Regiments of the Malta Garrison
The 48th (Northamptonshire)

search maltaramc

The 48th (Northamptonshire) Regiment


The 48th Foot was raised in 1741, as Colonel James Cholmondeley's Regiment of Foot.

In 1748, it was numbered 48 in the order of infantry precedence. It received its county affiliation in 1782.

The Battalion was one of the first British Infantry regiments to reinforce the Maltese insurgents during the blockade of the French in Malta.

The battle honour Talavera was granted to the 48th on 12 November 1816, in commemoration of its service at the Battle of Talavera on 27th/28th July 1809 during the Peninsular War. This was incorporated into the regimental badge on 1 July 1881. The Castle and Key superscribed Gibraltar 1779–1783 with the motto Montis Insignia Calpe, were granted to the 58th Foot, later the 2nd Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment, on 13 May 1836 to commemorate its service in the defence of Gibraltar.

In July 1881, The 48th (Northamptonshire Regiment) linked with the 58th (Rutlandshire) Regiment to become The 1st Battalion The Northamptonshire Regiment.

The 1st/48th (Northamptonshire) Regiment

1800 48th (Northamptonshire)

12 May 1800 The first Division of troops consisting of six battalions, under the command of Major General Henry Pigot, arrived in Mahon from England on HMS Inflexible. On 17 May, Brigadier General Doyle arrived in Minorca from Gibraltar with the 18th Foot and 48th Foot. The troops disembarked and encamped at the entrance of the harbour on the Lazaretto.

23 June The 48th embarked leaving 24 sick soldiers behind in the General hospital in Minorca. It formed part of Abercrombie's Expedition sent to assist the Austrians in besieging the French at Genoa. On 1 July the expedition reached Leghorn where Abercrombie received news of the Austrian's defeat at Marengo in May 1800, and of their retreat from Genoa. He therefore ordered the 48th to sail to Malta.

21 July Fron 25 June to 24 July the majority of the men of the Colonel's Coy and Captain's Maxwell's Coy were serving on board the Genereux. A number of soldiers from Lt Col Gordon's Coy and Captain Wemyss' Coy were in Malta but the majority were serving on board the Minotaur. 601 men of the 48th Foot arrived from Leghorn and joined the other companies which had arrived from Minorca on 21 July. The 48th marched into cantonments in Gudja and reinforced the Maltese insurgents with their land blockade of the French garrison.

5 Sep 1800 The French were starved into surrendering their arms on 5 Sept 1800, when the Maltese Islands passed into the hands of the British Crown. The Grenadier Coy 48th Foot took possession of the Horn Works of Floriana.

An infantry regiment was normally composed of ten companies. Six companies were called the Service Companies and served abroad under the command of their commanding officer.

The other four companies were called the Reserve Companies. These stayed at their Depôt in England and were commanded by a senior major. The role of the Reserve Companies was to feed recruits to the Service Companies and to serve in England as a sort of internal police. Officers and men moved between the Service Companies and the Reserve Companies.

In 1800, the 48th Foot had the following companies: Colonel Patrick Tonyn's Coy, Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Gordon's Coy, Major William Sinclair Wemyss' Coy, Captain Hugh Maxwell's Coy, Captain William Brooke's Coy, Captain George Augustus Tonyn's Coy, Captain George Morison's Coy, Captain Daniel Colquhoun's Coy, Captain Molyneux Marston's Coy, Captain John Clarke's Coy.

The following died between 25 June and 24 December 1800:

  • Colonel Tonyn's Coy
    1. Pte John Chalk 14 July.
    2. Cpl Thomas Wager 29 August.
    3. Pte William Bramley 3 September.
    4. Pte Solomon Hughes 3 September.
    5. Cpl James Harper 12 October.
  • Lt Col Gordon's Coy
    1. Pte Samuel Hall 30 August.
    2. Cpl Thomas William 8 September.
  • Maj Weymss' Coy
    1. Pte Thomas Griffiths 29 August.
    2. Pte Michael Goodwin 5 September.
    3. Pte John Bleakley 8 September.
    4. Pte John Glaze 15 September.
    5. Pte John Morton 18 September.
    6. Pte William Bickley 27 September.
    7. Pte William Rutlidge 25 November.
    8. Pte William Hopkins 10 December.
  • Capt Marston's Coy
    1. Pte George Farmer 14 July.
    2. Pte Thomas Saunders 4 September.
    3. Drm Thomas Ward 8 September.
    4. Pte William Burden 5 November.
  • Capt Clarke's Coy
    1. Pte John Harris 17 July.
    2. Pte Isaac Grey 24 August.
    3. Pte Robert Evans 15 September.
    4. Drm Edward Jones 19 September.
    5. Pte Joseph Hopkinson 27 September.
    6. Pte John Bevan 23 October.
  • Capt Maxwell's Coy
    1. Pte William West 2 August.
    2. Pte Ezekel Gossage 27 October.
  • Capt Tonyn's Coy
    1. Pte George Brotherton 19 August.
    2. Pte William Higginson 19 August.
    3. Pte John Jones 22 October.
  • Capt Morison's Coy
    1. Pte Robert Geazley 23 August.
    2. Pte John Hancock 8 September.
    3. Pte Charles Starkey 14 September.
    4. Pte Aaron Shucker 21 October.
  • Capt Brooke's Coy
    1. Pte Owen Bowen 30 August.
    2. Pte John Broomfield 4 September.
    3. Pte Joseph Hurst 8 September.
    4. Pte John Bartlet 13 November.
  • Capt Colquhoun's Coy
    1. Pte James Hoyle 28 August.
    2. Pte Edward Bellis 13 September.
    3. Cpl Reuben Nobbs 4 September.
    4. Pte John Johnson 29 September.
    5. Pte John Shepherd 11 October.
    6. Pte William Ledbeater 20 October.
    7. Pte Benjamin Graham 25 October.
    8. Pte John Taylor 10 November.

