Lodges Video of the week and Lodges Blog
Lodges Video of the week and Lodges Blog
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Orange Order History
Protestant fraternal order originating in Northern Ireland
This article is about the Northern Ireland order. For Dutch dynastic knighthood, see Order of the House of Orange. For Dutch chivalric order, see Order of Orange-Nassau. For others, see Order of Orange.
The Loyal Orange Institution, commonly known as the Orange Order, is an international Protestant fraternal order based in Northern Ireland and primarily associated with Ulster Protestants. It also has lodges in England, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland, as well as in parts of the Commonwealth of Nations and the United States. The Orange Order was founded by Ulster Protestants in County Armagh in 1795, during a period of Protestant–Catholic sectarian conflict, as a fraternity sworn to maintain the Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland. The all-island Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland was established in 1798. Its name is a tribute to the Dutch-born Protestant king William of Orange, who defeated Catholic king James II in the Williamite–Jacobite War (1688–1691). The Order is best known for its yearly marches, the biggest of which are held on or around 12 July (The Twelfth), a public holiday in Northern Ireland.
Quick Facts Named after, Formation ...
The Orange Order is a conservative, British unionist and Ulster loyalist organisation. Thus it has traditionally opposed Irish nationalism/republicanism and campaigned against Scottish independence. The Order sees itself as defending Protestant civil and religious liberties, whilst critics accuse it of being sectarian, triumphalist and supremacist. It does not accept non-Protestants as members unless they convert and adhere to its principles, nor does it accept Protestants married to Catholics. Orange marches through Catholic neighbourhoods are controversial and have often led to violence, such as the Drumcree conflict.
Main article: History of the Orange Institution
The Orange Order celebrates the civil and religious privileges conferred on Protestants by William of Orange, the Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic who became King of England, Scotland, and Ireland in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. The Order regularly commemorates the victories of William III and his forces during the Williamite War in Ireland in the early 1690s, especially the Battle of the Boyne.
Formation and early years
Since the 1690s commemorations had been held throughout Ireland celebrating key dates in the Williamite War such as the Battle of Aughrim, Battle of the Boyne, Siege of Derry and the second Siege of Limerick. These followed a tradition started in Elizabethan England of celebrating key events in the Protestant calendar. By the 1740s there were organisations holding parades in Dublin such as the Boyne Club and the Protestant Society, both seen as forerunners to the Orange Order.
Main article: Armagh disturbances
Throughout the 1780s, sectarian tension had been building in County Armagh, largely due to the relaxation of the Penal Laws. Here the number of Protestants and Catholics (in what was then Ireland's most populous county) were of roughly equal number, and competition between them to rent patches of land near markets was fierce. Drunken brawls between rival gangs had by 1786 become openly sectarian. These gangs eventually reorganised as the Protestant Peep o' Day Boys and the Catholic Defenders, with the next decade in County Armagh marked by fierce sectarian conflict between both groups, which escalated and spread into neighbouring counties.
Main article: Battle of the Diamond
In September 1795, at a crossroads known as "The Diamond" near Loughgall, Defenders and Protestant Peep o' Day Boys gathered to fight each other. This initial stand-off ended without a battle when the priest who accompanied the Defenders persuaded them to seek a truce, after a group called the "Bleary Boys" came from County Down to reinforce the Peep o' Day Boys. When a contingent of Defenders from County Tyrone arrived on 21 September, however, they were "determined to fight". The Peep o' Day Boys quickly regrouped and opened fire on the Defenders. According to William Blacker, the battle was short and the Defenders suffered "not less than thirty" deaths.
After the battle had ended, the Peep o' Days marched into Loughgall, and in the house of James Sloan they founded the Orange Order, which was to be a Protestant defence association made up of lodges. The principal pledge of these lodges was to defend "the King and his heirs so long as he or they support the Protestant Ascendancy". At the start the Orange Order was a "parallel organisation" to the Defenders in that it was a secret oath-bound society that used passwords and signs.
