Orange Order Finally Capitulates to Royal Arch Purple
How compromise turned the Orange Order(1878-1913)
Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland kept a close eye on all violations of its prohibition on membership of the higher orders. One of the means by which perpetrators were detected was a book full of newspaper cuttings collected by the Grand Secretary called ‘Breaches of the Xth Law by Lodges – Transgressors cautioned.’ This book was maintained by the Secretary’s Office at the Orange Hall, 49 York Street, Dublin. It included many paper cuttings, which were pasted in, documenting the names and Lodges of rebellious ritualists who had been initiated into the Royal Arch Purple and Black degrees.
The Royal Arch Purple Chapter’s book – ‘History of the Royal Arch Purple Order’ explains, “The hostility shown by the Grand Lodge of England towards the Royal Arch Purple Order in 1878 had continued till it amounted to oppression” (p.127). This campaign was so successful that the Grand Black Chapter of England in 1902 was forced to respond.
By the start of the 1900s many of these rebellious Orangemen throughout the British Isles had subtly worked themselves into positions of responsibility within their respective Grand Orange Lodges. This provided them with ideal opportunities to advance their covert aims.
On 13th June 1902 the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland amazingly capitulated and accepted the Royal Arch Purple degree as an integral part of its Institution. This was achieved by replacing the Plain Purple degree with the Royal Arch Purple degree, thus maintaining a two-degree system. The cancer had set in!
Loyal Orange Institution of Scotland. (2 degrees)
1st degree: Orange degree
2nd degree: Royal Arch Purple degree
The success of the Royal Arch Purple advocates in Scotland in introducing the degrading Royal Arch Purple degree into the Orange Institution of Scotland provided hope and impetus to the persecuted ritualists of England and Ireland.
The position of the ritualists in England seemed to be getting more and more isolated by the day. Such was the persecution that the Grand Black Chapter of England decided to organise a special meeting to deal with the matter.
The following account is quoted from the printed report:
” Important Correspondence from Sir Knights that are being persecuted by Orange Brethren who have only taken the small (or paper) Purple Degree, and are objecting to Brethren wearing scarfs with emblems of the Royal Arch Purple and higher Degrees while sitting under an Orange Warrant, under pain of expulsion.
Very lengthy correspondence was then read clearly proving that a strong feeling of hostility pervaded the Orange Order against Sir Knights and Brethren who have taken the Royal Arch Purple and higher Degrees. One very glaring case was of worthy Sir Knight who, having emblems of Higher Orders on his Orange Sash, was asked by the Master of his Lodge to take his sash off, and because he would not, then the Master closed the Lodge.
A subsequent Meeting was called when it was decided that the subscription paid by the above Sir Knight should be sent back to him and told that he was no longer a member of the Lodge.
After much conversation on the subject it was proposed and seconded that a Sub Committee be formed, to carry out such measures for the protection of the Royal Arch Purple and Higher Orders, as may be necessary. Carried unanimously.”
Grand Black Chapter of England set up a sub-Committee to respond to the prevailing persecution experienced by its members. This meeting took place on 19th January 1903. The Committee drafted a letter which was to be distributed to every preceptory in England.
Read a detailed exposure:
The letter read as follows:
“A special meeting of the above Chapter was held in the Club Room, Travis St., Manchester on December 13th 1902. Important letters were read from Sir Knights and Brethren who had been persecuted on account of wearing emblems of the Royal Arch Purple and other higher Orders, while sitting under an Orange Warrant. Such interference is against the principles of the ‘Imperial Grand Orange Council of the World’, and a gross attempt to retard the spread of Orangeism, especially the higher Orders.
It was resolved unanimously to advise all Sir Knights to see that offices (particularly Representatives to Grand Lodge) are filled by good and true Royal Arch Purplemen at the coming election of Officers, and subscribe money to pay for as many Delegates to the next Grand Lodge as they can, to unite in supporting a Resolution – “That this Grand Lodge recognise the Royal Arch Purple Degree as adopted and confirmed by the Imperial Grand Orange Council of the World”.
“Extracts from the English Grand Lodge Reports, re Royal Arch Purple” (see bills herewith), it will be seen that there is a veiled attempt to crush out all Orders except the Orange and Paper Purple, thus encouraging the persecution complained of above.”
Signed by the “Provincial Grand Master and the Provincial Grand Registrar.”
This was the beginning of a subtle sinister plot to undermine the true Orange system. From this time on the Orange Order in England was marked for decline.
The success of the Arch Purple ritualists of Scotland in 1902 and the zeal and the plans of the Black ritualists of England in 1903 gave an new impetus to the oppressed ritualists of Ireland.
They were not unmindful of the successful policy of the Black in England to see that “offices (particularly Representatives to Grand Lodge) be filled by good and true Royal Arch Purplemen at the coming election of Officers.”
On the 11th June 1903 the Independent Loyal Orange Institution was formed after a political split within the Orange Institution.
After it became established, and unlike the Orange Order, the Independent Loyal Orange Institution took on the ritualistic Royal Arch Purple degree as its 3rd degree.
Independent Loyal Orange Institution (3 degrees)
1st degree: Orange degree
2nd degree: Plain Purple degree
3rd degree: Royal Arch Purple degree
By 1907 the ritualists plans within the Black Institution were well advanced. On 11th June 1907, the Grand Black Chapter of Ireland met in Ballymacarret Orange Hall to discuss the ‘Royal Arch Purple Degree’. Under the subject of ‘English Business’ they decided to make the push to introduce the Royal Arch Purple degree into the Orange Institution in Ireland. They formed a committee to oversee this subtle plan.
The 14 man Committee included Rev. J.M.Moutray (who was nominated Convenor of the group), Col Wallace, Wm. Allen and James Davidson.
