CHAPTER 5: Parades, Grog and Faith-based Conflict
In theory, if lodge members
understood and accepted their place, however temporary, in the lodge hierarchy,
knew the appropriate ritual by heart, and
were conscious of the need not to disgrace themselves or embarrass their co-members,
they were likely to make good ‘lodge’ officers,
the ‘lodge’ was unlikely to have its funds defrauded, its meetings disrupted or its good name blemished.
more members were likely to be attracted,
the benefit/charity funds would grow, and
the Order would be able to carry out its community building activities more effectively.
In practice, the long-standing connections between the ritual and the payment of subscriptions, and thus the benefits, were already under pressure to change at the beginning of the 19th century. The Guild Hall/pub culture had nurtured the harmony, the toasting rituals, the secret theatre and the predominantly masculine good times. While ‘the drink’ was never to be left entirely behind, the previously-bonded elements were increasingly being assessed separately and on their own merits. The annual get-together, a core fraternal activity from mediaeval times, was especially open to being cast as a direct competitor with group discipline, and as a major threat to lodge funds.
With fears of armed governmental harassment behind them, fraternal societies, and by extension individual ‘affiliated’ lodges, appear to have resumed the practice of marking special days, initially by celebrating their collective identity and the lodge’s survival, with an annual dinner, procession and/or church services. Before 1840, NSW parades were almost always displays of military force. There was the odd spontaneous celebration, and from the 1820’s, Masonic brethren had marked the two days of the year designated St John’s days. From 1840, the non-Masonic fraternal societies in particular, vied with one another for public attention. Of the many thousands of street parades which occurred between then and 1940 in Australia, perhaps as high a percentage as 90% were staged by fraternal societies or dominated by them.
Marching banners, another fraternal phenomenon with a long history, were eventually generated in all parts of the continent. Simultaneously advertisements, recruiting devices and expressions of the members’ self-satisfaction, the most-sought after banners were professionally-done, embroidered and hand-painted silk creations, and were, of course, expensive. As fraternalism spread, internal tumult, even schisms divided those who wanted to spend money on celebrations and on ‘paraphernalia’, and those who wanted to conserve funds strictly for benefit payments. Neither internal nor external critics could see what is visible in hindsight, that the social capital generated for a whole community through a public display was dependent on the energising force, the lodge activists, being able to maintain their emotional attachment to the whole project through the ‘secret theatre.’
But in de-emphasising secrecy with public spectacle, by removing lodges from taverns into disengaged halls and single-purpose ‘temples’, and by eroding personal involvement in the name of administrative efficiency, the life-blood of ‘togetherness’ was allowed to seep away. Contests over physical space causing mayhem and the breaking of heads, of course, did not help clear thinking.
In late-1843 when WC Wentworth guided the first legislative enactment specifically concerning ‘friendly societies’ through the NSW Parliament he declared the Act’s objects to be:
‘to regulate and to protect societies, not secret societies such as were known by other honorable members as much as by himself to exist in this colony; but for societies formed for the express purpose of relieving misery, for affording relief to those belonging to them, who might be sick or otherwise prevented from obtaining a subsistence by their own labour.’ [ccxii]
He noted that ‘the two principal societies..of the description contemplated’ were the Australian Union Benefit Society and the Australian Total Abstinence Society and explained that ‘no secret society having signs, countersigns, passwords or members nor any trade society shall be entitled to the benefit’ of the Act.
Clearly, the Freemasons and ‘the Odd Fellows’ were still regarded as secret societies when they let it be known they would like to be at the Governor Burke statue unveiling in April 1842. Their requests precipitated a parade to the site of the statue[ccxiii], almost entirely made up of these two fraternal societies and their ‘trappings’: [ccxiv]
Carriage of Sir John Jamieson, etc
The Officers of the Garrison
The Statue Committee, plus Magistrates and gentry
(then came Free Masons headed by)
Tylers with drawn swords
Deacons with wands
Banner of Leinster Marine Lodge, No 266, IC.
Master Masons (not in office)
Banner of Lodge of Australia, No 548, EC.
‘Faith, Hope and Charity’
Second banner for Lodge 548.
The Lodge Secretaries [with insignia]
Banner of Australian Social Lodge, No 260, EC.
Warrant [ie Charter or Dispensation] Bearers
Junior Wardens, in Collars [regalia]
Royal Arch Masons with Charter
Junior Wardens, in Collars
Senior Wardens, in Collars
Deputation from Parramatta, Windsor and Maitland lodges
An Aged Mason carrying the Sacred Volume [the Bible]
Masters of the Lodges
Tyler with drawn sword
Dep Prov GM of the English Lodges in Australia.
(the Aust Grand Lodge-IOOF headed by)[ccxv]
Grand Janitor with drawn sword
Senior Director – Grand Master – Dep GM
Grand V? and Directors
Large Banner (Odd Fellows Arms)
Outer Guardian with drawn sword
LH Supporter with wand – NG – RH Sup with wand
LH Supporter with wand – VG – RH Sup with wand
Past Vice Grands
Junior Warden with Congratulation – Secretary with Arms
Senior Warden with Dispensation
Ancient Father with Bible
Small Banner (Charity)
Members of Second Degree
Members of First Degree
Junior Members of the Order
Small Banner (Friendship)[ccxvi]
(IOOF-MU headed by)
The Sydney Town Band
Warden with Axe, supported with two Tylers with swords
Dispensation carried by two brethren
Brother – Noble Grand – Brother
Brother – Vice Grand – Brother
Past Grand – Grand Master – Past Grand
L Strangers Refuge Lodge Banner
Crown on crimson velvet cushion carried by two Vice Grands
L Fountain of Refuge Lodge Banner
Past & Present Noble Grands & Past Secretaries
Australian Total Abstinence Society with banners
Total Abstinence Mutual Benefit Society with banners
St Patricks Total Abstinence Society with banners
Banner of St Patrick
Roman Catholic Clergy
Windsor Total Abstinence Society with banner
Subscribers to the Statue
Further south, in what was still only a rough camp, Melbourne’s Freemasons on 25 July, 1842, showed in a procession to lay the foundation stone of the Court House that they were already extraordinarily well-organised: [ccxvii]
Tyler, with drawn sword
Banner of Faith
Master of Ceremonies with Golden Rods
Terrestrial and Celestial Globes, by brethren
Entered Apprentices, in twos
Fellow Crafts, in twos
Six Junior Masters
Deacons with wands
Secretary with Roll
Treasurer with Bag
Six Masters, in twos
Corinthian Light, borne by brother
Junior Warden, with Insignia
Six Masters, in twos
Doric Light, by brother
Senior Warden, with his Insignia of Office
Banner of Hope
The Lodge, [the Ark of the Covenant?] canopied
in white satin, by brethren
Warrant of Constitution, by brother
Cornucopia, by brother
Pitcher of Wine, by brother
Pitcher of Oil, by brother
Organist and Choir
Stewards with Rods
Architect and Builder
Bible, Square and Compasses, by brother,
on crimson velvet cushion
Banner of Charity
Ionic Light, by brother
Book of Constitutions, by brother on blue velvet cushion
The Perfect Ashlar, from a Triangle, by brother
Royal Arch Masons, in twos
The Past Masters
The Worshipful Master
Inner Guard with drawn sword
One Masonic account asserts that it was the Freemasons who were joined by Government and Court Officers, school children, the ‘Independent Order of Odd Fellows’, and a Band, and not the other way around, for the parade to the site where oil, corn and water were ceremonially poured. Another account reports that before the procession, the election of the first Mayor was carried out, and that one of that worthy’s first duties was to pay his respects to the Superintendent of the colony, La Trobe. To mark the occasion, ‘the Councillors wore coats of fine blue cloth, with gilt buttons and skirts lined with white satin.’ The Mayor ‘was robed in a gown of crimson silk borrowed from the Masonic fraternity.’ Perhaps all robes were borrowed as the first municipal election was not due for 6 months. One contemporary also reported:
‘(We) cannot help alluding to the excellent aid afforded by the Society of Odd Fellows in procuring a band of music, and exhibiting all the dread insignia of their order, in full perfection; the axe of justice carried by a sturdy brother of the fraternity had something terrific in its size and emblazonry.’ [ccxviii]
The Freemasons again dominated proceedings in Melbourne on 13 December that year, when the Chief Magistrate was sworn in after the election and another procession.[ccxix] Similarly, in the procession of 20 March, 1846, to lay the foundation stones of Princes Bridge and the Melbourne Hospital, major prayers began with invocations to ‘The Great Architect of the Universe’ and it was Masonic lodge officers who acted as officiating assistants to His Honour Charles Joseph La Trobe, Superintendent of the Colony and James Palmer, Lord Mayor. Among their tasks was to hand a cornucopia containing corn, and silver pitchers of oil and wine to the Worshipful Master who scattered their contents on the stone.[ccxx] Bell adds that ‘Foresters, Druids and Oddfellows’’ also paraded. There were no angry letters to the Press after these parades asking how the Masons came to be so favoured, and there were no overt protests at the ceremonies used. Some in attendance may have guffawed at the ritual, while others no doubt took for granted that after each invocation the assembled brethren would respond ‘So mote it be’. But a close reading indicates that not Freemasonry, but broader customary practice was the basis of the ritual at such events, including the carrying of tools and other symbols and the wearing of regalia, and that exactly the same key practices were carried out whether Freemasons were there officially or not.
A procession on 4 January, 1840 to lay the foundation stone of Sydney’s Christ’s Church by Anglican ‘Bishop of Australia’ Broughton, included ‘operatives’, ie workmen, an architect and a building contractor with ‘tools’, and various secular and church dignitaries with ‘paraphernalia’, including wands, coins, robes and scriptures, but there were no Freemasons.[ccxxi] ‘His Lordship’ spread the mortar, struck the stone with a mallet and intoned the ritualistic words, and asserted that the building was ‘to be set apart for the teaching of the right Catholic faith.’ The Herald further recorded that:
‘The church is to be erected at the apex of the triangular piece of ground in front of the Benevolent Asylum and will form a striking object upon entering the town by the Paramatta Road.’ [ccxxii]
Laying the cathedral stone at West Maitland in October, 1840, Catholic Bishop Polding used words and symbols recognisably similar to those used by Protestants, including:
‘On that stone, an emblem of the new life which you this day commence, deposit all irregular affections; increase in virtue; raise higher the fabric of sanctity, as the walls of this material building come nearer to their termination: and may this edifice, by being ever the habitation of virtuous and pious souls, be a figure of the church triumphant in heaven, where nothing defiled can enter and where the prayers of the saints ascend as a sweet odour before the throne of the Lamb.’ [ccxxiii]
At Wollongong in the same month Polding laid another foundation stone ‘according to the ritual’. The laying of the foundation stone of the Presbyterian Church and School at Sydney’s Paddington in January, 1845 did not involve Freemasons as a body and yet the stone was aligned using a level, square and plummet (plumb line) Three knocks with the mallet were given by Sir Evan McKenzie, who declaimed: ‘..May the Supreme Architect of the Universe pour corn, wine and oil on this colony and city, and afford means of education, and all the necessaries and comforts of life to the inhabitants.’ [ccxxiv] A tantalisingly-brief account of a Catholic stone-laying at the then-Port Phillip has: ‘It was contemplated that the Masonic body should have proceeded in due form, and assisted in the ceremony; but the opinions of others being at variance with this suggestion, it was dropped, to prevent a schism.’ [ccxxv] The stone for the Newcastle Public School in 1878, as just one further example, was laid by School Board Chairman and Port Shipping Master Hannell using a ceremonial trowel and mallet specially made and presented to him on the occasion.[ccxxvi] Far from arguing that the Freemasons were special and unique, the form and content of these parades and ceremonies actually show the reverse.
