Presbyterians and the Orange Order

The Presbyterian Historical Society of Ireland

Lecture March 2006

Orangeism: A Presbyterian Perspective

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INTRODUCTION: – Defining the parameters

The Subject is Orangeism – not the Orange Order, though both are interwoven.  It is however good for us to note that Orangeism has been around for 300 years and the Orange Order or Orange Institution for 200 years.

The core values Orangeism established at the time of the Constitutional Settlement, and reflected in the life of William, are the core values – of brotherhood, religious piety, civil liberty, citizenship, and tolerance.

Founding fathers of the Orange Society in 1795 saw themselves as the guardians of the core values of Orangeism.  This is reflected in the earliest statements of the Society –  The Objects [later called BASIS] and The Qualifications of an Orangeman.

It will be evident that, the Loyal Orange Institution of Ireland is a manifestation of Orangeism, and not Orangeism per se, the same is true today.  As Presbyterian Minster, the Rev. William Bingham, a Deputy Grand Chaplain of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland expressed at a New Dialogue Labour Party fringe meeting in Brighton on 30th September 1997:

The Orange Order is merely the manifestation of Orangeism which is not a rigid belief system peculiar to Ireland but is a set of core values accepted and appreciated by many throughout the five continents.

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The Presbyterian response to the Constitutional Settlement was mixed.  Those from the Covenanting tradition stood aside from it because it did not acknowledge the Kingship of Christ or the doctrines of the Second Reformation.   The restoration and increase of the Regium Donum, on 19th June 1690 by William, was however generally welcomed by the Synod of Ulster as a recognition and reward.

The Rev. Dr. Fred. C. Gibson, Superintendent of “The Irish Mission” of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, who was not a member of the Institution, wrote a pamphlet in the 1950’s entitled Orangeism Its Religious Origin, Its Scriptural Basis, Its Protestant Principles.  In it he stated:

While the Orange Order, generally, has been closely associated with the political party which has been loyal to the Protestant Succession to the Throne, and the maintaining of the union between Great Britain and Ireland, nevertheless there is something more fundamental in the order than this, and that is the adherence to the principles of Protestantism.


A. Evidence of the religious basis of the Orange Institution

During the recent years of public confrontation, the most widely heard allegation against the Orange Institution is that it was founded as a sectarian and anti-Catholic organisation.   Regardless of the sectarian nature of the conflict which resulted in the “Battle of the Diamond”, on 21st September 1795, I would submit four pieces of evidence which put that allegation at least in a new light, if not to rest.

FIRST – The Qualification of an Orangeman

It is not always understood, even by those intimately involved in the Orange Order that the Qualifications of an Orangeman have changed significantly over the two-hundred years of the Institutions existence.  When the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, which first met in Dublin on the 9th April 1798, the task of drawing up Rules and Regulations was addressed.  According to R.M. Sibbett in his Orangeism in Ireland and Throughout the Empire, which is the only major official History of the Orange Institution:

The chief business transacted by the Grand Lodge was the appointment of Mr Samuel Montgomery and Mr Harding Giffard to prepare Rules and Regulations for the use of all the Orange societies, thus setting aside the several county codes, and forming one code for the Orangemen of Ireland.  The meeting was then adjourned till November.

When the Meeting was reconvened on 20th November 1798, the original hand-written Minutes contain, “Qualifications requisite for an Orangeman“, which read as follows:

He should have a sincere love and veneration for his Almighty Maker, productive of those happy fruits, righteousness and obedience to His commands – a firm and steady faith in the Saviour of the world, convinced that He is the only Mediator between a sinful creature and an offended Creator – Without these he can be no Christian – of a humane and compassionate disposition, and a courteous and affable behaviour.  He should be an utter enemy to savage brutality and unchristian cruelty – a lover of society and improving company; and have a laudable regard for the Protestant religion, and sincere regard to propagate its precepts; zealous in promoting the honour of his King and country; heartily desirous of victory and success in those pursuits, yet convinced and assured that God alone can grant them; he should have a hatred to cursing and swearing, and taking the name of God in vain (a shameful practice); and he should use all opportunities of discouraging it among his brethren. Wisdom and prudence should guide his actions; honesty and integrity direct his conduct; and honour and glory be the motives of his endeavours.  Lastly he should pay the strictest attention to a religious observance of the Sabbath, and also of temperance and sobriety.

Thirty-two years later the wording is revised.  The Qualifications recorded in the “Laws and Ordinances of the Orange Institution of Ireland” in 1830 read:

An Orangeman should have a sincere love and veneration for his Almighty Maker, a firm and stedfast faith in the Saviour of the world, convinced that he is the only Mediator between a sinful creature and an offended Creator.  His disposition should be humane and compassionate; his behaviour kind and courteous.  He should love rational and improving society, faithfully regard the Protestant religion, and sincerely desire to propagate its doctrines and precepts.  He should have a hatred to cursing and swearing, and taking the name of God in vain; and he should use all opportunities of discouraging those shameful practices. Wisdom and prudence should guide his actions; temperance and sobriety, honesty and integrity direct his conduct; and the honor[sic] and glory of his King and Country, should be the motives of his exertions.