NB. It is clear that more and more Orange Lodges in Ulster were placing their halls at the disposal of the Black Institution.
On 11th December 1907 ‘Armagh County Grand Lodge’ made a proposal to Grand Lodge as follows:
“This County Grand Lodge instructs its representatives to recommend to the Grand Lodge of Ireland the revival of the old Arch Purple Degree to be worked in connection with the Orange Institution in Ireland, and to have the Laws and Ordinances of the Institution amended by the substitution of the word ‘Arch Purple’ for the word ‘Purple’ in the qualifications for admission into the purple Order.”
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Grand Lodge decided to set up a Central Committee to consider the proposal further. This committee was conveniently filled with ritualists. All they needed now was a push.
The committee made six major proposals:
1. That the Royal Arch Purple should be recognised, and in future form portion of the Orange System, and that the Rules of the Institution be amended accordingly
2. That the Purple Degree should continue to be given according to the existing ritual.
3. That the Grand Lodge and County Grand Lodges should hold their meetings in the Purple Degree as at present.
4. That in future it should be a qualification for a member of the Central Committee, that the member shall be a Royal Arch Purple.
5. That a Ritual should be drawn up for the Royal Arch Purple Degree, to be strictly observed.
6. That the following Brethren be a sub-committee to consider the Amendments necessary to be made in the Laws and Ordinances in order to carry out the Resolutions viz.
Col Wallace, Grand Secretary
Wm. Allen, Deputy Grand Master
Thos. McCormick, Deputy Grand Master
James Davidson. Assistant Grand Secretary
Amazingly, when we study the make-up of this important committee, we find three of the four were the Black leaders who belonged to the plotting Grand Black committee of 1907. The fourth, Rev. J.M.Moutray had died late in 1907.
With these men in place and their plot well advanced, the ritualists were set to foist the iniquitous Royal Arch Purple upon the Orange Institution of Ireland.
In their endeavours they succeeded; in that it passed two readings, but when it came before the Grand Lodge meeting of 8th December 1909, in Dublin, delegates present resolutely rejected the introduction of the Royal Arch Purple degree into the Orange Institution of Ireland.
This carefully crafted plot of these ritualists had been defeated. It was time for them to get back to the drawing board.
Realising there was little chance of the Arch Purple degree being integrated into the Orange Institution of Ireland, these clandestine Orangemen, on 30th November 1911, inaugurated their own Institution – the “Royal Arch Purple Chapter of Ireland”- with its own ruling authority known as the Grand Chapter. The formation of the Grand Chapter seemed to give the Arch Purple a respectability they never before enjoyed, albeit it was still looked upon with great suspicion by more godly elements within the Orange Institution in Ireland.
The formation of the Grand Royal Arch Purple Chapter of Ireland inspired those Arch Purple ritualists within the Orange Order in England to increase pressure upon the Grand Orange Lodge of England to accept the Royal Arch Purple degree. Their well-organised campaign was proving too much for the dignified Grand Lodge gentlemen who opposed them. However, these honourable men weren’t to go down without a fight.
Deputy Grand Chaplain of Grand Orange Lodge of England – Rev. Alexander Roger – records, “The R.A.P. section, like the Ritualistic Party, as they grew stronger, finally showed their hand. This brought upon them the condemnation of Grand Lodge Officers. The Grand Secretary, Bro. Touchstone, the grand old man of the Order, sent a letter of warning to the Press. The R.A.P. men were furious, and did not forgive him for his actions.”
“When the Grand Lodge met in London in 1912 they assembled in force and refused to pass the recommendation of the Grand Council, which emphasised the non-recognition on the part of Grand Lodge of the R.A.P. An attempt was made in Grand Lodge to carry a resolution tacitly sanctioning this Degree.”
Deputy Grand Master, Mr Michael Powell, of Gateshead (a dear old gentleman, who held the Kings Commission as Justice of the Peace) touchingly told the meeting that “if the R.A.P. was sanctioned he would have to consider whether he could conscientiously retain his connections with the [Orange] Order, and loyalty to his King. He said that the two were in conflict, and loyalty to the King, with him, must take first place, even though it meant severance with an Order with which he had been associated for many years. He also stated that if the Police knew of any R.A.P. initiation ceremony being carried out they could enter in the King’s name and arrest the whole company and march them off to the cells.”
The Grand Officers were facing an uphill battle. The leader of the ritualists was a ‘Seventh-Day Baptist’ Pastor, Lieut-Col. Richardson.
Shortly after this meeting, Assistant Grand Secretary of England, William Touchstone a leading opponent of the R.A.P. died.
Deputy Grand Master, Mr Michael Powell, Deputy Grand Master, Councillor T. Winn Hesse, Deputy Grand Master, David Catt and Deputy Grand Chaplain of Grand Orange Lodge of England, Rev. Alexander Roger met together and entered into a solemn compact “to use every effort in our power to resist the recognition of the R.A.P. Degree.”
The righteous stand of these honourable gentlemen was being swamped by an well-organised sinister campaign by the ritualists.
The subtle campaign by the ritualists finally succeeded, for in 1913 the Grand Orange Lodge of England accepted the Royal Arch Purple degree as an integral part of its Institution. This was achieved by adding the Royal Arch Purple degree to the two existing degrees, thus making it the third degree.
Loyal Orange Institution of England. (3 degrees)
1st degree: Orange degree
2nd degree: Plain Purple degree
3rd degree: Royal Arch Purple degree
Not surprisingly, since the acceptance of this superstitious degree, the Orange Order in England has been in slow terminal decline! The institution has gone from a powerful religious institution of tens of thousands of members to a small ineffective body of between two and three thousand members today.
Grand Lodges opposition to Royal Arch Purple and Black degrees
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