The lack of any mention of ‘trade societies’ in these early processions may also surprise, as may the strength and primary position of temperance groups. Excluded from pub meetings but seeking the same life protections, Sydney’s temperance societies were among the first fraternals to seek ‘dry’ locations from whence they could engage a lodge doctor and set up their own sick and accident funds. In January, 1842: ‘A grand procession of the Teetotallers took place on the 27th; they subsequently dined together, for three shillings each, in the Market, and in the evening the Sydney College Hall, large as it is, was literally crammed. One circumstance struck me as rather odd; viz, that as soon as they had finished eating their dinner, and drinking lemonade (of which they had ordered one hundred dozen) almost every one of them began to smoke…’ [ccxxvii]
The Temperance Advocate first appeared in October, 1840,[ccxxviii] a result of exertions of a committee which included judges and numerous clerics, but of the town’s newspapers only the Sydney Monitor and the Commercial Journal reported favourably on the tee-totaller’s first parade with banners and music, in December of that year.[ccxxix] The banner of the ‘Sydney Total Abstinence Benefit Society’ carried, beside its name and date of establishment, ‘January 4th, 1840’ in golden letters on a dark ground, a number of familiar illustrations – a ‘colonial’ shield surmounted by the rising sun, the shield quarters showing a bee hive, a horn of plenty, ‘the gospel and the emblems of friendship’, ie, the Bible and the two clasped hands. A gentleman with flag, ‘Sobriety’, and a woman with flag, ‘Domestic Comfort’, enclosed the shield, with a kangaroo and emu, and two children with further inscription. On the reverse of this was a cherub with trumpet over the words ‘Mercy and Truth are Met Together.’ The 1841 report links ‘ornamented aprons’ specifically to the Benefit Society extension of the Sydney Total Abstinence Society.[ccxxx] Four years later, a first hand observer of an assembly of temperance groups in Sydney noted: ‘The turn-out of the Teetotal Societies was such as I have seldom seen in the colonies; the respectable appearance of many of their members – their neat and in some cases elegant sashes, aprons, and other paraphernalia – the regularity and order of the march – with the beautiful music of three distinct bands, each almost equal to any regiment of the line…’ [ccxxxi] [My emphasis] Stifled, it said, ‘from a want of funds’, the Temperance Advocate lasted only 12 months, its rise and fall not only to do with money. In 1840 the Sydney Herald had managed a brief mention of the tee-totallers’ ‘grand day’ but only after it had advised: ‘(We) hope the members will think better of (a parade.) They may be assured it will do them no good, while it may injure them…As strenuous supporters of the Society and well-wishers of the cause, we strongly recommend the Committee to have no procession.’ [ccxxxii] The Herald was not merely irritated when in September, 1842 it described that year’s ‘Total Abstinence’ parade as ‘ridiculous’.
The paper’s proprietors were deeply anti-Irish and anti-Roman Catholic: ‘The Attorney-General [the Catholic Plunkett] has, more than once, even in Council, condemned the universal indignation expressed by a Protestant public against the nefarious importation of Catholic paupers from the south of Ireland in English ships…They are ignorant, turbulent, mentally debased, and totally unqualified for the elective franchise. They have ruined Newfoundland – they are proscribed in America – they are considered as a plague in the metropolis of the British Empire…(etc)’ [ccxxxiii] ‘Empire’ can now be read as ‘Protestant’ but notice the use of ‘English ships’ not ‘British’.[ccxxxiv] The temperance movement was divided along similar lines. The Wesleyan ‘Strangers’ Friend Society’, which claimed that of its first 242 ‘cases’ the large percentage was Catholic, had a severe bias amongst its executive and supporters. A speaker at the 1840 AGM was quoted: ‘Mr [R] Jones observed that it is necessary that great exertions should be made by Protestants at the present time, as there is an evident attempt being made to deluge us with Irish papists..’ [ccxxxv]
House-painter John Garrett, articulate, perceptive and aggressive, announced the arrival of another fraternal temperance contender in the colony in February, 1842, in a new Teetotaller and General Newspaper. Elected the first local ‘District Corresponding Secretary’ he believed strongly in ‘his’ Order’s superiority on financial and organisational grounds: ‘(Should) a Rechabite, either from choice or necessity, change his place of residence, he forfeits neither his privileges nor interest, but continues in the full enjoyment of them.’ [ccxxxvi] The Independent Order of Rechabites, Salford Unity (IOR) was established at Salford, near Manchester, in 1835 as a conscious reaction to widespread social drinking and the all-but-mandatory ‘wet rent’ charged of fraternal members whether they attended a meeting or not. Initial enthusiasm was for a pledge of abstinence, then for a temperance burial society. Members were then strongly advised that they would not be able to compete with societies such as the Odd Fellows unless they formed ‘an Order or a Brotherhood.’ This, note, was after the Tolpuddle trial. Despite tensions around secret oaths at the time, the Order had a ‘making’ ritual when it established its first UK ‘tent’ and its officials with titles such as Chief Ranger, Inside and Outside Guardian and Worthy Levite. Provision was made in the Rules for a ladder of degrees, secret grips and passwords, raps and countersigns, as well as regalia and separate oaths for initiates and for ‘lodge’ officers. Called a covenant, the candidate’s oath was a major sticking point among non-IOR temperance groups since it included the following: ‘…I hereby also pledge myself to keep inviolably the secrets of our honorable Order…’ [ccxxxvii] The obligation for officers included: ‘I also pledge myself that I will not give the grip of our Order or the password to anyone except to those who are duly qualified to receive them.[ccxxxviii] Their first published book of Rules ran to 60 ‘Do’s and Don’ts’. Each member of the Executive Council was to be able to write legibly and to read. When established the Funeral Fund carried a further 32 Rules. Self-consciously ‘a secret Order’,[ccxxxix] the Rechabites sailed even closer to the judicial wind by admitting that ‘if a (brother) come from any part of the Kingdom, if he be in distress, he has an equal claim to our assistance and protection’, that is, it acknowledged that a tramping network and a branch structure came with being an ‘Order’. [ccxl] Its aims were ‘to promote temperance, chastity and every virtue that adorns the human character.’ Lectures to candidates insisted that Rechabites were religiously and politically diverse, therefore no discussion of these topics would be allowed in ‘tent’: ‘neither can we allow any profane or obscene song, toast, or recitation to be sung, given or recited.’ Officers of the first UK tent, having drawn up a Constitution and Ritual, set about establishing other tents, in the manner of a Grand Lodge. Their earliest efforts included Juvenile Tents and a separate ‘United Order of Female Rechabites’. The IOR first paraded publically in Salford on New Year’s Day in 1836, with colour-coded sashes and a painted banner.[ccxli] Although not spelt out, the IOR was strongly Protestant.
The first known antipodean Rechabite came ashore in South Australia in 1839. Interested people thence met at John Nowland’s house on 1 January, 1840, initially to establish an Adelaide Total Abstinence Society and then, on 14 May, the ‘Southern Cross Tent, IOR’. In October, on a hot, dusty day, 30 members joined a 7 mile procession in regalia to Port Adelaide and the first IOR clearance was granted, in February, 1841, for Bro John Everard who wished to join a tent in Launceston. Hard economic times then caused so many defaults that by the end of 1843 there were few members ‘good on the books’ and ‘Southern Cross’ tent was dissolved and the funds divided. [ccxlii] The ‘Star of Australia Tent’, was established in Sydney in April, 1842,[ccxliii] just in time to participate in the Burke-statue parade. Garrett’s announcement of the IOR arrival while also wearing the hat of President of the Total Abstinence Benefit Society, was greeted by Catholic complaints of a conflict of interest. His response was typically un-diplomatic: ‘(IOR) so far supposes the other (Temperance Benefit Society) as the soaring of the eagle does the flight of the wren..(He argued that the IOR derived its status from not being registered)…In the benefits that (those) members respectively receive, in sickness for instance, one serves the subject according to a legal scale, approved by the magistrates in session, (while) the other [IOR] takes into account all the circumstances of the case and that of his family and being freed from legal shackles, their assistance is afforded in such a way that the suffering or needy brother does not feel himself to be a burden.’ Should Sydney’s working classes have to choose, as ‘Catholic’ despaired it would, it would not be between religious affiliations but between ‘a united order, consisting of many thousands of members and seven years standing, [IOR] and one local Benefit Society consisting of one hundred members and one years standing.’ [ccxliv]
The IOR’s ‘unity’ was a problem for local and ‘home’ authorities. Legislation before 1854 prevented any other than separate ‘lodges’ from registering. Attempts to change this situation by the IOR in 1842 in the UK were soundly rebuffed by the House of Lords, by erstwhile reformer Lord Shaftsbury in particular. Thousands of brethren left the Order ‘in a panic.’ [ccxlv] The vertically-organised IOR became the first recognised and registered ‘Order’, in March, 1854. It is noticeable that when a Rechabite emigrated to the USA power was given him or her to ‘form a new and distinct Unity – an American Order, having the whole of its government within itself’. In NSW, this freedom was refused, not by the English IOR executive, but by the brethren in Sydney: ‘(A) separate union…would by no means do for us, owing to the thinness of the population…therefore we hope to continue to be considered an integral part of the (UK) Order as the Sydney District, New South Wales…(Also) a separate union would tend to destroy our nationality..in all our intercourse we are desirous of strengthening (our) relation.’ [ccxlvi] The issue was not one of independence, per se, but of allegiance – to ‘the Empire’ and Protestantism, or to Rome.
At their first end-of-year Dinner, which ran from 5.0pm to 8, and included the ‘introduction’ of wives, Garrett’s toast to the Governor included UK background: ‘He…spoke at considerable length on the rise of Total Abstinence Societies in Manchester and Liverpool; on their defects as local societies, being confined in their operation to the neighborhood in which they are…He then combated the objections that have been advanced against (IOR) as a secret order..’ [ccxlvii] His approach and the underlying tensions resulted in deep enmities and the rise of further close competitors. A Port Phillip tent of an Order calling itself ‘the Southern Counties Brotherhood of the Honourable Independent Order of Rechabites, St John the Baptist’ was one such.[ccxlviii] The executive of Sydney’s Total Abstinence Society also determined to show its anti-IOR hand. It passed bylaws insisting that members could belong to no other secret society than the Freemasons, and allowing the executive to change benefits and contributions unilaterally. Garrett tested the claims in court but a magistrate found against him.[ccxlix] Garrett later admitted referring to St Patrick’s Total Abstinence Society and, by implication, to all Catholics as ‘sectarian’. When challenged, he defended his assertion by referring to society members giving their pledge while kneeling to a priest, to the Roman cross on society regalia, and to the society’s name. Catholics pointed out that the Society admitted non-Catholics, but critics perceived this as a token gesture. [ccl]
Part of a Rechabite’s pledge involved promoting the Order’s interest ‘wherever he goes.’ In April, 1843, at the official opening of their second Sydney tent, ‘Morning Star’, initiates included a second Launceston man who had travelled north in order to receive the information and accoutrements necessary for opening a tent. A further Sydney tent, the ‘Rose of Australia’ which is either a mis-print or evidence of a split, claimed the privileges of a Grand Lodge and issued the 20 May, 1843 Warrant (or Charter) for it, the ‘Star of Tasmania’.[ccli] Interestingly, a Launceston end-of-1842 temperance parade featured 10 ‘marching’ banners, including ‘a females’ flag’ of white silk, and 3 ‘trade’ banners: ‘The cordwainers’ and St Crispins’ Arms were neatly executed on…pink silk and followed by the shoemakers each wearing a rosette.’ [cclii] A carpenters and joiners’ banner utilised the emu and a kangaroo as supporters of the craft’s ‘arms’ on one side of a green silk banner, while the other side had a large circle ‘in the centre of which were two hands united…surrounded by ‘Unity and Concord.’ The saddlers’ blue silk ‘colour’ had a ‘rich yellow silk fringe’: ‘The design, executed on both sides, consisted of the saddlers’ arms, the supporters to which being two wild horses, had a beautiful effect.’
From 1843, elections in NSW enormously increased the value of public display, and of newspapers. The number of would-be editors suddenly increased as did the power of anyone who, with bombast or erudition, could attract advertisers, a combination bringing its own tensions. Duncan at the Chronicle was attuned more to English Catholicism than the ‘ex-convict parvenu Irish’ who employed him, and in Suttor’s view, represented a Liberal Catholicism which would in time provide a way to amicable co-existence with Protestantism: ‘The Liberal Catholic argued that secular democracy, with every man free (at least within very broad limits) to hold and perpetuate his ideas and customs, was compatible as it stood with Catholic teaching; and he was inclined to argue further that it was the ideal form of political society.’ [ccliii] However, Duncan was removed in February 1843, the local RC clergy insisting: ‘the Chronicle was established to defend Catholic principles, to refute calumny and misrepresentation, and to promote a good understanding among all classes of the community. It was never intended to be a political firebrand or a rock of dissension, especially among Catholics or liberal Protestants.’ [ccliv] To wear ‘colours’ publically was, of course, an invitation to a drink or a fight, or both: ‘I remember the first election held in Australia, in 1843. Andrew Lang and Richard Windeyer candidates, (for the) election at Paterson [HRD]. An Irishman killed a Scotsman named McGillvarey. Open voting them days, everyone knew how you voted, so look out. I remember the uncles going to vote with bows of ribbon on coats and horse-tails.’ [cclv] The banners of Wentworth and Dr Bland, ‘currency blue and mazarine blue’, were utterly destroyed in one fracas, Bland himself being nearly strangled. Green was worn by supporters of ‘big Cooper – the Friend of the People’, known by some as ‘an illiterate and good natured old scoundrel who believed in the abolition of lawyers and law courts.’ [cclvi] Orange colours were not then in evidence but were about to assume major significance.