One of the very few landed gentry that joined the Orange Order at the outset, William Blacker, was unhappy with some of the outcomes of the Battle of the Diamond. He says that a determination was expressed to "driving from this quarter of the county the entire of its Roman Catholic population", with notices posted warning them "to Hell or Connaught". Other people were warned by notices not to inform on local Orangemen or "I will Blow your Soul to the Low hils of Hell And Burn the House you are in". Within two months, 7,000 Catholics had been driven out of County Armagh. According to Lord Gosford, the governor of Armagh:
It is no secret that a persecution is now raging in this country ... the only crime is ... profession of the Roman Catholic faith. Lawless banditti have constituted themselves judges ... and the sentence they have denounced ... is nothing less than a confiscation of all property, and an immediate banishment.
A former Grand Master of the Order, also called William Blacker, and a former County Grand Master of Belfast, Robert Hugh Wallace have questioned this statement, saying whoever the Governor believed were the "lawless banditti", they could not have been Orangemen as there were no lodges in existence at the time of his speech. According to historian Jim Smyth:
Later apologists rather implausibly deny any connection between the Peep-o'-Day Boys and the first Orangemen or, even less plausibly, between the Orangemen and the mass wrecking of Catholic cottages in Armagh in the months following 'the Diamond' – all of them, however, acknowledge the movement's lower-class origins.
The Order's three main founders were James Wilson (founder of the Orange Boys), Daniel Winter and James Sloan. The first Orange lodge was established in nearby Dyan, and its first grandmaster was James Sloan of Loughgall. Its first-ever marches were to celebrate the Battle of the Boyne and they took place on 12 July 1796 in Portadown, Lurgan and Waringstown.
United Irishmen rebellion
The Society of United Irishmen was formed by liberal Presbyterians and Anglicans in Belfast in 1791. It sought reform of the Irish Parliament, Catholic Emancipation and the repeal of the Penal Laws. By the time the Orange Order was formed, the United Irishmen had become a revolutionary group advocating an independent Irish republic that would "Unite Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter". United Irishmen activity was on the rise, and the government hoped to thwart it by backing the Orange Order from 1796 onward. Irish nationalist historians Thomas A. Jackson and John Mitchel argued that the government's goal was to hinder the United Irishmen by fomenting sectarianism, thereby creating disunity and disorder under pretence of "passion for the Protestant religion". Mitchel wrote that the government invented and spread "fearful rumours of intended massacres of all the Protestant people by the Catholics". Historian Richard R Madden wrote that "efforts were made to infuse into the mind of the Protestant feelings of distrust to his Catholic fellow-countrymen". Thomas Knox, British military commander in Ulster, wrote in August 1796 that "As for the Orangemen, we have rather a difficult card to play ... we must to a certain degree uphold them, for with all their licentiousness, on them we must rely for the preservation of our lives and properties should critical times occur".
The United Irishmen saw the Defenders as potential allies, and between 1794 and 1796 they formed a coalition. The United Irishmen, despite seeing the Defenders as "ignorant and poverty-stricken houghers and rick-burners" would claim in 1798 that they were indebted to the Armagh disturbances as the Orangemen had scattered politicised Catholics throughout the country and encouraged Defender recruitment, creating a proto-army for the United Irishmen to utilise.
The United Irishmen launched a rebellion in 1798. In Ulster, most of the United Irish commanders and many of the rebels were Protestant. Orangemen were recruited into the yeomanry to help fight the rebellion and "proved an invaluable addition to government forces". No attempt was made to disarm Orangemen outside the yeomanry because they were seen as by far the lesser threat. It was also claimed that if an attempt had been made then "the whole of Ulster would be as bad as Antrim and Down", where the United Irishmen rebellion was at its strongest. However, sectarian massacres by the Defenders in County Wexford "did much to dampen" the rebellion in Ulster. The Scullabogue Barn massacre saw over 100 non-combatant (mostly Protestant) men, women, and children imprisoned in a barn which was then set alight, with the Catholic and Protestant rebels ensuring none escaped, not even a child who it is claimed managed to break out only for a rebel to kill with his pike. In the trials that followed the massacres, evidence was recorded of anti-Orange sentiments being expressed by the rebels at Scullabogue. Partly as a result of this atrocity, the Orange Order quickly grew and large numbers of gentry with experience gained in the yeomanry came into the movement.
