“after many difficulties in boisterous storms”
In 1603, James VI of Scotland was crowned James I of England. The Scots, in their pride that they had given a king to England, soon began to contend that the cross of St. Andrew should take precedence over the cross of St. George, that ships bearing the flag of the latter should salute that of St. Andrew. To allay the contention, the King issued the following Order in Council on 12 April 1606, “By the King: Whereas, some differences hath arisen between Our subjects of South and North Britaine travelling by Seas, about the bearing of their Flagges: For the avoiding of all contentions hereafter. We have, with the advice of our Council, ordered: That from henceforth all our Subjects of this Isle and Kingdome of Great Britaine, and all our members thereof, shall beare in their main-toppe the Red Crosse, commonly called St. George’s Crosse, and the White Crosse, commonly called St. Andrew’s Crosse, joyned together according to the forme made by our heralds, and sent by Us to our Admerall to be published to our Subjects: and in their fore-toppe our Subjects of South Britaine shall weare the Red Crosse onely as they were wont, and our Subjects of North Britaine in their fore-toppe the White Crosse onely as they were accustomed,” and all vessels were forbidden to wear any other flag at their peril. The new flag thus designed by the heralds and proclaimed by this order was called the “King’s Colours.” For a long period the red cross had been the flag of English navigators, as well as the badge of English soldiery. No permanent English settlement in America was made until after the adoption of the “King’s Colours.” Jamestown, Plymouth, Salem, and Boston were settled under the new flag. The ships bringing over settlers, being English vessels, also carried the red cross as permitted. The “King’s Colours” became the national flag, and not simply the naval ensign, after the Act of Union in 1707, until the union with Ireland in 1801, when the present national flag was adopted.
[I attempted to put pictures of these flags on this blog, but I have not been successful.]