The Orange Order and the Not-so-Green Catholics
The Loyal Orange Institute [LOI] is neither Masonic, trade-oriented nor a friendly society. It was and is, however, a fraternal society, with regalia, a degree structure and an ideology of support for one’s brothers. Interestingly, it has claimed a work-based heritage: ‘(The LOI) is a politico-religio society; its politics being ‘the husbandman that laboureth shall be first partaker of the fruits’, or, in other words, ‘a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work’, and religiously it means, ‘honour all men, love the brotherhood, fear God and honour the King.’ [cclvii] ‘Its objects have always emphasised religious tolerance and freedom of expression but its concern that the Protestant faith remain dominant in Britain and its dominions has always taken precedence whenever Orangemen have felt threatened.’
It seems a Loyal Orange Association was established at Exeter in 1688 on the landing of William, Prince of Orange, from Holland.[cclviii] In the 1790’s, a re-invented Orangeism was taken via the army from Ireland to England and, possibly, into the navy at a time when the need for military discipline in the war against France was paramount. Doubt about the loyalties of oath-bound Orange brethren was a great source of tension, and unsuccessful government bans were tried, in 1822 and 1829.[cclix] The Order was dissolved in 1825 ‘in consequence of an Act passed for a limited period against political societies’, reformed in 1828 and then further damaged by a parliamentary committee of enquiry in Westminster in 1835 just as the hand-cuffed and manacled Tolpuddle lay-preachers were disembarked half a world away. The House of Commons had not been greatly agitated by the Tolpuddle trial, but it was by Sir William Molesworth proposing that HRH the Duke of Cumberland, Lord Kenyon and the Bishop of Salisbury should suffer the same treatment as the transportees for enrolling Orangemen with oaths by definition as illegal as those prohibited in Dorset. A free pardon for ‘the martyrs’ was forced out of the British executive by this agitation but religion not workers’ rights was a thornier issue. A Commons enquiry, partly into the likelihood of Orange dis-loyalty to the intended Queen, Victoria, produced evidence of ‘talk’ amongst Orangemen of preventing her coronation and replacing her with a ‘real’ monarch, possibly the Duke of Cumberland, George IV’s brother and Orange Grand Master. In the eyes of its supporters, the Order was the only force preventing the loss of Ireland, but the Duke was ordered to completely suppress ‘his’ lodges. The Grand Orange Order of Ireland was ‘requested’ to dissolve itself by Victoria in 1836. [cclx] Sir Edward Codrington warned the House ‘against suffering Orange Lodges to contaminate the Navy.’ The loyalty of Orangemen in 1798 had been eulogised; but in that year a mutiny broke out in the Navy, from the establishment of such a Society as that of the Orange Lodges. [cclxi] This ‘such a Society’ is of interest. We have seen that both ‘masonic’ and ‘Orange’ were rubbery terms in Ireland in the 1790’s. The Masonic literature has long argued that their lodges within the military had been helping Freemasonry to spread around the world for years. The more contentious question is the nature of the ‘Freemasonry’ being transported. In 1979, a rare scholar of Australian ‘Orangeism’, Vertigan, claimed knowledge of unpublished material which located a ‘Military Lodge No 260’ inside the 17th Leicestershire Regiment when it arrived in Sydney in 1830 from Van Dieman’s Land. Its membership he said grew from 25 to 75 by the following year.[cclxii] Another scholar, Kent, has doubted the accuracy of the 1835 (UK) Enquiry’s finding that ‘New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land appear to be deeply imbued with the system of Orangeism.’ [cclxiii] (Eric) Turner, who has had access to surviving Grand Lodge records in Sydney, has asserted that ‘five regiments which are known to have had Orange Lodges were stationed here between 1827-1847’ but ‘there was as yet no true civilian Australian Lodge.’ [cclxiv] He claimed to have examined relevant documents made available to the UK Enquiry including an 1832 letter from a Corporal Wilson of the 50th Foot (Queens Own) Regiment which held Orange Warrant 53, later re-issued as 1780, and which supposedly became the basis of Sydney’s first regular Orange lodge. In 1833, the ‘Secretary’ reported that it was then meeting regularly in Sydney at the Fox Inn, the Commanding Officer shutting his eyes ‘as long as we conduct ourselves.’ An English researcher appears close to the truth in recently arguing that ‘After the dissolution of the Grand Lodge in February 1836 the Orange lodges had no governing and co-ordinating body, but in various parts of the country groups of lodges began to come together again, and as this process developed, there arose two separate movements – the Loyal Orange Institution of Great Britain, and the Grand Protestant Association of Loyal Orangemen.’ [cclxv] This author claims that Liverpool, transit point for many Irish emigrants, was a stronghold of the resurgence with 56 ‘Orange’ lodges in that town by 1854. In 1836, an anonymous pamphlet appeared in Sydney, claiming Protestantism had been vindicated by the UK Enquiry. It was written to ‘avert the introduction of a system of general education’, such as the Irish system which the author(s) believed to be ‘subversive of the fundamental principle of Protestantism’.[cclxvi] In 1838, the Reverend W McIntyre, a key player in riotous situations in Maitland 30 years later, published the provocative pamphlet ‘Is the Service of Mass Idolatrous?’ and in 1841 JD Lang produced ‘The Question of Questions: Or is This Colony to be Transformed into a Colony of Popedom?’
Official histories of a ‘Protestant Friendly Society’ begin at 1868 in rural Victoria.[cclxvii] But in 1842 in Sydney forty ‘respectable’ persons joined the ‘Australian Protestant Benefit Association’, elected a ‘Mr TW Henery’ President and pledged their endeavours for ‘the relief of distressed members, their widows and orphans.’[cclxviii] The known members of this organisation do not so far reveal an intersection with known ‘Orange’ brothers, and the published Rules make no mention of a lodge or fraternal trappings. However, their Anniversary Dinner in 1844 coincided with 12 July when September was their actual establishment month. A memory recounted in the 1860’s was to the effect that a Warrant held by the 50th Queens Own Regiment and smuggled ashore in 1835 or 6 by a Private Alexander, had been transferred to this civilian lodge, with ‘the Rule Books and Ritual’.[cclxix] Whereas meetings since 1840 had been held above Barr and Kitchen’s printery, a group then met at the ‘Crispin Arms’ where the Grand Orange Lodge of NSW was instituted on 9 May, 1843. The Sentinel’s printers were then asked to print several temporary warrants pending the arrival of ‘proper’ dispensations from the Grand (Orange) Lodge of Ireland.[cclxx] The ambiguous connections glossed over here between Masonic and Orange military lodges was not accidental.
The prevailing veil of secrecy in Australia had suddenly lifted in 1845 when the Sentinel’s Barr and Kitchen admitted they were dyed-in-the-wool Orangemen. The occasion was Sydney’s ‘first Orange lodge’ announcing itself on 13 April, 1845, a fortnight after the Australasian Holy Catholic Guild (see below) was introduced to Sydney’s readers.
Only just avoided in July, 1844[cclxxi], serious disputes between Melbourne’s Catholics and Protestants occurred on the 12 July, 1845, but were more or less contained by the authorities. Tensions again reached flashpoint one year later when even more serious riots occurred, shots were fired and, as a direct result, the colonial administration drew up a ‘Party Processions Bill’ aimed at: ‘any body of persons who shall meet and parade together, or join in procession, or who shall assemble in any public-house, tavern or other place within the colony, for the purpose of celebrating or commemorating any festival, anniversary or political event, relating to or connected with any religious or political distinctions or differences between any classes of Her Majesty’s subjects…and who shall bear, wear, or have among them any firearms or other offensive weapons, or shall have publically exhibited any banner, emblem, flag or symbol, the display whereof may be calculated to provoke animosity…or who shall be accompanied by any music of a like nature or tendency…’ [cclxxii] Before riots on the 12th July and this government intervention, however, Catholic and Orange fires had already flared within lodges of Odd Fellows and Freemasons.
Loyalist vs Catholic in Sydney
– The Odd Fellows
There have been at least 30 separate Orders of Odd Fellows, only some of which extended their activities from the UK to Australia. The 3 largest internationally have also been the most successful in this country, viz the Grand United Order [GUOOF], which has the strongest claim of these three to being the original, the Independent Order [IOOF], and the Independent Order, Manchester Unity [IOOFMU]. The use of ‘Manchester’ indicates where this particular breakaway originated, while the strength, even the existence of a London-based Order throughout the 19th century and perhaps called the ‘Ancient Independent Order’, remains the great unknown. As with the Orange lodges the earliest days of Odd Fellowship in Australia are clouded.[cclxxiii] The current ‘Australian IOOF’ claims 24 Feb, 1836 as its establishment date and as therefore the originating date for all Australian Odd Fellowship. The lodge instituted on that day was from its inception called the ‘Australian Grand Lodge’ [AGL]. Its (unsighted) Charter is said to have come from the ‘United Independent Order of Odd Fellows’[cclxxiv] in the UK, an Order which does not appear on known lists. An early set of by-laws names the 1836 entity ‘a lodge of the Order of Loyal and Independent Odd Fellows’, yet another variation.[cclxxv] A later alliance with US Odd Fellows has led to claims that this original was set up ‘under the auspices of the American Order’.[cclxxvi] As an IOOF scholar wrote in 1915 the known evidence supports the following: ‘The [Australian]Independent Order of Odd Fellows [in 1836]… had no connection with the American society of the same name but was an offshoot from an English society which as late as 1846 possessed only 69 lodges in the Home Land, and 10 in Australia.’ [cclxxvii] The number here given of local and English IOOF lodges, which I believe is accurate, is important in what follows. An 1847 note from The Odd Fellow, printed in Cornhill [Boston?], USA, also appears accurate: ‘We have no positive records of the order, as at present constituted, bearing date earlier than 1800. It is believed that it originated in England between 1790 and 1800. In 1811, the order in England, became divided and worked under two distinct names, the one was called the ‘Independent’, the other the ‘Union Order of Odd Fellows.’ The former has continued to prosper, while the latter, it is believed, has almost entirely ceased to exist.’ [cclxxviii]
George Jilks, apparently at the time a policeman if not Chief Constable, and William Moffitt, printer, both credited as the key founders of the 1836 lodge, did not fully realise the opportunities, financial and other, available to individuals staking out a new fraternal territory. Akin to any new business or franchise, colonial establishment required legitimation from the franchiser. The best strategic choice for an ambitious immigrant into an area with no previous franchisees was to claim allegiance to a well-known ‘Order’ which was NOT in a position to do anything about the format determined upon by the founding members.
Given the distances involved and the time taken for legitimating documents to arrive, one option for a ‘Head Office’ seeking expansion was to prepare documents for ‘brothers’ embarking for a new ‘market’. A ‘Head Office’ was, by definition, already established and legitimated, thus able to set up sub-lodges and to earn monies therefrom as was the case with Masonic ‘Grand Lodges’. Since, upon its capacity to extract fees depended its capacity to pay its personnel, ie itself, it was of course keen to build up subordinate networks. Some ‘franchisers’ were more grasping and less idealistic than others. The same is true of ‘franchisees’.
Importantly, any Head Office in contact with the new area, had options – it could grant autonomy or insist on sovereignty over the franchisee, it might grant the new entity the powers of a Grand Lodge, to wit the power to set up sub-lodges and thus to collect fees, or it might insist all requests for new charters go through it, perhaps to a General Assembly. Held in the ‘home’ country, this was a forum where the distant brethren seeking legitimation rarely had a voice. Where legitimating documents were sought after the event, misunderstandings and disagreements with Head Office were more likely than not. Where there were rivals for ‘Head Office’ status at ‘home’, there was bound to be opportunist manoevering at both ends of the exchange. This appears to have been the case with the establishment of the IOOF-line of odd fellowship in both the USA and NSW.
