Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland

Opposition to Arch Purple and Royal Black


To most people today, the degrees of the Royal Arch Purple Order and the Royal Black Preceptory are viewed as being, and having always been, integral to the Orange Order degree system. In the minds of those who support them, they are looked upon as bastions of the Unionist/Protestant cause, but when examined in the light of history a different story unfolds. Indeed, the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, for most of its history, looked upon these ritualistic bodies as being incompatible with, and contrary to Orangeism.

The history of the Orange Order is a story of perennial conflict both inside and outside the Institution. Whilst most Orangemen today are familiar with the long-standing external struggle with Rome and Republicanism, few know anything about the prolonged internal battle between a group of rebellious ritualistic Orangemen and the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland. This significant conflict raged furiously within the Orange Order between the years 1798 and 1925.

The ritualists were those renegade Orangemen who adhered to the neo- Masonic Royal Arch Purple Order and Royal Black Preceptory degrees. Their unflinching aim was to introduce these ritualistic degrees into the Orange Institution and as a consequence make it a mirror of Freemasonry.

The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, on the other-hand, fiercely and consistently resisted every encroachment of these “Heathenish Rites.” The Orange Order in Ireland, from the formation of its Grand Orange Lodge in 1798 to the early 1900’s, resolutely opposed all such forms of ritualism. The practises of these orders were looked upon as both illegal and deeply injurious to the true Orange cause. It is important to note, in their determined stand, Grand Lodge held the broad support of the wider Orange family.

Members who succumbed to the evil advances of these ritualistic bodies were expelled from the Orange Order by the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland and their names circulated to every Lodge in the United Kingdom (which then included the whole island of Ireland).

Sadly today, Orangeism’s long principled struggle against the ritualistic and superstitious practices of the Royal Arch Purple Order and Royal Black Preceptory has become “the forgotten history of the Orange Order.”

For more detailed information please read

Grand Lodges opposition to Royal Arch Purple and Black degrees

The history of the Royal Black Institution
The history of the Black degrees
The beginning of the chivalrous secret society concept

For more detailed information please read