In the history of the Qualifications there are TWO material changes: – in May 1849 the following was added:

. . . he should strenuously oppose and protest against the errors and dangerous doctrines of the Church of Rome – he should, by all lawful means, resist the ascendancy of that church, its encroachments, and the extension of its power – but he should abstain from all uncharitable words, actions, or feelings towards his Roman Catholic brethren;

A further material change is made on 3rd June 1885:

. . . and scrupulously avoid countenancing (by his presence or otherwise) any act or ceremony of Popish Worship;

The present Qualifications of an Orangeman, are also in the public domain, and require the assent of everyone joining the Organisation.  In recent years, the high moral content of the Qualifications have been an embarrassment to some members.  This has led some to state that the Qualifications are “aspirational”.  This contradicts the words used in the initiation of a new member.  After hearing the Qualifications read, the candidate is asked; “Are you prepared to assent (italics mine) to these?”.  To make the Qualifications a mere aspiration would but a whole new, and hitherto unknown, concept into their content.

The Qualifications of today are substantially the same as the Qualifications of 1885, with the exception of the substitution of ‘Romish’ for ‘Popish’, and ‘any Roman Catholic’ for ‘his Roman Catholic brethren;’  Both these changes were made on 9th December 1998.

It is worth noting from a Presbyterian perspective that the Qualifications of 1798 and 1830, make no reference to Roman Catholics, either as individuals, or as a Church.

The Qualifications are often cited as proof of the allegations that are often made against the Institution, that it is an ‘anti-catholic’ organisation.  However they remain no more ‘anti-catholic’ than the doctrinal standards of the three main Protestant churches  As Professor Holmes has pointed out – “There is little difference, therefore, between the Qualifications of an Orangeman and a Presbyterian Church member”. [Presbyterians and Orangeism Page 10]

SECOND – the case of Mr. William McKenzie.  

Historic, traditional Orangeism, is revealed on page 43 of the original hand-written minutes of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland.  They read:

Grand Lodge 20 November 1798

Ordered that Mr William Mackenzie be summonsed to attend the Grand Lodge at Harrington’s on Thursday next at three o’clock.  Mr McKenzie afterwards appearing in the room, it was unanimously agreed and ordered that the following advertisement be published in Sanders Evening Post, Hibernian Journal and Freeman’s Journal Viz.

“The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland finding that a Pamphlet purporting to contain Orange Songs and really containing expressions directly opposite to the fundamental principles of the Orange Institution, has been published and having taken the same into consideration:

Resolved that our 5th General Rule be published as the best refutation to said publication.

Rule 5th. “That no person do persecute or upbraid any one on account of his religious opinion, but that we will on the contrary be aiding and assisting to every loyal subject of every religious description.”

Resolved that a song to the tune of Croppies lie down in said publication, the chorus of which is changed to “Papists lie down” meets with our strongest disapprobation being directly contrary to our principles as reflecting on a part of our fellow subjects for their religious persuasion”.

Signed by Order

J. C. Beresford. Grand Secretary.

The resolute action of the Grand Lodge leadership, in these early days, is all the more commendable given the fact that this took place a few months after the failed 1798 Rebellion, when tension was high and feelings were strong.

THIRD – the prohibition of Politics

A Special Meeting of the Grand Lodge on Thursday 13th December 1798 declared:

Resolved that as many persons who are enemies of the Orange institution have endeavoured to injure and divide it by involving us in debates on political questions, particularly by the present Question of the Union,  that the Masters of the different Lodges in Dublin are entreated to discourage as much as possible any discussion or decision in their respective Lodges upon that or any other political subject as such conduct must tend to create division and produce injury and ruin to the institution. [The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland Minute Book 1798 – 1819 Page 55]

John M. Andrews, the former Prime Minister, speaking at Newry, as the Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, in June 1950, gave what Canon S.E. Long rightly regards as “the official Orange attitude to politics”:

I observe from reports in the press that there are a few Orange Brethren who feel that we are exclusively (Italics mine) a religious Order. While I agree that we are mainly (Italics mine) a religious body, the Order has been in the front rank for generations in preserving our constitutional position. The Orange ritual lays it down that it is the duty of Orangemen to support and maintain the laws and constitution. It is fundamentally important that we should continue to do so, for if we lost our constitutional position within the United Kingdom “civil and religious liberty for all” which we are also pledged to support would be endangered.

FORTH- the prohibition of marriages to Roman Catholics.  

In the early years of the Institution it was not considered to be an offence for a member to marry a Roman Catholic.  Neither was it considered to be an offence for someone having been married to a Roman Catholic, to apply for membership of the Orange Order.