Being far from home, Jilks, Moffitt and their 3 co-founding ‘brothers’ had the space in which to give their founding lodge Grand Lodge status, which they did, and to set about establishing sub-lodges, which they didn’t. Calling their lodge ‘Australian Grand Lodge’ appears to have been used only to provide Moffitt, the first ‘Noble Grand’ [lodge master], with the more authoritative title ‘Grand Master’.[cclxxix] ‘Manchester Unity’ in Australia dates itself from 9 March, 1840, and claims that from that date ‘Strangers’ Refuge’ was unequivocally part of the IOOFMU in the UK, and not of the IOOF.[cclxxx] However, the newspaper notice calling the initial meeting refers only to ‘Independent Odd Fellows’ and shows that only one out of the 8 initiating members already belonged to the ‘Manchester Unity.’ The others provided only the name of a UK lodge, not any particular Order.[cclxxxi] The 1840 notice calling the initial meetings for what became Melbourne’s first IOOFMU lodge was headed ‘The Unity of Independent Odd Fellows’, while the ad for the first Odd Fellows’ meeting in Newcastle, in May, 1842, again for what became the ‘first IOOFMU lodge in the HRD’, refers, in one place, only to the ‘Independent Order of Odd Fellows’, and in another to the ‘Union Independent Order of Odd Fellows.’’
The conflicted story of the Melbourne lodge, also called ‘Australia Felix’, has been documented. The establishment meetings were called by Thomas Strode, Freemason and like Moffitt, a printer, in June and July, 1840. Minutes and a Strode-memoir show that the initiating group, which included ‘Dr’ Augustus Greeves, later Lord Mayor, sought legitimation from Sydney. They might have written to the UK, as Adelaide (below) did or they might have directed their enquiry to the supposedly IOOFMU lodge already established in Sydney, ‘Strangers’ Refuge’. They did neither of these things, they wrote to the Moffitt/Jilks lodge, the AGL.
In the light of subsequent events, it’s worth noting here that Greeves was also the keeper of the not very salubrious ‘Steam Packet’ tavern in which the lodge met for a time including for the first Anniversary Dinner in 1841, and that he was appointed the first lodge medical attendant. His qualifications for the latter position are not known. Edward Finn, ‘Garryowen’, commented of him: ‘(A) man of considerable ability, and an ardent Oddfellow; indeed a man who, if he had only displayed as much consistency and steadfastness in political life as he did in promoting the cause of Oddfellowship, would have become a most influential public man.’ [cclxxxii] As with many things, ‘consistency and steadfastness’ are in the eye of the beholder. Finn refers to himself as ‘a spectator of almost everything that went on’ when in fact he was much more a participant. A Catholic and a ‘pugnacious little Irishman’, he admits to having been ‘a sort of aide-de-camp’ to one Johnny O’Shanassy who just happened to be ‘General of the Irish battalions’ shortly to be mobilised. Indeed, in 1845, O’Shanassy, later three-time Premier of Victoria and twice-knighted, was elected President of the St Patrick’s Society, with Finn as Secretary. In any event, the 1840 Sydney Secretary of the AGL, Brother Elliott replied in the affirmative to the Melbourne request, and following a further meeting, that group’s secretary and treasurer, Brother Strode travelled to Sydney to obtain the ‘dispensation, regalia and necessary furnishings.’ Again, he dealt with the AGL, not the IOOFMU brethren, in other words this supposedly ‘MU lodge’ in Melbourne was acting like an AGL ‘branch’ lodge. The key appears to be that Strode was or had been himself a member of AGL in Sydney. By 1843, when this Melbourne lodge sought a second dispensation, this time from the ‘Manchester Unity, UK’, his direct influence had waned, he having been north to establish but then to sell the short-lived Hunter River Gazette. Back in Melbourne in late-1842 he regained the proprietorship of the Port Phillip Gazette from George Arden,[cclxxxiii] by which time control of the lodge ‘Australia Felix’ was passing to MU loyalists, including ‘Dr’ Greeves.
An 1890’s version recounted by the IOOF’s then Australasian Grand Secretary Smith,[cclxxxiv] was that members of ‘Australia Felix’ were ‘for some years under the impression’ that their lodge was IOOFMU. He believed that the Melbourne membership only realised its ‘error’ when, in early 1843 someone received revised IOOFMU Rules from England. According to Smith, the original lodge was then broken up and the funds divided amongst the members. Some of the brethren then sought a new charter for a lodge of the same name from MU in England, which request succeeded, an entirely new lodge resulting. It seems, also, that other brethren of ‘Australia Felix’ sought a new charter from Sydney’s IOOF, or AGL, their action resulting in the Melbourne ‘Duke of York Lodge’, the acrimonious story of which comes later in this section.
An Adelaide IOOFMU magazine published from 1843 to 1845 shows that a ‘London Order’ existed and that a choice of ‘Head Office’ was possible for Odd Fellows:
‘In October, 1840, an advertisement appeared in the Adelaide papers calling a meeting of Odd Fellows, at Ephraim Randell’s, then of the Rose Inn, Sturt Street, for the purpose of forming a lodge. This call was responded to by brothers WH Harris, T Jones and J Holmes, between whom a discussion arose, as to whether the lodge they proposed to found should be opened in connexion with the London Order of Odd Fellowship, or with the Manchester Unity. On the question being put to the vote, it was carried in favour of the Manchester Unity – WH Harris being the only one of the meeting who was a member of the London Order.’ [cclxxxv]
In other words, the two IOOFMU members used a strategem to get their way. The official IOOFMU literature published since often insists that the choice of their ‘Unity’ would have been inevitable since IOOFMU was already recognised as the strongest in the world, claiming 150,000 members by 1840. At a further meeting, the by-then 10 Adelaide members resolved to immediately write ‘home’ to Manchester for an IOOFMU Dispensation and in the meantime to open a ‘Lodge of Emergency’. This they called ‘Jones’ Well-Wisher, No 1, Grand Lodge of South Australia’, after the first Noble Grand. [My emphasis] While waiting, a second ‘Lodge of Emergency’ was opened nearby in Thebarton. That this procedure was not followed in the other colonies discloses the degree of discretion available. When the Dispensation was received the No 1 Lodge had been re-named ‘the Adelaide Lodge’ by the UK Grand Lodge and given the MU number of 3014. ‘Mr Harris’ does not appear at any subsequent IOOFMU events.
A letter to Adelaide from Sydney MU’s Corresponding Secretary, Brother Clemesha, two months after the crucial Melbourne events of 1843, told of applications for dispensations from intending brothers in New Zealand and Hobart, and of three dispensations ‘to the value of forty five pounds’ recently arrived for Sydney’s lodges, but makes no reference to a lodge at Melbourne/Port Phillip. Clearly, Sydney and Melbourne ‘MU’s’ did not know about each other, or did not yet consider themselves part of the same organisation.[cclxxxvi] The second dispensation for Melbourne was sent by the UK IOOFMU executive to the AGL in Sydney, not to the MU ‘Strangers’ Refuge’ in Sydney, and had to be re-routed, so it seems it was only in 1845 that the Melbourne Lodge, by then titled ‘Loyal Australia Felix, Independent Order of Odd Fellows’, could consider itself fully legitimated within MU.
Looked at globally, the Odd Fellow situation was extremely unstable. The IOOF Grand Lodge of the United States, having some connection with the English IOOFMU, had recently severed all ties ‘in view of the fact that the Unity had altered the ancient landmarks, violated the principles and changed the work of the order, and attempted to invade our chartered rights, the Grand Lodge of the United States declared itself the only fountain and depository of Independent Odd-Fellowship on the globe.’ [cclxxxvii] A UK historian and MU brother later regretfully concluded: ‘Such was the condition of the Manchester Unity in the year 1843 – a name, without a reality – composed of the discordant elements of pride and poverty, fraud and benevolence, strife and good-will to mankind – attractive in the exterior, rotten in its internal government…the victim of knaves and charlatans…’ [cclxxxviii] The 1844 Annual Movable Conference [AMC] of MU at Newcastle [UK] introduced collegiate representation, thus stopping a long-standing practice of delegate-stacking. Its Grand Secretary at this time was William Ratcliffe, of whom, with the benefit of hindsight, it was later said: ”This gentleman, through his misconduct, very nearly extinguished the Order during the later portion of his holding the office.’ [cclxxxix] Sixty years later, a stalwart member claimed that IOOFMU began its ‘modern’ phase at this point, when ‘insurance principles’ replaced its ‘primitive…purely mutual benevolent character’: ‘It was in 1844 that the first steps were taken to obtain the information (necessary for) financial soundness. So strongly was the action of the Directors resented, that in 1845 lodges comprising some 16,000 members were suspended and subsequently expelled from the Society, in consequence of their refusal to comply…Undeterred by opposition…or adverse criticism.. the Manchester Unity pursued its search after truth.’ [ccxc] This ‘search after truth’ has been the official MU assertion ever since.
In Sydney, the AGL had been forced into defending its claim to priority by the local MU flexing its muscles.[ccxci] Though in name a ‘Grand Lodge’, it had not spawned any subordinate lodges when it found itself confronted by a second Sydney MU lodge, the ‘Loyal Fountain of Refuge’, at the parade in April 1842 to ‘open’ the Bourke statue. MU’s ‘splendid banners and handsome regalias, particularly a..Crown borne on a crimson velvet cushion’ attracted ‘general attention.’ Spurred into action, an October ‘Festival of the Australian Grand Lodge of the Order of Odd Fellows’ burst upon Sydney: ‘(The) Brethren…assembled at the Saracen’s Head Inn, King Street, for the purpose of consecrating and dedicating the new Lodge Room, which has recently been erected for that especial purpose by Mr Titterton, a Brother of the Order..’ [My emphasis] Brother Isaac Titterton, licencee, was also an organiser and office-holder of the Licenced Victuallers Association, another ‘benevolent and protective institution’,[ccxcii] and an aspirant City Councillor. The report continued: ‘(After the ‘accustomed rites’ in the Lodge Room)..the members then walked in procession to St James Church where Divine Service was performed, and a most admirable sermon preached..in which the principles of the Order were clearly developed and the practice of the Christian virtues involved therein, was powerfully enjoined…The Benediction was pronounced by the Lord Bishop, and a collection was made, amounting to £32, in aid of the funds of the Benevolent Asylum.’ [ccxciii] Religious alliances were thus becoming clearer, the ‘Lord Bishop’ being WG Broughton, Anglican primate. On this occasion, the evening’s banquet included 25 separate toasts, the band of the 80th Regiment discoursed airs in the intervals, and the evening’s jollification, beginning at seven pm extended past midnight.
