The Malta Independent 23 June 2024, Sunday
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FWA Launches publication about Col Henry Anderson Morshead.

Sunday, 5 May 2024, 09:00 Last update: about 3 months ago

BOV supported publication pays tribute to Commanding Royal Engineer

Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna, in collaboration with Bank of Valletta, has published a biography and history about Colonel Henry Anderson Morshead, the Commanding Royal Engineer in Malta between 1829 and 1831 and his funerary monument at the Saluting Battery in Valletta.

As Commanding Royal Engineer, Colonel Henry Anderson Morshead (c.1774-1831) was responsible for various works on the fortifications of Malta, the most notable of which were two reports on the state of coastal defences in Malta and Gozo and the long-standing issue of many accretions that were allowed to encroach on the main fortifications of Valletta and the main harbours. Throughout his long military career, he served twice in the Flanders; at San Domingo where he almost lost his life to yellow fever and was saved by Sir Thomas Maitland with whom he became a lifelong friend; Madeira, Britain and finally at Malta where he died on 11 November 1831. At Madeira he undertook various important works including an extensive evaluation of its defences against invasion from the sea.

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The book is written by Mario Farrugia, Founding Chairman of Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna- the Malta Heritage Trust. The book also documents Colonel Morshead's service in in all three capitals - London, Edinburgh and Dublin where he was involved in various military works, not least the building of a dock at Plymouth and extensive field defences against a presumed French invasion.

Morshead was born into an Anglo-Irish minor landed family whose ancestral home was in Limerick, Ireland. Yet he lived all his life in Plymouth when not serving overseas. There he lived in luxury in a large estate home with park and woodlands inherited by the wife. As was the norm at the time he had a large family most of which he brought with him to Malta when he was posted here. Three of the girls were married to military or civilian officers in Malta. Afflicted by sudden illness, Morshead died in the seat of power as Acting Governor of Malta and Commander in Chief of the Troops. He was replacing Governor Ponsomby who was away in England to receive a knighthood. Given his position he was given a state funeral to which a large part of the population attended. He was buried upon his own request at the Saluting battery to be close to the burial place of his one-time friend Sir Thomas Maitland in the Upper Barracca. Sometime later his wife erected an imposing funerary monument which survived two World Wars but vanished soon after probably a victim of neglect and indifference. This was the last funerary monument or burial site to be allowed on Malta's fortifications.

This book is the result of extensive research conducted by the author in Malta and abroad to retrace the history of Morshead's monument on account of Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna's commitment to restore it back to its former glory in line with its restoration of the Saluting Battery which it had started in 2004 with the support of Bank of Valletta.. It includes an extensive study about life in early British Malta and a comparative study of public monuments erected during that period.

The book is spread over 230 pages. It is hardbound and extensively illustrated. It was published by Midsea Books for Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna. It carries a forward by Major General Mungo Melvin CB OBE, Historian of the Corps of the Royal Engineers and Chairman of the Royal Engineers Historical Society.

FWA Chairman and author Mario Farrugia presented the first copy of the book to Charles Azzopardi, Head CSR Dept at Bank of Valletta in front of the replica of the funerary monument dedicated to Col. Morshead.

The book is being sold exclusively by Fondazzjoni from its website www.wirtartna.org or the Saluting Battery in Valletta to raise funds for the restoration of Colonel Morshead's monument there.

Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna in collaboration with Bank of Valletta as organising a lecture about the publication and the influence of Col Morshead in Malta on Tuesday 7 May 2024 at 6.30pm at the Embassy Hotel, in Strait Street Valletta. This lecture is free of charge. Those who wish to book their place at this event are kindly requested to send an email to [email protected]. A copy of the book can also be pre-ordered by email from Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna for the price of €35 instead of the normal price of €40.


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