Prime Minister

Born in Valletta, son of Walter Strickland and Louisa née Bonici Mompalao, from whose side of the family he inherited the title of sixth count della Catena. Gerald studied in Malta, Italy, and Britain, where he took an honours degree in Law at Trinity College, Cambridge. 

He began to take an active part in Maltese politics at an early age and won the warm praise of Dr Fortunato Mizzi, whom he even accompanied to London to submit a scheme for a legislative assembly. The result was that the new Constitution of December 1887 was largely based on the joint Strickland-Mizzi proposals.

In 1887, at the age of 28, Strickland was elected to the council of government as a representative of the nobility and landed proprietors. In 1888 he was nominated principal government secretary, a post he held until 1902. Strickland was created a companion of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1889 for rendering invaluable services during a severe cholera epidemic. He served as governor of the Leeward Islands in the West Indies (1902-1904), Tasmania (1904-1909), West Australia (1909-1912), and New South Wales (1912-1917).

On returning to Malta after the grant of self-government, Strickland founded the Anglo-Maltese Party in 1921 and, after a few months, merged it with the Maltese Constitutional Party forming the Constitutional Party under his leadership. He was the leader of the opposition (1921-1927). In 1924 Strickland won the seat for Lancaster for the Conservatives in the House of Commons.

After the 1927 elections, following the so-called ‘Compact’ alliance with the Labour Party, Strickland obtained a majority in the legislative assembly and became head of a ministry – (the fourth prime minister between August 1927 and June 1930). In 1928 he was elevated to the peerage. One of the most important projects of his government was the commencement of building works for St Luke’s Hospital.

During his administration, Strickland clashed with the senate leading to the issue of Letters Patent which curtailed its powers. Concurrently he clashed with the ecclesiastical authorities which led to the suspension of the Constitution in 1930.

Between July 1932 and November 1933, he again was the leader of the opposition and in 1939, after the grant of the new Constitution, he became the leader of the elected majority in the council of government.

Other offices Strickland held included president of the Cambridge Union (the first Catholic ever to be elected), president of the Committee of Privileges and chairman of the Malta Cholera Committee.

He was a contributor to the Encyclopedia Brittanica and owner and director of Progress Printing Co. and The Times of Malta.

In 1890 Strickland married Lady Edeline Sackville and they had eight children – two sons and six daughters – the two sons and one of the daughters died in infancy. In 1926 Strickland remarried Margaret Hulton. He died at his residence in Villa Bologna, Attard and was buried in the family vault at the Mdina Cathedral.

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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