Dr. Patrick Duigenan [Dig-en-an] (1735-1816) had, according to the majority of historical opinion, been born in County Leitrim to Roman Catholic parents who intended him for the priesthood.  He converted to Protestantism and entered Trinity College Dublin, and went on to have a distinguished career in law and politics.  The Orange historian, R.M. Sibbett, describes him as, “a prominent Orangeman, . . . a remarkable man”, and “a fluent writer, and an eloquent speaker”. [Page 532] He is described by Kevin Haddick-Fylnn as “one of the most curious men of his day, stuffed with enough learning to produce intellectual indigestion in an ordinary brain.”[Page 182]. James Kelly in his, Sir Edward Newenham MP 1734-1814: Defender of the Protestant Constitution, describes him as – “the fanatical champion of ultra-Protestantism”[ Page 281].  Henry Grattan considered that Duigenan’s speeches inflicted a double injury: “the Catholics suffering from his attack and the Protestants from his defence”. [Plate 15 – Acts of the Union]  According to the Orange Institution Web Site:- “Patrick Duigenen was Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Ireland and Sir Richard Musgrave, the historian of the “98”, was Grand Treasurer. These two men were to prove able apologists for the Order, and to them must be credited consequential developments in Orange Institution thinking and practice.”  What is not said is that Patrick Duigenan married a practicing Roman Catholic, a Miss Cusack, Angelina Berry, (NOTE 1) and permitted her to have an in-house chaplain.[Kevin Haddick-Flynn: Orangeism: The making of a Tradition. Pages183-184] This fact, neither reduced his commitment to Orange principles, nor did it decrease his prominence within the Orange Institution of his day.  Patrick Duigenan was the second Grand Secretary, of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland.  He was elected to office in succession to John Claudius Beresford on Sunday 12th July 1801.  On his death he left his fortune to his first wife’s nephew, Sir William Cusack – A Roman Catholic.  Duigenan was also a famous dueller [Spelt – Dueller], his favourite instrument was said to be the blunderbuss.

The early Rule Books of the Orange Institution make no prohibition of marrying a Roman Catholic.  Records reveal that in the period 1853 to 1860, members are expelled for “marrying a Papist”, but not under a specific rule to that effect.  They were expelled under the general catch-all rule of; “behaviour unbecoming of an Orangeman”.  The rule expressly prohibiting members marrying Roman Catholics first appears in Irish Orangeism in 1863.  While this rule still forms part of the, “The Constitution, Laws and Ordinances of the Loyal Orange Institution of Ireland” (1998), it is not always enforced.  In Canadian Orangeism, this rule has been removed.

It will be evident therefore that Orangemen, at the foundation of the Institution, were not opposed to Roman Catholics because of their religion – but because of their politics.  It was because they were seen as a threat to the Protestant Constitution.  As the County Grand Master of Belfast Orangemen, John McCrea, wrote in The Twelfth 1988:- “When the Orange Order was established in 1795, the object of the Order was to aid all loyal subjects of every religious persuasion, . . .”

B. Early Presbyterian involvement.

Evidently Presbyterians were associated with the Orange Institution from the foundation years, though few ministers had any direct involvement. The Institution in the early years was predominantly Church of Ireland in membership.  This is reflected in the Ritual of Orangeism.

Some people have suggested that in the early days of the Institution only members of the Church of Ireland were permitted to join.  This idea may well have its origin in the forged rules which circulated in 1798, the 3rd of which read: – “Resolved that no member is to introduce a papist or Presbyterian, quaker or Methodist, or any persuasion but a protestant.”  [The Formation of the Orange Order 1795-1798, Page 125]

Though Wolfe Tone and other leaders of the rebel cause were undoubtedly Episcopalian in their church background, many Presbyterians, particularly in the North, had been supporters of the radical thinking of the Society of United Irishmen, and had taken part in the 1798 Rebellion.  This no doubt led to difficulties in the relationships between some members of the Church of Ireland, and the Presbyterian Church.  This, I have no doubt, would have led to suspicion of Presbyterians within the body politic of the Orange Institution.  Patrick Duigenan’s dislike of Presbyterians is revealed:- ‘They are all rebels in their natures … they sip sedition with their mother’s milk and no wonder they should always be ripe for insurrection.’ [Quoted James Kelly, ‘Relations between Presbyterians and Episcopalians in Ireland, 18th c.’, in Eire-Ireland (1988), p.38.]

However, Colonel Robert Hugh Wallace, Grand Secretary of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, (1903-1910) points out:

The founders of the Orange Boys Society were all, or nearly all, Presbyterians, and they joined the Orange Men’s Society after the Battle of the Diamond. Wilson, Master of Number One of the Dian, was a Presbyterian, and the members of the Presbyterian Church took well to the Institution.  Many Methodists, at that time attendants at the services in the Established Church and the Presbyterian Church, were Orangemen. The Quakers were not excluded by any Rule of the Society. They excluded themselves. In later days, some of the most worthy Orangemen were members of the Society of Friends.

[The Formation of the Orange Order Page 126]

Hereward Senior, uses the correspondence of the young Lord Castlereagh, who had been appointed Chief Secretary on 3rd November 1798, to trace the earliest influx of Presbyterians into the Orange Order:

During the French landings in August and September, the membership of the Orange lodges was being swelled by the influx of protestant loyalists throughout Ireland, but principally by the presbyterians in Ulster.

