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Budge Flag: United Kingdom

Last modified: 2014-07-16 by rob raeside
Keywords: budge flag | red ensign |
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[Budge flag]

See also:

Budge flag

The Budge Flag and the 18th century British army flag had a similar design though the army version was not called a Budge Flag. This design of the army flag was said to have been used by Cornwallis when he surrendered to Washington. It shows up in several American histories, including on the Web. My drawing is based on some photographs and drawings of this type of flag.

When used by privateers (until 1856 when privateering was abolished), it was called the Budgee (or Budge or Bugee) Flag. There was apparently quite some variation of the flag with some examples in which the canton takes up three quarters of the flag, the red thus becoming a mere border along the lower and fly edges. The privateers were required to use the Red Ensign, but the Budgee was used as a jack. (David Prothero says that the word "budgee" comes from Bugia, -- Bougie in French, modern Bejaïa -- Algeria.)
Bill Hitchins, 20 September 2000

Since sending the Budge Flag (also spelt Budgee and Bugee), I have learnt that it was a privateers jack. The flag appears to be confused by some sources with the Meteor Flag (I only have American sources for that name). The design of the two flags appears to be identical. Some Internet sources (found by entering "meteor flag" in a search engine) state that the Meteor Flag was an ARMY flag others state that it was the British Red Ensign and used on ships. This may possibly be the confusion with the Budgee Flag.
Bill Hitchins, 25 September 2000

I have never heard of a "budge" flag, or indeed, of any variant spelling of "budgee". Second, the "privateer or budgee jack" (whilst similar in design) was an entirely separate animal. Thirdly there appears to be some doubt as to whether the "meteor flag" was a red ensign or a union flag, however, there are (off hand) 70 or so years between the demise of the first term (1707) and the invention of the second. Finally, as far as I am aware it was never used by the British Army but was an entirely naval flag.

The Dictionary of Vexillology defines Budgee Flag as follows:

A late 17th, early 18th Century English/UK naval term, now obsolete, for an ensign that bore a union flag canton rather than a canton with the cross of St George, and before 1707 for use only outside home waters (see also ‘budgee pendant’, ‘privateer jack’ and ‘ensign 1)’).
English Red Ensign c1625 – 1707; Budgee Flag for use outside home waters until 1707, then British Red Ensign 1707 – 1801 (CS)

Please note that prior to 1707, as far as can be discovered, the budgee flag was invariably a red ensign – see ‘red ensign 2)’.
Christopher Southworth, 29 June 2014

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