First Lieutenant of Żejtun

Giuseppe Abela was born in Żejtun, son of Tommaso Abela and Margherita née Bonavia.

Giuseppe Abela was one of the leading captains and figures with different roles during the blockade of the French (1798-1800).

The Żejtun military unit under Giuseppe Abela consisted of 357 armed men, who participated mainly in three open battles: they took control of St Thomas Tower at Marsascala, after overpowering the French garrison there, they unsuccessfully assaulted Our Saviour and Bighi fortifications, and alongside the Żabbar unit, repelled the French troops that had sallied forth out of Cottonera Gate to force their way to Marsascala.

After the expulsion of the French from Malta, Alexander Ball, the British Commissioner in Malta, appointed Giuseppe Abela as Żejtun’s first Lieutenant and gratefully built for him the garden still known at Żejtun as ‘The Lieutenant’s Garden’, though its official name is ‘Luqa Briffa Garden’.       

He was one of the signatories to the Declaration of Rights of the Inhabitants of 15 June 1802.

He married Domenica Bonavia from Luqa on 3 June 1783. Besides other children they had Tommaso, who became a priest, Vincenzo who became a medical practitioner, and Maria Teresa from whom the late Dr Alexander Cachia Zammit* is directly descended.

Giuseppe Abela died at the age of 63 years.

This biography is part of the collection created by Michael Schiavone over a 30-year period. Read more about Schiavone and his initiative here.

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