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Bailiwick of Jersey

Last modified: 2007-07-28 by andré coutanche
Keywords: united kingdom | jersey | saltire | st patrick's cross |
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[Flag of Jersey] by Vincent Morley
Flag adopted 7 April 1981.

See also:

Description of the flag

The flag is white with a red saltire. Above this saltire appear the arms of Jersey.
Pascal Vagnat, 14 March 1996

The current flag was officially hoisted for the first time in 1981 (bicentenary of the battle of Jersey) although the proposal for the adoption of a new flag dated back to the Queen's Silver Jubilee year of 1977. The States of Jersey approved the new design on 12 June 1979, with only two votes against. The Queen officially issued the proclamation of the new flag on 10 December 1980.

Strictly speaking, the crown above the arms on the flag is not part of the arms of Jersey and was a new device introduced for some heraldic reason (potential confusion with use of the three leopards by England, I gather). The crown is described as being of 'ancient type' and is commonly called the Plantagenet crown.

Previously used flag

[Former flag of Jersey] by Jarig Bakker

This flag is often described as a St. Patrick's cross.

Although St Patrick had nothing to do with Jersey, a red saltire on a white ground is commonly called St Patrick's cross. There may not be any sound evidence linking Saint Patrick, as a person, to a red saltire on white, but the connection, between St Patrick, as a name, and a red saltire on white, was made when the Order of Saint Patrick was established in 1783, and extended when the term "Crosses Saltire of St Andrew and St Patrick" was used in the blazon of the Union Jack in 1801.
David Prothero, 25 January 2001

Reports of the use of the flag

In what period has the St.Patrick's cross been used in Jersey?
Nozomi Kariyasu, 21 January 2001

Since about 1830 until the shield was added in 1981. Several lines of evidence exist for its use in this period:

  • Here is an extract from the translation of a letter written by the Bailiff of Jersey to the Lt-Governor in 1906: "As I have stated in previous correspondence the distinguishing flag formerly used by Jersey vessels - notably during the period (extending over several centuries) throughout which the Channel Islands enjoyed the privilege of neutrality in the wars between England and France (as to which consult Le Quesne's Constitutional History in Durell's edition p.p. 116-174 and Notes p.428-9) to ensure immunity, was the red St Andrew's cross on white ground, to this day called, and in local use as, the 'Jersey Flag'. Venables Vernon." Public Record Office, HO 45/10061/B2262.
    David Prothero, 22 January 2001

    The Bailiff of Jersey's reference to its earlier use is very vague. One might guess that he is perhaps referring to what is known as the Hundred Years War of the 14th and 15th centuries. A letter written by the Secretary to the Government of Jersey in 1938, quoted in Flag Bulletin Jan/Feb 1983, refers to a Papal Bull granted by Pope Sixtus IV (1471-1484) confirming the privilege of neutrality, but its significance in relation to the flag is disputed. I shall see if I can borrow a copy of the book that is mentioned by the Bailiff.
    David Prothero, 25 January 2001

  • A flag book called Neptune François published at Amsterdam in 1693 showed a red saltire on white as the Irish flag. This was copied by several later publications. A Dutch book of 1700 (De Doorlughtige Weereld) says the following: 'Yrland heeft een witte Vlag, met een rood Andries Kruys' ('Ireland has a white flag, with a red Andrew's cross'). This publication seems to have had one interesting effect: the illustration of the red saltire was captioned 'Ierse' ('Irish') in this and in later Dutch publications. An English author, Carington Bowles, misunderstood the Dutch caption and showed the red saltire as the flag of Jersey in his Universal Display of the Naval Flags of all Nations (1783), thereby giving the island the flag which, slightly modified, it still uses.
    Vincent Morley, 20 January 1997

    The theory about the origin of the flag quoted above is, I submit, of dubious value. This is NVL Rybot's theory which is hotly disputed. No evidence has ever been presented to show that the flag was adopted by Jersey after the Dutch mix-up, or any reason why a flag with no administrative status should be whole-heartedly adopted by a French-speaking population on the basis of a Dutch/English linguistic confusion. The case that the Dutch were confused simply because Jersey and the Irish were indeed using the same simple device has never been refuted. There is a theory that the red saltire was adopted by Jersey ships at an earlier period as a variation of the cross of St. George in order to distinguish themselves from English ships and thus demonstrate their neutrality.