10 Sep 1800 The King's Colour of the 48th Foot was planted at Fort St Elmo where the regiment remained until 1802.

1801 48th (Northamptonshire) (Tonyn's Regiment)

1 Jan 1801 Strength: 30 Commissioned and Warrant Officers, 75 NCOs, 481 rank and file fit for duty, 80 rank and file sick, 673 total officers and men, 712 establishment.

1 May Strength: 30 Commissioned and Warrant Officers, 75 NCOs, 540 rank and file fit for duty, 36 rank and file sick, 608 total officers and men, 712 establishment.

5 Sep 1801 Strength: 0 Lt Col, 2 Majors, 8 Captains, 9 Lieutenants, 4 Ensigns, 1 Pay Master, 1 Adjutant, 1 Quarter Master, 1 Surgeon, 1 Assistant Surgeon, 52 Staff Sergeants, 22 Drummers, 526 men. There were 37 sick in hospital with 7 deaths.

1802 48th (Northamptonshire) (Tonyn's Regiment)

1 Jan 1802 Strength: 29 Commissioned and Warrant Officers, 75 NCOs, 526 rank and file fit for duty, 30 rank and file sick, 668 total officers and men, 712 establishment.

3 Feb The Drum Major 48th Foot was buried with masonic honours at the Floriana burial ground by the Reverend D. P. Cosserat.

1 Mar Strength: 31 Commissioned and Warrant Officers, 75 NCOs, 527 rank and file fit for duty, 22 rank and file sick, 661 total officers and men, 712 establishment.

1 May Strength: 29 Commissioned and Warrant Officers, 56 NCOs, 478 rank and file fit for duty, 16 rank and file sick, 586 total officers and men, 842 establishment.

21 July 162 men, 23 women and 16 children embarked on the men-of-war Athenian. They were withdrawn from Malta in compliance with the provision of the Treaty of Amiens.

12 Aug Villettes to Hobart: The fever, which generally prevails here at this season every year has been felt with considerable violence by some of the regiments, particularly the 48th. I am in great hopes, however, that its worst effects are nearly over and am happy to add that a great proportion of the men returned sick are in a convalescent state.1 Sand fly Fever was a possible cause of Summer or Maltese Fever.

1 Nov 1802 Strength: 19 Commissioned and Warrant Officers, 56 NCOs, 375 rank and file fit for duty, 70 rank and file sick, 538 total officers and men, 843 establishment.

1803 48th (Northamptonshire)

3 May 1803 The 48th returned to England.

20 Aug The first payment of prize money from the proceeds of the property captured in Malta on 4 September 1800 commenced to be paid out to the officers and men of 48th Foot. Colonel Martin Hunter, Lt Col David Gordon, Major William Wemyss and Major N L Peacock each received the sum of £845 11s 6d. Captains received £90 7s 6d, and lieutenants and ensigns f £43 4s 6d. Entitled sergeants received a first payment of £18 10s 6d, corporals, drummers and privates all received £3 0s 6d.

The 1st/48th (Northamptonshire) Regiment

1855 48th (Northamptonshire)

The following were buried at Malta in 1855:

  • 17 Sep Pte John Watson aged 24 years.
  • 26 Oct Pte Thomas Quinton aged 28 years.
  • 18 Nov Pte William Thompson aged 28 years.

1856 48th (Northamptonshire)

The 48th Foot left for the Crimea in 1855, where it served at Sebastopol (1854-55).

8 June 1856 756 men arrived from the Crimea. They occupied St George's Bay.

The following were buried in 1856:

  • 18 July Dmr Henry Quinn aged 16 years 11 months.
  • 10 Oct Pte James Straford, aged 23 years.
  • 29 Oct Pte Thomas Wrens, aged 23 years.
  • 30 Oct Pte Wilson Miller, aged 24 years.
  • 4 Nov Pte John Farrow aged 38 years.
  • 6 Nov Pte Francis McCawley aged 36 years.
  • 6 Nov Pte Thomas Wilson aged 30 years.
  • 12 Nov Pte George Hurd aged 19 years.
  • 30 Nov Mary Ann Wright aged 20 years.
  • 15 Dec Pte William Jones aged 26 years.

