There is an old private house, the Casa Rocca Piccolo, in Republic Street, Valletta, Malta, which is open to the public. It was there that I first saw the scarlet uniform of Igino de Piro d'Amico, a Captain in the King's Liverpool Regiment. Having once been a member of the same regiment I promised the present Marquis de Piro, a representative of one of the oldest and most illustrious families in Malta, that I would try and trace his grandfather's military career. It was a quest that led to Victoria Park, Wavertree.
Igino was born in 1874 and educated at the Royal University of Malta before joining the King's Liverpool Regiment. He saw active service in the Boer War, taking part in the action at Rietfontain and Lombards Kop in Natal and at the Siege of Ladysmith. When Ladysmith was relieved he served in the Transvaal and was awarded The Queen's Medal with three clasps. On his return from South Africa to Malta, Igino was treated as something of a hero being publicly praised by the Governor, Lord Grenfell and then as The Malta Times records a local carriage was unhorsed and pulled through the streets with Igino riding in it!
Some time after my first visit to the house in Republic Street, Nicholas de Piro discovered his grandfather's Boer War diary in the family archives and also the letters which Igino had written home to his wife from South Africa.
Later Igino was adjutant of the 6th Volunteer Battalion of the King's - a territorial unit based at 59 Everton Road, Liverpool. In 1911, aged 37 and obviously thinking of retiring from the army, he wrote a letter to the Liverpool Watch Committee applying for the vacant post of Deputy Head Constable. His application was unsuccessful but a copy of his letter survives in the family archives addressed from his home: Cloverley, Victoria Park, Wavertree. Mike Chitty kindly identified this for me as the present No. 23 South Drive and earlier this year I sent a photograph of the house to Nicholas de Piro, who wrote back:
"Apart from myself, my ninety year old aunt was delighted with your 'find'. She was born in the very house! She remembers a housemaid called Winnie who wrote to her mother (my grandmother) until the 1940s. My Aunt Monica met Winnie in England when Winnie was old.
"I am told that my grandmother kept a cook, a housemaid and a nanny. Two children were born in Liverpool: Imperia died young and Monica survives. From what I can make out of the period, I gather that a runaway horse caused commotion and Monica's perambulator was toppled but the infant was unhurt …"
Mike Chitty points out that No. 27 South Drive was then called Sliema and occupied by a shipowner, Thomas G Best. Sliema, of course, is across the Grand Harbour from Valletta. Was this double Maltese connection a mere coincidence or were the owners known to one another before Igino came to live in Victoria Park?
After returning to Malta with his family Igino became 7th Baron Budaq, was later elected President of the Senate and also served on the Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobility. He represented Malta at the Coronation of King George VI and died in his villa at St Paul's Bay in 1942 during the siege of Malta. He is now buried in the Dominican Monastery at Rabat outside the old Maltese capital of Mdina. Should you visit Malta, call at the Casa Rocca Piccolo and you will see the very uniform that Igino wore when he lived at Victoria Park, Wavertree, nearly a hundred years ago.
Mr Waterworth made contact with us after accompanying the Princess Royal on her visit to Wavertree last year. We are very grateful to him for allowing us to publish this account of his researches.