Medical Officers
Of the Malta Garrison
Ralph Green
1768 – 1837

Inspector of Field Hospitals Ralph Green

1768 [Wales] – 17 June 1837 [London]

Service Record

Joseph M W Turner's notes on the symptoms and treatment of the Maltese plague, possibly taken from a memorandum of 7 May 1813 issued by Ralph Green (Turner Bequest 1856)

1787 Passed surgical examination in London at Surgeon's Hall.

6 May 1787 Regimental Surgeon's Mate 44th (East Essex) Regiment of Foot aged 19 years.

Oct 1787–1793 In England, Scotland, and Ireland (6 years 6 months on Home Service).

14 July 1789 French Revolution

Oct 1789 Hospital Mate, but rejoined 44th Regiment of Foot early in the following year.

April 1793–1795 Served in Flanders under HRH Frederick, Duke of York.

1793 French Revolutionary Wars France declared war on Britain and invaded the Austrian Netherlands. In Feb 1793, Britain sent an Expeditionary Force to Holland.

Regimental Hospital at The House of Manresa (San Calcedonius) Floriana also known as The Casa Santa.

9 Apr 1794 Surgeon 14th (Bedfordshire) Regiment of Foot (without purchase of commission).

1795–1798 Served in the West Indies.

24 July 1793 Hospital Mate.

26 Sep 1795 Surgeon to the Forces (Medical Staff).

25 June 1798–4 May 1799 Half-pay.

Military Plague Hospital at The House of Manresa (San Calcedonius) Floriana also known as The Casa Santa.

1799–1814 Served in the Mediterranean.

8 Jan 1801 Inspector of Field Hospitals.

1 Mar–24 Apr 1801 On the medical staff of the army in Egypt under Sir Ralph Abercrombie. Was in the camp before Alexandria until the place surrendered. Dealt with cases of plague which broke out in late April early May 1801 at Aboukir. Hospitals were set up for the wounded at Aboukir and plague appeared among the wounded men.

8 Mar–22 Oct 1801 In Egypt as Inspector of Field Hospitals.

2 Mar 1801 Part of the medical staff at Aboukir.

Malta 22 Oct 1801 Arrived from Egypt.

Malta 29 June 1802 Commissioned Inspector of Hospitals, but served in Malta as an Assistant Inspector of Hospitals. Served in the Mediterranean, including Egypt.

Malta 1803 Assistant Inspector of Hospitals Malta.

Malta 1804 Assistant Inspector of Hospitals Malta.

Malta 1805 Deputy Inspector of Hospitals Malta.

Malta Nov 1806 Principal Medical Officer Malta. Age 38 years old. Succeeded Inspector of Hospitals William Franklin as Head of Medical Staff and Member of the Board of Health and Head of the Quarantine Department until 1811.

3 May 1806 Green wrote that he was in possession of the commission of Inspector of Hospitals, but it not having been notified to the General Commanding in the Mediterranean, he kept the rank of Acting Deputy Inspector.

Sep 1806 On leave in Sicily.

Malta Feb 1807 Left Malta to serve as Principal Medical Officer on the Second Egyptian Campaign commanded by Maj Gen Fraser McKenzie.

22 June 1807 War Office letter dated 22 June in reply to Green's memorial from Egypt praying to be appointed a Full Inspector of Hospitals, having been referred to the Army Medical Department, I have the Secretary-at-War directions to transmit for the information of HRH the Commander-in-Chief the enclosed report from the Inspector General of Army Hospitals stating that there is already one Inspector at the HQ of the Mediterranean Command, and that it has not been usual to send a medical officer of higher rank than Deputy Inspector with a detached Force of similar strength to that with which Mr Green is at present employed1.

Malta Apr 1808 Returned from Egypt and resumed his duties as Principal Medical Officer Malta.

Malta 1809 Principal Medical Officer Malta.

Malta 1810 The medicines and stores of the army in Sicily were consigned to PMO Malta. The island became the depot for the army of the Mediterranean.

Malta 23 Nov 1811 Mr Eton, the superintendent of the Lazzaretto has been replaced by Mr Pym, Deputy Inspector of Hospitals at Gibraltar. Be pleased to inform the Earl Liverpool that for several years a considerable part of the duties of Mr Eton have been gratuitously performed by me and that much of my time has been employed in the execution of those duties frequently of a very unpleasant nature.

