This page is part of © FOTW Flags Of The World website

British Straits Settlements 1826-1946 (Malaysia)

Last modified: 2023-06-03 by zachary harden
Keywords: straits settlements | malaya | strait of malacca | lozenge |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors

[British Straits Settlements] 1:2 image by Clay Moss 25 June 2005
Flag adopted 1874, discontinued 1942

See also:


The Straits Settlement, "a British colony which comprises Singapore, Penang, and Malacca, on the Strait of Malacca, has for a badge a red diamond with three crowns on a three-armed field of white."
Josh Fruhlinger
, 20 February 1996

The imperial crowns, which replaced the earlier squarish Victorian crowns in about 1904, were in full colour, mainly gold and red, but also green, blue and shades of grey if you have all the detailing. Early versions of the ensign tended to have the badge in the lower fly, but the correct position is in the centre of the fly, the length of the horizontal axis of the lozenge being five sixteenths of the length of the whole flag.
David Prothero, 6 June 1998

What was the flag of the British colony Straits Settlements between 1867 and 1911? Was the badge with three crowns granted in 1911?
Jaume Ollé, 27 March 2001

The three separate East India Company settlements of Penang (rented, 1786), Singapore (bought, 1819 and 1824) and Malacca (ceded by the Netherlands in an exchange, 1824) were, after 1826, administered collectively by the Company, and later the Indian Government, as Straits Settlements. In 1867 the settlements were made a Crown Colony.

A Blue Ensign with a gold crown in the lower fly was used from c1868 until c1880 when it was replaced by three crowns on an inverted white Y on a red lozenge. Sir Andrew Clarke, Governor from November 1873 to May 1875, had introduced three crowns on a white disc on the Union Jack, but was told that the badge should not have been changed without authorisation, and that the same device should be used on both Union Jack and Blue Ensign. This suggests that a single gold crown was probably also used as a badge on the Union Jack.
[National Archives CO 273/40, CO 323/318, CO 325/54]
David Prothero
, 9 November 2013

I have found a clear photo of some kind of defaced British ensign flying in Penang Harbour. The photo was taken in 1906. An unidentified ship is tied to the then brand new Sweattenham Pier. Flying from the stern in a nice stiff breeze is a Straits Settlements blue ensign with the badge on a disk. I would guess the ensign to be perhaps 4 1/2 x 9 feet. I am very impressed with the clarity of the photo, particularly for its age (used to draw the image above).
Clay Moss, 25 June 2005

I have seen original photographs of these images here in Penang. I have seen 4 or 5 photos where the lozenge is in width 4/18 the length of the ensign, and have seen 2 photos where the lozenge is in height 4/9 the width of the ensign. Can anyone shed light on which lozenge size would have been correct? Or were both acceptable?
Clay Moss, 1 May 2010

I don't know for certain, and after all, flag manufacturers have their own take on this, but my understanding of the situation would be that the lozenge should fit into an imaginary circle, whose diameter is exactly 4/9 the width of the ensign. So, the major axis of the lozenge at its extremities would mark the 2 points on the circle, although I do prefer a lozenge whose height (i.e. from top to bottom on the minor axis), which looks larger and better.
Martin Grieve, 2 May 2010

Flag 1925-1942 without disk

[British Straits Settlements variant] image by Martin Grieve, 30 April 2010

Straits Settlements Blue Ensign 1925-1942
After 1925 the Blue Ensign with the Straits Settlements badge on a white disc was replaced by one without the white disc.
Errata No.8 to Admiralty Flag Book 1916, issued 1925.
David Prothero, 30 April 2010

19th - early 20th century flags

Blue Ensign c1868

[British Straits Settlements] image by Martin Grieve, 9 November 2013

Governorís Flag c1868

[British Straits Settlements] image by Martin Grieve, 9 November 2013

Badge in Despatch of 19 January 1877

[British Straits Settlements badge] image by Martin Grieve, 9 November 2013

Badge on Blue Ensign and Governorís Flag c1879

[British Straits Settlements badge] image by Martin Grieve, 9 November 2013

Badge with revised crowns, 1904

[British Straits Settlements badge] image by Martin Grieve, 9 November 2013

Red Ensign

[British Straits Settlements red ensign] 2:3 image by Clay Moss

The Straits Settlements red ensign is made roughly 4x6 feet and is in the possession of a merchant here in Penang.
Clay Moss, 9 April 2005

Union Flag

[British Straits Settlements union flag] image by Clay Moss, 3 June 2005


The Straits Settlements, the British Crown Colony that existed 1826-1946, included Penang (inc. Province Wellesley), the Dinding Islands (on the Malayan west coast, later returned to Perak), Malacca, Singapore, Labuan Island (off Sabah, now a Malaysian federal territory), Christmas Island, and Cocos/Keeling Islands. Singapore was the capital city of the Straits Settlements.

