H.M.S. Shannon & H.M. Coast Guard
James Gallivan, was born on the 25th of March, 1839,
at Castletownsend, County Cork, Ireland, the son of
Daniel Gallivan. He enlisted in the Royal Navy on the
3rd of April, 1855, serving aboard H.M.S. Conway as a
Boy 2nd Class. In April of 1856 he began serving as a
Boy 1st Class on board H.M.S. Himalaya.
Gallivan then volunteered for ten years continuous
service and transferred to H.M.S. Shannon, again as a
Boy 1st Class, on the 2nd of September, 1856. H.M.S.
Shannon, launched in November of 1855 at
Portsmouth, was a screw steam frigate of fifty-one
guns, commanded by Captain William Peel, R.N.
The Shannon arrived at the mouth of the Ganges River
on the 6th of August, 1857, soon reaching Calcutta.
The Indian Mutiny having started at Meerut in May,
Captain Peel offered the services of his crew to the
Government of India to assist in the suppression the
rebellion. His offer was accepted and the Shannon’s
crew formed one of four Naval Brigades sent up
country. Of the four Naval Brigades, only the
officers and men of H.M.S. Shannon were to qualify
for any of the clasps authorized for the Indian Mutiny
While in Calcutta, the Shannon signed on approximately one hundred addition crew members, many of whom had no previous
naval or military service. The officers and men of the Shannon were towed up the river Hooghly to the Ganges on shallow
draft “flats”, with the first party leaving the ship on the 14th of August, 1857, under the command of Captain Peel, and the
second contingent, under the command of Lieutenant Vaughn, leaving the ship on the 18th of September, 1857.
Sir William Clowes in The Royal Navy, writes:
“As the Brigade took with it both guns and howitzers, as the towing vessels were of but small power and shallow draught, and
as the current was strong, progress was slow; and Peel did not reach Allahabad, near the junction of the Jumna with the
Ganges, until the second half of October. By the 20th the strength of the brigade assembled there was 516 of all ranks. Of
these, about 240 men, under Lieutenants Wilson, Wratislaw, and Hazeby, were left in garrison at Allahabad.”
As the members of the Shannon’s crew under the command of Captain Peel that left Allahabad and marched to Cawnpore
ultimately went on to form part of the force that relieved the Residency at Lucknow, it is reasonable to assume that Gallivan
was one of the men left at Allahabad since he did not qualify for the Relief of Lucknow clasp for his Indian Mutiny medal.
Following the relief of the besieged Residency at Lucknow in November, the British forces performed a retrograde movement
to Cawnpore. By the 22nd of December, in preparation for the final assault and capture of the city of Lucknow, the men of
the Shannon who had been left at Allahabad rejoined the other members of the Brigade at Cawnpore. James Gallivan was
promoted to Ordinary Seaman on the 13th of February, 1858.
The Shannon’s Naval Brigade took a very active part in the fighting in the final capture of Lucknow in March of 1858. On the
2nd of March the Brigade took part in the third at the action at the Dilkoosha. On the 9th of March, while scouting for a
suitable spot on which to place some guns for breaching the Martinière, Captain Peel was severely wounded in the thigh by a
musket-ball. On the 10th, the Shannon’s guns were moved up to Bank’s Bungalow.
Starting on the 11th of March, the Brigade’s six 8-inch guns and two 24-pounders were chiefly employed in battering the
Begum's palace and it was while riding to with a message on March 12th that Mr. Garvey was accidentally killed by a shell
from one of the captured rebel mortars. The Begum Kothee was finally captured on the 12th. Captain Jones (an officer in
the 53rd Regiment serving with the Naval Brigade as a volunteer), on the same day, distinguished himself by remaining exposed
on the parapet of a battery in order to direct the fire of the guns behind it.
On the 13th, when the Shannon’s guns had been placed in a somewhat more advanced battery, a black Canadian seaman named
Edward Robinson displayed extraordinary coolness in extinguishing a fire which had caught hold of some sandbags forming the
face of the work. Under a storm of bullets from loopholes not forty yards away from him, he leapt out, and either quenched or
tore away the burning canvas, being, however, severely wounded. He was subsequently awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions.
On the 14th, the Naval Brigade took part in blowing open a gate leading to one of the courts of the Kaisarbagh; on the 16th the
guns were advanced to the Residency; on the 22nd the rebels evacuated the town; and on March 29th the Brigade handed over
the six 8-inch guns which it had brought up from the Shannon, which were placed in a park in the small Imaumbarah, with the
word "Shannon" deeply cut into each carriage.
Following the capture of Lucknow, the Naval Brigade from the Shannon saw no further fighting in India. The gallant Captain
Peel, slowly recovering from his wound, died from smallpox at Cawnpore on the 27th of April. The Brigade returned to Calcutta
on the 12th of August and on the following days rejoined the ship, which on September 15th sailed for England.
James Gallivan received the Indian Mutiny medal with clasp for Lucknow. The medal is named to James Galvin, a simple
mistake, as that is how his name is recorded on the medal roll, However, as Captain Douglas-Morris points out, his name is
given as Gallivan on the muster rolls and his papers show his name as Gallivan. James continued to serve on H.M.S. Shannon
until February of 1859, when he transferred to H.M.S. Impregnable.
James Gallivan subsequently served on H.M.S. Impregnable, H.M.S. Hawke, H.M.S. Cressy, H.M.S. Excellent and H.M.S. Tribune.
He is shown in the 1861 Census returns are being a Leading Seaman on board H.M.S. Cressy under the command of Captain
Thomas Harvey in the Mediterranean.
On 25 March 1867, James Gallivan extended for an additional ten years of continuous service with H.M. Coast Guard to be
borne on the books of the District Ship Fredrick Williams for pay purposes with actual service at the West Cove Station.
He was promoted to Commissioned Boatman on the 22nd of October, 1869, and to Chief Boatman on the 21st of January, 1876,
when his conduct was described as “exemplary”. He retired on the 1st of October, 1876, and was awarded a narrow suspender
Victorian Naval Long Service and Good Conduct medal named to him with engraved naming as Chief Boatman, H.M. Coast Guard.
Provenance: Sotheby & Co., 18 Feb. 1970, Lot 155.
Indian Mutiny Medal Roll, H.M.S. Shannon
Clowes, The Royal Navy: A History from the earliest times to the death of Queen Victoria, Sampson Low, Marston and Company,
1903, volume 7, 138 – 150.
Enumeration Book for the Royal Navy, 1861 Census of the Population of the United Kingdom, PRO 9/4439.
Verney, The Shannon’s Brigade in India, Saunders, Otley, and Co, London, 1862.
Watson, A Naval Cadet with HMS Shannon’s Brigade in India: The Journal of Edward Spencer Watson.
Douglas-Morris, Naval Medals 1857-1880, Bourne Press Ltd., Bounemouth.