1857 48th (Northamptonshire)

1857 703 men were at Fort Manoel.

Aug 1857 The 48th (Northamptonshire) Regiment embarked for Gibraltar.

The following were baptised in 1857:

  • 4 Feb Mary Bugby born 9 Dec 1856, daughter of Hannah and Sgt John Bugby, deceased.
  • 2 June Elizabeth Watson, daughter of Mary and Pte James Watson.
  • 14 June Mary Stenson, daughter of Mary and CSgt William Stenson.

The following were buried in Floriana in 1857:

  • 27 Jan Sgt John Bugby 48th Regiment aged 36 years.
  • 7 Feb Pte George Whamsley 48th Regiment aged 22 years.
  • 22 Feb Pte William Cotton 48th Regiment aged 19 years.
  • 4 Apr Henry Davis aged 2 days, son of Sgt Thomas Davis at Fort Manoel.

The following were married in 1857:

  • 26 May In the Collegiate Church of St Paul's Valletta, Bachelor CSgt John Knox son of John Knox born in Canterbury, Kent to Margaret Prier, spinster daughter of John Prier Chief Warder in charge of the Military Prison, St Elmo.
  • 28 July In the Collegiate Church of St Paul's Valletta, Bachelor Pte Abel Perrin to Elizabeth Clements, spinster of Devonshire.

The 1st/48th (Northamptonshire) Regiment

1868 48th (Northamptonshire)

3 Oct 1868 The 48th (Northamptonshire) Regiment embarked at Queenstown from Fermoy, Ireland. It disembarked in Malta on 14 October 1868.

The average annual strength in 1868 was 149 men. There were 166 admissions into hospital; 3 died in hospital. The ratio per 1000 mean strength of those admitted was 1114 and for deaths 20.13.

1869 48th (Northamptonshire)

Barracks Occupied by 48th Regiment in 1869
Barracks Average Strength Fever Admissions Percentage Sick Soldiers Remarks
Isola Gate 224 79 35.22 Head Quarters occupied Isola Gate Barracks from 1 Jan to 31 Dec
San Francesco de Paola 136 63 46.32 Detachment from 1 Jan to 31 Dec
Polverista Gate 209 93 44.49 Detachment from 1 Jan to 31 Dec
Table I: Barracks occupied by 48th showing the average strength, number of hospital admissions from fever, and the percentage of sick soldiers during the period each barrack was occupied.

The married quarters of the 48th Regiment were in the Cottonera Lines. They were located at St John's Almoner Bastion, St Paul's Bastion, Isola Gate and San Francesco de Paola Barracks. There were 12 families' quarters in Bormla Curtain consisting of two rooms each. One to two families occupied each quarter, but the actual number of occupants varied from three to six persons.

Separated from these quarters were six additional married quarters located in a two storey building. These were at a much lower elevation, and were surrounded by houses in a densely populated vicinity. They had two rooms each and were occupied by one or two families, with four to seven occupants. They had no cooking facilities. Families had to cook in the passage way on earthenware stoves placed on a cooking ledge.

The married quarters in St John's Bastion were in close proximity and at the same lofty elevation as Polverista Barracks. They were equally exposed to draughts as the Polverista Barracks. The quarters consisted of two blocks of buildings and formed three sides of a square with the casemates of Polverista on their right. The top block faced north, running from east to west. All its rooms were on the ground floor. It held six families, each family occupying two rooms. The quarters were numbered 1 to 6. At the western extremity, and separating them from the side block were the laundry, ablution rooms and latrines. The side block facing east, ran from south to north and contained eight quarters numbered 7 to 14. Each family had two rooms.

The married quarters on St Paul's Bastion lay north-west of St John's Almoner Bastion, and were also exposed to draughts. They consisted of two blocks running in the same direction as those at St John's Bastion. They were two storied, fitted with a covered veranda to each floor. The block facing north and running from east to west was marked from 1 to 6 on the ground floor, and from 11 to 16 on the upper floor. The side block facing east, ran from south to north, and was marked from 7 to 10 on the ground floor and 17 to 20 on the upper floor. The upper storeys on both blocks were reached by stone steps at each extremity.

Isola Gate Barracks consisted of a series of casemates situated on low sloping ground south-west of Dockyard Creek. There were four blocks of casemated buildings, two on either side of the road, which was the only thoroughfare from Bormla (Cospicua) to Isola (Senglea). The road passed through the gate, and under the bastion. The blocks on both sides of the road faced each other, and were separated by small courtyards which ran respectively east and west. The rooms on the left of the gate had the sergeant's mess, and Quarter Master's stores on the ground floor. The tailor's and shoemaker's shops were in two rooms in the upper floor. These were reached by stone steps leading to an open veranda, and were respectively occupied by 2 NCOs and 16 men.