The homeland and birthplace of the Defenders was mid-Ulster and here they failed to participate in the rebellion, having been cowed into submission and surrounded by their Protestant neighbours who had been armed by the government. The sectarian attacks on them were so severe that Grand Masters of the Orange Order convened to find ways of reducing them. According to Ruth Dudley Edwards and two former Grand Masters, Orangemen were among the first to contribute to repair funds for Catholic property damaged in the rebellion.
One major outcome of the United Irishmen rebellion was the 1800 Act of Union that merged the Irish Parliament with that of Westminster, creating the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Many Catholics supported the Act, but the Orange Order saw it as a threat to the "Protestant constitution" and 36 lodges in counties Armagh and Monaghan alone passed declarations opposing the Union.
Royal Black Institution History
The Royal Black Institution, the Imperial Grand Black Chapter Of The British Commonwealth, or simply the Black Institution, is a Protestant fraternal society.
In 2016, a theological working group set up by the Church of Ireland was informed by the organisation's leadership that it had a membership of around 17,000, of whom around 16,000 lived in the British Isles
The Royal Black Institution was formed in Ireland in 1797, two years after the formation of the Orange Order in Daniel Winter's cottage, Loughgall, County Armagh, Ireland.
The society is formed from Orangemen and can be seen as a progression of that Order although they are separate institutions. Anyone wishing to be admitted to the Royal Black Institution must first become a member of an Orange Order Lodge, and many are members of both. Membership is usually by invitation. Members are expected to accept the doctrine of the Trinity and confess a personal faith in Christ.
The Royal Black is often referred to as "the senior of the loyal orders".
Members wear a sash or collarette of which the predominant colour is black.
The word ‘Royal’ in the title is allegedly a reference to 1 Peter 2:9 ‘You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people...’, not to politics or the British monarchy. The word ‘Black’ is allegedly referring to mortality, and is a symbol of mourning.
Organisation and events
Its headquarters are in Loughgall, County Armagh. Members refer to each other as "Sir Knight", whereas in the Orange Order members are referred to as "Brother" or "Brethren". The RBI claim that their basis is the promotion of scripture and the principles of the Protestant Reformation. However, this is contested by people who suggest that the rituals are not biblical. It has preceptories throughout the world, mainly in the major English-speaking countries, and is particularly strong in Newfoundland.
In 1931, on the day before a planned demonstration by members of the Royal Black Institution, crossing the border from Northern Ireland and into the then Irish Free State, the IRA occupied Cootehill in County Cavan, as a counter protest.
In Northern Ireland it holds an annual parade in the village of Scarva, County Down, on 13 July (the day after the Orange Order's 12 July celebrations). It is commonly referred to as "The Sham Fight" as it involves a mock fight between actors reenacting the Battle of the Boyne. The other major parade of the year is "Black Saturday", also known as "Last Saturday", held on the last Saturday in August at several locations throughout Ulster (including a major parade in Raphoe in the Laggan district of East Donegal, Ireland).: 480
The society is also popular in Scotland, where 60 preceptories exist organised into 11 districts across the country. Twenty-six marches by the Black Institution have taken place in Glasgow alone between 2009 and 2010.
The Royal Black Institution has adopted a more conciliatory attitude to contentious parades than the Orange Order, and is less overtly political, though not without political influence.
After loyalist bands defied a Parades Commission ruling on Black Saturday by playing music outside St Patrick's Catholic Church on Donegall Street, Belfast, the Royal Black Institution issued an apology to the clergy and parishioners of the church for any offence caused. The parish priest, Father Michael Sheehan, welcomed the apology and "the sincere Christian spirit behind it".