The Strait of Malacca is actually a waterway which separates Peninsular Malaya from the Island of Sumatra. Also, Malacca was never a colony of Britain in its own rights. When the Straits Settlements were dismantled after the period of BMA (British Military Administration) which was immediately after the Japanese surrendered and returned Malaya and Singapore to the British colonial masters, Singapore became a Colony in its own right and Malacca and Penang were federated together with the remaining 9 Malay states to become the Federation of Malaya (the forerunner of Malaysia).
Thomas Koh
, 29 October 1996

The British colonial ensigns section of Flaggenbuch 1939 says, "The Governor of the Straits Settlements is also High Commissioner of the Malay States and Brunei".
Ivan Sache, 15 January 2000

This arrangement came to an end with the Japanese occupation and was not resumed after the Second World War. Straits Settlements was dissolved, Malacca and Penang joined the Malayan Union, Singapore, the Cocos Islands and Christmas Island united to form the colony of Singapore and Labuan joined the colony of North Borneo.
David Prothero, 15 January 2000

From Arthur Charles Fox-Davies, The Book of Public Arms: a Complete Encyclopedia of all Royal, Territorial, Municipal, Corporate, Official, and Impersonal Arms (1915), p.756 .

a. The pre-1911 supposedly unofficial pall-and-crowns badge used as arms on a shield for the colony with the following blazon: Gules, on a pall reversed argent, three imperial crowns one and two or. Charges appearing on a lozenge fessways as badge defacement on colony's blue ensign and appearing wreathed at the centre of the union flag as the Governor's flag.
b. The Arms of the Colony of the Straits Settlements, granted by Royal Warrant, 25th March 1911 and used until dissolution.

Arms - Quarterly, the first quarter gules, issuant from the base a tower proper, on the battlements thereof a lion passant guardant or [for Singapore]; the second quarter argent, on a mount an areca nut palm tree proper [for Penang]; the third quarter also argent a sprig of the oil tree kruing proper [for Malacca] ; the fourth quarter azure in base on waves of the sea in front of a representation of the sun rising behind a mountain, a sailing yacht in full sail to the sinister, all proper [for Labuan].

Crest - A demi-lion rampant guardant supporting in the paws a staff proper, thereon flying to the sinister a banner azure, charged with three imperial crowns or.

The colony of the Straits Settlements dissolved in 1946.

i. The Colony of Singapore was granted new arms in 1948 used until December 1959. Using the blazon earlier:
Arms - Gules, issuant from the base a tower proper, on the battlements thereof a lion passant guardant or
Crest - A demi-lion rampant guardant supporting in the paws a staff proper, thereon flying to the sinister a banner argent, on a pall reversed gules, an imperial crown or.
Pall-and-crown used on Singapore's colonial blue ensign.

ii. Colony of Penang granted its arms and ensign in 1949 as elaborated in British Colony of Penang 1949-1957.

iii. Colony of Malacca granted its arms and ensign in 1951 as mentioned on British Settlement of Malacca.

Herman Felani M.Y., 5 September 2010

A little more information for the Straits Settlements Arms, or more accurately perhaps public seal, prior to 1911 from the following book: One hundred years of Singapore: being some account of the capital of the Straits Settlements from its foundation by Sir Stamford Raffles on the 6th February 1819 to the 6th February 1919, by Braddell, Roland St. John; Brooke, Gilbert Edward, 1873-; Makepeace, Walter. 1921. p.571.

"The first public seal of the Colony after its transfer to the Colonial Office was issued by the Secretary of State (the Duke of Buckingham and Chandos) on the 13th November 1867. It consisted of the Royal Arms with three smaller shields: one of a tower and lion passant guardant, for Singapore ; a betel-nut tree for Penang; and a sprig of oil-tree Kruing proper for Malacca. These arms were entirely unofficial as far as any heraldic authority was concerned."

No illustrations but the above reminds me of the one used by Gibraltar. In 1911, the Arms of the Straits Settlements were granted by Royal Warrant. It seems that the coat of arms of 1911 were proposed to have a fourth quarter like the first (lion on tower/Singapore) but was dropped in favour of representing Labuan as suggested from the following quote:

"This coat practically follows the local suggestion, except that the hideous realism of the 'Labuan' quarter has been substituted for the reduplication of the dignified and symbolic first quarter."

Apart from the mention of the arms and seal, the book also mentions of the existence and use of the lozenge and three crowns badge on the "Colonial ensign" which concurred with existing mentions on the above that the Admiralty must have sanctioned it sometime or another, but no dates specified.

Herman Felani M.Y., 12 September 2010

Unidentified 'Malay Straits' flag on a cigarette card

[Unidentified 'Malay Straits' flag on a cigarette card]
from this website

There is a Cigarette Silk Iron-on Transfer in this website, under the subject Nation Animals & Flags #2, showing a blue flag with circular badge for the 'Malay Straits'.
Olivier Touzeau
, 16 October 2002