Sir Alexander Ball, Civil Commissioner of Malta 1799-1801 and 1802-1809
During the Maltese uprising against the French
, the Maltese people formed a National Assembly as a provisional government. Messengers were sent to the British fleet in Sicily for help, and a British convoy consisting of 13 battered ships under Captain Sir James Saumarez
appeared off the island in late September 1798. In October Sir Alexander Ball
arrived in Malta, and a year later he was appointed as Civil Commissioner.
1803 cartoon about the evacuation of Malta
Under the terms of the 1802 Treaty of Amiens
, Britain was supposed to evacuate the islands, but failed to keep this obligation — one of several mutual cases of non-adherence to the treaty, which eventually led to its collapse and the resumption of war between Britain and France.
Declaration of Rights
The Declaration of Rights of the inhabitants of the Islands of Malta and Gozo, of 1802, at Palazzo Parisio
In June 1802, 104 representatives from the Maltese towns and villages signed a declaration entitled La Dichiarazione dei Diritti degli abitanti delle Isole di Malta e Gozo
(The Declaration of Rights of the inhabitants of the Islands of Malta and Gozo) by which they proclaimed George III
to be their king, and that he had no right to surrender Malta to another power. By the Declaration they also proclaimed that Malta should be self-governing while under British protection.
The British considered taking over Lampedusa as a naval base instead of Malta, but the idea was dropped as the island did not have deep harbours and was not well developed. Despite this, the authorities in Malta and the British government still attempted to take over the island as they believed that it could be used to supply Malta with food in case Sicily fell to Napoleon.
In 1800, Ball sent a Commissariat to Lampedusa to assess the feasibility of this and the result was that the island could easily be used to supply Malta with food at a relatively low cost as there was grazing ground and an adequate water supply. In 1803, some Maltese farmers settled on Lampedusa with cattle and sheep, and they began to grow barley.
In 1810, Salvatore Gatt transferred the lease to Alexander Fernandez, the British Commissariat, and the latter attempted to create a large Maltese colony on the island. This never materialized as a Royal Commission in 1812 stated that this was just a business venture and Britain refused to help Fernandez. Further problems arose when the plague devastated Malta
in 1813–14, and on 25 September 1814, Sir Thomas Maitland
withdrew British troops from Lampedusa.
Fernandez remained proprietor of the island until 1818, when Gatt returned and remained there with his family up to 1824.
In 1813 the island was transformed into a British Crown colony
by the Bathurst Constitution. On 23 July Sir Thomas Maitland
replaced Sir Hildebrand Oakes and was the first Civil Commissioner to be given the title of "Governor". Malta officially became a colony by the Treaty of Paris
- ^ "Census in Malta". National Statistics Office. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
- ^ a b Maltese History - G. The First Years of British Rule 1800-1824. St Benedict College. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
- ^ When the British planned to make Lampedusa part of the Maltese Islands. Times of Malta, 17 July 2011. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
Last edited on 28 April 2021, at 07:38
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