The society's members are assigned one of eleven degrees, as follows, in descending order:
Royal Black Degree
Royal Scarlet Degree
Royal Mark Degree
Apron and Royal Blue Degree
Royal White Degree
Royal Green Degree
Star and Garter Degree
Crimson Arrow Degree
Link and Chain Degree
Red Cross Degree
The Institution also possesses a final retrospective overview degree, which is essentially an overview of the eleven.
Sovereign Grand Masters
A chronological list of Sovereign Grand Masters of the Royal Black Preceptory:
1846: Thomas Irwin
1849: Morris Knox
1850: Thomas Johnston
1857: William Johnston
1902: H. W. Chambers
1914: William Henry Holmes Lyons
1924: Sir William James Allen
1948: Sir Norman Stronge, 8th Baronet
1971: Jim Molyneaux
1995: William J Logan
2008: Millar Farr
2018: William Anderson
Apprentice Boys History
Apprentice Boys of Derry
Protestant fraternal society based in the city of Derry, Northern Ireland
The Apprentice Boys of Derry is a Protestant fraternal society with a worldwide membership of over 10,000, founded in 1814 and based in the city of Derry, Northern Ireland. There are branches in Ulster and elsewhere in Ireland, Scotland, England, Australia and Toronto, Canada. The society aims to commemorate the 1689 Siege of Derry when Catholic James II of England and Ireland and VII of Scotland laid siege to the walled city, which was at the time a Protestant stronghold. Apprentice Boys parades once regularly led to virulent opposition from the city's Irish nationalist majority, but recently a more conciliatory approach has taken place and now the parades are virtually trouble-free. The 2014 'Shutting of the Gates' parade was described as "the biggest in years" and was violence-free.
Main article: Siege of Derry
The siege of Derry began in December 1688 when 13 apprentice boys shut the gates of the city against a regiment of twelve hundred Jacobite soldiers, commanded by the Roman Catholic, Alexander Macdonnell, Earl of Antrim, which was immediately withdrawn. Retaliatory action passed to the Duke of Tyrconnel who assembled a large but poorly ordered Jacobite force commanded by Sir Richard Hamilton to march north against the Ulster Protestants. The deposed King James II, who had travelled from France to Ireland in March, took charge with the aid of two French generals. Arriving at the gates of Derry on 18 April 1689, he was greeted by a cry of "No Surrender!" The siege was lifted on 28 July 1689 (Old Style) when two armed merchant ships, the Mountjoy and the Phoenix, sailed up the River Foyle to breach a timber boom which had been stretched across the river, blocking supplies to the city. The ships' approach was covered against the Jacobite besiegers by cannon fire from the frigate HMS Dartmouth, under Captain (and future Admiral) John Leake. The Mountjoy rammed and broke the barricading boom at Culmore fort and the ships moved in, unloading many tons of food to relieve the siege. Three days later, the besieging forces burned their camps and departed. It was reported that some 4,000 people (about half the population of the city) had died of starvation or injury. Many had been forced to eat dogs, horses and rats.
The Apprentice Boys hold two main annual celebrations. These are the 'closing of the gates' on the first Saturday in December, in memory of the action of the original apprentice boys; and the Relief of Derry on the second Saturday in August, in memory of the lifting of the siege. The Relief Parade in Derry is the largest of all the parades in Northern Ireland. In some areas of the city bonfires similar to those held on 11 July are erected and burned. In recent years, it has transformed into the week-long Maiden City Festival in August, and is accompanied by a series of diverse cultural events including bluegrass music festivals, Irish and Ulster Scots music and tuition, arts exhibitions and events staged by other local minority communities such as the Chinese and Polish communities. During the December celebrations it is traditional to burn or hang an effigy of Robert Lundy. Before the Troubles the effigy was often hung from, and then burnt in front of, the pillar commemorating George Walker. This was on the city's walls overlooking the Irish nationalist Bogside area, and was blown up by the Provisional Irish Republican Army in 1973.
