Dating red flags
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The movement culminated in a petition for the Scottish Government to seek a warrant from the U. government to reintroduce the flag as an ‘informal or voluntary ensign’ for Scottish merchant vessels. Mac Kenzie stressed that the “petition was not meant to replace or supersede the British Red Ensign.” On the legislative union of England and Scotland in 1707 the tiny Royal Scots Navy came to an end as a separate force, and the "Union" colours, invented on the union of the two crowns a hundred years before, were inserted in all ensigns, naval and mercantile.
Prior to 1707, an English red ensign and a Scottish red ensign were flown by the English and Scottish Royal navies respectively.In 2015, a movement was launched by Lieutenant Commander George Mac Kenzie RNR to have the Scottish Ensign officially recognised, on the basis that the Merchant Shipping Act of 1995 permits Her Majesty the Queen in Council or a Secretary of State to approve “any colours consisting of the Red Ensign defaced or modified”.Supporters cited the example of The States of Jersey, who in 2010 were permitted to use a "voluntary of informal" red ensign, adorned with a Plantagenet crown.As a result, the Blue Ensign was used throughout the Empire and thus became the model for the flags used by a number of colonies and former colonies in the British Empire.At the same time, the red ensign (which was designated in 1864 as the flag for merchant shipping) was used by merchantmen of those colonies which obtained an Admiralty warrant.Until 1864, the Red Ensign was also the principal ensign of the Royal Navy, and as such it was worn by ships of the Red Squadron of the navy, as well as by those warships that were not assigned to any squadron (i.e., those sailing under independent command).
The white ensign and the blue ensign were also used by the Royal Navy.
Prior to 1707 the Scottish Red Ensign was flown by ships of the Royal Scots Navy, with a Saltire in the canton.
The Scottish Ensign has been flown unofficially by many Scottish vessels for a number of years.
The precise date of the first appearance of these earlier red ensigns is not known, but surviving payment receipts indicate that the English navy was paying to have such flags sewn in the 1620s.
In 1674, a Royal Proclamation of King Charles II (1630-1685, reigned 1660-1685), confirmed that the Red Ensign was the appropriate flag to be worn by English merchant ships.
Many in the Admiralty felt that the Royal Navy's use of three separate ensigns (i.e., the red, white, and blue) was outdated and confusing.