Largest Grand Lodge opinion poll
on subject of Arch Purple degree
Leading members of the Grand Loyal Orange Lodge of England initiated the largest gauge of senior Orange opinion, on the subject of the Royal Arch Purple Order, between the years 1876 and 1878. This opinion poll was conducted amongst the most prominent and influential Orangemen in the British Isles and was intended to assess their stance on the highly ritualistic Royal Arch Purple degree. This poll was felt essential, so as to counteract a well-organised body of clandestine Orangemen who were planning to foist the Royal Arch Purple degree upon Orangeism.
The response of those gauged was strong, clear and unanimously hostile to the Arch Purple degree. Their resolute views seemed to reflect the feeling that existed within the broader Orange family to this heathenistic degree.
Deputy Grand Chaplain of the Grand Loyal Orange Lodge of England, Rev. G.W. Straton proposed to Grand Lodge: "That it be declared by this Grand Lodge that such words as 'Properly prepared', &c., in the Purple Order Ritual give no authority or countenance to any officer or brother to enforce or enjoin an oral Ritual, or an obligation of any kind, to be used in the Loyal Orange Institution of England, other than the two prescribed Rituals, Orange and Purple, sanctioned by Grand Lodge, held at Liverpool, 1876, for the use of the Amalgamated Lodges of England."
Fellow Deputy Grand Chaplain of the Grand Loyal Orange Lodge of England, Dr Badenock supported the Rev. Straton's position in a strongly worded statement, which had the backing of his own individual lodge, stating "that complaints having been made, apparently well founded, that Ritualistic practises are being introduced into the Order which are not in accordance with the constitutional and Christian principles and objects of the body, and are in the opinion of this Lodge vulgar and degrading, and fitted to alienate the affections of its influential members from the Order and to arrest its prosperity and usefulness, it is resolved to make an earnest representation to the Imperial Grand Master. The Grand Master, the Deputy Grand Master, and Grand Secretary to use their best efforts to put a stop to the practises referred to."
It was Dr Badenock's Lodge which co-ordinated this U.K. wide gauge of Orange opinion on the Royal Arch Purple degree.
Lord Enniskillen, in his capacity as Imperial Grand Master of the Grand Orange Council, stated: "I have been an Orangeman since 1832 or 33, and during that time I have never had anything to do with it or any other Order beyond the Orange and the Purple, agreeably with the standing rules of the Grand Lodge of Ireland; and I never have, nor never will sign any certificate that contains anything beyond those two colours. I strongly recommend every Orangeman keep clear of all the numerous and ridiculous innovations" (9th January 1878).
Thomas Macklin, Grand Secretary of the Grand Loyal Orange Lodge of Scotland outlined: "With what difficulty much mischievous nonsense has been removed…bearing insulting reproaches from bearded babies crying for…Politically all besides the Orange and simple Purple are absolutely useless, but viewed in relation to religion not only are they useless but profane and degrading, and ought to restrain the men who practise them from laughing at the mummeries and buffooneries of Popery" (22nd January 1878).
Chalmers J. Paton. Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland stated, "I am of the opinion that all degrees worked by Orangemen other than the Orange and Purple are spurious and unnecessary" (17th January 1878).
William P. Foord, Past Deputy Provincial Grand Master, England stated, "I fervently hope Dr. Badenoch will carry his resolution and press it on Grand Lodge. It is the only thing I know of what will save the Orange Institution from becoming an organized scandal. ____ __________ has already resigned. I trust the next Grand Lodge may make some progress towards a better state of things than now exists, and if not I shall certainly leave it myself directly, a step I should have taken before but that I know others are waiting to follow me. There are here many Orangemen who have joined the Order and left it (more than the present paying members), and when I meet them. I find they are ready to help us with money but will not come to Lodge, saying they 'can remain Protestants but not Shakers'. That reply I knew referred to the Arch Purple, and it was one I could not answer as I was myself so much shocked at the Blasphemy of that Order that I have never attended one R.A.P. meeting since nor never will.
