From 1530 to 1798, Malta had been ruled by the Order of Saint John. The Order was ousted during the War of the Second Coalition and Malta was occupied by Napoleon. The Maltese rebelled after a couple of months of French rule and asked Britain for help. Eventually, the French capitulated in 1800 and Malta voluntarily became a British protectorate. Britain was then supposed to evacuate the island according to the terms of the Treaty of Amiens of 1802, but failed to keep this obligation – one of several mutual cases of non-adherence to the treaty, which eventually led to its collapse and the resumption of war between Britain and France a year later.
Malta became a Crown Colony on 23 July 1813, when Sir Thomas Maitland was appointed as Governor of Malta. That year, Malta was granted the Bathurst Constitution. Malta's status as a Crown Colony was confirmed by the Treaty of Paris of 1814, which was itself reaffirmed by the Congress of Vienna of 1815.
The plague broke out in Malta in March 1813, when a British merchant ship infected with the disease arrived from Alexandria. The disease began to spread especially in Valletta and the Grand Harbour area, and when Governor Maitland arrived, stricter quarantine measures were enforced. The plague spread to Gozo by January 1814, but the islands were free of the disease by March of that year. Overall, 4,486 people were killed which amounted to 4% of the total population.
After the eradication of the plague, Maitland made several reforms. He was autocratic since he refused to form an advisory council made up of Maltese representatives, and so he was informally known as "King Tom". He formed the Malta Police Force in 1814, while the local Italian-speaking Università was dissolved in 1819. Various reforms were undertaken in taxation and the law courts as well. Maitland remained Governor until his death on 17 January 1824.
In 1825, the Maltese scudo and the other circulating currencies at the time were officially replaced by the pound sterling. Despite this, scudi and other foreign coinage continued to circulate in limited amounts, and the last scudi were withdrawn over 60 years later in October and November 1886.