The Record of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials

performed by the Reverend D.P.Cosseratt

Chaplain to the Forces, Malta.

 

 

Having taken control of Malta from the Knights in June 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte left behind a small occupying force of just over 3,000 men whilst his ĎArmy of the Eastí journeyed onwards to Egypt. The French fleet was in Aboukir Bay when it was attacked and defeated by the British Navy, under the command of Admiral Horatio Nelson. This action on the 1st August 1798 became known as the Battle of the Nile.

 

Although the Maltese rose up against the French occupation in September 1798 and with British help managed to besiege the French troops in Valletta and The Three Cities, it was not until September 1800 that the French surrendered.

 

The British were then able to assemble a large Army in Malta with Sir Ralph Abercrombie as Commander-in-Chief, to engage the French ĎArmy of the Eastí stationed in Egypt.

 

A large armada comprising twenty sail-of-the line, twenty seven frigates, and eightyfour transports, carrying around 17,500 men, sailed on 20th December 1800, for Marmorice Bay, Turkey, prior to their landing in Egypt.

 

An early casualty in the conflict was Sir Ralph Abercrombie, who was mortally wounded at the battle of Alexandria on 21st March 1801. His body was rought back to Malta, where an impressive  funeral took place on the 29th April 1801.

 

It was against this background that the Reverend Cosseratt sailed from England in April 1801 to join the British Army in Egypt.

  General Sir Ralph Abercrombie

Commander-in Chief British Forces in the Mediterranean

 

The Reverend David Peloquin Cosseratt, was born in Exeter, Devon, on 19th February 1772, the son of Sir Nathaniel Ellias Cosseratt, a Lawyer and sometime Recorder and President of the Council.

 

He became a Freeman of the City of Exeter by privilege in 1795 at the age of 23, but was unmarried when he died in August 1809 in Malta, and the family estates passed to his brother.

 

Throughout his voyage to Egypt in April 1801 he kept a diary, and on the back of each page recorded the baptisms, marriages and burials which he performed. In each case therefore the first few entries relate to Alexandria, and thereafter to Malta where he arrived during December 1801.

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