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Windward Islands

Last modified: 2011-06-11 by rob raeside
Keywords: windward islands |
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The Windward Islands

Geographically the Windward Islands of the Caribbean are those islands between Martinique in the north and Grenada in the south. The islands included in the British colony of the Windward Islands were different. When established in 1834 it consisted of Barbados, Grenada, St Vincent and Tobago. St Lucia was added in 1838, Barbados was detached in 1885, Tobago was detached in 1889 and Dominica was added in 1940.

A Governor-in-Chief was responsible for the whole colony with a Governor or Administrator in each island.

There were no special flags for any of the Windward Islands until badges were approved for Barbados and Tobago 1870, Grenada and St Lucia 1875, and St Vincent 1877. They would have been for use on the Blue Ensign, and on the Union Jack for the Governor or Administrator of the individual islands.

In 1886 a badge was introduced for the Governor-in-Chief, for use only on the Union Jack.

Theoretically the Administrators of the individual islands, at that time Grenada, St Lucia and St Vincent, should have stopped using a defaced Union Jack. This was probably done in Grenada and St Vincent, but in St Lucia the Administrator continued to use a Union Jack defaced with the badge of the island.

The Leeward Islands were organised as a Federal Colony with one badge for all the islands, used on the Blue Ensign and the Union Jack. The Leeward Islands Federation was dissolved in 1956 and flag badges were introduced for individual islands of Antigua 1956, St Kitts-Nevis in 1957, British Virgin islands and Montserrat 1960. There was never a Leeward Island Red Ensign.

The illustration in Whitney Smith (1976) which causes much confusion is on page 186. It is part of a flag chart called "Flags of All Nations. Drawn specially for The Boy's Own Paper by Alfred Lambert." It has the badge of Nigeria, (incorrectly on a Red Ensign), which was not introduced until 1914. The sequence of badges is in general the same as in the 1916 edition of the Admiralty Flag Book. The artist has then arbitrarily drawn them on an alternating sequence of Blue and Red Ensigns. There are about twenty errors which I will list in a separate message.

David Prothero, 12 December 2000

 

Windward Islands 1886-1903

State Flag and Ensign

[Windward Islands 1889-1903] by Martin Grieve

The Windward Island badge was designed in 1884/85. It had by then been realised that the pictorial scene from the seal of a colony did not make a satisfactory badge on flags, and various combinations of crowns, crests and initials had been tried in different colonies over the previous five years.

I imagine that originally each quarter of the shield was to have had an emblem representing one of the four islands. This intention would have been spoilt when Barbados was detached in 1885, leaving only three islands. There was in any case no obvious emblem for any of the islands, and the problem of what to put in the fourth quarter probably led to the decision to have a shield quartered with just four plain colours.

The lettering on the garter does not follow the usual convention, in which the inner edge of the garter is used as the line on which words are written. Instead the first and last words are reversed, so that "Windward" rests on the outer edge, "Governor-in-Chief" on the inner edge, and "Islands" on the outer edge.

David Prothero, 2 October 2002

The Windward Islands' badge is described in Carr (1961), p.107, and I have an illustration of it on my 1920s "Flags and Badges of the British Empire" chart. It was a shield quartered plain red, yellow, green and black surrounded by a crowned garter bearing the words "GOVERNOR-IN-CHIEF" along the top, and "WINDWARD ISLANDS" along the bottom either side of the buckle. Underneath is a scroll bearing the motto "I PEDE FAUSTO" ("Go with a lucky foot"). The four colonies that made up the Windward Islands, Grenada and the Grenadines [sic], St Vincent, St Lucia and Dominica each had their own badges.

According to my 1945 Whitaker's Almanac, the Windward Islands were four separate colonies under a single Governor, each island having its own Administrator, Legislative Council and treasury. I'd speculate then, especially given the inscription on it, that the Windward Islands badge was probably a personal badge of the Governor-in-Chief and only appeared on personal flag (defaced Union Jack) and not a Blue or Red Ensign.

Roy Stilling, 12 December 2000

Flag of the Governor

[Windward Islands governor 1889-1903] by Martin Grieve

Detail of the badge

[Windward Islands governor 1889-1903] by Martin Grieve

 

Windward Islands 1903-1958

State Flag and Ensign

[Windward Islands 1903-1958] by Martin Grieve

Flag of the Governor

[Windward Islands governor 1903-1958] by Martin Grieve

Detail of the badge

[Windward Islands governor 1889-1903] by Martin Grieve

In May 1938 Sir Gerald Woods Wollaston, Garter Principal King of Arms, wrote to the Colonial Office that the Windward Islands badge was armorial but had not been granted by the College of Arms; it should be changed, or the colony should apply for a grant of arms. The letter was passed to the Governor who asked for the badge to be granted as arms. The Colonial Office applied for a grant of arms, but failed to ask what the arms would look like, and were embarrassed by the result. The Arms granted on 16 August 1939 were blazoned:

"Quarterly Gules, Or, Vert and Sable with the motto 'I pede fausto'; to be borne for said Windward Islands upon Seals, Banners or otherwise according to the Laws of Arms."
In other words the badge, as arms, was reduced to just a quartered shield of four plain colours and a motto. No additional embellishments, and the garter and crown removed.

Garter wrote that the crown used as a crest was a personal prerogative of the King and unsuitable for any other person or body. He classed colonial governments as corporate bodies on a par with banks. The garter emblem should be used only as relating to the Order of the Garter and with no inscription upon it, other than the motto of the Order. Eventually Garter agreed that badges were outside his province, and unofficially approved the idea of a crown being included in badge of Windward Islands. In January 1940 the Governor suggested that the garter should be replaced by a plain white ring bearing the same inscription, and that the ground within the ring should be white and not blue, but as far as I know this was not done, and the badge remained as before. Public Record Office, Kew, CO323/1641/16

David Prothero, 2 October 2002

According to Kannick's book 4th quarter on badge is silver-grey. I have revised 1886-1903 version. Martin Grieve, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Martin Grieve, 5 October 2002


The non-existent red ensign

An illustration in Whitney Smith (1976) which causes much confusion is on page 186. It is part of a flag chart called "Flags of All Nations. Drawn specially for The Boy's Own Paper by Alfred Lambert." It has the badge of the Windward Islands, (incorrectly on a Red Ensign), which was not introduced until 1914. The sequence of badges is in general the same as in the 1916 edition of the Admiralty Flag Book. The artist has then arbitrarily drawn them on an alternating sequence of Blue and Red Ensigns. There are about twenty errors on this chart.

David Prothero, 12 December 2000

It is surprising that a chart with so many gross errors was ever printed in a serious flag book, without a warning that it was inaccurate. It can be seen from the box of text about the chart, (which is detached from it by a column of general text), that the illustration is meant to show that, "The compiler of the flag chart at the turn of the century thus felt no hesitancy in devoting half the space for his 'flags of the world' to the red and blue colonial ensigns of Britain's overseas territories." The effect that was intended has been completely lost by printing only 6 rows of mainly British flags, instead of the whole chart, which has 11 rows of flags. Quite apart from the incorrect proportions of the flags, and the relative size of the badges, 25 badges are on the wrong ensign, or had never appeared on an ensign when
the original chart was printed. It was a "Flags of All Nations" supplement drawn specially for the Boy's Own Paper by Alfred Lambert and published in 1915.

David Prothero, 20 October 2002
 
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