Division is also apparent in Tasmania. The first three of four Notices establishing Odd Fellowship in Hobart over just three weeks in 1843, were in the name of MU. The first two of these were for meetings at the ‘Derwent Tavern’, the third was called for ‘the White Horse’. The first Notice for the first lodge of the ‘Independent Order of Odd Fellows’ appeared subsequently, and shows that it, the unusually-named ‘Tasmanian Primitive Lodge’, would henceforth be meeting on Tuesday evenings at the Derwent Tavern. [ccxciv] By September, 1844, the MU lodge, ‘Southern Star’ has all but disappeared, while the Tasmanian Primitive appears to be flourishing and firmly entrenched as part of the AGL network. At its first Anniversary Dinner, ‘Brother Elliott, Grand Secretary’ was toasted ‘three times hand and foot’. By 1845 a membership of one hundred was claimed.[ccxcv]
The Odd Fellows, collectively, were clearly a major consumer and advertising market worth trying to tap. In Hobart, the Colonial Times was very enthusiastic about them, as was the editor of the South Australian Register in Adelaide. The South Australian comparison, where MU initially had the field to itself, is again instructive. Their very creditable South Australian Odd Fellows Magazine had begun in 1843 with a lament taken from the UK: ‘Of the leading metropolitan daily and even weekly press the extraordinary fact may be recorded, that of the existence of a body in this kingdom so numerous, so powerful and so excellent, they seem to be utterly ignorant..’ [ccxcvi] MU’s 3rd Anniversary parade in South Australia, 1 January, 1844, included lodge ‘surgeons’.[ccxcvii] In November, 1845, the IOOFMU Hope Lodge, while consisting chiefly of ‘mechanics and working men’, was nevertheless congratulated by the editor of the SAR for having ‘very many persons of high standing’ who had managed to impart ‘to their more humble brethren much of the true feeling and manners of gentlemen.’ Perhaps this is the reason for an emphasis here on a school, which quickly had 160 pupils, and evening classes. In Sydney, Duncan, in his new editorial chair at The Register, and Mason of The Star and Working Mans Guardian were both supportive, but in December, 1844, a small unsigned paragraph in the SMH[ccxcviii] referred to an alleged new lodge, ‘The Repeal of the Manchester Unity’. Rebutting the suggestion of any internal problem, Sam Clemesha, still Provincial Corresponding Secretary, responded with: ‘The paragraph in question is believed to have emanated from a party excluded from our Order for misconduct.’ The nature of the ‘misconduct’ might be gauged from charges levelled at a member of Strangers’ Refuge in June: ]keeping late and unseasonable hours at night, and at such times singing, dancing and playing a flute or other instrument.’ [ccxcix] In March, 1845 the Chronicle questioned MU about the fairness of Dissenter, Catholic or Jewish brethren being forced either to attend service against their faith in a Protestant Episcopal church, where such marches inevitably went, or to drop out of the processions and be fined. The newspaper commented: ‘To our own knowledge a great number of the brethren are Catholics’.[ccc] The Chronicle editor was more-or-less politely informed that no rule demanded that all brethren enter the designated church against their conscience, but that the fine for non-attendance related to the need to maintain decorum in the procession itself.[ccci] In Adelaide, a similar situation was in play, not with regard to Catholics but with Dissenters unable to participate at all in parades that had flags or music.[cccii] The very-Protestant nature of Adelaide’s MU was apparent at their New Years Dinner. The reponse to a toast to the ‘Health of the Colonial Chaplain and the Ministers of the Gospel in the Province’ included:
‘The Odd Fellows was a Christian institution, attached to the Gospel, but acknowledging no division of sect. It was the base on which the Order was built, and by its agency alone could we hope for heaven. Odd Fellowship had many externals, which needed apology, and he could wish to see some of them altered. The system of marching to church with flags and music was one of them, which to dissenters particularly, was distasteful. If they (MUIOOF) could go to church and to the chapels of the Independents and Wesleyans alternately and in their ordinary dresses..much would be done towards removing the prejudices of the dissenters against them.’
In January, 1844, The Chronicle, again enraged the SMH among others, by detailing the anti-Catholic repression of William III’s reign after he’d defeated James 11 at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.[ccciii] No mention was made of similar Catholic repression of Protestants in France. In April, 1845, The Chronicle spoke out about the Board of the Maitland [NSW] Hospital organising their Rules to exclude all but Protestant clergy. This particular controversy spread to involve the colonial government, the religious authorities and almost all the colony’s newspapers, [ccciv] but it was only one ‘front’ among many. Towards the end of 1845 The Chronicle took on the military as well by reporting a case where Catholic soldiers at Port Macquarie were allegedly being forced to attend the Protestant Church.[cccv] Noticeably, in Sydney in 1844, Orangeman Barr was ‘Deputy District Ruler’ of the IOR, and in 1846 Orange lodges are shown meeting in the Rechabite Hall. [cccvi] So, unsurprisingly,
A paper to the UK Statistical Society in 1845 argued strongly that the IOR and similar societies could not and would not survive because their benefits were too high and their entry contributions too low.[cccvii] A trenchant criticism of the IOR ‘as unlawful, vicious and worthless’ by Irish Catholic and nationalist campaigner Daniel O’Connor, was re-printed in April, 1845 in the Morning Chronicle. A practising lawyer, O’Connell had been asked to read the articles of the IOR and assess its status. His judgement was that ‘every individual member of the Rechabite Society is guilty of a transportable offence – that is to say, of an offence for which he is liable to be transported for the term of seven years … ..notwithstanding a gloss of useful purposes, this order of Rechabites is calculated to do very great mischief, and to introduce a very bad spirit amongst the working classes…’ [cccviii] He does not spell out an offence, speaking only of ‘orders, tests and associations’ but he implies concern for the oath of secrecy, and urges Irish Catholics to join ‘holy guilds’, ie, charitable societies ‘under the inspection and control of the Catholic clergy.’ Immediately after this letter and a series of articles advocating Catholic ‘guilds’, Archbishop Polding announced the establishment in Sydney of a benefit society, the Australasian Holy Catholic Guild of St Mary and St Joseph, [AHCG] the Rules of which insisted it had ‘no oaths of secrecy, no secret laws, no secret objects, no secret leaders (and) no political discussions.’[cccix] After its first meeting, 11 May, 1845, its founding membership of 18 quickly rose to around 300, a number which included Heydon, Ullathorne, McEncroe and other prominent Catholics.[cccx]
Polding chose the colours and style of the Guild’s regalia – long black cloaks with white collars for ordinary members, capes decorated with brightly coloured ribbons [’piping’] for the executive officers. As with Protestant fraternal practice, the function of the colours was to indicate the particular office held, the Warden’s, for example, was ‘deep blue and gold’, the Bursar’s [Treasurer] ‘yellow edged with crimson’, the Secretary’s ‘scarlet edged with gold’, the Councillors [other Lodge officers] ‘green edged with yellow’.[cccxi] Possibly designed to deliberately upset observers like those at the Sentinel,[cccxii] the regalia attracted notoriety throughout the colonies. A keen sense of public relations was no doubt in play, but was there not also a sense of celebration, designed to send anxious Protestants into a frenzy, especially the Dissenters? The Benedictines, Polding’s Order, were not just an English Order, they were the ‘Black Monks’ of mediaeval times, and Polding seriously thought they could be pre-eminent in Australian Catholicism. St Mary’s Cathedral was, of course, built in the Gothic-revival style, while to the Chronicle, the Guild was a long-awaited triumph over the savagery and injustice of the Reformation: ‘During the last few years…these ancient institutions have revived. As the Catholic religion has spread itself more and more over the land, it has brought back a desire for the institutions of those days…’ [cccxiii] In its first public display, the AHCG marched from a temporary ‘Guild Hall’ in Macquarie Street to the Cathedral for investiture of the newly initiated brothers. The Sentinel abhored the ‘mysterious and indecent exhibitions’ and ‘arrogant displays of assumed superiority’ which could only have been designed ‘to insult the members of all other religious communities’: ‘Spiritual fornication, or the worshipping of beings, persons or things, other than the only living and true God, is the heresy with which the Church of Rome stands charged.’ [cccxiv] The marchers in the St Patrick’s Total Abstinence Society in March, 1845 were, according to this editor, ‘adorned with the emblems of Ribandism’.[cccxv] The ‘Ribbon Society’, was, from 1820 to 1870 in Ireland, ‘a secret oath-bound agrarian confederacy’, described as a ‘constant affliction and recurring terror’ of the landed classes.[cccxvi]
In Sydney, in July, 1845, seeing themselves still behind their competitor, the AGL brethren began a stylish publication – the Australasian Odd Fellows Quarterly Magazine, of which EH Statham, then also the proprietor/editor of the Australian newspaper, was the editor. It described itself as being an initiative of the ‘Independent Order of Odd Fellows’ and claimed a lofty, pro-Australian literature intention. Sydney IOOFMU immediately began to plan an alternative. It appeared not to matter to either camp that a very well run, twice-weekly newspaper was already operating in Sydney with the advocacy of Odd Fellowship a major plank. Begun in April by Richard Thompson, the Commercial Journal, General Advertiser and Odd Fellows Advocate made no headway, however, in the rapidly polarising atmosphere. In September, Sydney MU’s The Odd Fellow appeared for the first time after a ‘blitzkrieg’ of advertising – plastered billboards – throughout ‘the City’. In October, a letter headed ‘Union is Strength’ bemoaned the hypocritical nature of IOOFMU’s Sydney processions in that while Brethren professed diversity of faith, ‘at our annual processions we invariably attend the Protestant place of worship only.’ At recent processions, it was said, a number of members had had to step out at the door of the Church.[cccxvii] In the event, the St Stephen’s Day [Boxing Day] ‘Grand District Procession’ of MU, which by one account had a thousand marchers all in regalia, went, not to a Church, but to hear a lecture on ‘Practical Applications of Phrenology’. Operating in lieu of a Grand Lodge, Sydney District’s ‘Provincial’ MU officers convened a special meeting on the 8th of November, ostensibly to discuss ‘their’ publication, but in reality to curb the editor’s open-door policy. The meeting resolved to convene a committee to run the magazine strictly on behalf of IOOFMU and announced that no contentious material of any kind was to be carried in future. By executive decision, Sydney MU’s Widows and Orphans Fund was thenceforth to be the sole recipient of any profits from the Odd Fellow. On 6 December, 1845, the paper’s masthead appeared in stark relief, drained of its usual decorations of symbols and MU motto. The following issue featured that far-reaching policy decision of 1845’s Annual Conference of MU in the UK: ‘That the fixed amount of the contributions of every lodge should go to a fund exclusively appropriated to paying the sick, funerals, and other donations of the members, and for no other purpose whatever.’ [cccxviii] Towards the end of December, 1845, the gathering pressures within Sydney MU erupted into full public view, and issue No 18 of the Odd Fellow failed to materialise. Issue No 19 appeared with an editorial which included: ‘The present change and future proprietorship taking place in The Odd Fellow paper from this date renders an apology to subscribers and friends absolutely necessary. For the sudden interval and interruption…we can only offer…an extreme regret.’ During the break in its production a decision had been taken by the MU Sydney District Annual Conference to immediately implement the UK directive and to end all contributions to the paper.[cccxix] The proprietor/editor, a Mr Hawe, reverted to an ‘open-door’ policy, whereupon contentious letters flooded in for No 20 of what was now called The Odd Fellow and Independent Citizen, dated 24 January, 1846. The letters fall into two camps – one maintaining that ‘a disloyal, secret and strictly religious assemblage – not religious in the better sense of the word, but violent fanatics and incurable bigots’, had attempted to hijack IOOFMU and the Magazine but were repulsed, in fact were expelled from the Sydney District. The brethren involved, from ‘Loyal United Brothers Lodge’, had formed ‘Loyal United Brothers, No 2’, and thus were still in IOOFMU but owed no allegiance to MU’s District Officers. The second version built a conspiracy on the basis of ‘a petty defalcation’ by an officer of ‘L United Brothers’, which, it is alleged, was used to change the delegate voting strength at the annual gathering. Both versions involve accusations that the other side was after the Widows and Orphans funds. One very long letter summarised this second alleged conspiracy without once mentioning religion. It is an attack on ‘T—-y’, ie, Thomas McGee, and ‘J—y’, James Palmer, who, after January, 1846, were ‘Provincial Grand Master’ and ‘Deputy PGM’ respectively, and who thus may be considered the victors in this struggle for MU in Sydney. McGee being an Irish Catholic we can assume those forced out of, or seceding from IOOFMU were Protestant hard liners.
Any chance of easy money will always attract free-loaders and opportunists, and the difficulty historians often have, as in this case, is in distinguishing motivations. At the 2nd Anniversary Dinner of the (AGL) ‘Tasmanian Primitive Lodge’ in October 1845 certain past ‘difficulties and insults’ were discussed: ‘In its infancy the lodge fell into the hands of wolves in lambs’ clothing, who, because they could not make a fortune out of the society in a week, literally turned (the five originals) out of doors. These difficulties are overcome; we have eighty members, have paid off our debt and have £40 in hand.’ [cccxx] The Tasmanian Primitive was, by early 1846, describing itself as operating ‘in connexion with the Supreme Grand Lodge of Australia’, [ASGL](my emphasis) which turns out to be evidence of a further schism. In February, when Adelaide MU Odd Fellows were feting Charles Sturt, ‘our gallant explorer’,[cccxxi] two Sydney gatherings held on the same night claimed to be celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the establishment of the IOOF in Australia. One was held under the auspices of the ‘Australian Grand Lodge’, while the other announced itself as being of the ‘Australian Supreme Grand Lodge’. An editorial in the Odd Fellow and Independent Citizen described one as a Banquet and the other as a carousal where participants were ‘slobbering all over with tobacco juice.’ Given the available evidence, we can assume the editor, Hawe, was a Protestant and blamed the Irish Catholic element, now in command of Sydney’s MU and probably of the AGL, for the withdrawal of his subsidy. For its part, the Catholic Morning Chronicle failed to mention ‘the banquet’ but reported the AGL ‘carousal’ in glowing terms. Its Chairman, Brother Hayes, with McGee in attendance, spoke warmly of ‘the absent Grand Master’, ie, Williams the man who was elsewhere chairing the ‘banquet’, and proposed a toast to ‘The Australian Independent Order of Odd Fellows’ [AIOOF].[cccxxii] The ‘respectable’ gathering, ie the one for the ASGL, included the parliamentary members WC Wentworth and Dr Bland[cccxxiii], the Lord Mayor, and the Commissioner of Police, Captain Innes. Wentworth announced the next Legislative Council election at this OF gathering, and, with Bland, was subsequently initiated into the ASGL.[cccxxiv] Innes was later appointed (Masonic) Provincial Grand Master, English Constitution. His fellow Freemason, Brother Williams, Chairperson at the Odd Fellow ‘banquet’, happily reported that Prince Albert had agreed to become an Odd Fellow and formally announced the name change of the ‘AGL’, at least that part under his control, to the ‘ASGL’. He repeated statistics which appear specious, to the effect that while the IOOFMU’s global membership exceeded 300,000, that of the ‘Grand Metropolitan Order’, the London Order, was nearing 400,000. He also referred to the ‘Reform Lodge of York’ and the ‘Reform Body of Odd Fellows’, none of which appear in any overseas OF histories of which I’m aware.
