Medical Officers of the Malta Garrison

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Malta Garrison – 1832

Regimental Medical Officers

Events 1832

Malta Garrison

On 24 Feb 1832, Sir Howard Elphinstone RE was sworn in as Acting Lieutenant Governor and Commander of the Garrison. During the Governor's absence from Malta, it was standard procedure for senior military officers to temporary take over the administration of the island.

On 5 Mar, Sir Frederick Cavendish Ponsonby, resumed his duties as Lieutenant Governor and Commander of the Malta Garrison.

As a result of the outbreak of cholera in England, the Board of Health in Malta directed that all vessels arriving from a port in England were to enter quarantine for 10 days. The hammocks and clothing of the crew and passengers were to be aired on deck and the hold and cabins fumigated.

The following baptism was recorded in 1832:

Michael George Balneavis, born on 3 March 1832, son of Lt Col and Town Major Henry Balneavis and his wife Georgina was privately baptised on 11 April 1832, by Archdeacon John Thomas Howe Le Mesurier Chaplain to the Forces.

The following burials were recorded in 1832:

  • 15 Jan: William Richardson 2 years, son of W. Richardson, Medical Department.
  • 21 Jan: Pte Marine Joseph Pratt 23 years, HMS Ganges.
  • 23 Jan: James Baker 38 years, HMS Alfred.
  • 8 Feb: Pte Marine Henry Golding 25 years, HMS Donegal.
  • 10 Mar: Mate John H. Dance HMS Alfred.
  • 2 Apr: Purser John Barber 45 years, HMS Scylla.
  • 12 Oct: QM Robert Porter HMS Scylla.
  • 16 Nov: Ordinary John Hawkins HMS St Vincent.
  • 29 Dec: Able Seaman Henry Ellis 22 years, HMS Barham.

Bighi Naval Hospital

Following the expulsion of the French from Malta, sick sailors were first admitted to the General Military Hospital Valletta, until the Slave Prison at St Christopher Street was adapted as a hospital. The latter remained in use until 11 July 1819, when the patients were moved to the former Armoury of the Order of St John in Vittoriosa (Birgu).

In 1827, the Combined Fleets of Russia, France and Great Britain arrived in Mata after the Battle of Navarino. The location of the Armeria away from the shore made it an unsuitable hospital, so that Fort Ricasoli had to be rapidly adapted for the wounded of the fleet.

In 1830, a villa on the San Salvatore promontory, overlooking the Grand Harbour, was converted into a naval hospital. The hospital was designed by Col George Whitmore RE and built by Architect Gaetano Xerri. The foundation stone was laid by Vice Admiral Sir Pultney Malcolm on 23 March 1830. The hospital was opened on 24 September 1832 at a cost of £20,000. It had beds for 250 patients. Each pavilion had two large and four small wards, and rooms for officers. A corridor 10 foot wide and 160 feet long ran through the centre of each wing.

Bighi received about 8% of the ship's companies of the fleet per year, which, for a fleet of 10,000 sailors, amounted to an admission rate of about 800 patients a year.

On 27 June 1832, the Lord Commissioners of the Admiralty directed Rear Admiral Superintendent Briggs to deliver the old Naval Hospital (Armeria) to the Civil Government, which housed the regimental hospitals of the corps in the Cottonera area.


  1. A list of all the officers of the Army and The Royal Marines. War Office 20 January 1832.
  2. TNA:CO 159/12, 1832 June 27, The old naval hospital.
  3. TNA:WO 156/121. Register of burials 1830 – 1837
  4. TNA:WO 17/2138, Returns of the General and Staff Officers of the hospitals attached to the forces in Malta (25 January – December 1832).