- A flag, originally (and sometimes still) much smaller than the ensign, flown from a staff at the
bow of a ship, usually when that ship is berthed, at anchor or moored to a buoy,
occasionally when underway but always when dressed overall, and which in current
usage may fall into one of the three main categories listed below – a
bow flag (see also ‘colonial jack’,
‘jack of honour’, ‘jack staff’,
‘privateer jack’ and
‘union jack’) See supplemental note:
- Civil Jack
- Flown at the bow of a merchant ship (see also ‘civil ensign’ under
Please note, however, there are only two countries
who prescribe a distinctive jack for general use by civilian vessels – the UK
(see ‘pilot jack’) and the Bahamas as illustrated below.
Sweden, for example, specifies regional flags, whilst the flags of home ports are
sometimes officially used and the regulations of some shipping lines call for a house
or other flag with this, upon occasion, being expressly permitted under national legislation.
Civil Jack of the Bahamas (fotw); Civil Jacks of The Netherlands - unofficial (CS & Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg)
Regional Flag of Scania, Sweden (fotw)
- Government Service Jack
- Generally, but not exclusively, limited to the UK and former British colonies,
and flown at the bow by civilian-manned Government vessels – but see
‘colonial jack 1)’ with its following note (also
‘government ensign’ under ‘ensign’
and the notes below).
Jacks of The Royal Fleet Auxiliary, The Royal Maritime Auxiliary and Northern
Lighthouse Board, UK (Martin Grieve)
a) In UK usage all Government service vessels wearing defaced blue
ensigns, including those used by the governing authorities of dependent
territories, are legally entitled to fly a blue jack with an
appropriate badge in the fly, however, (as far as can be discovered) only the Royal
Fleet Auxiliary, the Royal Maritime Auxiliary and the Northern Lighthouse
Board actually do
so at present.
b) In Germany and Austria, Government
(as well as civilian) vessels often fly the flag of the relevant state/province,
and that in some commonwealth countries the appropriate departmental flag is
specified as a jack for government vessels.
- Naval Jack
- Flown at the bow of a warship, often the appropriate national flag (or a variation
of it), occasionally the same as the naval ensign, or sometimes a completely different
design - the jack (see also ‘masthead pennant 1)’,
‘naval ensign’ under ‘ensign’,
‘jack staff’ and
‘suit of flags’).
From left: Naval Jacks of Russia (fotw);
Brazil (fotw); Norway (fotw);
Italy (fotw) and Romania (fotw)
- JACK OF HONOUR (or HONOR)
- In French naval usage, a jack originally flown in place of le tricolore by ships that had served in the
Free French Navy (the FNFL), and now flown by those ships bearing the same name (see also ‘cravat
its following note, ‘fanion 3)’,
‘jack’, ‘lanyard 1)’,
‘lanyard pennant’ and ‘tricolour 3)’).
The FNFL Jack, France (fotw)
- JACK PIN
- See ‘belaying pin’.
Jack/Belaying Pins (Wikipedia)
- JACK STAFF (or JACKSTAFF)
- The short staff in the bows of a ship upon which the ‘jack’ is hoisted (see
also ‘ensign staff’, ‘jack’
and ‘staff 1)’).
HMS Iron Duke 1912 – 1946, UK (Wiki)
- JACK, THE
- In UK usage and some others, an increasingly obsolete term for the naval jack - see ‘naval jack’ under ‘jack’
and ‘His Majesty’s Jack’.
The Jack/Naval Jack 1879 – 1946, Italy (fotw);
The Jack/Union Jack 1606 – 1801, England/UK (CS);
The Jack/Naval Jack 1830 – 1911, Portugal (fotw)
- In East European usage a term often used to describe historic or traditional symbols, and taken from the dynasty
which ruled Poland, Lithuania, Hungary, and Bohemia from the 14th century until the 16th century – for example the
Jagiellonian cross or Jagiellonian eagle.
Arms of Szamotuły, Poland (fotw)
- JAGIELLONIAN CROSS
- See ‘cross of Lorraine’ (also ‘jagiellonian’ above).
Arms of Małogoszcz, Poland (fotw)
- JAGIELLONIAN EAGLE
- See ‘jagiellonian’.
Arms of Miechów, Poland (fotw)
- JAMES UNION
- An unofficial name for the 1606 pattern British union flag (see also
‘His Majesty's jack’,
Union Flag 1601 – 1801, UK (CS)
Please note that this term appears to have been a 19th Century invention,
and that there is no firm evidence of it being used during flag’s lifetime (1606 – 1801).
- JEHOVAH SUN
- The term – and a direct translation of the German Jehovasonne – which may be used to describe
a sun in splendour, surmounted by a cartouche bearing the name of God in Hebrew lettering - a
charge sometimes to be seen on (exclusively Protestant) German military flags of the 16th and
17th Centuries (see also ‘cartouche’,
Flag of an Infantry Company c1675, Electorate of Saxony (Klaus-Michael Schneider)
- JELLOPED (or JOWLAPPED)
- The heraldic term used to describe the wattles and comb of a domestic fowl when they of a different
tincture from its body – jowlapped - but see ‘wattle(d) 2)’
Flag and Arms of Líšná, Czech Republic (fotw
ICH); Flag and Arms of
Šentjernej, Slovenia (fotw); Flag of
Tavannes, Switzerland (fotw)
- JERUSALEM CROSS
- A symbol of the Medieval Kingdom of Jerusalem - in heraldry a cross-potent cantonee - see ‘cross-potent cantonée’,
plus ‘cross-cantonée’ and
its following note
(also ‘cross potent’).
Arms and Flag of the Kingdom of Jerusalem 1162 – 1191 (Wikipedia
- JIGGLING JONNY
- See ‘tugh 1)’.
Source: National Music Museum, used with permission
- In heraldry see ‘conjoined’.
Arms and Flag of Marnardal, Norway (fotw)
- JOLLY ROGER
- 1) Generically, any black (or occasionally red) flag often (but not invariably) bearing white symbols and associated with piracy,
but usually shown in its modern form as a flag with black field and stylised white
skull above two white crossed bones - a skull and cross-bones (see also
- 2) A flag of the latter description given above, but defaced by a number of varying symbols
dependent upon the type of action and used unofficially by the submarine service of the British
Royal Navy and some others to signify that the boat flying it had successfully engaged an enemy – but see
‘battle flag 3)’ (also ‘deface’).
From left: Flag as described above (fotw);
Flag of Bartholomew Roberts 17th C (fotw); Flag of
Edward Lowe Early 18th C (fotw);
Submarine Service, UK (CS).
a) With regard to 1), vessels of the US Navy often
fly a Jolly Roger at the yardarm during line-crossing ceremonies (as the signal that King Neptune
is aboard), and note also that of all known pirates only Blackbeard is thought to have actually
used this design. (see also ‘yardarm’).
b) With regard to 2), it should be emphasised that these symbols were
(and are) entirely unofficial, and that a several variations are known.