At the dinner, Williams rhetorically extended a hand of friendship to IOOFMU, presumably the Protestant rump, saying that there was no need for discord and enmity. He asserted that two members of the original AGL had established the lodge which became ‘Strangers Refuge’ and that strictly speaking therefore, MU in Australia should be seen as an off-shoot of AGL. He also said he wished IOOFMU regarded ASGL with the same affection ASGL had for IOOFMU, ‘a spirit which had been evinced when by the treacherous conduct of some (IOOFMU) members, an offer was made to give up certain Dispensations, then daily expected by the lodges of the Sydney District, but which offer was rejected with scorn and contempt.’ [cccxxv] This can only mean that some lodges were ‘invited’ to change sides.
In 1846, Masonic Lodge 260 was restored by the Grand Lodge of Ireland but re-affirmed the original suspension of the five.[cccxxvi] In that same year, Williams discarded the Odd Fellows and left Masonic Lodge Leinster Marine, No 266, Irish Constitution, for Lodge of Australia, EC, of which he was made Master in 1847. When back in full operation, Lodge 260 found that Lodge Leinster Marine and the Lodge of Australia, EC, were calling themselves ‘The Grand Lodge of Botany Bay of Australia’ and claiming that Lodge 260 had forfeited its right to pre-eminence. Lodges 260 & 267 refused to weaken, resulting in, among other things, Lodge Harmony which Williams had also joined, determining that no brother under an Irish Constitution would be admitted.
When Hawe, announced that the 7 March, 1846 issue of The Odd Fellow and Independent Citizen would be the last as he could no longer continue paying for it, he was clearly saying ads and editorial matter had dried up, driven away by the ructions. In March, the Morning Chronicle defended McGee,[cccxxvii] against continuing ‘bigotry’ and, like other papers, reported a number of incidents requiring police and court intervention in IOOFMU affairs. Assault charges had been brought by a Brother Hinchey, a member of St Patrick’s Total Abstinence Society, ie a Catholic, against a Brother Walmsley:
The latter was charged with assaulting the former in the lodge room of Mr Gray’s Lighthouse Hotel; and although it was proved that great provocation had been given, and that after the first assault Walmsley was assaulted by some half dozen of Hinchey’s friends, he was fined ten shillings, with six shillings expenses.
The Lighthouse was known as ‘Odd Fellows’ Hall’ from 1842 to 1859. It stood at the corner of Sussex and Bathurst Streets and was later the venue for Sydney’s first 8-Hour Day and Loyal Orange lodge meetings. Accounts of the ‘general row’ between the Hinchey and the Walmsley factions mention cutlasses and attempts to turn off the lights. And later:
On Wednesday night several scenes of violence took place in and about public houses connected with the order, which must inevitably lose the countenance of all peaceably disposed men, if the spirit of Sectarian hatred, which is at the root of the squabble is not speedily quelled.[cccxxviii]
Brother Clemesha, still IOOFMU’s Corresponding Secretary, denied most of the insinuations – the cutlasses mentioned were part of the lodge paraphernalia, there was an incursion by one group which believed they had a right to be there, and any breaches of lodge rules would be dealt with internally. The SMH reiterated its original claims, the reporter saying that he personally saw 20 or more Odd Fellows in the street exchanging ‘sectarian epithets’ and challenging each other to fight.[cccxxix]
The Sentinel’s contribution at this juncture involved two editorials both headed ‘Popery and Odd Fellowship’ and both claiming that ‘mendacious priestcraft’ was the sole cause of the problem, which was to be put right by a Protestant-only Manchester Unity being cleansed once and for all of ‘the trash and scum of the Holy Catholic Guild.’
The Guild was having its own internal problems, centring on finances and clerical interference. According to Diamond, Jabez Heydon, by now Sydney agent for Holloway’s Pills and a successful businessman, ‘was the ringleader of the faction’ opposing Vicar-General Gregory standing-in for the absent Polding:
Essentially, the Guild had too many conflicting functions. As a religious society, it was obliged to accept any Catholic man for membership, but this was financially disastrous, for sick and older men made a disproportionate number of claims on its support. The Guild had no pretensions to actuarial skill, and was unable to meet its obligations from the agreed subscription rate. Yet, its other role, as representative of the Catholic church militant, required a proper outward and visible display, and a large sum of money was committed to the purchase of uniforms for the officers and members, even while the bills of the Guild Clerk and Guild Surgeon remained unpaid.[cccxxx]
In May, 1846, John Holman, proprietor of the White Horse Inn and Noble Grand of the IOOFMU Loyal Fountain of Refuge lodge, appeared in court to lay charges of theft against James Palmer, DPGM. What had been stolen by Palmer from its place of safe-keeping in the White Horse Inn lodge room was nothing less than the ‘Grand Charter of the Society’, the very permission to act as a Unity in New South Wales.
In July, the Sentinel’s editor, Robert Kitchen, was in court to defend charges of libel against a Mr Curtayne once of the Irish constabulary, and now of the Limerick Arms in ‘the Rocks’, (Sydney). Kitchen had suggested in June that a projected Hurling Match on the Race Course ‘between the four counties’ for a prize of £100 set to coincide with Orange celebrations was mere disguise for a plan by ‘low, ignorant blood thirsty papists’ to murder ‘their Protestant brethren.’ He further suggested the plan had been hatched in an ‘infamous pot-house on the Rocks, within sound of the choral symphonies of an idolatrous house of worship.’ Mr Justice Windeyer found him guilty as charged.[cccxxxi] On the day of Orange celebration, heavy rain postponed all festivities but the congregated hurlers, perhaps seething with frustration and clutching their murderous-looking ‘hurlbats’ had to be calmed and dispersed by Catholic clergy. In Melbourne, serious disturbances did occur. A Melbourne Argus editorial had it:
a furious onslaught (was) made upon a very small number of Orangemen who were quietly and peaceably engaged in making the necessary arrangements for their Anniversary Banquet at the Pastoral Hotel, by an armed rabble of the lowest description of..Irish papists…
Armed with fowling pieces and muskets the Catholics broke into the hotel, were repulsed, a prolonged shoot-out took place, until
(eventually), the military were called out, the Riot Act read and the mob dispersed.[cccxxxii]
The Argus correspondent was particularly exercised that not only did the local magistracy not prevent the assault, but police had arrested armed Orangemen but not armed Catholics, and had then proceeded to close the besieged hotel preventing the dinner from occurring. His anger increased the following day when, according to him, the Superintendent, Mayor and various other worthies insisted that all Orangemen gathered in the ‘Bird-in-Hand Hotel’ disperse to their homes, when a much larger, armed Catholic ‘mob’ marched up and down outside, prepared to continue its aggression. Later, continuing to describe Catholics as ‘greeks’, the Melbourne Argus asserted:
There were no Orange lodges established in Melbourne or even proposed to be established until after the public declaration of Mr Edward Curr, who acknowledged himself as occupying ‘the bad eminence’ of being the leader of the Greek mob, that the Protestants of Melbourne owed it to him that they were not shorn of their ears, and that it required but the wag of his finger to have laid the Town in ashes.[cccxxxiii]
This is the voice of William Kerr, Scottish-born and anti-Catholic, indeed rabidly Orange. In an intolerant and litigious society which had suffered crimes of religious passion since its first days, he stood out as an extremist. Crippled in one arm by gout and inclined to the ribald and boisterous, his intrigues were the head and centre of a mini-maelstrom where venality met idealism head on. His editing of The (Melbourne) Argus was not the first nor the final stage of his controversial career.
Loyalist vs Catholic in Port Phillip
– JD Lang and Brother William Kerr
Though both were Masons, Kerr and Strode had been rivals since 1840 for the Port Phillip newspaper-reading public’s attention and for their small change. While initiating the Odd Fellow lodge, ‘Australia Felix’, Strode, an Irish-born, Protestant-educated, liberal democrat, was also Secretary of the Masonic ‘Lodge Australia Felix, No 474 EC’, when its room was broken into and flooded with beer just after regalia arrived from Sydney.[cccxxxiv] When he returned from his six month sojourn in the Hunter Valley in late-1842 to edit the Port Phillip Gazette (PPG), he found Kerr attempting domination of the newly-established municipal corporation, and manipulating local Freemasonry as one means to that end.
A founding member in 1841 with Strode and the relocated John Stephen, of ‘Australian Kilwinning Lodge, No 337, SC’, and editor of the Port Phillip Patriot, (PPP) Kerr was acting out an agenda shaped by his Protestantism and personal ambition. He desperately wanted to be Lord Mayor, a post which carried substantial remuneration and perks of office such as the power attendant on also being Magistrate. Elected a Councillor in late-1842, Kerr had to settle at that time for the subsidiary position of ‘Alderman’ and suffer a fellow Protestant and lodge brother, Henry Condell, being elevated to the ermine robes. The Port Phillip Herald’s editor Cavanagh set out the situation, as he saw it when Stephen stood again, and this time successfully, for the single councillor position in January, 1843:
‘MUNICIPAL CORRUPTION …The prime mover in the disgraceful measures which it is now our painful duty severely to probe and expose, has repeatedly been charged with acts of conspiracy and commission against the good of the state which he falsely represents, and every item of the impeachments against him has been verified within a reason of doubt…’ [cccxxxv]
Cavanagh named Kerr and pointed to his ‘clinging with a true appreciation of his own interests to the skirts of Dr Lang’ and his, Kerr’s, numerous underhand stratagems:
‘Mr William Kerr persuaded (Stephen) to resign his pretensions to the election for the north west ward in favour of himself, under the assurance that the office of Town Clerk should be secured to the resigning candidate, but upon being returned he both voted against Mr Stephen and got Mr King in.’
Kerr’s motives, according to Cavanagh, included getting all the Corporation’s printing directed to his works:
‘…Mr Kerr not being himself able to obtain the Mayoralty, so arranged the affair with Mssrs Mortimer and Russell, that by a trick Dr Patterson was kept out of the office as Mayor, and Mr Condell returned in his stead – a gentleman whom, he has openly declared, he holds in leading strings. By another trick played in conjunction with Mr [J P] Fawkner, Mr Kerr…obtained a transfer of (a) vote to himself as Alderman for their joint ward…’ The PPH was, however, premature in its celebrations:
‘After the overwhelming disgrace which has fallen upon Mr Editor and Alderman Kerr, it might appear a work of unnecessary severity again to ply that lash under which his party influence has crumbled into dust.’ [cccxxxvi]
The ‘disgrace’ stemmed from his corruption but also from the‘grave and serious charges’ Kerr had published about Stephen in 1842, and the subsequent Masonic vote backing Stephen, within ‘Australia Felix’. Although they had also both worked to establish this lodge, Kerr received only one vote, his own, out of 41, and was expelled.[cccxxxvii]
Cavanagh, Protestant and a liberal, had reprinted in the Port Phillip Herald in May, 1841, a lengthy piece about sawyers from The Times headed ‘Trade Union Murders – the Combination Oath’, which included:
‘(The) mode of induction to the secrets and blasphemous formularies of such societies (and) an oath being first administered by a person disguised in a mask, and the party being led in blindfold for the purpose of taking it…
“I do, before Almighty God and this loyal lodge, most solemnly swear that I will not work for any master that is not in the union, nor will I work with any illegal man or men, but will do my best for the support of wages; and most solemnly swear to keep inviolate all the secrets of this order; nor will I ever consent to have any money for any purpose but for the use of the lodge and the support of the trade;..and I further promise to do my best to bring all legal men that I am connected with into this order; and if I ever reveal any of the rules, may what is before me [apparently a sword directed at the initiate’s breast] plunge my soul into eternity.”[cccxxxviii]
In June, 1841 he had emphasised the dangers inherent in a ‘conspiracy’ by Melbourne sawyers to raise their wages, but in July he was full of praise for the Carpenters Benefit Society in particular and trade ‘societies’ in general:
‘It is certainly gratifying to perceive the number of similar societies at present in existence in Melbourne, as tradesmen when in work can contribute a few shillings weekly to the common fund, without any inconvenience, and will reap the benefit should any calamity befall themselves or families.’ [cccxxxix]
Even the editor of the Portland Mercury who also wanted to support Kerr, could see that the Corporation remained split between those favouring Kerr and those not, but expressed outrage that Stephen’s success in the municipal election had been partly because he had been supported by the St Patrick’s Society. Stephen had apparently convinced enough Irish Catholics that he had some Irish blood. He rode his horse at the head of a St Pat’s procession to his first Corporation meeting which ended in uproar.[cccxl] The paper feared a member of one of Kerr’s power bases, the St Andrews Society, would retaliate to an assault on Kerr with a shillelagh.[cccxli]
In mid-1843, when the almost-illiterate brewer-become-Mayor, Condell, was campaigning to be Port Phillip’s representative on the colony’s new Legislative Council he was assisted by anonymously-printed, inflammatory placards:
Protestant Electors of Melbourne
Remember what your fathers have suffered from Popery,
and will you again give it the ascendancy by returning
A Popish Member for Melbourne
You are three to one in number, and so down with
And No Surrender.
