British Naval Flags of Command

By Rear-Admiral Sir R. Massie Blomfield, published July 1920


A table prepared by Samuel Pepys in 1685 showing the Flags of Command in use in the British Royal Navy when he became Secretary for the Affairs of the Admiralty is here transcribed and the build up to it over the previous century considered. Confusion in usage of such flags had increased following the death of Lord Howard, but his successor in 1619, George Villiers first Duke of Buckingham did much in the way of improvement with the aid of his admirable secretary, Edward Nicholas, who himself left ample notes to be found in the British Museum. The practice of Admirals in command of a Grand Fleet hoisting the Royal Standard at the main when neither of Royal Lineage nor holding the rank of Lord High Admiral had been stopped by Charles I in 1635. The first great change in the use of Distinguishing Flags in the Navy had come in 1652, on the fitting out of Parliament’s Grand Fleet under Blake, Deane and Popham with the authority of the Council of State. The Programme drawn up by the Generals is here set out from a letter to the Navy Board by the Secretary to the Admiralty, Robert Blackburne.

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Filed under: Other (Early Modern) | Other (location)
Subjects include: Miscellaneous

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