RAMC

Medical Officers of the Malta Garrison
Franklin William

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Assistant Inspector of Hospitals William Franklin
KCH MD (Aberd 1795) FRCP (Ed 1804)
1763 [Holborn] – 29 Oct 1833 [London]

Introduction

William Franklin was apprenticed to Mr Robert Mackclellan, Apothecary to the Foundling Hospital, Rotherhithe London. He was approved as a regimental assistant surgeon following an examination in surgery at the College of Surgeons London.

Service Record — William Franklin

14 Oct 1787 Regimental Mate 43rd Foot. Accompanied the regiment to the West Indies.

31 May 1790 Surgeon 15th (York, East Riding) Regiment of Foot.

Nov 1794 Apothecary to the Forces in the West Indies.

1795 MD King's College Aberdeen.

1 Sept 1796 Assistant Inspector of Hospitals.

1 Sept 1799 On the Helder expedition with the army under the Duke of York.

7 Apr 1800 Assistant Inspector General.

Malta Dec 1801 Arrived from Egypt.

Head of the Medical department in Malta.

Member and President of the Malta Board of Health.

Malta 1802 Head of the Lazaretto following the departure of Superintendent of Quarantine William Eton.

Memorial of Ralph Green explaining how W Franklin became President of the Board of Health: Mr Eton, the superintendent of the lazzaretto has been replaced by Mr Pym, Deputy Inspector of Hospitals at Gibraltar. Be pleased to inform the Earl Liverpool that for several years a considerable part of the duties of Mr Eton have been gratuitously performed by me and that much of my time has been employed in the execution of those duties frequently of a very unpleasant nature.

I believe Mr Eton left Malta in 1802 or early 1803. At that time Dr Franklin was the principal army medical officer in Malta consequently it was an essential part of his duties to be most watchful of the public health there being a large garrison here at the time, and another in Egypt where the plague had lately raged and with which country there was a constant communication with Malta. Sir Alexander Ball found it necessary to request that Dr W Franklin would become a member of the Board of Health which then and at present regulated all quarantine as most of the vessels which came from Egypt, Turkey or the Barbary Coast at that time and ever more were either ships of war, transports or merchant vessels the property of or consigned to British subjects.

"Dr Franklin being the only member of the Board of Health in the service of government who could speak the English language references were continually made to him by persons in quarantine as to the duration of their confinement or how long their goods or vessels would be held. An unfavourable answer however necessary it might be seldom gave satisfaction, in fact from a Member of the Board, he gradually became considered as its president. Sir Ball finding after a length of time that Mr Eton did not return to resume his duties as superintendent of the lazaretto and that the part of it performed by Dr Franklin during his absence was essential to the public safety told Dr Franklin that as the duty took up so much of his time he did not consider it a right to accept of his gratuitous service any longer and that he would recommend to Government that a certain salary should be granted for its performance.

As Dr Franklin declined it in the first instance on the principle that as being the Head of the Medical Department in the Mediterranean it was his positive duty to be particular watchful of every thing relating to quarantine and I believe he did not wish to receive an addition to his income on terms which must have increased the difference the publicly known to exist between A Ball and W Eton. When Dr Franklin left Malta, Ball requested of me as Head of the Medical Department in the island to undertake the same duties telling me at the time that he did not consider it a right that they should be performed gratuitously. I told him I was aware of Dr Franklin's motives for declining a recommendation for an addition of income, that my principles were the same and that I would most cheerfully do my endeavour to fill his place on the same terms.

This is how the Senior Medical Officer of the Army in Malta became a principal member of the Board of Health. I make us use of the word principal as almost every subject where a complaint or difference existed was generally referred to him particularly if the party was English1.

7 Apr 1802 Inspector of Hospitals.

Malta 1803 Principal Medical Officer Malta Garrison.

Malta 22 May 1804 Inspector Malta Garrison.

6 Nov 1804 Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh.

Malta 1805 President of the Board of Health.

Complained to the Surgeon General about the small number of hospital mates on the establishment at Malta. (There were nine in 1805 compared to eleven the previous year). The Surgeon General sought permission from the Secretary at War to send more hospital mates. The Secretary at War in turn approached HRH Frederick, Duke of York, Commander-in-Chief of the British Army from 1798 to 1809. Franklin was then informed that 12 hospital mates had embarked on Craig's expedition, which arrived at Malta 18 July 1805. However, if these were to be deployed out of Malta, no hospital mates would be available, as Gibraltar had only two hospital mates who were still unattached to regiments. In Sep 1805, the Commander-in-Chief did not consider it necessary to send any more mates to Malta.

Malta Nov 1806 Left for Sicily as Principal Medical Officer. While in Sicily, he married Concetta Tricanj, a Sicilian Lady. They had six children.

12 July 1810 Principal Inspector Army Medical Department.
The Army Medical Board was dissolved in 1810, as a result of the criticism in the Fifth Report of the Committee of Military Enquiry 1808, over the medical failures at Walcheren. A new Board consisting of a Director General and two Principal Inspectors was constituted. On 12 July 1810 Franklin became one of the two Principal Inspectors General, on an annual salary of £1200. He served under Director General Sir James McGrigor.

28 Sept 1830 Appointed Principal Inspector General of the Army Medical Department.

President of the Army Medical Officers Benevolent Society.

1 July 1833 Retired to half-pay. On the death of his spouse in the early 1830s, Franklin resided with his daughter Mary Concetta and his son in law the Reverend William James Early Bennett. Mary Concetta Franklin had married Bennett on 21 August 1828.

29 Oct 1833 Died at his home in London from an attack of a apoplectic character aged 70 years.

Bibliography