I believe Mr Eton left Malta in 1802 or early 1803. At that time Dr Franklin was the principal army medical officer in Malta consequently it was an essential part of his duties to be most watchful of the public health there being a large garrison here at the time, and another in Egypt where the plague had lately raged and with which country there was a constant communication with Malta. Sir Alexander Ball found it necessary to request that Dr W Franklin would become a member of the Board of Health which then and at present regulated all quarantine as most of the vessels which came from Egypt, Turkey or the Barbary Coast at that time and ever more were either ships of war, transports or merchant vessels the property of or consigned to British subjects.

Dr Franklin being the only member of the Board of Health in the service of government who could speak the English language references were continually made to him by persons in quarantine as to the duration of their confinement or how long their goods or vessels would be held. An unfavourable answer however necessary it might be seldom gave satisfaction, in fact from a Member of the Board, he gradually became considered as its president. Sir Ball finding after a length of time that Mr Eton did not return to resume his duties as superintendent of the lazaretto, and that the part of it performed by Dr Franklin during his absence was essential to the public safety told Dr Franklin that as the duty took up so much of his time he did not consider it a right to accept of his gratuitous service any longer and that he would recommend to Government that a certain salary should be granted for its performance.

As Dr Franklin declined it in the first instance on the principle that as being the Head of the Medical Department in the Mediterranean it was his positive duty to be particular watchful of every thing relating to quarantine and I believe he did not wish to receive an addition to his income on terms which must have increased the difference the publicly known to exist between Ball and Eton. When Dr Franklin left Malta, Ball requested of me as Head of the Medical Department in the island to undertake the same duties telling me at the time that he did not consider it a right that they should be performed gratuitously. I told him I was aware of Dr Franklin's motives for declining a recommendation for an addition of income, that my principles were the same and that I would most cheerfully do my endeavour to fill his place on the same terms.

This is how the Senior Medical Officer of the Army in Malta became a principal member of the Board of Health. I make use of the word principal as almost every subject where a complaint or difference existed was generally referred to him particularly if the party was English. I would never have solicited for Mr Eton's appointment had I ever known that he was to have been removed from it, my wish only is to be promoted in that line in which I have served my country unremittingly for upwards of 24 years. I therefore request that you will be pleased to make my services in the Board of Health known to the Rt Hon the Earl of Liverpool and I hope that his recommendation of me to HRH the Commander in Chief in addition to that recommendation that you have already made of me may be the means of getting my commission of Inspector of Hospitals confirmed of if getting me that commission anew. I beg leave to add that the medical officers employed in the Health Offices at Gibraltar and Alexandria have always received an increase in pay2.

Malta 24 Nov 1811 Lt Gen Sir Hildebrand Oakes recommended Mr Green for promotion. The above letter of Mr Green, Deputy Inspector and Head of the Medical Department here a most worthy man and a very zealous and meritorious officer. By the last packet I sent home a memorial of Mr Green to HRH the Duke of York soliciting his being appointed an Inspector of Hospitals in the garrison which memorial I back with as strong a recommendation as I pen, and I trust it will succeed but Mr Green is naturally a good deal anxious and the meaning and intent of his writing me the enclosed letter is that nothing may be left undone which can assist in obtaining him the promotion he aims at and which he certainly justly merits3.

Malta 24 Nov 1812 Principal Medical Officer Malta.

Malta 1813 Plague service in Malta. Green introduced into the military hospitals the oily friction, and fumigation with nitrous vapours in the prevention of plague. The fumigation method was described by Dr J Carmichael Smyth in his "Effects of the Nitrous Vapours in destroying contagion" published in 1799 though first used on board the Union Hospital Ship in 1796.

Malta June 1813 Opened a military plague hospital at the convent of St Calcedonius Floriana. Advocated the use of oily friction on exposed body parts as a preventive measure against the contagion of the plague. The new colonial governor Thomas Maitland alleged that the Board of Health had usurped the functions of the Executive Government. The doctors, he said, had implemented costly measures to contain the plague, measures, which were solely the concern of Government. Maitland abolished the Board of Health, took sole control, and restricted the duties of the PMO exclusively to the care of the garrison.