[ORANGEISM IN IRELAND AND BRITAIN 1795-1836’(Routledge & Kegan Paul 1966) Page 112]

Senior also claims, “There were no dissenting clergymen or prominent dissenters among the early patrons of Orangeism.” [ORANGEISM IN IRELAND AND BRITAIN 1795-1836’(Routledge & Kegan Paul 1966) Page 40]

In affirming this Senior relies on the evidence of William Verner to the House of Commons Select Committee [H.C.1835 (377)]

However Ian McBride points to one Presbyterian Minister who associated himself with the new fledging Orange Association.  He makes reference to the Rev. Thomas McKay on Page 221, as follows:

The correlation between evangelical commitment and loyalism is further strengthened by the fact that one of the three ministers of the Synod who joined the ESU (Evangelical Society of Ulster, formed in 1798) Thomas McKay of Brigh, County Tyrone, was the only minister of the Synod to publicly associate himself with the Orange Order at this period.

[Footnote 86: “In 1799 McKay published a sermon, now lost, which he preached to the Grand lodges of Killyman, Cookstown, Pomeroy and Coagh”.]

[Scripture Politics: Ulster Presbyterians and Irish Radicalism in the late Eighteenth Century (Oxford, 1998)]

McBride only says that McKay associated himself with the Orange Order.  That does not necessarily mean that he was a member.  While Presbyterians were NEVER excluded from membership it is difficult to ascertain the overall strength of Presbyterian involvement in the foundation years of the Institution.  In the case of ministerial involvement it is even more difficult to ascertain.


The nineteenth century set the pattern for many of the later reactions to a changing political environment.  In spite of two periods when the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland was dissolved, from1825 to 1828 & from 1836 to 1846, the reactive nature of the Orange Institution comes to the fore.  The Institution opposed Catholic Emancipation, the Land League, the Disestablishment of the Church of Ireland, and the Secret Ballot Act.

In their opposition to these reforms the Orange Institution of the day did not endear themselves to the vast majority of the Presbyterian constituency. This was particularly true in the case of the Land League, as many Presbyterians were tenant farmers who, in the words of Prof. Holmes, “resented the economic and political power of their landlords, most of whom belonged to the established Church”. [The PCI A Popular History Page 117]

This may have had particular impact in rural Ulster but it had less impact in Belfast. The American Civil War had helped to make Belfast the world centre of the linen industry, and this along with other major industries like engineering, shipbuilding and the world famous Rope Works made Belfast the place to be for employment.

By the mid nineteenth century the population had reached 100,000 and by the end of the century stood at 350,000.  As Belfast grew to a city, it also grew as both a Presbyterian and an Orange city.

As the influx of workers from rural Ireland came to Presbyterian Belfast, particularly in the later half of the century, many joined, and in some cases formed, Orange Lodges for the obvious social conviviality with their friends from “back home”.  This is seen in the various Lodges bearing the names of “the old sod”.  The following Lodges were functioning in 1876.

Tyrone True Blues LOL 497;

Edenderry True Blues LOL 691;

Holywood Purple Star LOL 785;

Holywood LOL 1687;

Holywood Royal Standard LOL 1906;

Killyman True Blues LOL1985.

None of these Lodges still function under these names today.

When, in 1863, the strength of Orangeism within Belfast was 90 Lodges, it was elevated into a City Grand Lodge.  Orangeism had continued to expand in Belfast from 34 Lodges in 1828 to 151 Lodges in 1892.  The strength of Belfast Orangeism was such that in 1876 they could organise a Demonstration at the inauguration of the Cooke Statue.  The Belfast News-Letter could list 85 Belfast Lodges as taking part in the parade and estimate a crowd of “not less than 150,000”.

The increase in the number of Lodges demanded additional accommodation.  Orange Halls were build in various parts of Belfast, the most notable being that in Clifton Street.  The Belfast Orange Hall (Clifton Street) was built in 1883-85, and subsequently extended, to accommodate the growing Orange membership.  It was opened on 2nd January 1885 by that great advocate of the Irish Language and subsequent patron of the Belfast Gaelic League (1895), the County Grand Master of Belfast, the Rev. Dr. Richard Routledge Kane.

The Rev. John Brown comments:

In the late sixties and early seventies Orangeism in many places expanded fast. . . For the first time Presbyterian ministers had begun to become Orangemen in any numbers, and others to feel a new sympathy for the Institution. [Orangeism Page 142]

It is therefore really towards the middle of the nineteenth century before we come across Presbyterian Ministers openly associated with the Orange Order.  Dr. Henry Cooke’s (1788–1868) association with the Orange cause is well known, though he never became a member, and even discouraged Orange processions in Killyleagh.  In 1832 Cooke maintained that there were no Orangemen in the Synod of Ulster, and the Belfast Newsletter in October 1834 said that there would not be five who would “even countenance Orangeism” in the Synod. (NOTE 2)

The Rev. Dr. Hugh Hanna was one of the high profile Orangeman in the Presbyterian Church during the second half of the nineteenth century.  The Open-air preaching on which he embarked was blamed for the Belfast Riots of this period, though Dr. Thomas Drew the Church of Ireland Orangeman was not without some blame.  Their stand for the freedom to preach in public was supported by the Church and the Orangemen.  The other high profile Presbyterian Orangeman of this period was the Rev. Robert Henry Shaw of Second Islandmagee, who with William Johnston of Ballykilbeg addressed the crowd at the public inauguration of the Statue of Dr. Henry Cooke on 11th May 1876.

