The Army Medical Department
And the Malta Garrison

The Malta Garrison – 1853

Malta Garrison

In Jan 1853, there were 2,914 troops on the island. This was just enough to guard Valletta and Floriana. Without an increase in the strength of the garrison, it was impossible to secure all the fortifications, which measured 25 miles, had 54 gates, and were home to 46,000 inhabitants. The east side of the harbour where the dockyard was situated, was left undefended. The gunpowder for the Mediterranean Fleet was also located in the Cottonera Lines.

The Maltese Islands had a total population of 123,498, of which 108,833 were in Malta. This gave a density of 1,145 individuals to the square mile. Gozo had a population of 14,663. The breakdown of the population was:

  • Males: Maltese 56,181, Englishmen: 650, Foreigners 625, Total 60,436.
  • Females: Maltese 62,106, Englishmen 651, Foreigners 283, Total 63,040.
  • 10,755 were employed in Agriculture
  • 5958 were employed in Commerce
  • 35,570 were Artificers and Labourers
  • 1,273 were landowners
  • 347 were mariners and boatmen
  • 1040 were priests
  • 125 were nuns
  • 40,200 had no fixed abode
  • 474 were mendicants by profession
  • 7767 were students, Government Servants of all descriptions including the Native Malta Regiment and Police Forces, and the aged and infirm in the Charitable Institutions.


In Sep 1853, during the prevalence of cholera in England, the Governor Sir William Reid (1851–1872), directed that all vessels arriving in Malta from Gibraltar were to be visited and inspected.

Those free of cholera were to be at once admitted to pratique. Dr Giuseppe Carmelo Montanaro, was appointed to assist the medical department of the lazaretto to fulfil this task on payment of £25.


The Royal Warrant of 27 Apr 1853 re-established the Purveyor Department, which had been shut down in 1830 to save money. The Purveyors had been pensioned off, but the Deputy Purveyors were kept on, though it was intended to eventually abolish the department altogether.

In 1853, before the Deputy Purveyors had died off, the branch was re-established so as to relieve the surgeons of direct financial responsibilities and to provide a stricter control of the accounts. The supplies of regimental hospitals was taken away from regimental surgeons, partly to check on the expenditure, and partly to prevent a considerable amount of small peculations which had existed in the regimental and garrison hospitals where no purveyors were stationed, and where food and comforts were provided by hospital sergeants.

Baptisms 1853

  • 16 Aug 1853 William Fossett Stewart born 25 July 1853, son of Ella and John Grant Stewart Deputy Medical Inspector of Naval Hospitals was baptised by the Rev Henry Hare, Assistant chaplain to the Forces.