Silver salver gifted to British officer by the people of Malta to go on sale at Bonhams

Brigadier General Thomas Graham was instrumental in the liberation of Malta from French control


An 18th century silver salver presented by the people of Malta to Brigadier General Thomas Graham in gratitude for his role in the liberation of the island from French control during the siege of Malta 1798-1800 is to be sold at Bonhams Fine Silver sale in London on 12 November.  It is estimated at £25,000-30,000 (€32,000-38,000).

The French Navy captured Malta in June 1798 en route to Egypt where Napoleon had ambitions to confront the British and force an end to the French Revolutionary wars which had started in 1792. 

Napoleon garrisoned 3,000 troops on the island but their behaviour, particularly in looting the Roman Catholic Churches to pay for the Egyptian expedition, so outraged the Maltese that in September they rose in revolt and drove the French into the port city of Valletta. 

In the meantime, Lord Nelson had destroyed the French fleet in the Battle of the Nile on 1 August leaving the Royal Navy and its allies in control of the Mediterranean.

The Allies instituted a naval and land blockade and it was during the latter  that Brigadier General Graham earned the gratitude of the people of Malta.  Outnumbered by the French, Graham pursued a policy of starving the enemy out.  This was so punishing that by the time the French finally surrendered in September 1800 they were losing men at the rate of 100 a day.

The inscription on the salver reads: "TRIBUTO DI RICONOSCENZA DEL POPOLO MATLESE AL SIG R GRAHAM BRIGADIERE GENERALE DELLE TRUPPE ALLEATE NELL' ASSEDIO DI MALTA 1800", which translated means “A token of gratitude from the people of Malta to Mr Graham  Brigadier General of the Allied Troops at the siege of Malta 1800.”

More in Art