I can only account for this mischief springing up by the idea that "an enemy has done this" (i.e. sown the tares), it would be well to see if we can detect who it is - this enemy, burn him out, start afresh, and see if we can't do better. We have a noble organization completely spoilt, capable of doing nothing but 'giving the enemy cause to blaspheme' " (28th January 1878).
Lord Enniskillen, in his capacity as Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, explained, "It would appear from a perusal of the correspondence and other documents you enclosed that the Arch-Purple (or as you term it an oral) Ritual has been substituted in a large number of the English Lodges for the authorized simple Ritual of the Purple Order. If this be the fact, nothing could be more contrary to the rules of the Institution, or more injurious to its interests, and it must be promptly and firmly dealt with, and the practice suppressed.
I regret that the state of my health prevents my interfering as actively, in this matter, as Brother Badenoch's resolution suggests, and as I would wish to do; but surely the Grand Lodge of England is competent to deal with it, and in my opinion a strong resolution, not merely condemnatory, but prohibitory of this innovation, and enjoying the use of the authorized Ritual only in all the Lodges should be adopted, and a copy of it specially transmitted to every private Lodge in the Kingdom. I enclose you a copy of the Ritual for the Purple Order, which we use in Ireland, and which I think should be the form adopted throughout the Order in every part of the world" (Not dated).
William J. Gwynn. Grand Secretary of the Grand Loyal Orange Lodge of Ireland argued, "It is not the first I received on the same subject. The heresy (as I maintain it to be) of an oral ritual is as a deadly canker eating out the very vitals of true Orangeism, and if it is not rooted out must work its ruin. I view it and all fantastic tomfooleries of Arch-Purple, Black, Scarlet, Green and the like as but unauthorized inventions of self-sufficient spirits loving to have the pre-eminence, and to draw disciples after them.
Any allegation that an oral ritual is recognized and strictly enforced by the Grand Lodge of Ireland is absolutely untrue, although there are many who, violating its real principle, unite themselves with those schismatics who by thus dividing are the very worst enemies of the Orange body. That body is disgraced by members professing to obey its laws, yet jesuitically and secretly adding these silly devices instead of as real followers of King William holding and knowing one Master only, recognizing only his colours, the Orange and Purple…They wisely love darkness rather than light, for did they come to the light they would incur the hazard of criminal prosecution by the law of the land. Such ignoring of the Orange laws is the parallel of Ritualism in our Church, whereby Christ's Gospel is ignored, and blind man's invention substituted" (4th January 1878).
Chas A. Reeks, Loyal Orange Institution, England stated: "I have had a short conversation with one of our clerical brethren, who remarked that the Ritual used when he was admitted to the Purple Order was, in his opinion, quite sufficient to drive any clergyman out of the Institution…The rev. gentleman is one of four clerical brethren who were scandalized by the ceremonialism of the Arch-Purple Order, and they have not sat in our Lodge since, nor in any other. Surely this is a drawback to the usefulness of our Institution, when these clergymen might have become ere now Masters of Orange Lodges in their several localities, and have made those lodges the centres and rallying points for the Protestant spirit which every clergyman in these dangerous times should strive to awaken and to keep alive in his congregation and parish.
I consider the time spent and the energy expended in conferring the various orders beyond and foreign to the Orange Institution, as so much time and energy wasted so far as promoting the Protestant cause is concerned, which I take it is (or ought to be) the object of every man worthy of the name of 'Orangeman'." But if we as Orangemen feel it our duty to stand shoulder to shoulder in defence of our Protestant religion, against its inveterate foes, then it would be far better to know nothing of the Black, the Scarlet, and the Green, and only view the Institution as "a means to an end" - a lofty, a patriotic, and an honourable end" (4th January, 1878).
Henry Prigg Orange Institution, England stated, "Dr. Badenoch's motion has my hearty sympathy, for I am certain if the heathenish and degrading ceremonies, such as I made acquaintance with at __________ are prescribed and attempted to be foisted upon all the Lodges, the days of Orangeism as a power for good in England are numbered…Let me remark, however, that I believe if some of my men were to be witness of, or be aware of what is going on at some of the other Lodges, they would throw up their membership in disgust…Is there no means of getting better order and respect for the Grand Lodge laws infused into the Order?…
Rites such as the Arch-Purple attract the wrong men into our ranks; we want sober, religious-minded Protestants, not pot-house politicians and practical jokers…Let the Pagan practises be prohibited and put out of the Order, and then men not worth having with their tomfoolery will leave us and go elsewhere, and better men will attract to our ranks. I feel very strongly on these points, and you do I am sure likewise. Believe me, &c" (15th December 1877).
