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Farsons Foundation sponsors historical research of initial British period 1/9/2008

Essays on Governing Malta 1800-1813 is the title of a book by Patrick Staines that was launched under the patronage of the President Emeritus of Malta, Professor Guido DeMarco and sponsored by the Farsons Foundation. The 16 essays go into considerable depth when examining the problems that arose in administering government in the earliest days of the British connection with Malta. In that period, although Britain ruled, it had no sovereign authority over the island.

The first 13 years of British rule were quite an unsettled period. The basic rule of administration was that the systems of government which prevailed during the time of the Knights of St John, prior to their being ousted by the French in 1798, should be adhered to. British Civil Commissioners nevertheless sought to place a British imprint on these old forms, without much guidance or support from the Ministry in London.

The book is not just about personalised authority at the centre, but also covers how the governing system of that initial period operated and how it was financed. It sheds fresh light on the circumstances of the French capitulation in 1800 and relates to the period when Malta almost went back under the rule of the Order of St John.

Patrick Staines is a former senior civil servant. After a distinguished career, he initially retired in 1977, while fairly young, as Secretary at the Office of the Prime Minister. He subsequently returned as Advisor to the Prime Minister in 1987, and filled a number of other high offices.   

The Farsons Foundation was established in 1995, with the main objectives of promoting, diffusing and safeguarding of Maltese culture, heritage and social solidarity. “Through this sponsorship, the Farsons Foundation wants to promote and assist the development in the understanding of our rich and varied cultural and historical past in order to read better the present and enlighten ourselves when planning our future as a European nation,” said the Foundation’s Chairman, Bryan A Gera.

“Malta can boast of a very rich past – the various historical archives in Malta bear witness to this statement – but this past needs to be properly researched by qualified persons, who will then present their work to shed more light on, and give more insights about, the building of the Maltese nation to all those who study or simply love to learn more about Malta’s cultural and historical heritage, as Mr Staines has done through this collection of essayss” said Mr Gera.

An unusual book in many respects, this collection highlights the intrigues, both political and other, which were a standard feature of the time. The role played by William Eton in fanning political unrest, the visit of the Royal Commission of 1812, and the Plague of  1813 are among the interesting subjects covered. 

Thoroughly researched, Essays on Governing Malta 1800-1813 relates to a period about which not a great deal is known. This collection of essays, which are 'stand alone' topics, can be read in any order.