The Home Rule crisis was of course the unifying force between the large body of Presbyterians and the Orange Institution.  As Marcus Tanner has summarised it:

Ulster’s tenant farmers would not fight for the Tory Anglican Establishment and they benefited just as much from the provision of the Land Acts as the Catholics.  It was Home Rule that turned them from Liberals to Unionists. [Ireland’s Holy Wars Page 265]

Similar growth of Orangeism took place in North America – particularly Canada during this period, however the Canadian, Dr Eric Kaufmann (Birkbeck College) maintains, as a result of his extensive research, that it was associated with Anglicanism and Methodism and not Presbyterianism – except the minority of Presbyterians who stayed out of the United Church of Canada when it formed in 1925. In 1871, Kaufmann maintains, most Irish in Canada were Protestant, but most of these were Anglican or Methodist – many converted to Methodism when they got to Canada.


Undoubtedly the threat of Home Rule drew many into the Institution who perhaps in the past would have been ambivalent towards its ideals.  The influx into Belfast continued in the early years of the twentieth century. Lodges continued to be formed – some are a direct result of partition and the Civil War.  Lodges like: – LOL 154 Armagh True Blues; LOL 428 Star of Down Temperance; LOL 745 Armagh Temperance; LOL 1008 Sons of Down; LOL 1199 Antrim Temperance True Blues; LOL 1301 Loyal Sons of Donegal; LOL 1302 County Monaghan True Blues; LOL 1327 County Cavan Defenders – founded 1924; LOL 1336 Rising Sons of Portadown; LOL 1367 Fermanagh and Tyrone United – founded 1949; LOL 1963 Glenavy Chosen Few.

Noticeable Presbyterian involvement begins to be seen in the first half of the twentieth century by those whose involvement led them to high Office within the Order.  It was 150 after the foundation of the Institution before a Presbyterian was elected to the highest Office. The first Presbyterian Grand Master of the Grand Lodge was – J.M. Andrews (Comber N.S. Presbyterian Church) (1948-1955), he was followed by Sir William McCleary (1st Ballymoney Presbyterian Church) (1955-1958).  Another notable Presbyterian, who should not go without a mention was Robert Mackie Sibbett (1868-1941), the Orange Historian to whom we are indebted for his “History of Orangeism in Ireland and throughout the Empire”.  R.M. Sibbett was ordained to the eldership of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, in Carnmoney Presbyterian Church on 11th November 1926.  He was instrumental in the establishment of the Glengormley congregation in 1936.  On 19th January 1941 he was Installed on transfer to the Kirk Session of Glengormley and elected Clerk of Session.  He died nine months later, on 23rd October 1941. The only Presbyterian Minister to be Grand Master thus far is, the Rev. William Martin Smyth from 1972 to 1996.

Some Presbyterian Ministers also came to the fore in the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland in the early part of the century. In 1908 the Rev. Alexander Gallagher of Fountainville (burnt down in 1920), became a Grand Chaplain, followed by the Rev. R. J. Whan of Clare in circ.1925.  The Rev. Whan was also the Deputy County Master of Armagh.  His portrait is on the Lodge Banner of Clare LOL 102.

The formation of Independent Orange Order in 1903 (for reasons which need not concern us now) brought together the classic combination of urban working class and rural tenant farmer.  It also revived something of the radical element of Irish Presbyterianism.  The Independents were largely Presbyterians, a notable exception being St. Aiden’s Lodge, Sandy Row, which virtually moved from the “Old Order” to the “New Order”. Many of the Belfast working class Presbyterians rallied to the cause of the Independents as did the ‘anti big house’ tenant farmers of North Antrim.  In the early, and undoubtedly the strongest, days of the Independents many north Antrim Lodges were solid Presbyterian and some had direct Presbyterian connections.

The Grand Chaplain of the Independents, the Rev. Dr David Dorrington Boyle, minister of St. James’s Church, Ballymoney. (Formally 3rd Ballymoney), (1896-1908).  He founded ILOL 14, now dormant.  Garryduff ILOL 15, Bushvale ILOL and Mosside ILOL 25, have ‘Presbyterian’ on their Banner.  Finvoy ILOL 34 Lodge and Band are solidly Finvoy Presbyterian, as was Magheramorne, now dormant.

The Non-Subscribing tradition also has some connection to the Orange Institution with the Rev. John Begg (Ballycarry). One of the more recent Deputy Grand Chaplains was the Rev. William Frame of Moneyrea, while the Moderator of the denomination in 2003/5, the Rev. Norman Hutton of Newry, is also a member.  The Grand Master, Robert Saulters, though being brought up in the Church of Ireland became a member of Dunmurry Non-Subscribing congregation.  The Loyal Orange Institution of Ireland (Old Order) is not Trinitarian, the Independents are, as is the Loyal Orange Institution of Scotland.