    The clinching argument for the adoption of a new flag was that the traditional red saltire had never been proclaimed officially and that its use was simply traditional custom. The traditional flag was supposedly not distinctive (or 'distinguished') enough to be adopted officially. The question of the new flag raised passions. Many saw no need for the flag to be changed at all. A strong body of opinion would have preferred les trois léopards (the Island's three leopards) simply shown on the flag - or possibly the two leopards of Normandy. The flag with the three leopards (gules three lions passant guardant) is indeed the one that hangs over the Bailiff's chair in the States chamber. The current flag appears therefore to be a compromise between different opinions.
    Geraint Jennings

  • This flag is in Norie/Hobbs (1848), on the flagchart of Laurie (1842) on p. 70 of Wilson's Flags at Sea (1986), and discussed extensively by Carr/Barraclough in "Flags of the World". In my opinion the reference in these books to the St. Patrick's cross looks spurious, based on references in Irish history books, and dubious images on Dutch flagcharts, where 'Ierse' might be read as 'Jersey'. However the images of Norie/Hobbs 1848 and Laurie (1842) seem to indicate that by that time the Jersey flag was used extensively - while it is not present on previous British flagcharts in Wilson's book.

    Barraclough's "Flags of the World", 1971 has this to say: "Jersey uses a white flag charged with a red diagonal cross. Although this flag has yet to receive the formal recognition of H.M.Government it appears to have been established as the island's territorial flag for well over a century. (...) This flag is flown on all official occasions on public buildings, as well as on business establishments.
    Jarig Bakker, 21 January 2001

  • The international flag book by Christian Pedersen (1971) mentions that Jersey state flag - the same as the St.Patrick's Cross-has been used as the territorial flag of the island for just over a century,without however being formally recognized by the British Government. He also mentions that Jersey Lieutenant Governor's flag is the Union Flag charged in the centre with the arms used by the States of Jersey,which are identical with the first and fourth quarters of Arms of England. These are placed on a white roundel within a green garland.
    Nozomi Kariyasu, 26 January 2001

    Flags & Coats of Arms by William Crampton (1985) mentions that the flag of Jersey has a white field charged with a red saltire of St.Patrick and in the top triangular field there is a red shield with three gold lions passant guardant (this was granted to the island as a seal by Edward I in 1279) ensigned with the crown of the Plantagenets and in this form the flag was approved on 7 April 1981 and without the arms it was used unofficailly for a hundred years.
    So I assume that the flag without arms were used c.1870 until 1985.
    Nozomi Kariyasu, 26 January 2001

  • It is interesting to recall that when the Channel Islands were occupied by Germany during World War II, this flag was worn as an ensign by ships carrying passengers and cargo between the islands - the use of the Red Ensign being, for obvious reasons, out of the question!"
    Jarig Bakker, 21 January 2001

Origin of the Arms

In 1905 the Home Office suggested that Jersey and Guernsey should apply for arms so that the badges used on the defaced Union Jacks of the Lt-Governors would be properly warranted. It was pointed out that the arms of Man were already on record and that the College of Arms, would extend to the Channel Islands, the special arrangement by which colonies were granted arms for a reduced fee. Jersey and Guernsey replied that they were granted arms by Edward I in 1277 and 1279 respectively, but perhaps the College of Arms was not aware of this, not having been incorporated until 1484. Garter King of Arms replied that a small differencing was advisable to distinguish the Arms of Jersey from the English Arms, "in order that the Arms of England might not be used pure by a dependent state of the realm." However continued use of Arms of Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney "as previously granted" was approved by the King.
David Prothero, 31 January 2001

Flag of the Lieutenant-Governor

The arms of Jersey are gules three lions passant guardant. The Lieutenant-Governor flies a Union Jack with the shield of arms on a white disc surrounded by a garland in the centre of the flag.
Roy Stilling, 14 March 1996