In the opposite block were small rooms used as regimental canteen and tap room, guard room with 1 sergeant, 1 corporal, and six men, and the sergeant's mess kitchen. Adjoining the kitchen, in the NCO's corner, was a small prisoner's cell. In the south-east corner of the block was a women's privy. Above the soldiers quarters, were three married families occupying six rooms. These had a similar veranda to the lower rooms corresponding with that on the opposite block. It also had a gallery, reached by steps from the yard below, as the ones opposite but differing from it in being roofed in. Separating these buildings was a square court which sloped towards a central grated drain for surface water.

On the other side of Strada Della Due Porte were 13 barrack rooms, which were regulated to hold 302 cots. Of these No 5 and No 7 rooms were on the upper floor. They were reached by a separate stone stairs from the courtyard. The rest of the rooms were on the ground floor and communicated with each other.

San Francesco de Paola Barracks was a cube shaped building situated in an angle of the Margherita Lines, near the head of French Creek and about 700 yards to the south of Isola Gate. The barracks occupied elevated, sloping ground, the angle of which was so steep, that some of the barrack rooms were considerably lower than the others, though they all opened into each other. There were 8 casemated barrack rooms, but in reality it was only one barrack room on two levels, intersected by partition walls, pierced with arches. There were two doors leading into the building, one on each level. The rooms on the two levels were entered through a vestibule, with steps leading to the apartments. The eight rooms were regulated to hold 159 cots.

San Francesco de Paola Barracks had four small married quarters, one for the adjutant and his wife and another for the family of the Paymaster Sergeant who occupied two rooms. Passing from San Francesco di Paolo Barracks to the bastion below the lower level, was a ball court and a row of buildings. The upper flats were occupied by the Garrison Provost, guard room, and a few married soldiers of the 48th Regiment. The cook house was located below, in the row of buildings. It was used by the three companies of the 48th Foot, the Garrison's Provost and prisoners. Water for the kitchen was carried by hand from a distance.

Polverista Gate pierced the Cottonera Lines between St John's Almoner Bastion and St Nicholas Bastion. Polverista Gate Barracks was situated to the south-east of San Francesco de Paola. It was on the summit of a high curtain which stretched along the south side of a deep ravine. Polverista Gate with its attached guard room, was located at the lowest point. The barracks had a northern aspect and was open on all sides. It consisted of a long block of casemated rooms running the breadth of the fortifications and accessed by stone steps at either end. These led to an open veranda, from which each room was entered. All the barrack rooms were 33 feet long, 18 feet 6 inches wide, and 18 feet 8 inches high. Above each door were ventilating windows measuring 4 feet 8 inches by 3 feet 1 inch. Each room was regulated for 14 cots.

At the eastern extremity and at the base of the curtain, was a pump for forcing fresh water to the cookhouse, latrines and urinals. On ascending the steps to the veranda, one reached a room marked officer's quarters which was used as a reading room, next to it were barrack rooms numbered 1 to 12, a wash house, a cookhouse, and more barrack rooms numbered 13 to 18. At the end of these rooms were the latrines and urinals. Further accommodation for 24 soldiers was available in the right casemate, but this was not always occupied. The rooms in the right casemate consisted of six small apartments, each having a window in the embrasure. Beyond the casemates were the canteen and the attendants rooms. The guard room was distinct from the other buildings. It was situated on the roadway close to the opening in the curtain, the guard consisting of one corporal and six men.

Polverista Gate Barracks was overcrowded. The men of the 48th Regiment quartered there had less than 600 cubic feet of space. To ameliorate this, tents were supplied to Isola Gate Barracks, San Francesco de Paola Barracks and Polverista Gate Barracks. During August and September a third of the men slept in tents; from October two companies were always away at Pembroke Camp on the annual course of musketry.

48th Regiment 1 January to 31 December 1869
Month Strength 1st day of the month Hospital Admissions Total
January 742 44 0
February 741 31 1
March 740 52 0
April 740 20 1
May 739 14 0
June 737 30 0
July 730 113 2
August 727 104 0
September 725 50 1
October 723 35 2
November 714 49 0
December 710 31 0
Table II: Regimental strength on the first day of the month, showing number of admissions to hospital per month, and the number of deaths recorded. This was the first summer in the command and as expected the incidence of fever was always high in those recently arrived and lacking immunity to Sand Fly Fever. (TNA:WO 334/62)

The regimental hospital was in Strada San Giorgio. It consisted of two hired private houses, lying side by side surrounded by lofty buildings. Lower Vittoriosa Hospital, so called to distinguish it from Upper Vittoriosa Hospital in the Armeria, occupied sloping ground, in a narrow lane on the south-east side of Dockyard Creek. It was entered over a few stone steps, through a large door, into a hall. A door to the left of the hall led to the surgery, and behind it, on the same level, were the quarters of the hospital sergeant and the cook. A flight of stone stairs led from the front of the hall to the upper storey. To the right of the bottom of the stairs ran a long narrow veranda, from which a cookhouse opened to its right. A little further along this veranda were a few steps leading to a well, the sergeant's latrine and a coal store. On turning a half circle and descending further down the steps, one arrived at a courtyard which had the "dead house", force pump, cleaning shed, and a fresh water tank.

