The following is the Address of the Grand Orange Lodge against Catholic Emancipation, 1828. The Orange Lodges, formed to maintain the Protestant ascendancy, were named after William of Orange (William III), who, with Mary, replaced the Catholic James II, on the throne of England at the Glorious Revolution of 1688-9.
It is not less the interest than the duty of Protestants to support, by every lawful means, the religious and civil establishments of their country. By these the honour of God and the happiness of man are most effectually secured. In the present era, our religion is menaced by the attacks of Popery and Infidelity, while our Constitution is assailed by faction and sedition. Against this double danger the Orange Institution was formed, being so named in honour of King William the Third, Prince of Orange, the illustrious champion to whom Great Britain owes her deliverance from thraldom, spiritual and political; [and] the establishment of the Protestant religion; . . . . We lay no claim to exclusive loyalty, or exclusive Protestantism; but no man unless his creed be Protestant, and his principles loyal, can associate with us. We recognize no other exclusions. Our Institution receives, nay solicits into its circle, every man whose religion and character can stand these tests. We reject also an intolerant spirit. It is a previous qualification, without which the greatest and wealthiest man would in vain seek our brotherhood, that he shall be incapable of persecuting, injuring or upbraiding any one for his religious opinions; but, on the contrary, that he shall be disposed to aid and assist loyal subjects of every religious persuasion, and to protect them from violence and oppression. Our rules are open not only to the members of the Institution, but to the whole community. Our Association is general; it meets wherever Orangemen are to be found, and that we trust will soon be in every part of the Empire. There is not either oath, obligation or test, which candidate or brother can take, or offer in our Society; the proposal of members, their admission, and their continuance among us, are wholly unfettered with pledge or promise; nevertheless, we can truly tell the world that no unqualified person can come into, and no unworthy brother remain in, our fellowship. The Orange institution cannot be suppressed but by means which would subvert the Constitution of Great Britain, and erase the name of the Prince of Orange from among her Sovereigns. . . . [If that happened] The liberty of these realms, our religion, and our monarchy would again be placed under Papal darkness and despotic oppression.
By Order. HENRY MAXWELL, M.P., Grand Secretary.
(From R. M. Sibbett, Orangeism in Ireland and throughout the Empire, revised edition, London, 1939, II, 29-31, in E.R. Norman, Anti-Catholicism in Victorian England (Barnes and Noble, 1968), 129-130.
Last modified 1998