Civil ensign

[Civil ensign of Jersey] by Vincent Morley

Jersey uses the plain Red Ensign of the United Kingdom as its ensign.
Roy Stilling, 14 March 1996

Reports of a New Ensign

Jersey, Great Britain now holds a new red ensign, unlike any other in Britain. It was awarded this year to the island for its service in World War II at Dunkirk. Like the original, it also has the St. Helier axe cross, that is found on the island's capital parishes's flag.
Steven Jeune, Jersey, C.I., 12 November 2000

I have no idea if this is correct or not, although if I recall correctly Jersey was the only Crown Dependency that lacked its own Red Ensign (though Mr Jeune appears to be suggesting this putative new flag is replacing an existing one, which would be news to me).
Roy Stilling, 13 November 2000

Perhaps this is a reference to the ensign of the St Helier Yacht Club? Red Ensign with superimposed Warrant issued by the Lieutenant-Governor with Admiralty approval, 12th May 1952. Uniquely granted as a Battle Honour in recognition of services by member's yachts in the evacuation of the crew of HMS Wild Swan, a destroyer that had taken part in the operation to demolish the lock gates in St Malo on 17th June 1940. The club had requested a foul anchor badge on a Blue Ensign but this was refused by the Admiralty who offered a plain anchor or the Arms of Jersey on a Red Ensign. For services during WWII and especially at Dunkirk, a defaced Blue Ensign was awarded to the Thames Motor Yacht Club in 1951. [Colours of the Fleet by M.Farrow and ADM 1/23993]
David Prothero, 14 November 2000

Jersey Blue Ensign

[Blue ensign of Jersey] by Robert Kee , 5 March 2001

In 1905, the Harbour Master of St Helier applied to the Admiralty for a badge for a Blue Ensign that would be "plainly distinctive and easily distinguishable from the special Blue Ensign of the Royal Channel Islands Yacht Club, and from the ensign used by Guernsey authorities, a three leopard badge surmounted by a sprig of laurel." The ensign was needed to identify the steam-tug "Duke of Normandy" to the French who had granted it the privilege of official recognition and immunity as a vessel in public service. This placed the "Duke of Normandy" on the same footing as tenders of Trinity House who were not charged harbour dues. States of Jersey were the registered owners and the ship would fly the Blue Ensign only when on government service. The badge on the Blue Ensign of the R.C.I.Y.C. was three yellow lions on a red shield ensigned with a crown. The proposed badge was a red saltire on a white rectangle surmounted by a yellow bordered red shield charged with three yellow leopards ensigned with a crown.

The request was not well received. The Home Office were aggrieved because the application had been made direct to the Admiralty, and not through them, and the Admiralty considered that the application should be refused because Jersey was not a colony, the States were not a public office, and therefore the Order in Council authorising Blue Ensigns did not apply. It was finally decided that it could be granted as a special case under Sec.73(i) of the Merchant Shipping Act 1894; "any other ship or boat for the time being allowed to wear any other national colour (other than the Red Ensign) in pursuance of a warrant from His Majesty or from the Admiralty." Thus the warrant that was sent in March 1907 stating that the badge of Jersey in the fly should be the arms, was for one particular ship, and was not extended for general use by any vessel operated by the States of Jersey until 1997.
David Prothero, 31 January 2001

The States of Jersey boats were on display at the Harbour this weekend and I managed to get a decent shot of the ensign.

Here's an extract from the warrant dated 2/3/1907:

By the Commissioners for Executing the office of Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, etc.
Whereas We deem it expedient that the steam-tug "Duke of Normandy," belonging to the States of Jersey, shall be permitted to wear the Blue Ensign of His Majesty's Fleet, with the Badge of Jersey in the fly thereof, namely, gules - three leopardised lions, passant guardant, or, in a shield.
The fleet now consists of three boats: two tugs "Duke of Normandy" and "Duchess of Normandy", and the Fisheries Protection Vessel "Norman Le Brocq". For further details, see the website at
Geraint Jennings, 4 March 2001