The first storey of the Lower Vittoriosa Hospital was reached by a flight of stairs from the front of the hall. Here were wards No 1 to 5 which formed two sides of a square, while the wall of No 6 ward, pack store and latrine forming the other two sides. Consequently, the four wards numbered 2, 3, 4 and 5, and the door leading into No 6 ward were in close proximity to a badly constructed latrine. No 6 ward ran the whole breadth of the building forming the second house. The far side wall formed the end of another square, which had a closed veranda with an officer's latrine to its right and a servant's room on its left. At the opposite end were wards No 7 and No 8, and a small room reached by a covered veranda, from which descended wooden stairs to a small courtyard. The courtyard had a cellar, urinal and a latrine.

  • No 1 ward measured 16 feet 5 inches in length, 16 feet 3 inches in breadth, and 16 feet 9 inches in height. It had 4 beds.
  • No 2 ward measured 30 feet 6 inches in length, 17 feet 7 inches in breadth, and 22 feet in height. It had 7 beds.
  • No 3 ward measured 18 feet 6 inches in length, 16 feet 3 inches in breadth, and 17 feet 6 inches in height. It had 5 beds.
  • No 4 ward measured 18 feet 6 inches in length, 15 feet in breadth, and 16 feet 8 inches in height. It had 5 beds.
  • No 5 ward measured 18 feet 7 inches in length, 15 feet 2 inches in breadth and 16 feet 9 inches in height. It had 5 beds.
  • No 6 ward measured 63 feet in length, 23 feet 1 inches in breadth and 23 feet 9 inches in height. It had 18 beds.
  • No 7 ward measured 10 feet 8 inches in length, 13 feet 4 inches in breadth and 13 feet 6 inches in height. It had 5 beds.
  • No 8 ward measured 24 feet 4 inches in length, 14 feet 8 inches in breadth and 22 feet in height. It had 4 beds.

Lower Vittoriosa Hospital accommodated 53 patients, but three beds were reserved for the orderlies to sleep in. The average daily number of occupants was 22 men.

The average annual strength in 1869 was 731 men. There were 573 admissions into hospital; 6 died in hospital; 1 died out of hospital. The ratio per 1000 strength of those admitted was 783.9 and for deaths 9.57.

The average strength of the battalion during the year was 37.03 officers, 730.66 NCOs and men, 83.08 women and 86.83 children. 13 children died in 1869. The average daily sick for the year was: officers 0.54, NCOs and men 21.78, women 0.71, children 1.12. The percentage of sick for the year was 3; the percentage of deaths to strength for the year was 0.96. The average number constantly sick per 1000 of mean strength was 30.05. There were 195 admissions during the year from Simple Continued Fever.

The following men died in 1869:

  • No 897 Pte John Wixen, aged 22 years, died on 20 February 1869 from ague picked up in Tunis. He had been with his regiment for only 3 years, and in Malta for just 3 months when he died. Wixen was admitted to the regimental hospital on 29 January 1869 suffering from fever and pains in his back and loins.
  • No 3148 Pte Peter McKenzie, aged 33 years, died at Polverista Gate Barracks on 16 April 1869 from apoplexy. He had served for 14 years and had been in Malta for seven months. Mckenzie was married; he was a man of good character. He went to bed in apparent good health, but shortly afterwards his wife heard him moan once or twice, and then ceased to move.
  • School Master John Henderson, aged 38 years, died at his lodgings at 29 Strada San Giuseppe Senglea on 16 July 1869 from delirium tremens. He was a man of very irregular habits and developed delirium tremens on 9 July.
  • No 2129 Sgt John Boole, aged 39 years, died on 21 August 1869, from hepatitis. He had served for 24 years and had been in Malta for 8 months. He was admitted to the regimental hospital on 24 June complaining of pain in the right hypochondrium from an enlarged liver. On the 14 July he was transferred to the Sanatorium at Citta Vecchia, but was returned to the regimental hospital on 8 August as his health had not improved.
  • No 2752 Pte John Bullimore, aged 37 years, died at the Sanatorium Citta Vecchia on 29 September 1869 from phthisis pulmonalis. He had served for 17 years and had been in Malta for six months where he served as an officer's servant. He was admitted into the regimental hospital with a troublesome cough on 4 May 1869 and was transferred to the Sanatorium at Citta Vecchia on 20 May.
  • No 2515 Pte Edward Walsh, aged 34 years, died on 19 October 1869 from apoplexy. He had served for 20 years, and had been at Malta for 12 months. He was a man of intemperate habits. He had been drinking for some days before his admission into the regimental hospital on the day he died, complaining of abdominal pains. Soon after, he had a fit from which he never recovered.
  • No 1013 Cpl James Waite, aged 22 years, died on 20 October 1869 from pneumonia. He had served with his regiment for 3 years, and had been in Malta 1 year. Waite was admitted to the regimental hospital on 23 September complaining of a cough.

