Reply To: Ensigns. Or: What flag is that?

Home Forums Nautical Research: 1500 – 1830 Ensigns. Or: What flag is that? Reply To: Ensigns. Or: What flag is that?

David Hepper

    In response to your first query –
    It would appear that British merchant shipping did use the Red Ensign.
    According to Perrin (British Flags Cambridge University Press 1922) in the early 17th C merchant ships wore national colours – St Georges Cross for England and St Andrews Cross for Scotland.
    In 1674 “… the use of the red ensign was for the first time legally recognised as the distinctive flag of a British merchant ship” by Royal Proclamation. This was a red ensign with either a St Georges or St Andrews flag in the canton.
    This was updated in a Proclamation of 1707 when the merchant flag was amended to be a red ensign with a Union flag in the canton.
    They were forbidden to use the Union Flag or fly any pendants which were the reserve of warships