The Reformed Presbyterian Church, because of their theological position on the Constitutional Settlement, is opposed to the Orange Institution.  The ‘Cameronians’ disliked William of Orange because he had not signed the Covenant.  Though some members of that denomination are members of the Order, none of their Ministers, to the best of my knowledge, were ever members or Chaplains.

The most rapid growth area of Orangeism was in Belfast in the first half of the twentieth century, where the number of Lodges almost doubled, from 151 in 1892 to almost 300 by the mid 1950’s. There were and are Lodges in the “Old Order” associated with Presbyterian Churches, but this would appear to be a Belfast phenomena.  While I am not claiming that this is an exhaustive list – here are some seventeen of them for the record:

LOL 527 Nelson Temperance founded 1919.

LOL 634 Albert Street Church Memorial Temperance. (Church on Banner) According to The Twelfth 1998, a booklet published by the County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast, this lodge was founded in 1919 by members of Albert Street Presbyterian Church/Conway Street Mission.  This booklet states:- “Although the church was burned down by a Roman Catholic mob in the early troubles the lodge still flourishes. . .”  A statement which lacks both theological and historical accuracy.

LOL 740 Ulsterville

LOL 741 Ballygomartin Temperance (Church on Banner)

LOL 824 Broadway Defenders (Church on Banner)

LOL 842 Woodvale Park Church Defenders Total Abstinence

LOL 866 McComb Memorial Total Abstinence – Belfast No. 1

Called after the Rev. Samuel McComb Minister of Agnes Street Presbyterian Church, Belfast (1871-1891)

LOL 887 – Broadway Total Abstinence

LOL 906 McQuiston Memorial Total Abstinence – Belfast No.6

LOL 969 Clifton Street Presbyterian Church Temperance

LOL 980 Cliftonville Presbyterian Fellowship (Title changed in Dec. 1963 from The Ulster Volunteers)

LOL 1068 Townsend Total Abstinence

LOL 1198 Sinclair Seamen’s

LOL 1210 Albert Hall Total Abstinence (formally Samuel C. Davidson Ml. [1948])

LOL 1038 Richview Church Total Abstinence [Titled GOLI June 1952]

LOL 1337 Witherow Memorial.  This Lodge was formed in 1920 and has its roots in Westbourne Presbyterian Church. LOL 1337 originally operated under the title of Westbourne Church Total Abstinence until the lodge decided to change its name in 1930. Called after Rev. William Witherow, minister (1883-1919)

LOL 1935 Ballymacarrett Church Defenders

LOL 1953 Agnes Street Presbyterian Church.  Formed in 1947 out of the Boy’s Brigade Old Boys Association, of the 28th Boys’ Brigade Company.  They had the Anchor, the BB symbol, on the front of the Lodge Banner, with the church on the back.  They went dormant in 2000.

There are also two lodges in Belfast with historical associations with Henry Cooke – LOL 609 “Cooke’s Defenders”, in Number 6 District East Belfast and LOL 1421 “Cooke’s True Blues Temperance”, now dormant, in Number 4 District.

It was conflict over education in the 1920’s which brought the Churches and the Order together as it had done to a lesser extent in 1831.  The Churches united, under the “United Education Committee of the Protestant Churches”(UECPC), to oppose the 1923 Bill.  After much pressure from the UECPC and the Orange Institution, accompanied by a very strong ground swell of Protestant opinion, the Amending Education Act of 12th March 1925 removed the secularising sections from the 1923 Act.

The middle of the twentieth century was both a high point and a turning point in terms of the relationship between the Orange Order, the Churches in general, and the Presbyterian Church in Ireland in particular.  This is noticeable in two meeting of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland.  The first that of 12th December 1951, and the second, that of 8th June 1966.

High Point:-

The fear of division has always been a major factor within the Institution.  This was reflected at the Grand Lodge meeting on 12th December 1951.  In the wake of the formation of Ian Paisley’s “Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster”, the wisdom of those who constituted the membership of the Grand Lodge at that time was expressed in the following resolution:

Convinced of the dangers facing our common Protestantism in Ireland today, and recognising with gratitude the faithful witness that our Protestant Churches have maintained among us to the faith that was once delivered to the Saints, but realising the harm being done by our continuing divisions, we call upon all Orangemen to do their utmost to promote better understanding and a closer union between our various Protestant denominations.  To this end we strongly advise that facilities be refused for holding religious services in Orange and/or Protestant Halls except in the case of representatives of such Religious Bodies as are recognised by the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, as the indiscriminate granting of such facilities has helped to increase divisions amongst Protestant people.

This meeting of the Grand Lodge also LISTED the churches whose ministers were recognised:

Church of Ireland; Presbyterian Church in Ireland; Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland; Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland; Methodist Church in Ireland; Baptist; Congregational and Moravian Churches.

This list did not include, “The Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster”.  This situation was to be changed in 1998, reflecting a shift within the Grand Lodge.