1870 48th (Northamptonshire)

Barracks Occupied by 48th Regiment in 1870
Barracks Average Strength Fever
Sick Soldiers
Isola Gate 244 31 12.74 Head Quarters Company from 1 Jan to 6 Oct
Floriana 442 24 5.42 Head Quarters Company from 6 Oct to 31 Dec
San Francesco de Paola 114 27 23.68 Detachment from 1 Jan to 6 Oct
Polverista Gate 193 33 17.09 Detachment from 1 Jan to 6 Oct
Table III: Barracks occupied by 48th showing the average strength, number of hospital admissions from fever, and the percentage of sick soldiers during the period each barrack was occupied.

6 Oct 1870 The 48th had been at the Cottonera District since its disembarkation at Malta in 1868. It had detachments at Isola Gate Barracks, St Francesco de Paola, and Polverista Gate Barracks. During the summer months a third of the men slept under canvas. Tents were provided for them at Isola Gate, San Francesco di Paolo, and Polverista Gate Barracks. The 48th Regiment vacated the Cottonera District on 6 October, when it marched to Floriana Barracks.

Floriana Barracks occupied an elevated position at the north-west angle of Floriana. Its western side overlooked the Quarantine Harbour, while the Civil Hospital formed its eastern boundary. The entrance to the barracks was through a large gateway situated at the northern extremity. At the other end of the gate was a kitchen which connected the two opposite sides with each other.

The barrack accommodation consisted of 12 casemated rooms, 11 of which lay parallel to each other, facing due east and west; the twelfth room was at right angles to the other eleven. The barrack square occupied a narrow alley about 250 yards long, which for two-thirds of its length, was only about 40 feet wide. On the western side, as one entered the barracks, were a two storied building occupied by the Quarter Master and Quarter Master Sergeant, a small building used as an armourer's shop, and a latrine for women. Further on was another building used for the issue of the soldier's rations, a building with cells for prisoners, a latrine for the sergeants, a latrine for the rank and file, and 12 casemated barrack rooms. The latrines for the men had only nine seats, but nine more were added during the year. The sergeant's latrine had four seats.

On the eastern side of the barracks was a long line of buildings, the upper rooms of which belonged to the Civil Hospital. The lower rooms were used as: guard room, married non-commissioned officers rooms, quartermaster's stores, canteen, orderly room, sergeant's mess, tailor's shop, shoe makers shop, the regimental lithographic press, ablution room, and a small store for holding objects used by the Pioneers, a sergeant's mess kitchen, and a room for the Provost Sergeant. The Provost establishment consisted of four cells for those sentenced by the commanding officer to seven days imprisonment. There was a small space walled off from the general thoroughfare where prisoners performed hard labour.

The twelve barrack rooms varied in their dimensions. Rooms no 1 to 6 measured 80 feet 4 inches in length by 24 feet 4 inches in width and 12 feet 3 inches in height. Rooms 7 to 10 were 83 feet in length by 24 feet 2 inches in width and 12 feet 3 inches in height. Room 11 was 75 feet 3 inches in length by 24 feet 2 inches in width and 9 feet 5 inches in height. Room 12 was 100 feet in length by 21 feet in width and 6 feet 4 inches in height. These twelve barrack rooms were capable of holding 46 men each. The roof of each casemated room was circular, bombproof and built of limestone. The floor was flagged with hard stone. In 1870, none of the rooms, other than the twelfth, communicated with each another internally. The twelfth room set at right angles to the rest and led to the room next to it at its northern end. Each barrack room had two sandstone filters.

The side walls of each barrack room had a recess in their centre, with three shelves for holding plates, knives, and forks, and below the shelves was space for mops, brooms and a washing tub. Above every man's cot was a shelf and three pegs for holding the knapsack and accoutrements. Every room except the twelfth, had four large windows, one above the door, one on each side of the door, and one at the opposite end of the room from the door looking out at the embrasure. The twelfth room had only one large window looking onto the embrasure and a doorway leading into the adjacent room. Each barrack room was lit by gas with three burners in the centre of each room. The rooms had neither stoves nor fire places.

Floriana Barracks had no baths for the men to cleanse themselves. There were three ablution rooms, two on one side of the barrack enclosure, and one on the other. One of these was supplied with 11 wash hand earthenware basins; the other with 15 basins fitted into a long slate at regular intervals about three feet from the ground. The basins were supplied with water from a large tank in the barracks. Bathing parades were held twice weekly, early in the mornings, from June to September.

