Go to the Indian Marine, Bombay Marine & Indian Navy 1613-1858

The Bombay Pilot Service




As far as I can determine nothing at all has been written on the Bombay Pilot Service. In essence, it would seem to have been administered separately from the naval defence forces (with some exceptions noted below). At the time of writing, the earliest references to pilots in Bombay found that are readily available are in the published listings in the 1790s (see the main page on the Bombay Marine for these). While time consuming to go through, these can produce as close to ‘service sheets’ as is possible for these individuals, from joining, to resignation, pension, death or dismissal., giving progressions through grades and postings.

There are some administrative documents within those of Bombay’s naval defence forces relating to pilots from the 1790s onwards, but not that many. Apart from a single volume with some limited info on records of appointment, most deal with pay and are, therefore again of limited use for most purposes. For ease, the notes on both these subjects have been combined in one linked page.

Mariners’ common sense would dictate that there would have been a need for a pilot service at Bombay long before the 1790s and without ploughing through the Company’s day to day administrative material, this may be proved from one other source. This is the ‘Percy Smith’ collection, part of which is now in the possession of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich (the military aspects are, as far as I can determine, at the National Army Museum, Chelsea). Percy Smith was an officer in the Indian Army and on retirement active with the Society of Genealogists. From what I have seen so far, his papers are rather bizarre, inasmuch as they basically comprise a collection of lists, in all sorts of different formats. There is a large card index on the ‘Maritime Service’ and it is not unlikely that there will be pilots within this, although at this time, I have not seen any. Another part of his card index relates directly to the ‘Bombay Pilot Service’, but covers 1840 to 1933. Also, it should be pointed out that this collection is at one of the museum’s outstations and requires prior notice (at least of days and possibly weeks) to arrange.



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