Medical Officers
Of the Malta Garrison – 1823

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Malta Garrison – 1823

Malta Garrison

The strength of the garrison was 2234. This included 297 invalids and convalescents from the Ionian Islands. Of these, two returned to their Corps, 163 were sent to England for discharge, and 90 remained in the depôt at Malta pending availability of transport to return them to England. The 18th and 80th Regiments were quartered in Valletta and, Floriana, the 85th in the Cottonera.

By the end of the Winter Quarter (21 Dec 1822 to 20 Mar 1823), 424 sick were admitted into the hospitals with seven deaths. There were 492 admissions with three deaths at the end of the Spring Quarter (21 Mar to 20 June 1823). The end of the Summer Quarter, (21 June to 20 Sep 1823), saw 677 admissions with three deaths. The Autumn Quarter (21 Sep to 20 Dec 1823) saw the arrival of 205 invalids from the Ionian Islands. 588 sick soldiers had been admitted during this quarter with 12 deaths.

Overall there were 2256 admissions into the hospitals, including relapses, with 25 deaths. In 1822, there had been 39 deaths. The proportion of deaths to disease for 1823 was 1 to 91. In 1822 it had been 1 to 73. Continued fever, the result of exposure to the sun and intemperance, had been the most prevalent disease. It accounted for one seventh of all the admissions to hospital.

The garrison had 237 sick soldiers with venereal infections, representing about a ninth of all the hospital admissions. There were: syphilis primitiva 22, syphilis consecutiva 13, genital ulcers 91, bubo simplex 31 and gonorrhoea 80. In addition there were 44 cases of hernia humoralis, which was also considered to be venereal in its origins. The non mercurial practice had been adopted in the garrison, but the PMO accepted its limitations and mercury was resorted to when warranted.

Staff Medical Officers who were away from Malta were not replaced, increasing the work load on the remaining officers. Inspector of Hospitals John Hennen complained that: from the diminished state of the medical staff, the labour during the summer months have been felt in a very sensible degree by those who were present and fit for duty, not so much from any serious or unusual increase of sickness in the hospitals, as from the frequent calls to duties of the barracks, and examination and attendance on officers, women, and children in the hottest months of the year.

John Furphy an invalid of the 51st Regiment, aged 26 years, sent to Malta from the Ionian Islands on his passage to England, died on 2 Feb 1823 from paralysis. He was quite idiotic and beyond all hopes of recovery so that little could be done for him except to attend to his diets. Five small tumours were discovered in the spinal marrow.

George Bradley 32nd Regiment, aged 22 years, an invalid from the Ionian Islands on his passage after receiving his discharge from the service, died from suffocation from a sarcoma on the 12th day after admission to hospital. The tumour was of a large size extending from beneath the right ear to the acromiom in one direction and from the cervical vertebra to the sternum and clavicle in another. The soldier had been ill for two years but initially had no symptoms until the 27 Nov 1823 when he was admitted into hospital and died on 8 December.

Charlotte Harding Walker, wife of Surgeon Walker 32nd Foot, died on 7 May 1823, aged 23 years. (Quarantine Bastion Cemetery Floriana).

James Harris Royal Staff Corps aged 31 years, fell ill in August 1822 and died on 14 Mar 1823 probably of phthisis (returned as pneumonia).

John Cowley 8th Regiment, an invalid from the Ionian Islands, aged 30 years, died on 16 Nov 1823 in the advanced stages of phthisis.

Frances Henrietta Richardson, born on 25 Jan 1823, daughter of Benjamin Richardson, Clerk to the Inspector of Hospitals and Sarah was privately baptised on 12 Feb 1823 by the Rev John Thomas Howe Le Mesurier, Chaplain to the Forces.



  • A list of all the Officers of the Army and Royal Marines. War Office 10 February 1823.
  • TNA:WO 17/2234, Returns of the General and Staff Officers of the hospitals attached to the forces in Malta (25 January–25 December 1823).
  • TNA:WO 156/594. No 2, Baptism Register 2 January 1820 to 29 June 1839.
  • Annual report on the diseases in the garrison of Malta for 21 June–20 September 1823. Wellcome RAMC 374.
  • Hennen J. Quarterly summary report of diseases in the garrison of Malta from 21 September to 20 December 1823. Wellcome Institute RAMC 374.