Medical Officers
Of the Malta Garrison
Joseph Thomas
1768 – 1843

Apothecary to the Forces Joseph Thomas MRCS (Lond 1799)

1768 – 10 Jan 1843 [near Bristol]

Service Record

1793–1798 Commenced his studies in county of Galway, Ireland. Served a four year apprenticeship to Dr Durkan at Galway, Dr Stevens at Dublin (1792), and Drs Baillie, Cruickshanks, and Willson in London (1793 to 1798).

? 1795 Surgeon in East York Militia for four years.

1799 Member of the Royal College of Surgeons London.

30 Mar 1799 Married Mary Charlotte nee Willis at Old Church, St Pancras London.

9 Apr 1800 Appointed Hospital Mate by Warrant.

Served at the Duke of York Military Hospital, Chelsea, until his appointment as Assistant Surgeon in the 1st or Royal Regiment of Dragoons.

15 Apr 1800–Oct 1800 In England.

15 Apr 1800 Commissioned Hospital Mate.

21 Aug 1800 Assistant Surgeon The 1st (Royal) Dragoons.

Malta 13 Nov 1800 Promoted Apothecary to the Forces.

21 Dec 1800 Embarked for Egypt.

Malta June 1801 Returned to Malta as an Apothecary to the Forces.

Malta 1802 Apothecary to the Forces.

Malta 1 Sep 1803 Charles Schomberg baptised by the Reverend David Peloquin Cosserat.
In 1825, Charles Schomberg Thomas served briefly with the Honourable East India Company before becoming army paymaster at Zante.

Malta 2 June 1804 Garrison Surgeon Malta.
The Garrison Surgeon took charge of the garrison hospital, supervised the regimental hospitals, and rendered the weekly and monthly returns to the Inspector General.

23 Oct 1804 Mark Green Thomas was baptised by the Reverend David Peloquin Cosserat.

24 Oct 1804 Mark Green Thomas was buried by the Reverend David Peloquin Cosserat.

Malta 1805 Garrison Surgeon Malta, on an annual salary of £182–10s. The garrison of Malta appears for the first time in The Army List of 1805.

Malta 23 Mar 1806 Rachael Villettes baptised by the Reverend David Peloquin Cosserat.
Lieutenant–General William Anne Villettes, (1754-1808), was Garrison Officer Commanding troops Malta 1802–1807. In November 1807, he was appointed Lieutenant–Governor and Commander of the forces in Jamaica, where he died of a fever on 13 July 1808.

Malta 1807 Garrison Surgeon.

Malta 9 May 1808 Birth of a son Arthur Ralph Green.

Arthur Ralph Green Thomas served briefly in 32nd Foot before becoming vicar St Pancras London. (Ralph Green was the Principal Medical Officer Malta).

Malta 1809 Garrison Surgeon.

Malta 1810 Garrison Surgeon.

Malta June 1811 On six months leave.

Malta May 1812 Acting Superintendent of Quarantine vice William Pym who obtained temporary leave of absence. Aged 48 years old.

Malta Dec 1812 Visited Tripoli.

Malta 1813 Plague duty at Malta.

Head of the Quarantine Department of Malta, and Acting President of The Board of Health. Held the view that the plague was transmitted by a contagion and not through the atmosphere. During the plague of 1813, Thomas established and supervised no less than 12 civilian pest hospitals. He visited the hospitals at all hours, and exerted himself to the utmost of his "power to give them my continued superintendence and to perform the various other responsibilities and duties confided to my charge as the despatches of Lt Gen Sir Hildebrand Oakes to Earl Henry Bathurst, Secretary for War and the Colonies, of September 1813 show".7 Thomas was criticised by Physician to The Forces Arthur Brooke Faulkner for doing too little, too late in implementing quarantine of the inhabitants of Valletta.

Malta 1 Sep 1813 Lt Gen Hildebrand Oakes supported Thomas' efforts to obtain the post of Head of the Quarantine Department. "Having heard that it is not the intention of Mr Pym to return, I take the liberty of reminding your Lordship that the duties of this office have been discharged for above 18 months by Mr Joseph Thomas, the garrison surgeon who on Mr Pym's going to England on leave undertook the temporary superintendence of this important department. From the period of the first appearance of the plague Mr Thomas has devoted himself without consideration of personal risk to the service of the public and amidst circumstances of unprecedented embarrassment and peril. It is therefore with a sense of his merits that I recommend him to the favourable notice either for the succession to the office which he now fills in the event of Mr Pym's retirement or for permanent promotion in the Medical Department of the Army to which his long services in this garrison and otherwise afford him reasonable grounds to aspire".4

Malta 6 Sep 1813 The petition of the merchants to instate Thomas vice Pym stated that "a new man from England would not be au courrant with conditions in Malta. That Mr Joseph Thomas who has by his activity and zeal in the discharge of his duties justly acquired our confidence and esteem and by his unremitting attention to the arduous and perilous duties which have devolved on him since the appearance of the plague has given the most satisfactory proofs of his ability to fill so important a post. We therefore recommend him to be appointed as Superintendent of the Health Department a person whose ability experience and local knowledge render him particularly eligible to that office".6

Malta 10 Sep 1813 In his memorial to Lord Bathurst, Thomas solicited the permanent appointment of Superintendent of Quarantine, or the succession as Head of the Medical Staff of Malta. His petition was rejected and Inspector of Hospital Robert Grieves was appointed to head the Medical Department at Malta.
"I have reason to believe that on the expected promotion or removal of the officer now at the Head of the Medical Staff of this island it is intended to nominate to the succession a Deputy Inspector of Hospitals from the staff in England a measure which will necessary exclude your memorialist from obtaining that promotion in the Medical Department here for which he has already been recommended".8

Malta 27 Oct 1813 On learning that Mr Grieves was appointed Deputy Inspector of Hospitals and Superintendent of Quarantine, Thomas solicited for the post of Deputy Inspector of Hospitals to the Ionian Islands when a vacancy arose.