According to the Parades Commission, the Apprentice Boys held 231 parades in Northern Ireland in 2007. Of these, 116 were Relief of Derry parades, and 115 were Closing of the Gates parades. The main December parade in Derry was expected to include 1500 marchers and 28 bands, while the main August parade was estimated at 10,000 marchers and 127 bands. In 2009/2010 32 marches took place in Glasgow, Scotland.
History of the associated clubs of the Apprentice Boys of Derry
The first celebrations of the relief of Derry took place on Sunday 28 July 1689, when the starving citizens crowded the walls to welcome the relief ships. The first organised celebrations took place on Sunday 8 August 1689 when a thanksgiving service was held in St Columb's Cathedral. Subsequent celebrations have followed that precedent.
On 1 August 1714, ex-Governor and siege hero Colonel Mitchelburne hoisted the Crimson Flag on the cathedral steeple and formed the first club known as the Apprentice Boys. The formal arrangements for the August and December commemorations were organised by the military garrison based in Derry.
In the late eighteenth century, Roman Catholic clergy joined in the prayer services offered on the walls of Derry, and in the early nineteenth century Catholics joined the celebrations with their Protestant fellow-citizens. However, the British government's Londonderry Riot Inquiry of 1869 found that "the character of the demonstrations (by the Apprentice Boys) has certainly undergone a change, and, among the Catholic lower classes at least, they are now regarded with the most hostile feelings". The inquiry recommended that both Apprentice Boys parades be banned. For similar reasons they also recommended the banning of Orange Order parades.
The Apprentice Boys role in the celebrations became more important in the early nineteenth century which saw the establishment of the Apprentice Boys of Derry Club in 1814 and the No Surrender Club in 1824. New clubs were formed over the following years, leading to eight parent clubs: Apprentice Boys; Walker; Mitchelburne; No Surrender; Browning; Baker; Campsie; and Murray. In December 1861 the various clubs agreed to associate together under a governing body known as the General Committee. This remains the governing body of the association, each of the eight clubs sending an equal number of representatives, together with delegates of various amalgamated committees around the UK.
In 1865, the local Conservative MP, Lord Claud John Hamilton, won control of the Apprentice Boys and rallied the organisation against the campaign to disestablish the Anglican Church of Ireland, much to the dismay of many Presbyterian members (see also Irish Church Act 1869).
The celebrations continued in the usual form with the firing of the siege cannons (today a small replica is used), the ringing of the cathedral bells, the hoisting of the Crimson Flags, and the laying of wreaths in memory of those who sacrificed their lives. In December they continue with the burning of an effigy of Robert Lundy (the Governor of Derry who had wished to negotiate with King James during the siege) and the service of thanksgiving in St Columb's Cathedral.
In 1969, the Apprentice Boys' parade around the walls of Derry sparked three days of intensive rioting in the city, known as the Battle of the Bogside. The disturbances are regarded by some as the start of the Troubles.
In 1986, the banning of an Apprentice Boys parade in Portadown led to rioting between supporters and the Royal Ulster Constabulary. During these disturbances Keith White became the first Protestant to be killed by a plastic bullet in the Troubles.
In 1990, the organisation decided to apply for funding from the newly established International Fund for Ireland, which led to protests by Ulster loyalists at its August parade. Ian Paisley addressed a rally at the courthouse where he told the crowd that the proposed grant was "a bribe to get Protestant people involved in the Anglo-Irish Agreement
Plans for the 81-foot (25 m) high Walker Memorial Pillar were completed in 1826. After the completion of the pillar it played a central role in the celebrations. In 1832 the first occasion of the burning of the effigy of Colonel Lundy occurred, the Scottish Protestant Governor during the early part of the siege. The pillar was destroyed by an IRA bomb in 1973. The memorial plinth was restored for the three hundredth anniversary of the siege. The Apprentice Boys placed the retrieved statue in a newly constructed memorial garden beside the Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall.