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Shaw Flags (U.S.)


Last modified: 2016-03-01 by rick wyatt
Keywords: united states | shaw | john shaw | maryland |
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[U.S. 13 star Shaw flag]
image by Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 12 November 2010

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Description of the flag

I noted with interest the Flag Day article in the Washington Post ( and thought you might like a copy of the Milbourne version of the Shaw flag.

Milbourne Shaw Flag
In the 1794 watercolor by Cotton Milbourne, he depicts a view of the State House's dome with the John Shaw flag flying from it. In the depiction the blue canton runs vertically down the whole left side of the flag, and not, as the 1983 version across the left corner. Since Milbourne worked in Annapolis in the late 1700s and his drawing of the State House is accurate, it is possible his depiction of the Shaw flag is also as accurate.
Pete Loeser, 14 June 2009

Previous renditions of the flag

[U.S. 13 star Shaw flag]  
John Shaw (white first stripe)
image by Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 12 November 2010

[U.S. 13 star Shaw flag]
John Shaw (red first stripe)
image by Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 12 November 2010

I have a note from Mr. Earl Williams of Washington D.C.

The following description was on a card included with a flag he purchased a dozen years ago, from a man who has since passed away and is not able to be questioned as to sources....

The John Shaw Flags

"The John Shaw flags were commissioned by the Governor and Council of Maryland to fly in Annapolis while the Continental Congress was meeting there from November 1783 to June 1784. One flew over the State House and one over the Governor's Mansion which was the temporary home of the President of Congress, Thomas Mifflin, while he was in Annapolis.

No drawings or exact descriptions of the flag remain. But the Maryland Hall of Records, with the help of Mrs. Grace Rogers Cooper, an expert on flags and a consultant, was able to determine what the flags probably looked like. Using receipts for material and other notes found in the Hall of Records, Mrs. Cooper decided that two flags were made, that they were each 23'x9'9" and that one started with a red stripe and one started with a white stripe. The eight-pointed star was commonly used in the 18th century so it was used for the replicas of the John Shaw flags.

The two replicas of the flags have been donated to the State of Maryland by the State Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The DAR's State Regent, Mrs. Charles A. Bloedorn, presented the flags to the Hall of Records, the Maryland Historical Trust and St. John's College at a dedication ceremony at St. John's College on December 13, 1983. The date December 13 was chosen because that is the 200th anniversary of the first official session of the Continental Congress in Annapolis.

John Shaw was a prominent citizen of Annapolis who is best remembered as a cabinetmaker. He was also an inventor, local assessor, undertaker, state armourer, merchant and City Councilman. He was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1745 and came to Annapolis in the early 1770's."
submitted by: Rick Wyatt, 3 April 2002

As noted in the article above, it was determined that the flag on display in the MD State House for past generation was not, in fact, accurate. A new flag was unveiled at 2 p.m. on Flag Day, 6/14.
Richard Hillman, June 2009