G.E.W. Houlding, Orange Institution, England outlined, "I feel it a privilege and at the same time a duty to add my humble protest against the so-called 'Arch Purple' and other higher orders that are sought to be thrust upon us by some among our number… Not only are many prevented joining our ranks from a misconception of our principles but what is worse, many having joined afterwards leave us through being made the unwilling actors in a useless and to a refined mind a revolting ceremonial such as that connected with the 'Arch Purple' and other orders.
One of the chief objects, as I understand it, of the late amalgamation [of all the various strands of Orangeism in England] was that of uniting all Orangemen in one common body, which should be provided with a set of rules and regulations for uniform observance which should contain all the rituals and forms necessary for the two orders (Orange and Purple) recognized by the Imperial Grand Lodge; thus simplifying matters removing many a bone of contention. This having been accomplished, it is indeed surprising to find men who of all others we should expect to be loyal to the laws of those in authority over them contending and clamouring for vain forms and 'traditions of men'…Practically losing sight of the spirit of true Orangeism.
I feel convinced that if we wish to gain the accession to our ranks of intelligent and right minded men, we shall do so, not by enveloping our cause with mysterious and profitless orders, but by the free and open dissemination of those truths and principles which animate the life and actions of our noble founder [King William]. God forbid that we should be ashamed of our colours, but let them ever have imprinted on them in living letters, which may be seen and read of all men, the words of our glorious deliverer, 'The Protestant Religion and the liberties of England I will maintain' " (28th January 1878).
Rev. George W. Straton, Deputy Grand Chaplain of the Grand Orange Lodge of England stated, "Will you kindly enter my protest… against such absurdity and abomination, so very detrimental to the original and regular Orange and Purple Orders according to the printed, scriptural, and admirable forms of admission? I think it requires not only a very ingenious but a very wicked mind to deduce such ridiculous and indecent performances...thank God I was never subjected to any such degradation upon my admission to the Purple Order; in fact, I would not have endured it for a moment, and I acknowledge no Order or class except the Orange and Purple according to the printed ritual of the Institution.
My Lodge in Leicester, not two years established, already consists of 36 members, all respectable and creditable men, we should have many more distinguished and desirable men join were it not for the degrading performance which took place last year of the Arch Purple. I shall only add that unless it is put a stop to immediately the Institution will be broken up - I for one will withdraw" (19th January 1878).
Alexander E. Miller, Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of England stated, "I quite agree with your dislike to the 'Arch Purple', and, if I can manage it, will be at the Lodge meeting for the discussion" (10th December 1877).
W.H. Torriano, Grand Secretary of the late Orange Association. Great Britain explained: "I never administered and never would be party to seeing or administering the so-called Royal Arch Purple. I have always considered all the various forms of this Order and all the imitations of the other so-called high Orders, a system of disgusting buffoonery, unworthy of men, gentlemen, and Christians, contrary to the Orange laws and by their oaths contrary to the laws of the land; and had I known when I joined in 1854 that any such practises existed I would never have joined. These practises when known must prevent gentlemen from joining" (21st January 1878).
Rev. B.D. Aldwell, Orange Institution, England stated, "It seems to be burlesque this 'Arch Purple'. I am sure that educated men must look on the ceremony with feelings of contempt and abhorrence. We should raise our Order, not degrade it. It will never be what it should unless we insist on a written ritual and one as we now have it in accordance with the Word of God" (11th January 1878).
Rev. James Ormiston, Orange Institution, England explained:
"For many years I have personally sought to discourage the offensive and irreverent formularies, which in the higher Orders have hitherto prevailed in the Institution…Wishing all success to the reasonable proposition of Bro. Badenoch.