Protestant reverend and activist John Dunmore Lang was later revealed as the writer of Condell’s campaign material and as living in Kerr’s house when in Melbourne. These two were obviously close. The ‘Popish’ political aspirant was Edward Curr, conservative land owner and apparent spokesperson for squatters south of the Murray, the fabled ‘Australia Felix’. He was for some time the sole candidate. It was only in his last speech to the electors that Curr recognised a changed situation, and made two points: firstly, that control of the Corporation could give ‘the clique’ the power to make themselves magistrates, whereupon they would have ‘unfettered control of the police fund, the result of which would be that the newspaper alderman [Kerr] would be Lord Paramount of Melbourne’ and secondly, that the last-minute intervention by the Reverend Lang on Condell’s behalf into Melbourne’s politics had transformed the campaign into a bitter religious plebiscite.
Kerr took to carrying a dagger and to warning Lang, via his editorials, to beware lest he be assaulted, even murdered. After the June poll was declared and found to favour Condell over Curr by 295 to 261, hundreds of ‘ruffians’ rampaged the streets taking out their fury on certain houses and shops.[cccxlii] The Riot Act was read, a number of shots fired and arrests made after a troop of native police restored order.[cccxliii] Lang later wrote:
‘There was quite a riot in Melbourne the night after the election; and the Tipperary boys, who had been brought out in hundreds with the Protestant funds of the colony, under the system of Bounty Immigration I have (described), actually threatened to burn down the town in revenge for the defeat of their champion.’ [cccxliv]
Strode at the time was supportive of the settlement’s Judge Willis, whom he thought even-handed and thorough if irascible and bombastic, but was not able to prevent that gentleman’s summary sacking by the Colonial Government in 1843, without published reasons and with no opportunity to argue his case.[cccxlv] Kerr who had initially attacked Willis, subsequently found common Protestant ground to the extent that the judge lent him substantial amounts to stay afloat. Willis had been on borrowed time almost from his arrival in April, 1841, his attacks on the settlements’ public officers, including Administrator La Trobe, making his exclusion inevitable.[cccxlvi]
When the judge’s removal was announced, the Odd Fellows of ‘Australia Felix’ publically presented Willis with a glowing address, and secretly asked him to take ‘home’ its request for the second MU Dispensation, already mentioned. Greeves, now PGM of this lodge, chaired a further protest meeting where Kerr and fellow-Councillor and fellow-Scot JP Fawkner attempted to move supportive resolutions, but all decorum was lost in the uproar from other citizens happy to see Willis gone. It is this series of events which marks the stirring of Australian Orangeism into public life.[cccxlvii]
Kerr’s grip was, again, said to have been broken when Condell’s replacement at the Corporation and as Acting Mayor came from another faction but Kerr was far from finished. He had himself elected as ‘Mayor pro tem’ for one meeting in September, which allowed him to ‘rigorously examine’ the electoral rolls. Despite this, his ticket was once more defeated at elections for the full Corporation in November.[cccxlviii]
Early in 1844, he published further libels against Stephen as Master of the (Masonic) Lodge Australia Felix EC and newly-appointed ‘Provincial Grand Master for Southern Australasia’. In court to ask magistrates to rule a felony had occurred when Lodge Secretary McDonald refused to hand over significant documents supposedly because of an unpaid bill owing to The Gazette, Stephen found the defendant’s barrister, also a member of Australia Felix, directly contradicting his claim to the documents and even to be Worshipful Master:
‘You are the self-styled Master of the Lodge, but hold the position by no other claim.’
Stephen responded that the documents were being withheld by McDonald at the behest of ‘another person’ to prevent ‘our legally meeting on St John’s Day and for no other reason.’[cccxlix] Kerr, still angling to replace Stephen in Lodge Australia Felix, had miscued again. His personal attacks on a fellow Freemason again resulted in his, Kerr’s expulsion from this lodge in a vote where, again, Kerr received only one vote. But neither this nor his almost-continual court-appearances deterred him from further savaging Stephen in print, or from further scheming. Stephen resigned from the position of Secretary of the Mechanics Institute, which he’d financed in return for space for a lodge room, when its finances proved inadequate to pay his salary, but continued to camp there until bodily turned out by bailiffs breaking down the doors with an axe.[cccl]
Strode reported these 1844 ‘masonic doings’ in The Gazette. Secretary by then of the Irish Constitution’s ‘Australia Felix Lodge of Hiram’ chartered in 1843, he was subsequently set upon in the street by one ‘Richard Capper, tragedian, comedian, scene shifter and candle-snuffer.’ Strode had this gent arrested for ‘blasphemous and insulting language’ which Strode claimed had been for the purpose of causing him to ‘commit a breach of the peace.’ Capper was bound over but Strode, strained by the constant turmoil and the mounting costs of litigation, was forced to hand the Port Phillip Gazette on to Thomas McCombie, for whom he continued to work as reporter.[cccli]
Scottish Presbyterian and non-Mason McCombie, while supportive of Kerr’s attempts to establish Scot-based societies in the colonies, despised his politics. The two men were particularly at odds on labour questions. Kerr’s support for ‘loyal’ labourers and operatives ran up against McCombie’s view that any agitation amongst workers, whether distressed or not, was ‘extortion’.[ccclii] Agitation amongst the unemployed at this time of economic downturn was regularly erupting into street battles and assaults.[cccliii] McCombie’s good and bad were easily identified, apparently the ‘blackguards’ were the idle ‘dancers and fiddlers’ inside the various taverns, or the skittles players outside, engaging in ‘tossing’ and other gambling activities.[cccliv]
According to Thornley, peace returned to Victorian Freemasonry in 1844 as Stephen, Kerr and another sensitive soul, John Thomas Smith, had by then a lodge to themselves, the various ructions and the economic downturn having greatly depleted numbers.[ccclv]
Cavanagh employed Irish Catholic reporter and sub-editor Edward Finn (later ‘Garryowen’) and allowed him to take Kerr’s predilections head-on. His paper in January, 1844 exposed the establishment of ‘The Grand Protestant Confederation of Australia Felix’ and published a letter which included:
‘It is very well known that, for some time past, there has been a secret, illegal and “dark” society formed and in full operation in this town, known as the Orange Society…’ [ccclvi]
Strode had printed the Public Laws of the Grand Protestant Confederation, compiled to introduce ‘Lodge No 1’ when it was established on 12 May, 1843. But far from being for all Orangeman in Port Phillip, it had split immediately it was formed, just after the 1843 Curr-Condell election.[ccclvii] It was then that Kerr attempted to influence both the Freemasons and the Odd Fellows and was rebuffed in both cases:
‘ODDFELLOWS: – A terrible rumpus, we have heard it whispered, has been lately got up among this numerous and hitherto harmonious body, in consequence of some of the fraternity being induced to propose as a member of the order an individual lately expelled from the Australian Masonic Lodge. The name of the individual was ultimately withdrawn, his over-zealous friends not choosing to risk the further disgrace of seeing him blackballed.’ [ccclviii]
Perhaps in a rebound from these three events, the ‘Grand Loyal Orange Institution’ was publically announced in June, 1844 in The Patriot.[ccclix] A long response in The Herald, made out the argument of disloyalty and illegality, asserting that Orangeism’s divisive tactics would only work to delay the more important goal of Port Phillip’s separation from New South Wales, and, as the writer put it, its emancipation ‘from the iron hoofs of Governor Sir George Gipps’.[ccclx]
On 12 July, an expected clash failed to materialise when the brethren of two Orange lodges did not meet to parade, perhaps unable to agree and perhaps deterred by the presence of 60 special constables and 200 or so other persons, ‘each carrying a shillalegh of formidable dimensions’, ostensibly gathered for the annual game of hurling.[ccclxi] Cavanagh’s paper (Finn) asserted:
‘Accident led to the discovery of an Orange Lodge being established in Melbourne and enquiries have since placed the merit of its establishment upon a portion of the Town Council…It appears that in a small dark room in the upper floor of Yarra House the mighty orgies of this ‘ruffian band’ are held, a ‘worthy’ Alderman being the chairman, as ‘most supreme and noble grand’, or holding office under some such absurd title; two of the (Corporation’s rate) collectors…being vice-presidents, and the town auctioneer the secretary..’ [ccclxii]
The paper later claimed that it was only because it ‘broke’ the story, that the Orange parade was cancelled. It may have been because Kerr was in Sydney setting up a Grand Lodge.[ccclxiii] In the Corporation’s debate of the expose, all Councillors denied their personal involvement, JP Fawkner allowing:
‘He had been applied to by certain parties to allow them to hold meetings, of the nature of which he was entirely ignorant, in the Yarra House, which he granted. Soon afterwards it was communicated to him what the object of such assemblies was, and he was at the same time solicited to become a member, which he not only declined doing, but gave orders not to allow the house to be used for any such purpose in future…’ [ccclxiv]
This assertion produced further debate, if only because Fawkner was known to be the Patriot’s owner and therefore Kerr’s employer. Minor street conflicts continued.[ccclxv] Kerr unsuccessfully contested the November Mayoral election of 1844 and failed to get any of his minions elected Councillor. He also failed in a ballot against fellow-Councillor Moore, for Worshipful Master of Lodge Kilwinning, but was elected Chairman in January, 1845, for an upcoming Robbie Burns Society Dinner.[ccclxvi] Energetic debate over the Orange Society continued, one letter writer weighing in with a long piece:
‘..I am forced into these observations by the disgraceful conduct of a pack of Orangemen enacted through the streets of Melbourne on last Monday evening. One hundred and twenty of them dressed in black – a colour too truly emblematic of their dark villainous designs – marched through Collins Street in military array, to use the phraseology of the Irish Attorney General, and thence proceeded to a house where the corpse of a young Orangemen was waiting to receive the rights (sic) of internment..’ [ccclxvii]
The writer thought that whatever the purpose of the procession – it was clearly a funeral – the society itself was still illegal, and went on to insist that the appropriate authorities examine a second procession, this time by military personnel who, harassed residents insisted, had been drunk, side-armed and ‘repeatedly calling out for a bloody papist.’ Alleged assaults by Orange lodge members in March caused some members to resign, but when the defendants were released because of inconclusive evidence ‘partizans of the accused immediately..(indulged) in a peal of that peculiar sort of exultation known in Orange phraseology as ‘Kentish Fire.’[ccclxviii]
At a subsequent Corporation meeting, Lord Mayor Moore acknowledged that, though a ‘warm’ Protestant himself, he had specifically excluded Orangemen when appointing collectors for the electoral roll.[ccclxix]
Kerr suddenly left The Patriot to go to Sydney, ostensibly to organise another newspaper, but not before the installation of officers of a 3rd Orange Lodge was announced by ‘the Provincial Grand Lodge of Port Phillip’ to the ‘Loyal Orange Brotherhood of Australia Felix’. And not before he caused great embarrassment at the farewell dinner to Judge Jephcott, who had replaced Willis, in February. Drunk, he persisted in orating for over half an hour when not called by the Chairman, the resulting uproar destroying any remaining formality. After Jephcott and Superintendent La Trobe had left, Kerr was thrown out, The Herald’s scathing comments the next day including an indictment of Kerr’s policies should he ever become Chief Magistrate:
‘(So) brutal is his obstinacy, that he would burn Melbourne to the ground, to be Mayor of its ashes.’ [ccclxx]
‘Garryowen’, ie Finn, wrote later that Kerr, declared insolvent, had been fired from the PPP by John Fawkner, Snr, and replaced as editor by John Fawkner, Jnr. While in Sydney, Kerr was reportedly twice arrested for dancing the highland fling in the streets, ‘with a kilt on so alarmingly short, that it was scarcely delicate’. He was also noted turning off the gas in church, offering to fight the whole of a barrack guard of a sergeant and 16 men, for not allowing him to walk on the grass, ‘taking a sight’ (aimed his pistol?) at a constable on duty, climbing a number of lamp-posts to sit on the lamplighter’s ‘rest’, and otherwise entertaining the street by keeping ‘four half-crowns up in the air at once’, thereby emulating a well-known Indian juggler.[ccclxxi]
