admirals flag naval title
ADMIRAL, a great officer or magistrate, who has the government of a navy an the hearing of all maritime causes.
There can be little doubt of the Asiatic origin of the name given to this officer, which does not appear to have been known in the languages of Europe before the time of the Holy Wars. Anzir, in Arabic, is a chief or commander of forces ; it is the same word as the ameer of the peninsula of India (as ameer al omra,4, the chief of lords or princes), and the emir of the Turks or Saracens, who had and still have their emir or ameer'l dureea, commander of the sea, amir'l asker dureea, commander of the naval armament. The incorporation of the article with the noun appears, we believe, for the first time in the Annals of Eutychius, patriarch of Alexandria, in the 10th century, who calls the Caliph Omar Anzirol munumizn, ie., Insperator fidelium. Spelman says, " In regno Sameenorum quatuor prtetores statuit, qui admiralli vocabantur." The d is evidently superfluous, and is omitted by the French, who say Anzira. The Spanish write Alnzirante ; the Portuguese the same. Milton would seem to have been aware of the origin of the word when he speaks of "the mast of some great ammiral." It is obvious, then, that the supposed derivations of a itftypos from the Greek, aumer from the French, and aen mereal from the Saxon, are fanciful and unauthorised etymologies.
Anciently there were three or four admirals appointed for the English seas, all of them holding the office durante beneplacito, and each of them having particular limits under his charge and government, as admiral of the fleet of ships from the mouth of the Thames, northward, southward, or westward. Besides these, there were admirals of the Cinque Ports. We sometimes find that one person had been admiral of all the fleets - Sir John de Beauchamp, 34 Edw. III., being the first who held the post; but the title of iftbnira/is Angtice does not occur till the reign of Henry IV., when the king's half-brother, Sir Thomas Beaufort (created Earl of Dorset 5th July 1411), a natural son of John of Gaunt, was made admiral of the fleet for life, and admiral of England, Ireland, and Aquitaine for life. It may be observed that there was a title above that of admiral of England, which was locztm tenens regis super mare, the king's lieutenant-general of the sea. This title is first mentioned in the reign of Richard 11. Before the use of the word admiral was known, the title of custos marls was made use of.
Of the rank of admiral there arc three degrees - admiral, vice-admiral, rear-admiral. Each of these degrees formerly comprised three grades, distinguished by red, white, and blue flags - the red being the highest degree in each rank of admiral, vice-admiral, and rear-admiral.
It may be remarked that for nearly a century there was no admiral of the red squadron. According to a vulgar error, that flag had been taken from us by the Dutch in one of those arduous struggles for naval superiority which that nation was once able to maintain against the naval power of England. But the fact is, the red flag was laid aside on the union of the two crowns of England and Scotland, when the union flag was adopted in its place, and was usually hoisted by the admiral commanding in chief. The red flag was revived on the occasion of the promotion of naval officers in November 1805, in consequence of the memorable vietory off Trafalgar. The three degrees of red, white, and blue flag-officers were abolished by order in council on 5th August 1864, and the white ensign was thenceforward adopted as the sole flag for the ships of the royal navy proper. Captains are now promoted to be rear-admirals, rear-admirals to be vice-admirals, and vice-admirals to be admirals simpliciter - the numbers of each rank being regulated by orders in council passed on and subsequently to 22d February 1870. (See NAVY.) For biographical information, see Campbell's Lives of the British Admirals, 8 vols. 8vo, 1817; O'Byrne's Naval Biographical Dictionary, 8vo, 1849.