Malta 11 Aug 1813 Green's letter to the Giornale di Malta re the use of oil as a preservative from the plague. In the last number of Il Giornale di Malta mention was made of the use of oil as a preservative from infection by plague and also as having been successfully employed for the purpose of a cure. Of the latter I have no experience but of the former considerably as it has been employed generally by the troops in this garrison as a preservative against contagion for a considerable length of time, and I am fully convinced with the most beneficial effects. Other means long considered as most powerful in destroying contagion have also been employed in the military pest hospital in Floriana under my superintendence1.

Malta 26 Aug 1813 Inspector of Hospitals.

Malta 4 Sep 1813 Memorial of Ralph Green: The Army Medical Board recommended me for promotion to Inspector of Hospitals in Malta, but this recommendation has not been attended to and all the consolation I have had since is to see many of those who were my juniors in the service promoted to that rank which was considered as my due by the superiors of my own department and by the gentlemen whom I served, merely because I am shut up from other services much against my wish.

When Mr Pym, the late Superintendent of Health, in Malta was appointed, I felt mortified and disappointed at his receiving the appointment itself but my mortification arose from this cause only that an individual who was serving in Gibraltar with the same commission that I was serving in Malta should be placed at the Head of the Health Department, which department in everything relating to public health had been under my superintendence for several years and the duty gratuitously performed. I therefore considered my claim to the succession as very superior to Mr Pym's and would have felt much fettered had it been offered to me although I most positively would not have accepted of it being long convinced from personal observation that no individual could possibly fulfil the whole duties of superintendent of the lazaretto where many reforms were necessary or where the common duties of the office required almost the whole time of the individual who would fully hold it together with the duties of a PMO of the garrison.

Mr Robert Grieves is said to have succeeded Mr W Pym and intends to replace me in Malta. The Secretary for War was unacquainted with my service when Mr Grieves was recommended as Mr Pym's successor. When Col Bunbury was Deputy Quarter Master General to the army in Sicily I was for upwards of six months the Head of the Medical Department of the Army and the common duties of office made me known to him. I must also add that after a short stay in Malta Mr Pym returned to England leaving Mr Thomas as his deputy - how well Mr Thomas has performed that duty is I believe well known to you. I write this letter hoping you will represent my services to the commander- in-chief as was done by Lord Liverpool and at a future period I may again request1.

Malta 21 Nov 1813 Maitland used his influence with Lord Bathurst to remove both Ralph Green and Joseph Thomas form Malta. Grieves is arrived but from some circumstances or other, I take it some private transaction in the medical board, Mr Green has got a letter from that Board stating he is to remain here as inspector - after his conduct in this island it will be impossible to rest the thing on its right legs while he has any thing to say - besides the idea of having an inspector here is perfectly absurd and useless. May I therefore entreat that he may be moved and that Mr Staff Surgeon Thomas be sent to some other quarter for as long as we have our medical men interfering with government and dabbling with our merchants it is impossible we can ever get our health placed on the footing and basis it should be4.

Malta 4 Dec 1813 By Order from Horse Guards left for the East Coast of Spain (Catalonia) as Head of the Medical Department.

Malta Jan 1814 Left Malta at the beginning of 1814 and joined the army in Spain.

10 Apr 1817 Served in the Windward and Leeward Islands as Head of the Medical Department, where he remained for upwards of four years, returning to England in extreme ill health.

1822 Reduced to half-pay with rank of Inspector General of Hospitals. Reduced by reduction and not by request, or from private motives, or ill health. Received a military allowance of 30 shillings a day.

In his Service Return of Dec 1828, he stated that he was: Ready to serve if called upon and his health is considered adequate for the purpose at the time. Having already served longer than any officer of his rank on full pay, principally on foreign service for 33 years, and half-pay for 8 years, a total of almost 42 years.

Dec 1828 Still unmarried in 1828. Resided in England and Wales. Temporary Superintendent General of Quarantine during the absence of William Pym at Gibraltar, for which he received neither salary nor emoluments.

17 June 1837 The death of Inspector General of Army Hospitals Ralph Green Esq., aged 70 years, was reported in the United Service Magazine. It said of Green: The talents and merits of this old and most respectable officer were conspicuous, and noticed with applause in several Gazettes, where he had served, more particularly in Egypt, where he had the appointment of Assistant Inspector of Hospitals, and in the West Indies where he had the medical superintendence during several years of unusual sickness and mortality5.