The Richmond History Podcast

Friday, March 30, 2012

The City of Richmond's Flag

Flag of the City of Richmond

Most people probably do not know that The City of Richmond has a flag.  It is around, but not everywhere. It depicts "The Headsman" by Paul DiPasquale on Browns Island1 and was adopted in 1993.The Headsman is a monument to the boatmen that navigated the canals and falls of the James in bateaux carrying people and goods making Richmond a shipping center before the trains.  With out these skilled men there may not be a city here today.
The Headsman by Paul DiPasquale, photo by Jeff Majer

I couldn't find much more about the flag until I called the City's Press Office and talked to**, Jayell Vaughn, who wasn't sure exactly what the flag meant either. Anyone who has called the city for help may have thought the search would end there.  You would be wrong.  She was amazingly helpful.  She made some calls and figured out that the nine stars around the white silhouette of The Headsman represent one of Virginia's many nicknames, "The Mother of States".   Each star represents one of the nine states or partial states that were carved from the territory of Virginia as it was in 1780, when Richmond became the capital of the whole expansive territory.  Being the first British colony, the Brits called most of North America Virginia in 1607.  The 1780 VA was broken up into nine states or parts of states, including, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana.  I have found claims of as many as 14 states being at least part of Virginia's original land but the exact land and boarders were sketchy, fluid and fluctuated.

The original 13 states land claims in 1783
The lower third is made of the two equally sized red stripes.  I found conflicting information about them but it seems like they represent the river.  Anyone with more concrete info please comment below.

Did you know the flag existed? Do you like it?  Would you like to see it more?

The city flag on a trash truck, photo by Jeff Majer

There was a previous flag flown even less because it was controversial and expensive. This is an excerpt from about the old flag: 

Richmond's first city flag was a two-sided flag. Both sides contained designs within a Roman shield on a white background. The front featured Justice holding scales and blindfolded, surrounded by the words 'City of Richmond, founded MDCCXXXVII, by William Byrd'. The back had a Confederate Battle flag on it, with the words 'Deo Vindice' (God will vindicate) underneath the Battle flag. The surrounding field was a dark blue. The flag was adopted in 1914. However, due to the Confederate design being offensive to the black majority population and the overall design being very expensive to reproduce, it was rarely flown, especially since the early 1960's.
old Richmond flag*

old Richmond flag*

* this flag is for sale so go to to purchase it.   It is their image so this is a plug for them.
** Correction: this is what I mistakenly wrote first, "the city's Press Secretary, Jayell Vaughn,"


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  1. Correction: my neighbors, the river front, and the Jefferson have one.

  2. The current Richmond City Flag looks more like a banner that you would see at a garden festival than a flag representing a city. The old flag was expensive to produce. That combined with the Confederate Battle Flag on the design made it a rare sight indeed, but it is a far better design than the current flag.

  3. You Can Purchase the Richmond City Flag at The Virginia Shop inside the Library of Virginia or at their shop inside the State Capitol. $30 for the regular size or $15 for the garden can also order online at

  4. It is common to see that pennants are flown on ships or vessels. Indeed, you will often see those very large tankers flying pennants from many different countries. Table Flag