English St. George’s Cross Flag

English St. George’s Cross Flag

(c. 1277 - 1707)

Other European nations refused to recognize Spain’s claim to the New World. In 1496, just four years after Columbus’s first voyage, England’s king authorized John Cabot to explore the New World and claim land for England. Cabot led expeditions to North America in 1497 and 1498, although he and his crew were presumably lost at sea on the ill-fated second voyage. His intention had been to sail to the coast of North America and then southward to China and Japan, so it is remotely possible he sailed as far south as the coastal waters off Georgia’s mainland.

Cabot’s two voyages became the basis for England’s claim to most of the eastern seaboard of North America—including Georgia. Had Cabot indeed sailed along Georgia’s coast in 1498, his ship would have been flying England’s flag, which at that time consisted of red St. George’s Cross on a white field. This also was the flag in use when England created the colony of Carolina (embracing almost all of present-day Georgia in 1663).

In 1707, England united with Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain. With the union, England ceased to be sovereign nation (although retaining its identity as a distinct division of Great Britain. The St. George’s Cross flag continued to serve as England’s distinct flag—a role it continues today.

English St. George’s Cross Flag View large image

English St. George's Cross Flag (c. 1277 - 1707)
Source: Ed Jackson