Gostelowe Standard No. 10 + Bedford Minutemen

The Gostelowe Standard No. 10 has been shrouded in mystery and the subject of much speculation over the years. As the tenth of a total of thirteen standards inventoried by Major Jonathon Gostelowe of the Continental Army in 1778, controversy surrounds the actual identity of which unit called this battle flag it’s regimental colors. Regardless of the exact lineage, this Revolutionary War standard is rich with symbolism dating back to the English Civil War.

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One of the first things that jumps out at those familiar with battle flags of the American Revolution is a similarity between the Gostelowe Standard No. 10 and the Bedford Flag. The armored arm holding a sword is common to both flags, but why? During the years leading up to April 19, 1775, many Americans (still British subjects) were very well aware of the conflicts which ravaged Great Britain from 1642-1651. Many Americans had family members who took up arms and played a part in deposing Charles I and the House of Stuart when the King ignored Parliament and ruled by royal decree. More than one standard raised during the English Civil War depicted the armored arm holding a sword, and the Americans used this design during the Revolutionary War to hearken back to the common cause of Liberty they felt with their forefathers.

One of the prominent figures from the English Civil War, whose writings the American colonists were widely familiar with and influenced by, was Algernon Sidney. Algernon Sidney fought against Charles I and was awarded for valor by leading a charge at the battle of Marston Moor that left him very badly wounded. He was appointed to Parliament and was one of the Parliamentarians who presided over the trial of Charles I. He was the author of Discourses Concerning Government, published after his execution in 1683 for plotting against the restored monarchy and it’s king Charles II. In earlier years before his death, he signed the University of Copenhagen’s visitor book with this very interesting couplet:


This translates from the Latin roughly as,


Although the Gostelowe Standard No. 10 may not have been designed with this in mind, American colonists would have recognized the connection between Algernon Sidney’s words and the armored arm with the sword.

Lastly, the inscription of the banner of the Gostelowe Standard No. 10 exhibits parallel language to Benjamin Franklin’s 1776 proposed Great Seal. On the Great Seal, the words “Rebellion To Tyrants Is Obedience To God” are inscribed around the outside of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea to escape the Egyptian Pharoah. This sentiment is present, in altered form, as “Resistance To Tyrants Is Obedience To God” on the Gostelowe Standard No. 10.