British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview
under the protection of a constitution which will render them happy, and for ever unite them to the Crown of His Britannic Majesty. . . .
28
MALTA: LORD LIVERPOOL TO THE COMMISSIONERS OF INQUIRY INTO THE AFFAIRS OF MALTA, 1 May 18121
GENTLEMEN,
1. Herewith you will receive a Commision under the Great Seal by which you are empowered to enter into the fullest investigation of the civil affairs of Malta, and to report thereon, for the information of the Prince Regent's Government.
2. The circumstances under which the British authority has been established in Malta presents a case bearing no analogy to any other instance in the modern history of this kingdom: and it is therefore difficult to adduce precedents by which your proceedings might be regulated or your opinions guided.
3. By the assistance of His Majesty's arms the people of Malta and Gozo were enabled to expel the French from their country;--and the Order of St. John which had held dominion in the islands between two or three centuries, having become virtually extinct, the British have remained with the tacit consent of the Maltese people, in actual possession of the civil as well as military authority.
4. Since the people of Malta came under the protection and control of Great Britian, they have invariably evinced the strongest attachment to His Majesty's Government, and have shown the most marked aversion to any political arrangement which might separate them from the Crown of Great Britain. But the unsettled state of European affairs, and the long war in which we have been involved, have heretofore prevented His Majesty from establishing in Malta any permanent form of Civil Government, and from interfering with the laws which were in existence in the island at the time when the expulsion of the French left the whole authority in our hands.
5. The superintendence of civil affairs has been entrusted to a Commissioner, whose powers have never been strictly defined, and his government has been carried on by personal management and by general attention to the interests and feelings of the Maltese people, rather than by any fixed regulations emanating from His Majesty's Government at home.
6. The ecclesiastical affairs of the island have continued nearly upon their ancient footing, and the old laws and practice of judicial
____________________
1
C.O. 159/4 pp. 86-98. The Commissioner appointed were à' Court, who had been chargé d'affaires at Palermo; Burrows, who had been Chief Justice in Dominica; and Oakes, who was Civil Commissioner of Malta.

-127-

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