The gallivat (or galivat, or gallevat) was a small, armed boat, with sails and oars, used on the Malabar Coast in the 18th and 19th Centuries. The word may derive from Portuguese "galeota"; alternatively, it may derive from Mahratta "gal hat" - ship. Hobson-Jobson has an extensive discussion of the origins of the term and its usage.
The gallivat typically had one or two masts with a lateen sail, and some 20 benches for oarsmen, one on each side. They were generally under 70 tons (bm) in size, and had a prow much like that of a grab.
One of the ablest admirals of the 18th Century Maratha Navy, Kanhoji Angre (aka Angria), made great use of gallivats. Generally, each of his grabs would have an attendant gallivat, both to tow it in calms and to carry extra men.
On 26 December 1735 Angre attacked the East Indiaman Derby off Suvarnadurg. He deployed nine galleys, five grabs, and fifteen gallivats. Derby eventually struck her colours after having had seven men killed and five wounded. Angre kept the surviving crew prisoners for 11 months until the Governor of Bombay ransomed them.
The British East India Company made some use of gallivats. For instance, in 1773 the Bombay Dockyard built the Hawke, a gallivat, for the Bengal Pilot service. Earlier, in 1759, the Bombay Marine, the EIC's naval arm, had 13 "galivats", six at Bombay and seven at Surat.[Note 1] Each had a crew consisting of two Europeans, some two to six "Christian topasses", and 14 to 20 lascars. They carried from five to seven guns of unspecified size. In 1754, the largest galivat, the Sharke, of 38 tons (bm), had a crew of six Europeans, six Christian topasses, 20 lascars, and 16 soldiers. She was armed with one 3-pounder gun and six 2-pounder guns. The smallest galivat was the Swift, of 15 tons (bm). She had a crew of two Europeans, 14 lascars, and 11 soldiers. She was armed with one 1-pounder gun, and four ½-pounder guns (possibly swivel guns). A listing of Sidhi vessels seized by the EIC and held at Surat in 1759 gives the names of seven galivats. The largest, the Manzul, had a length of 44 feet, a breadth of 17 feet, and a hold depth of 4 feet. The length and breadth measurements translate into a burthen of 52 tons (bm). The smallest galivat, the Ram Chand, had a length of 29 feet, a breadth, of 13 feet, a hold depth of 4 feet, yielding a burthen of 19 tons (bm).
A galivat that the EIC captured in 1775 measured 84 feet in length, and 24 feet in breadth, which yields a burthen of 213 tons (bm). She had a single, forward-raked mast, and 24 oars, and carried ten 6-pounder guns. This would seem to be at the upper end of the size for a galivat, and represent a vessel more in the range of sizes for a grab.
Notes, citations and references
- The six at Bombay were: Dolphin, Sharke, Tyger, Munsury, Yacobkhany, and Swift. The seven at Surqat were: Squirrel, Kaither Bux, Nasary, Lively's Prize, Kaither Madut, Munsury, Fly, and Swallow.
- Yule & Burnel (1886), pp.361-3.
- Sutton (2010), p.49.
- Hackman (2001), p.85.
- Hackman (2001), p.339.
- Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency, Vol. 26, Part 3, p. 224. (Government Central Press, 1894).
- Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency, Vol. 26, Part 3, p. 220. (Government Central Press, 1894).
- Barendse (2009), p.392.
- United Service Magazine, Vol. 140, (1876), p.307.
- Barendses, Rene J. (2009) Arabian Seas, 1700 - 1763. (BRILL). ISBN 978-9004176584
- Hackman, Rowan (2001) Ships of the East India Company. (Gravesend, Kent: World Ship Society). ISBN 0-905617-96-7
- Sutton, Jean (2010) The East India Company's Maritime Service, 1746-1834: Masters of the Eastern Seas. (Boydell & Brewer). ISBN 978-1843835837
- Yule, Sir Henry, & Arthur Coke Burnell (1886) Hobson-Jobson: Being a Glossary of Anglo-Indian Colloquial Words and Phrases, and of Kindred Terms: Etymological, Historical, Geographical, and Discursive. (J. Murray).