The regimental band occupied a large wooden hut in Notre Dame Ravelin. Married men did not share the barrack rooms with single men, but lived in a long building with rooms for 18 families in Notre Dame Ravelin. Families were given a single room each, but larger families were given two rooms if these were available. The end quarters had two rooms each for married non-commissioned officers. Each of the 18 apartments had its own oven.

Notre Dame Ravelin had 13 wooden huts, in addition to this long building. Each hut was occupied by two families separated by a central wooden partition. A wooden floor in each hut was raised about half a foot above the ground. Each hut had four windows, two on each side, opposite each other, with a door at either end. The huts were very uncomfortable, especially in winter. They had no kitchen, so that families had to cook their food on small Maltese stoves burning charcoal and coal out in the open. The ravelin had its own laundry. It also had a latrine for men and a separate latrine for women and children.

The Horn Works of Floriana accommodated families in 23 wooden huts which were similar to the ones at Notre Dame Ravelin. Each hut held two families. Sanitation in the Horn Works was poor. The latrine was just a large recess cut out in the sandstone without any possible ventilation, and flushed out with salt water daily. Lime was thrown into it each morning and evening. The Horn Work had neither cookhouse nor ablution rooms.

Mortality and Morbidity 48th Regiment – 1 January to 31 December 1870
Month Strength 1st day of the month Hospital Admissions Total
January 708 35 1
February 698 35 0
March 697 39 2
April 695 36 1
May 690 34 0
June 686 28 0
July 687 43 0
August 685 58 1
September 680 79 0
October 678 50 1
November 675 56 1
December 673 49 0
Table IV: Regimental strength on the first day of the month, showing number of admissions to hospital per month and the number of deaths recorded. (TNA:WO 334/77)

During the summer months the troops wore a white cotton tunic on all duties, except guards, when the red serge frock coat was worn with summer trousers of a light texture. A forage cap, with a white cover over it, was worn in such a way so as to completely shelter and protect the back of the head and upper part of the neck from the sun. In winter, a cloth tunic and cloth trousers with chakos were worn on parade and guards. During the winter months the white cotton tunic with the red serge frock coat, cloth trousers, and forage cap were worn on all fatigues.

The regimental hospital for Floriana Barracks was situated in the General Hospital Valletta, about three-quarters of a mile from the barracks. A covered spring wagon visited the barracks every morning to gather the sick and to return those discharged from hospital to their respective barracks. Five wards, a surgery, and a store room set were set aside at the Valletta hospital for use by the 48th Regiment.

At the north-west angle of the front courtyard of the military hospital Valletta was a stone staircase of 22 steps, which led at the right hand top to No 29 Ward (10 patients). Immediately next to it was the surgery. On turning to the left, one proceeding up another staircase of 18 steps, and then verged to the right to reach No 34 Ward (12 patients ). A door at the far end of No 34 Ward led into No 34A Ward (3 patients), and further on was another door leading into No 34B Ward (2 patients). The Store room was reached by leaving No 34 Ward, and proceeding sharply to the left and then a little to the right. No 36 Ward was passed on leaving the storeroom, but No 37 Ward (13 patients) was reached by going straight up, and to the right. No 37 ward had seven large windows, three on the right wall, two on the left, and one at the opposite end from the door. The wards had the following dimensions:

  • No 29 Ward, Length: 50 feet, Width: 18 feet 6 inches, Height: 13 feet 10 inches.
  • No 34 Ward, Length: 67 feet, Width: 17 feet 6 inches, Height: 20 feet 3 inches.
  • No 34A Ward, Length: 23 feet 2 inches, Width: 19 feet 8 inches, Height: 20 feet 3 inches.
  • No 34B Ward, Length: 17 feet 6 inches, Width: 16 feet 6 inches, Height: 20 feet 3 inches.
  • No 37 Ward, Length: 50 feet, Width: 31 feet 2 inches, Height: 13 feet 8 inches.

In 1870, the average strength of the regiment was 24.11 officers, 689 non-commissioned officers and men, 84 women and 92 children. Two women died, one from anaemia and the other from bilateral fractures of her thigh bones following a jump from a height of 36 feet. Six children died from: 1 Tabes Mesenterica, 1 Bronchitis, 1 Teething, 1 Diarrhoea, and 2 from Debility.

The average daily sick rate was: officers 0.06, NCOs and men 22.97, women 0.16, children 0.52. There were 542 men admitted into the hospital (787/1000 mean strength), with 5 deaths in hospital and 2 out of hospital (10.16 deaths/1000 mean strength).