The purpose behind this resolution was obvious.  It was to keep Ian Paisley from continuing on the path of division, which he had declared was his objective.  He embarked on that objective in 1951, with the formation of his own church.  This resolution was a ‘whistling in the wind’, as far as the Grand Lodge was concerned.  If this resolution was designed to keep Ian Paisley from starting his own brand of church in Orange Halls, it failed.  As any observer of the religious scene in Northern Ireland will recognise, all sorts of ‘religious’ groups, some of whom would not be recognised as within the Reformed tradition, use Orange Halls.

A number of Presbyterian Ministers, (PCI) other that those already mentioned, appear to grace the records of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland in the mid twentieth century: (45)

J.C.M. Anderson (The Mall)

Thomas Barry (Irvinestown)

T.P. Blackstock (1st Antrim)

Eric Borland (Hamilton Road/Rosemary)

John Brown (Magee College)

C.G. Chart (Keady)

Andrew Crooks (Bethney)

W.S.K. Crossley (Carryduff)

Robert Graham Doherty (Carnone/Drumlegagh)

Alfred Eadie (Kilkeel)

Charles McKimm Eadie (Claggan)

J.C. Faulkner (Moy)

Francis Montgomery Hay (Leckpatrick)

William John Hemphill (Mosside)

Walter Herron (Clontibret)

Richard Hume (Newmills, Co. Tyrone)

W.J. Hughes (Lylehill/R.E.)

Arthur J. Jenkins (Enniskillen)

James Johnston (1st Magherafelt)

James Kane (Pomroy)

Richard Laird (Ardstraw)

D. McKay Little (Ballyroney)

Prof. R. L. Marshall (Magee College)

W.D. Marshall (Castlerock)

Wilfred Sloan Martin (2nd Randalstown)

William T. McClelland (Macosquin)

Morwood Meldrum (Duncairn)

George Herbert Millar (Killead)

J. Boyd Moore (Mountjoy)

Andrew McCurdy (Tullyallen)

Andrew McIlwrath (Maghera)

W.G. McKinney (Ramoan)

H.M. McNeilly (Connor)

Frederick Neill (Ray/Kilbride)

F.J. Nelson (Argyle Place)

Samuel T. Palmer (Newtownards)

W.W. Porter (Killead/R.A.F.)

Nathaniel Small (Downshire Road, Newry)

Kenneth Smyth (Drumbo)

James Tolland (1st Donegore)

Stanley Wellington Thompson (Dungannon)

W.J. Vance (Crumlin Road)

F.W. Wallace (Magheramason)

W.J. Watson (Roseyards)

R.S. Watt (Killeshandra/Clontibret/Waterford)

Some Moderators of the General Assembly were members of the Orange Order in this period:

John McKean, Comber (1952), followed by John Knowles, Tullylish (1954), W.A.A. Park, Ballygilbert (1961), Temple Lundie, Armagh (1974), Robert Dickinson, Tobermore (1984) John Lockington, Gardenmore (1999).

There were and still are others whose names do not appear on Grand Lodge records.  Some Ministers prefer to keep their membership of the Orange Institution ‘under the bushel’.

Turning Point:-

Just fifteen years after the Grand Lodge resolution of 1951, we see a notable change in the wording of the Twelfth Resolutions.  The concern was the World Council of Churches, which had been hyped up by both Ian Paisley and some hardline Orangemen associated with TARA who organised resolutions to Grand Lodge from private lodges.

There were some NINE resolutions from County, District and Private Lodges, tabled at the Grand Lodge meeting on Wednesday 8th June 1966, in relation to the issue of “Church Unity” and the visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Pope. Paradoxically there were TWENTY-TWO Resolutions with reference to the 50th Anniversary Celebrations of the Easter Rising! The Twelfth Resolution on Faith in 1966 therefore included the words:

That the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland views with the utmost concern the present trend towards one united Church involving the surrender of our distinctive Protestant witness, and the atmosphere created by the World Council of Churches to promote this goal.

This resolution went on to state:

During the past number of years there have been marked departures within the Churches from the Protestant and Reformed Faith. . .

This was bitterly opposed by such worthies as, the Rev. Dr. James Johnston a Grand Chaplain, the former Minister of 1st Magherafelt.  The Church of Ireland Clergy who also joined in the opposition were: Bishop of Down and Dromore, Dr. F.J. Mitchell, Bishop R.C. Elliott, Archdeacon John Mercer, Canon (later Bishop) R.W. Heavener, and the Rev. Clayton Stevenson. The Rev. Tom Crabbe, of Knockbreda Methodist also joined in the opposition, all to no effect.  Many refused to attend the proceedings at the Twelfth Platform in protest, and the names of some of these notables disappear off the lists of Chaplains.  The exceptions being; Dr. James Johnston, Bishop R.C. Elliott and Bishop R.W. Heavener.

However, the records of the GOLI show that some 47 Chaplains recorded their apologies, and did not attend the bi-annual meeting on Wednesday 8th June 1966.  These included – Bishop R.C. Elliott, Archdeacon John Mercer and the Rev. Clayton Stevenson.

