The command flag of Richard, Earl Howe (1726-1799) by unknown

The command flag of Richard, Earl Howe (1726-1799)


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The command flag of Richard, Earl Howe (1726-1799) by unknown zoom

The command flag of Richard, Earl Howe (1726-1799)

A full-sized command flag of a 1st rate associated with the first fleet action of the French Revolutionary War, fought on the 1 June 1794 and thereafter known as the Glorious 1 June. It was flown as the flag of the British commander, Richard Earl Howe, indicating his role as Admiral of the Fleet. In Philippe-Jacques de Loutherbourg's painting of the battle (also in the Museum's collection, see BHC0470), the flag can be seen at the main of Howe's flagship 'Queen Charlotte' forming the apex of the composition. Although the British fleet were the victors capturing six ships and sinking a seventh, the French fleet protected a vital American grain convoy which successfully landed its cargo at a time of food shortage in France.

James I introduced by royal proclamation in 1606, a flag joining together the crosses and St George and St Andrew, the emblems of his kingdoms of England and Scotland. The king was anxious to unify the two formerly warring states and introduced the name Great Britain for the new dominion. The Union Flag designed by his heralds was specifically for use at sea. It remained in use (with a break during the Commonwealth period) until replaced in 1801 by the present day design. St Patrick's saltire was added at this date, representing the union of Great Britain and Ireland

  • Image reference: F7985-001

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