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Royal Black Institution

by ulsterman , Mon Nov 01, 2010 3:26 pm

The Royal Black Institution, also known as the Royal Black Preceptory or The Imperial Grand Black Chapter Of The British Commonwealth, is a Protestant fraternal society.

It was formed in Ireland in 1797, two years after the formation of the Orange Order in Daniel Winter's cottage, Loughgall, County Armagh. 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. The Royal Black is often referred to as the senior of the loyal orders.

Its headquarters are in Lurgan, County Armagh. Members of the Order refer to each other as "Sir Knight" whereas in the Orange Order members are referred to as "Brother" or "Brethren". The Order's basis is the promotion of scripture and the principles of the Protestant Reformation. It has preceptories throughout the world, mainly in the major English speaking countries, and is particularly strong in Newfoundland.

In Northern Ireland it holds a very colourful annual parade in the village of Scarva, County Down on the 13th July (the day after the Orange Order's 12th July celebrations) and often has as many as 100,000 people in attendance. It is commonly referred to as The Sham Fight. 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 Northern Ireland. 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.

Jarman and Bryan stated that the difference the Royal Black Institution and the Orange Order is that "The Black Institution is best understood as reflecting the more middle class, rural, respectable, even elite elements of Orangeism". The stronger emphasis on religion as opposed to politics or history is shown in their parade banners which usually depict Bible scenes rather than scenes from history.

The origins of the Institution are clouded with much secrecy however information does exist that demonstrates its true roots. The predominate Protestant church in the late 18th century was the Anglican (Church of England) which is known today as the Church of Ireland. Freemasonry in Ireland, still based in Dublin had strong roots in the Anglican communities of the South while in the North of the island Freemasonry was more closely linked to the Presbyterian Church, the black-mouths, a derogatory name given to those of Scots descent (from where the nickname used in Dublin to this day for Northern Ireland is the 'Black North'). Presbyterians were linked with their Catholic neighbours through the United Irishmen during the rebellions in Ireland in the 18th century and for this reason serving Freemasons, such as Dan Winters in County Armagh broke away from Freemasonry to found an exclusively Protestant Masonic based organisation. This original organisation built upon the agrarian Orange Order by adding the obvious masonic style degree of Arch-Purple. The deeply masonic links being the cause of the Orange Orders clear statement that the Arch-Purple Lodges are a separate organisation that has nothing to do with the Orange Order. To bring the middle class Protestants on-board the Black Institution was organised, following closely on the degrees and rituals used by the Scots Freemasons with their clear link to the Templar Lodges and Knights of Malta (mainly Catholic organisations). For some time there were two Black Orders operating in Ireland, the Anglican purely Protestant one and the original Scots Masonic Presbyterian one. A letter outlining the historically provable facts was published in the press during the early 20th century in Ireland. The aprons worn by the Order started out as black but then became royal blue to make a further distinction between the two. The first warrant for the Black Order in Ireland was in fact issued by the Masonic Grand Lodge of Scotland and subsequently this Order disappeared underground leaving the Anglican Order that can be seen during the parades and exists around the world where Protestant Irish have emigrated over the years. The rule forbidding previous membership of any other order referred to the original Presbyterian and United Irishmen linked Order.
Contents
[show]

* 1 Degrees
* 2 Sovereign Grand Masters
* 3 See also
* 4 Notes and references
* 5 External links

[edit] Degrees

The Royal Black Preceptory consists of eleven degrees, as follows: -

(1) Royal Black Degree
(2) Royal Scarlet Degree
(3) Royal Mark Degree
(4) Apron and Royal Blue Degree
(5) Royal White Degree
(6) Royal Green Degree
(7) Gold Degree
(8) Star and Garter Degree
(9) Crimson Arrow Degree
(10) Link and Chain Degree
(11) Red Cross Degree

The Institution also possesses a final retrospective overview degree, which is essentially an overview of the 11 degrees that the candidate has traversed.
[edit] Sovereign Grand Masters

A list of Sovereign Grand Masters of the Royal Black Preceptory:[1]

* 1846: Thomas Irwin
* 1849: Morris Knox
* 1850: Thomas Johnston
* 1857: William Johnston
* 1902: H. W. Chambers
* 1914: William Lyons
* 1924: William Allen
* 1948: Norman Stronge
* 1971: Jim Molyneaux
* 1995: William Logan
* 2008: Millar Farr

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