mary Harriett Macauley born on 16 February 1849, daughter of Mary Ann Susan and Hector John Macauley Deputy Assistant Commissary General.