As Professor Holmes points out, in his bi-centenary lecture of 1995, the General Board of PCI replied, repudiating any suggestions that there was a departure from the Protestant and Reformed Faith.  The Minutes of the following Grand Lodge meeting reveal:-

The Grand Secretary referred to acknowledgements received from the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and the President of the Methodist Church in Ireland, in reply to Resolutions from the Grand Lodge of Ireland on Christian Unity.  Both the leaders of these Churches had, in printed statements to their respective Churches, clearly underlined their adherence to the ancient creeds and principles of the Reformation.  No reply had been received from His Grace The Lord Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland, The Most Rev. James McCann D.D., Ph.D.

This negative attitude towards the “mainline” churches continued with the 2004 Grand Lodge Resolution prepared for the Twelfth, including the statement:

We deplore the attempts of some clergy and laity to rewrite the Gospel while remaining in churches whose Articles of Religion and Confessions of Faith are their accepted and stated beliefs.

What alarmed many Presbyterians within the Institution, at least those who put these things to the test of Scripture, was that this failed to ‘take the beam out of your own eye’.  Was the Institution, or at least those who drew up the Twelfth Resolutions, blind to the fact that precisely the same criticism could be laid at the door of the Institution, some of whose membership evidently failed to live up to the standards of the Qualifications, which like the ‘articles of Religion and Confessions of Faith’, require the assent of the membership?

The twentieth century ended in crisis.  The crisis caused largely by the violence of Drumcree, but also by the division over the Belfast Agreement.  As one Clerk of Session of a Co Tyrone Church stated, as he resigned from the Orange Institution:-“I did not join the Orange Order to block roads”.

As Prof. Holmes points out:

. . . the relationship between the Presbyterian Church and the Orange Order over the past two hundred years has not always been harmonious and comfortable.

It was however to reach new depths in the years of conflict over Drumcree, particularly during 1999/2000, the Moderatorial year of the Rev. Dr. John Lockington, a life-long Orangeman.

New depths of anti-clericalism, within the Institution, were to be revealed in an interview with Darwin Templeton of the Belfast Telegraph on 30th June 1999.  The Grand Master Robert Saulters is quoted as feeling “betrayed” by the leaders of the main Protestant churches, including Dr. Lockington the Moderator of the General Assembly. This kind of public attack was unprecedented, but it indicated the direction in which at least the leadership of the Institution was now going.

As ‘Drumcree Sunday’ 1999 approached Dr. Lockington had issued a statement, which urged people to make the issue a matter for prayer in the days up to the event.  In this statement he particularly encouraged Orangemen, who were Presbyterians, to attend the place of worship they normally attended on that day.  He called for a day of prayer and asked that Presbyterian churches might arrange for times of prayer to be set aside to seek God in a volatile situation, and he encouraged Presbyterians who were Orangemen to attend these.

Dr. Lockington’s response to this PUBLIC interview was PERSONAL.  On 1st July he left a letter for the Grand Master – asking NINE questions.  It was not responded to until September, and the response did not address the issues. Anti-clericalism may well be a product of sociological trends, but it was unprecedented coming from the leadership of Orange Institution.

It is difficult to ascertain the involvement of Presbyterian Ministers in the Orange Institution.  The Centre for the Study of Conflict (1991) reckoned that there were 13.5% of Presbyterian Ministers who were members.  (13.5% of 600 = 81)  When some of us went through the list of Ministers in 1998 we found it difficult to identify 25.  However it ought to be acknowledged that with the last decade of conflict over parading and the Belfast Agreement there are many who would not want to advertise their membership.

The ultimate question which faces Presbyterians is this – Is the Orange Institution of today an authentic reflection and affirmation of the core values of Orangeism, as seen in the life of William III and in the documents of the foundation fathers of the Orange Society?

The present state, with the very public conflict and violence over parades which have included attacks on the “Crown Forces”, have had a negative effect on the relationship between Presbyterians, of whatever hue, and the Orange Institution.  The Presbyterian leaders of the past, who had any association with the Orange Institution, would scarcely recognise the Orange Institution of today.


After further consideration I accept the position of Professor Edith Mary Johnston Liik in her “History of the Irish Parliament” [Vol. 4 Pages 84-87]

Patrick Duigenan was married three times:

1. [Date & name unknown] daughter of James Cusack of Ballysonan, County Wicklow.

2. [c 1782] Angelina Berry, a Catholic, daughter of Thomas Berry of English Castle, Kings County.

3.[October 1807] Hester Watson, widow of George Heppenstall of Dublin, Solicitor to Dublin police.

The Cusack’s had Roman Catholic ancestry and this may have led to some confusion.

Johnston-Liik however fails to note the he was Grand Secretary of the Grand Orange of Ireland form 1801 until his death in 1816.


Beyond the Banners – Dr David Hume, Dr Jonathan Mattison, David Scott, Booklink 2009 Page 30

“Rev. Hugh Hanna,(0000-1892) [St. Enoch’s 1852-1892] Rev Hans Woods (0000-1902) [Fountainville 1871-1902] Rev. Samuel McComb (0000-1891) [Agnes Street 1871-1891] and the Rev. Henry Henderson [1st Holywood 1844-1879] who were all members of Grand Lodge by 1870”