Physician to the Forces George MacAdam
c.1770 – 6 May 1814 [Gozo Malta]
1 May 1797 Assistant Surgeon 24th Dragoons.
1799 Reduced to half pay.
25 Dec 1802 Assistant Surgeon 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons.
29 Aug 1805 Surgeon 2nd/35th (Sussex) Regiment of Foot. Detached from 6th Dragoons, and attached as Assistant Surgeon 2nd/35th (Sussex) Regiment.
War Office Memorandum dated 21 Aug 1805:
The enclosed memorial of Acting Surgeon MacAdam of the 2nd Battalion 35th Regiment having been referred to the Army Medical Board, I have the Secretary at War direction to transmit for the consideration of HRH the Commander-in-Chief the accompanying report from the Surgeon General recommending that as the strength of the 2nd Battalion 35th Regiment appears to authorise the appointment of a full surgeon, that Assistant Surgeon G. C. MacAdam of the 6th Regiment of Dragoons may be approved surgeon to the 2nd Battalion 35th Regiment.2
The Memorial of Acting Surgeon MacAdam 2nd/35th Regiment to Lt Gen HRH The Duke of Cumberland:
Humbly that your memorialist has been detached from the 6th Dragoons, (to which as Assistant Surgeon he belonged), and attached at the particular wish of Lt-Gen Lenox, and by the consent of HRH The Commander-in-Chief, as Acting Surgeon to the 2nd/35th regiment since its formation. As your memorialist has not hitherto desired any additional rank or pay, but merely that of an assistant surgeon acting under a superior, although he has had the care and responsibility of surgeon, he humbly hopes that your Royal Highness will be pleased to take his claims into consideration and should you find from those enquirers which your Royal Highness may make that your memorialist is deserving the appointment of surgeon which he solicits and which for some time back he has expected, that your Royal Highness will have the kindness to recommend HRH the Commander-in-Chief to consent to the appointment appearing in the Gazette.2
23 Feb 1808 War Office memorandum dated 23 Feb 1808:
Recommending in consequence of the promotion of Surgeon John Taylor of the 20th Light Dragoons to Staff, that Acting Surgeon George McAdam of the 35th Foot, at present serving in the Mediterranean, may be removed to the former regiment vice Taylor.1
3 Mar 1808 Surgeon 20th Light Dragoons, but not joined his regiment till 25 June 1808.
12 Oct 1808 Listed as serving at Messina.
30 Sep 1813 Physician to the Forces. His rate of pay on commission was 11 shillings and one and a half pence per day.
Malta May 1813 Outbreak of plague in Valletta.
Malta Jan 1814 Arrived at Malta, where the plague was in decline. Attached to the military hospital Valletta.
Malta Mar 1814 In March, no plague victims were recorded in Malta, but in February 1814, twelve died in the village of Xaghra in Gozo. The Colonial Governor Thomas Maitland affirmed that the pestilence was carried to Gozo
by a men, who being liberated from quarantine had, antecedent to his leaving this island, dug up and carried off a small box containing wearing apparel, which he had buried previously to his being send to the Lazaretto, and, which he did not open until he got to Gozo.
Maitland encamped the whole village on the plain of Ghajn Luqin where the people lived in tents until 13 June. By 27 March, the number of deaths in Gozo reached thirty. By 3 April 1814, forty villagers had died. The plague in Gozo remained confined to one village, where it took 104 victims.
Proclamation 8 Sep 1814:
The island of Gozo having now undergone three full quarantines of 40 days without the occurrence of any case of plague, from this date free and full communication will be established through out the different islands composing the Government and that all guards, guard boats and restrictions of every kind laid on in consequence of the plague having appeared in Gozo be forthwith removed. Valletta has been free from any infection for upwards of ten months, the whole of the isle of Malta for the space of six months and Gozo for four months. No further public notification will be given on the subject of the late pestilential disease which is now by divine favour completely extinguished.
Malta 6 May 1814 Died of plague at Xaghra Gozo.
In March, George MacAdam accompanied the Sicilian Regiment who were sent to form a sanitary cordon around the infected village of Xaghra. MacAdam appointed himself physician to Tal Fewdu Plague hospital, a farm house situated on a ridge on the outskirts of Xaghra. Maitland was less than pleased with George MacAdam. On 15 May, in his despatch to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Maitland stated:
At Gozo the plague was going on as well as possible, no cases having happened for 20 days when by some unaccountable accident a Dr MacAdam who had been much too apt to mix with the infected got the plague and died of it, and it appears that after he had it on him he styled it the rheumatism which has led to a most unpleasant uncertainty relatively to most of the officers there, who it appeared had communicated with him. He died about 10 days ago, and as yet nobody has been taken ill.
His own account of the mode in which he got it before he died, was that he had been in the habit of exposing daily in the air the jacket in which he went to the Lazaretto, the moment he returned, but that thinking all danger was at an end, he had left off that precaution and thrown it into a heap of dirty linen in the corner of his room (being of hawkin) where it had laid for 10 days, and that coming in from riding 2 days before he was seized with it, he had taken off his coat and put on this jacket, and have less doubt that this is the real history of it. There is no forming a decided opinion in the effect that may arise from this till after the 15 days but being now 10 days clean we have escaped the great part of the danger. I am not aware of any instance where the disease has not shown itself in 13 days, thus they allow 15 days to be quite sure. The conduct of this gentlemen was most reprehensible and if he had been a common men he would have been liable to suffer death for it.
Malta 1991 In appreciation of the work of Physician to the Forces George MacAdam with the plague victims of Xaghra, the street house committee in Gozo named a village street in his honour.
- Entry No: 1670. Johnston W. Roll of Commissioned Offices in the Medical Service of the British Army. Vol 1 (20 June 1727-23 June 1898), Aberdeen (1917).
- TNA:WO 25/3896, Statement of the Home and Foreign Service of Officers of the Medical Department (1759–1812).
- TNA:WO 25/262, Pay records 1814.
- TNA:WO 25/3896, Statement of the Home and Foreign Service of Officers of the Medical Department 1759–1812.
- 1TNA:WO 31/248, Memoranda Papers 20 Light Dragoons dated 3 Mar 1808.
- 2TNA:WO 31/189, Office of the Commander-in-Chief: Memoranda and papers Lt Col Gordon to Francis Moore dated Aug 1805.
- Bennett J, Bezzina J, Dr George McAdam (1770-1814). 1 February 1992, J R Army Med Corps 1:138;49.
- Scicluna G., A Hundred Days of Plague in Gozo. Sunday Times of Malta 10 January 1965; 9.
- Scicluna G., A Hundred Days of Plague in Gozo (2). Sunday Times of Malta 17 January 1965; 8.
- Scicluna G., Correspondence. Sunday Times of Malta 31 January 1965.
- Scicluna G., Correspondence. Sunday Times of Malta 7 February 1965.