The following men died in 1870:

  • No 468 Pte Charles Johnston, aged 29 years died at the regimental hospital on 17 January 1870 from cancer of the stomach. He had served with his regiment for 10 years.
  • No 3552 Pte William James, aged 33 years 5 months died at Forrest Hospital on 3 March 1870 from bronchitis. He had served for 15 years.
  • No 784 Pte John Kelly, aged 34 years died suddenly while on his way to parade on 10 March 1870 from an aneurysm of the aorta. He had served for 15 years.
  • No 1447 Pte G Spence, aged 19 years 7 months died at the regimental hospital on 14 April 1870 from phthisis pulmonalis. He had been in Malta for 18 months.
  • No 1047 LCpl John Pearson, aged 21 years 8 months died at the regimental hospital on 22 August 1870 from Simple Continued Fever. He had served for 4 years and had been in Malta for 1 year 8 months.
  • No 3196 Pte Matthew Murphy, aged 33 years 4 months died suddenly in his barrack room on 18 October 1870 from phthisis pulmonalis. He had served for 15 years with two years in Malta.
  • No 3102 Sgt William Tickle, aged 33 years 10 months, died at Forrest Hospital on 18 November 1870 from Remittent Fever. He had served for 17 years and had been in the Crimea and India. He was at Pembroke Camp on the annual course of musketry when he was attacked by what at first appeared to be Common Maltese Fever, but which soon progressed to Remittant Fever. In the course of the fever he became jaundiced. On 17 and 18 November Sgt Tickle suffered from a complete suppression of urine, went into a coma and died in the evening of 18 November. His widow objected to a post mortem and none was carried out.

1871 48th (Northamptonshire)

The 48th Regiment had an average strength of 709 men. There were 542 admissions into hospital (764/1000 mean strength), with 8 deaths in hospital and 1 out of hospital (12.69/1000 mean strength).

The 48th was in Floriana Barracks. This barracks was reported by successive PMOs as being an unhealthy barracks, with a high incidence of continued fever amongst the troops. During the year, it had the highest ratio of admissions for continued fevers in the garrison.

Smallpox had been prevalent in the Mediterranean during the autumn of 1870 and appeared in the civil population in October. The military had 66 admissions and 12 deaths. On 3 January 1871, the first case was reported in the 87th Regiment. The 48th had the highest number of cases with 24 hospital admissions and 3 deaths.

1872 48th (Northamptonshire)

In 1872, the 48th had an average strength of 65 men. It had 36 admissions (554/1000 mean strength) into hospital with 1 death in hospital and 1 among the invalids (30.77/1000 mean strength).

5 Feb 1872 The 48th left Floriana Barracks and embarked on HMS Crocodile for Bombay. It disembarked in India on 28 February 1872.

The 1st/Northamptonshire Regiment

1928 1st/Northamptonshire

Dec 1928 A detail of 4 officers and 32 men of The Northamptonshire Regiment arrived at Malta.

1929 1st/Northamptonshire

1 Jan 1929 Strength: 15 officers and 324 rank and file.

1 Oct Strength: 23 officers and 861 rank and file.

1930 1st/Northamptonshire

1 Jan 1930 Strength: 9 officers and 96 rank and file. The battalion was temporarily in Palestine from January to July 1930.

1931 1st/Northamptonshire

1931 The 1st/Northamptonshire Regiment no longer appears in the returns after 1 Apr 1931.

The 2nd/Northamptonshire Regiment

Oct 1910 The 2nd/Northamptonshire Regiment was warned off for embarkation for Malta.

1911 2nd/Northamptonshire

18 Jan 1911 The 2nd/Northamptonshire Regiment embarked at Southampton from Colchester on the Dongola. It disembarked in Malta on 25 January.

1912 2nd/Northamptonshire

1913 2nd/Northamptonshire

7 June 1913 Baptism of Pte Charles James Henman of St Andrews Barracks, born on 12 February 1890, son of William Francis and Sarah Henman. He was baptised in the Zejtun Gate Church Room while in Detention Barracks.

1914 2nd/Northamptonshire

18 Jan 1914 The 2nd/Northamptonshire Regiment embarked for Alexandria on the Rewa.


  • Farmer J. S., 1984. The regimental records of the British Army Reprint Edition, Trowbridge, Wiltshire: Crecy Books.
  • Edwards T. J., 1980. Regimental Badges First Edition, Tonbridge, Kent: Ernest Benn Ltd.
  • 1TNA:CO 158/6; Villettes to Hobart 12 August 1802, reference fever in 48th.
  • TNA:WO 156/113. Register of burials September 1853 to June 1862.
  • TNA:WO 156/600. Register No 19. Baptisms in the Chapel School of Margherita and in the Zejtun Gate Church Room between 29 April 1913 to 11 August 1918.
  • TNA:WO 156/595. No 3, Marriage Register 11 July 1839 to 14 May 1859.
  • TNA:WO 334/62, Army Medical Department Sick Returns and Reports, Infantry Regiments and Hospitals abroad (1 January 1869 – 31 July 1870).
  • TNA:WO 334/77, Army Medical Department Sick Returns and Reports, Infantry Regiments and Hospitals abroad (1 January 1870 – 31 December 1870).
  • TNA:WO 379/11. Stations of Regiments 1859–1900.
  • TNA:WO 379/15. Stations of Regiments 1901–1920