The Malta Independent 26 November 2022, Saturday
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A Manwel Dimech connection

Sunday, 2 October 2022, 07:00 Last update: about 3 months ago

The recent clearing of the contents of an old house in St Julian’s, residence of one of the daughters of Manwel Dimech, has uncovered items having a very close connection with Manwel Dimech. One of the most prominent personalities ever to grace the Maltese political, educational and patriotic landscape is undoubtedly Manwel Dimech. Born in Valletta at St John Street on Christmas Day, 25 December 1860, his parents were Karmenu and Vangiela née Zammit. Anthony Zarb Dimech writes

Sylvia Dimech (circa. 1907)
Sylvia Dimech (circa. 1907)

Since appearing for the first time in Maltese public life in 1898, Dimech strived not only for the freedom of our country from colonial rule but most importantly for the development of the individual as a person. Dimech was considered not only as a Maltese patriot but also as a thinker, philosopher, journalist and poet.

His progressive ideas for his time were considered too advanced and he and his family had to endure great sufferings by the local Maltese Church, the British colonial government and many Maltese who were instigated against him. He was exiled by the local authorities in Egypt where he died in 1921.


This feature throws some light on the two daughters of Dimech from the little but significant findings. Dimech had six children in all. Four of the children died in childhood with two surviving to adulthood and old age. Dimech was married to Virginia née Agius of Sliema on 2 October 1900.

The daughters of Dimech were Evelyn Dimech Agius, born in 1908, who was married to Inspector Robert J. Magri on 26 February 1935 and lived at 13, St Julian's Hill, St Julian's. They had no children. Evelyn passed away on 9 August 1996 at a Gżira Home.

The other daughter was Sylvia Dimech, born in 1903, married to Joseph Dimech. From this marriage one child was born, Anthony Dimech who was married to Emmanuela née Pandolfino. Emmanuela Pandolfino was the daughter of Joseph Pandolfino and Ann née Gallacher.

Anthony Dimech with his son

Anthony Dimech

The family link between the two Dimech siblings, Evelyn and Sylvia was remarkably close and when both Evelyn and Sylvia passed away, Anthony Dimech wrote to Dr Bonello, the family lawyer, in 1996 expressing his wish to retire together with his wife at the house in St Julian's. It was the place where his Aunt Evelyn and Uncle Robert (affectionately called Robbie) were like parents to him. He explained that all his childhood memories were of living with them in this house. He missed his aunt very much and he could not think of no other place he would like to be in retirement. He also wrote to his Aunt Evelyn's landlady (Mrs Fenech) expressing his desire to continue living there and he hoped to have Dr Bonello's support in this matter. Anthony Dimech in May 1990 was awarded a certificate in Entry Level Trades Training Joinery from the British Columbia Institute of Technology.


Inspector Robert J. Magri - Malta Police

Not much information is available from the items found concerning Inspector Magri but a pocket diary from 1952 shows the following insertions by date giving some idea of the work he performed:

Ø  15 January - To speak to Crown Council re cases falling under C. Law

Ø  17 January - Called at Shell Coy re theft of petrol

Ø  20 January - Spoke to Mr Rogers re PC's in staff at Pumping Station

Ø  21 January - PC's performing duties at Shell Pumping Station. Called on Mr Dempsey at 10.15am

Ø  22 January - Court at 9am, Spoke to Inspector Scicluna re pipeline

Ø  23 January - To speak to Anthony Simpson re falsification of lotto ticket

Ø  24 January - Ticket drawn at Lotto Office No. 19 at Żejtun

Ø  31 January - Trial by Jury (P. Dawson)

Ø  2 February - Lecture at 4.15pm

Ø  5 February - Case of F. galea

Ø  8 February - Court at 9am/Lecture at 4.15pm

Ø  12 February - Trial by Jury Albert Vella

Ø  13 February - Court at 9pm (A. Calleja)/Lecture at 4.15pm


Other entries are available from a 1953 pocket diary which also give insight to the work conducted by Inspector Magri.

During January of 1953, lectures were held for police officers about the Atomic War and which Inspector Magri attended. During the 1950s the world was preparing for any eventuality of a nuclear war as the world's superpowers were in an arms race as to who holds the largest stockpile of nuclear armaments. On 6 March - Court at 9am.

Inspector Magri greeting personalities (circa. 1950s)

A Prayer

Mrs Evelyn Magri's husband Robbie passed away in 1980 and she was alone in this house at St Julian's Hill for most of the rest of her life. This prayer, titled For those who live alone was found hanging on the wall. A true reminder of how loneliness can be borne with courage, faith and Christian hope.

I live alone Dear Lord,

Stay by my side,

In all my daily needs

Be Thou my guide.

For that indeed, I pray,

To carry on my work

From day to day

Keep pure my mind,

My thoughts, my every deed.

Let them be kind, unselfish in my neighbour's need.

Spare me from fire, from flood, malicious tongues

From thieves, from fear, and evil ones.

If sickness or an accident befall,

Then humbly, Lord, I pray, hear Thou my call.

And when I'm feeling low, or in despair,

Lift up my heart and help me in my prayer.

I live alone, dear Lord, yet have no fear,

Because I feel your presence ever near.

My interest in writing this feature sprang from what I term as God-incidence as I was presented with family mementos of the Magri family. Living just a few doors up the road from their residence and having known both Evelyn and Sylvia since my youth as neighbours, I could not help writing these few lines to honour theirs and their family's memory. Added to this, I am also related to Manwel Dimech from my late mother's (Mary Zarb née Dimech) side which added more enthusiasm to take pen to paper.

Any information on this subject may be addressed to me at: [email protected]

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