Malta 16 Nov 1813 Maitland objected to the promotion of Joseph Thomas. "My intention is to alter in a very considerable degree the whole establishment of the Lazaretto and the regulations connected with it. It is in truth the most important department in the island of which I presume no one can doubt after the scene that has lately occurred and I am sorry to say that it has been uniformly neglected in a most shameful manner and been considered a sinecure place without any duties connected to it without any responsibilities attached to it, and generally jobbed away by the holder who was not present to some deputy selected not for his fitness but for the cheapness for which he would undertake to do the duties of his principal. I understand upon this head that the merchants here presume to address your lordship in favour of Mr Thomas and requesting that he might be considered from the great service he has rendered upon the late occasion. My opinion however upon that subject is widely different and I certainly cannot recommend that either that gentlemen or Mr Green be applauded for their conduct as they have seemed to me to have done much to confuse and embarrass but little ended to systemise or regulate".5

Malta 21 Nov 1813 Maitland used his influence with Lord Bathurst to removed both Ralph Green and Joseph Thomas form Malta. "Mr Green has got a letter from the Army Medical Department 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 be".9

Malta 1814 Garrison Surgeon.

Malta Dec 1814 Granted 3 months leave.

Malta June 1815 Left Malta for Naples. Transferred to Staff of Sicily.
Joined the army which was destined to act against Naples, but Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo on 18 June 1815. After a short stay at Naples, Thomas was ordered to the Ionian Islands.

June 1815–May 1824 Ionian Islands. In his memorial of 1825, Thomas states that he prevented the introduction of the plague among the troops and inhabitants of the island of Zante while serving there in 1814.7

June 1816–July 1821 Appointed by Sir Thomas Maitland, Head of the Quarantine Department of Zante.

May 1824 Returned to England from Zante. Was stationed in Dublin and Liverpool as District Surgeon.

27 Sep 1824 Memorial of Joseph Thomas written at 4 Mill Street Hanover Square London seeking promotion to Deputy Inspector of Hospitals for plague service performed in the Ionian Islands. Promotion would have increased his half pay by five shillings a day and was therefore worth fighting for.

26 May 1825 Retired to half-pay with rank of Deputy Inspector of Hospitals. Resided at Liverpool on 5 June 1825.

Horse Guards 21 June 1825 "With reference to the memoranda papers of the 26 May, I am directed to acquaint you for the information of HRH the commander-in-chief that the secretary at war has suspended the proposed promotion of Staff Surgeon Thomas to the Deputy Inspector of Hospitals as nothing is known in this department of the circumstances under which his promotion is recommended. I am therefore required that you write with some information upon this subject".1

Horse Guards 23 June 1825 "Having submitted to the commander-in-chief your letter of 21 June respecting the promotion of Staff Surgeon Thomas to be Deputy Inspector of Hospitals I am directed to transmit for the information of the secretary at war a copy of Mr Wilmot Horton with its enclosures and to state that the grounds are considered similar to those on which Staff Surgeon James Dillon Tully who obtained his promotion to Deputy Inspector of Hospitals for plague duties in the Ionian Islands".2

War Office 11 July 1825 "In answer to your letter of 27 June with its enclosures to the claims of Staff Surgeon Thomas to the rank of Deputy Inspector of Hospitals in consideration of his services in the Ionian Islands, I am directed to acquaint you that it must rest with you to take an opportunity of promoting this officer to a vacancy on the establishment. The secretary at war being of the opinion that there is not sufficient reason to depart from the usual practice of the service in favour of this officer by promoting him without such vacancy unless it be by giving him merely brevet rank to which of course there would be no objection as that rank would not entitle him to additional pay now or when employed".3

Horse Guards 23 July 1825 "The secretary at war does not see sufficient reason for promoting Surgeon Thomas to the effective rank and pay of Deputy Inspector of Hospitals".1

20 July 1825 Thomas persevered and sent a memorandum to Lord Palmerston: "In reply to Earl Bathurst and HRH the Commander-in-Chief recommendation that there is not sufficient reason to depart from the usual practice of the service in my favour by promoting me without a vacancy unless it be to give the brevet rank which I never coveted and might have had long since although I was recommended in the same manner and upon similar grounds to those that obtained the permanent rank for Staff Surgeon White and Tully, my juniors, while doctors Bucchan and Price were allowed £100 a year for life in addition to their pay for plague duties performed in a pest hospital in Egypt in 1801. Without any attempt at malicious comparison or meaning in the slightest degree to detract from the merits of others I have seen more plague cases and that I have been longer and more employed in plague practice than all those who have gone before me. I have been for the last 23 years employed on foreign service in the Mediterranean. I had no previous opportunity of bringing my case under Lord Bathurst's notice".7

10 Jan 1843 Died near Bristol.