P.S. - I should add that the Institution has to my certain knowledge lost several clerical Members through the disgust caused by the old ritual" (14th December 1877).
T.B.Hill, Past Provincial Grand Master, England affirmed: "I am glad to find that an effort is being made to sever the connection of the higher orders with the Orange Society. I believe it has caused much harm… I have known much injury done to the cause by members of the high orders. The men (I cannot call them Brothers) who volunteered to divulge the secrets of the Society to O'Connell, in order to assist him in his attacks upon the order were prominent members of the Black Order. The oaths taken are no security, as they are frequently broken and are certainly illegal. I believe few respectable persons would remain amongst us after passing through the ritual required in some degrees.
PS. - My father (Past Grand Treasurer, John Hill, 50 years an Orangeman) joins me in this" (23rd January 1878).
A.L. Allen, Orange Institution of England, argued, "I consider the old Arch-Purple Ritual as repulsive to the last degree…It is not enough that it is not enjoined, it should be forbidden. I object to it as being silly and undignified, but most of all as being distinctly profane and irreligious. Having seen the disastrous effects of it, for I speak from experience when I say it has deprived us of several godly men who would have been ornaments to our Institution. If such things are required to interest members of the Orange Institution - to act as a bond (as is alleged), all I can say is, it speaks but little for their genuine Protestantism. In my opinion the kind of Protestant that such an absurd profane farce pleases is the very sort we should be better without. I earnestly trust by God's blessing the truly Christian portion of our Institution will make an effort to get rid of it" (19th January 1878).
George Kershaw, Orange Institution, England declared, "I am exceedingly glad to hear that a motion has been made by our Reverend and much esteemed Brother Badenoch on the subject of the Arch-Purple Ritual, although exceedingly sorry that there is cause for it, hoping that it had ceased to exist…It is a subject that I feel most strongly. For I am still proud of the title of Orangeman, but I must say I am not so proud of the fact of having gone through (virtually though not actually) the mummeries of the Arch-Purple Ritual."
He then testified to his shock at receiving an internal Masonic document from an acquaintance, which showed him the true origins of the Arch Purple degree which he had received. He explains: "I had lent to me by a gentleman who had formerly been one of Her Majesty's Consuls in the East under the Earl of Aberdeen - he being perfectly ignorant of my feelings, or my connection with any fraternity, a work containing some remarks on the Orders amongst that body (the Freemasons) by a Freemason giving his name and profession (a solicitor) and address, as also his rank in the Order, which was very high.
The perusal of this work, from which I was permitted to make what extracts I liked, so disgusted me as seeing in it the source of the rites I had just passed through, so analogous are they in many parts, and seeing also therein the result, I firmly resolved to set my face against any further extension of the order beyond the Orange and Purple, so far as concerned myself and those for whom I had regard, and I look upon all such innovations as the Black, the Blue, the Red, Green, White &c., as unworthy the acceptance of Protestants and the most certain way to bring the society down to the level of the Red Republican of 1793 or the Fenian Firebrand of 1865. I do not speak without reason, but can avouch all I have stated.
I consider our Orange Fraternity as formed for the special protection of Protestantism as opposed to Paganism wherever found, whether in the form of Babylonish rite and heathen mysteries of the followers of Nimrod, Bacchus, and Semiramis, or the Saturnalia of Pio Nono and the Whore of Rome, both having the same source and paternal derivation; but to take our stand on the Infallible Rock we contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints, and as such we must root out from our midst this pollution, and have done with the chamber of imagery and witchcraft. Let us then put on the whole armour, standing shoulder to shoulder, for the truth, looking to our one Master, and shouting, 'The sword of the Lord and of Gideon.'
I am confident that the Purple Ritual has caused of our most eligible Protestant Churchmen to disconnect themselves from the fraternity…Wishing you God speed in this purging business" (26th January 1878).
The hostility of these Orange leaders towards the heathenish Arch
Purple and Black Orders reflected the strong broad sentiment which
prevailed among the membership throughout the British Isles. There is
little doubt today that these principled men would be found far outside
the domain of ritualistic Orangeism.