Ireland’s national day was so well executed by the St Patricks Society of Australia Felix on the last day of March, 1845, that the next day’s Police-Office Sheet showed no incidents of drunkenness.[ccclxxii] Public attention then turned, with trepidation, to the next anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne.[ccclxxiii]
Cavanagh (Finn) appeared to have stumbled when his paper published an advertisement for a Hurling Match on Batman’s Hill on the 12th July, 1845. The Patriot pounced, arguing that since ‘the Orange remained quiet’, it hoped that ‘the Green’ would do likewise, but that if any upsets occurred it would be down to the promoters of the game and The Herald. Cavanagh calmly reprinted his opponent’s column and, when the 12th passed off without any problem, crowed that it had again been the advertisement and subsequent publicity which had caused ‘the Orange’ to refrain from assembling:
‘…The Orangemen, we have been given to understand did intend to march (as they did by night last year) and even went to the trouble and expense of getting some five score of orange and blue sashes…’ [ccclxxiv]
Vertigan insists the Orangemen were bitterly disappointed at having to remain indoors for their celebration, but did so only after a ‘Paddy’s Telegraph’ or ‘line of observers’, was put in place from Batman’s Hill all the way down to the ‘Bird-in-Hand Hotel’, Orange headquarters.[ccclxxv]
Greeves, now Provincial Grand Master of the Port Phillip District of IOOFMU, was wined and dined by some of his co-brethren in Sydney in September. Shortly after, back in Melbourne, the signs of division in MU ranks were again made public:
‘..disagreement..has taken place through the overbearing manner of one or two disagreeable persons who by some unaccountable accident have contrived to get their names enrolled as members of this excellent society; their conduct has resulted in a division of the members, and a new lodge is about being formed…’ [ccclxxvi]
Some commentators again opine that Kerr, bankrupt and perhaps worn down by defeat and constant litigation, now ceased stoking the fires of religious discord. The Herald pointed to members allegedly deserting one Orange Lodge and ‘the Brotherhood’s’ apparent inability to pay for a banner done by Mr Whittaker of Little Collins Street. Another par pointed to a possible fracture of the Orange community into 3 distinct entities upon the arrival of the all-important charter:
‘a fierce contention having sprung up in the consideration of the future steps to be taken by the Lodge, which ended in a schism and the expulsion of one of its most rancorous members.’ [ccclxxvii]
A few saw in the Foundation Stone parade to the Flinders Bridge and Melbourne Hospital in March 1846 a general atmosphere of harmony and co-operation. They were wrong, too.
Initial Tensions Released – Parades Banned
In 1846, Melbourne’s 12 July celebrations, as already noted, featured exchanges of gun-fire, one death, the imposition of a militia-enforced curfew, unprecedented street mayhem and spectacular charges and counter-charges. O’Shanassy, very nearly among the deceased, was certainly among those arrested for assault, and was the only person fined – 6d with five shillings and 4d costs.[ccclxxviii] McCombie wrote of the events:
‘It is our painful duty to chronicle this day, one of the most alarming riots which has occurred since the formation of the colony, and which has kept the town in a state of feverish excitement since Monday morning.’
He was satisfied he knew where the troubles began.[ccclxxix] Cavanagh agreed, also describing the display of three Orange banners from the hotel windows which created ‘considerable dissatisfaction’ amongst the Catholic community. His initial outburst carried the coda:
‘The whole of this disgraceful affair may be readily traced to one man, who has done more to disturb the peace of Port Phillip than any united body of men no matter what might be their creed or country.’ (His emphasis)[ccclxxx]
Ensconced by then in the editor’s chair of The Argus, Kerr wrote vigorously and at length about the ‘Popish Riots’, which the Orangemen of Melbourne, in his view, had done absolutely nothing to provoke. In private, he boasted of having been responsible for the first Orange banner flown in Australia, and of being the last to obey the police instructions to leave the besieged hotel.[ccclxxxi] The ‘Provincial Grand (Orange) Lodge of Australia Felix’ met on the 16th and issued a minuted resolution via The Argus. Rightly defending its members’ actions as totally irrelevant to anyone else if conducted behind closed doors, and the display of banners as ‘sanctioned by immemorial usage, and being moreover in perfect accordance with the practice even of the St Patrick’s Society’, the most disquieting aspect it noted was:
‘the conduct of the magistrates in aiding and abetting a lawless mob…as well as withholding protection from the Orangemen..(This was) in the highest degree unworthy, unjust and unconstitutional. The Grand Lodge cannot, therefore in future repose any faith in (these) magistrates..(who have) unlimited powers…in the regulation of public houses..’
It ‘was forced therefore’ to request private lodges to gather funds for a Loyal Orange Hall and School house intended to be ‘free from all interference, but such as the members are well able to repel.’ On Friday the 17th, following further ‘popish riots’ around a reconvened dinner, it roared further disapproval and berated the civil authorities for their ‘crouching and cringing before a mob of armed (Catholic) rioters’ not one of which they were prepared to arrest.
That same day, as those arrested faced court, a long piece by JP Fawkner in The Herald, ‘The Origin and Purpose of Orangeism in Australia Felix’, attracted considerable attention. Speaking of 1844, it began:
‘The Orange Lodge of Melbourne was begot between a degenerate Irishman and an unworthy Scot, and I trust that I shall be able to show that these two begat this murderous brat, merely for their own political advancement…’
Fawkner named the key originator as ‘Mr JC King, Town Clerk…salary of £240 a year’ who first proposed the formation of ‘a Protestant Association’ to him, Fawkner, and to Kerr:
‘(King) frequently implored me to assist in forming such an Association, stating that my influence and Mr William Kerr’s would soon achieve all that was required. This I constantly refused..’
Fawkner claims he assisted meetings in Yarra House to happen but refused to attend himself or to join up, while King kept him informed of the Society’s formation and membership numbers which, allegedly, quickly topped 200:
‘But as regards Mr William Kerr; I declare solemnly, that on my canvass (of votes) a man named Lane, a cooper, told one of my Committee that he could not vote for me, and Mr William Kerr told me “he shall vote for you, he is an Orangeman, and I can make him vote as I like..”’
Letter writers the following day to The Gazette were scathing of the actions of the civil authorities, while King denied absolutely Fawkner’s claims, even to having no knowledge of an Orange Society until well after the event.[ccclxxxii] Fawkner later withdrew all his assertions about King and abjectly apologised.[ccclxxxiii] Other close observers supported his initial claim. An anonymous author, claiming to have been present, says Kerr presided and was elected Treasurer, King was made Secretary pro tem and Adolphus Quinn was elected President.[ccclxxxiv]
Ex-Judge Willis, now in London, was another nominated as the originator of Orangeism in Melbourne. Because he appealed his 1843 dismissal to British authorities, his case dragged on, generating numerous documents. In October 1846, The Herald reprinted from The Times Governor Fitzroy’s reasons for his dismissal making great play of the relationship between Kerr and Willis. The Governor emphasised the dissatisfaction that this relationship caused amongst Sydney’s judges, because Willis was hearing libel charges brought against Kerr and The Port Phillip Patriot, to whom and to which Willis had admitted having lent £1200.[ccclxxxv]
The Argus, again under the heading ‘Popish Riots’, felt further need to explain the nature of the Institution:
‘The [Loyal Orange] Society…is a secret one – that is to say, it has, like Freemasonry and Odd Fellowism, its secret signs and pass-words, but its objects are public and publically known,..
These objects, apart from the ordinary social duties of all brotherly societies, are – the preservation of the Protestant religion, the maintenance of the British constitution as established in 1690, the observance of peace and good order in the community and mutual protection against all aggressions.’ [ccclxxxvi]
Funds for an Orange Hall came in quickly enough to make celebration of November Guy Fawkes’ festival a possibility.[ccclxxxvii] The issue dominated The Herald’s pages.[ccclxxxviii] Seemingly from personal knowledge, since they are not in the published material, one author referred to the Lodge’s use of Inside and Outside Tylers armed with drawn swords.
Discussion within the Corporation again turned to the role of certain constables who, it seemed were sworn Orangemen and who had carefully absented themselves from the scene outside the Pastoral Hotel on the 13th.[ccclxxxix] Mayor Palmer, in attempting to retrieve his own political position took it upon himself to interview the entire police force one by one, and demand of them their country of origin, their religion and whether they were members of any society.
The St Patrick’s Society convened a members’ meeting to, among other things, repudiate the charges of ‘antagonism and distinctiveness’ made against it by Palmer in a subsequent report to Superintendent LaTrobe.[cccxc] Accompanying documents show Chief Constable Sugden asserting that he could not place any reliance on any of his men in the case of disturbance, ‘they almost to a man belong either to one party or the other now at this time disturbing the peaceable inhabitants in the town of Melbourne.’ Sydney’s SMH responded editorially to the ‘riots’ with a piece headed ‘Secret Political Societies’, by which it meant the Holy Catholic Guild and the Loyal Orange Institution. By then there were five Orange lodges in Sydney, 3 opened that year.[cccxci] The paper argued the case for even handed treatment by the authorities of processions and public displays,[cccxcii] whereupon the government introduced the Party Processions Bill.
The AHCG’s Warden and Orange spokespeople were among the first to organise petitions in response: ‘The Guild or confraternity, of which your Petitioners are the members is an Association based upon the principles of the old Catholic Guilds of England, having for its objects the mutual benefit and Religious improvement of the Brethren, and no other object whatever…’ The Orangemen, declaring the Guild’s processions ‘offensive’ and tending to bring ‘the Holy Religion of our Saviour into contempt’, hoped that the Bill would become law so that ‘all public processions of this nature, whether under the pretext of funerals, or laying the foundation-stone of a place of worship, or any other excuse, might be prohibited.’ Orangemen, incidentally, had been prohibited from having loaded firearms with them in their parades since 1832 when the first ‘Party Processions Act’ had been passed in the UK.[cccxciii]
Nearly a thousand signatories representing total abstinence societies agreed with the Bill’s basic principle, of preventing religious and party dissension, but were alarmed that their own ‘harmless’ processions would be prevented. Of the two societies exempted from the Bill’s attention, the Freemasons and the Odd Fellows, this third petition said:
‘Of the first named association, they knew nothing except that it was a secret society, and as such but little deserving of confidence or support, and of the Oddfellows the best feature of the Order was that it was a benefit society, although the tavern revels of the members and the police records of the colony were not in its favour.’ [cccxciv]
They thought it best if all benefit societies were exempted. The SMH agreed the Bill went too far, its wording also likely to stop Sunday School and wedding parades.[cccxcv] During the parliamentary debate members heard the Colonial Secretary accept that the Bill would not apply ‘to the Societies of Gardeners, Freemasons, Odd Fellows or Temperance – all such societies might proceed as usual’.[cccxcvi] An amended Party Processions Bill, to apply for two years only, was rushed through to prevent disturbances thought likely during the Orange Order’s commemorative celebration of Guy Fawkes on 5 November, 1846. It declared ‘unlawful’ any ‘assemblies of persons gathered together…who were carrying firearms or other offensive weapons, or banners likely to provoke dissension, or who were playing music likely to have that effect.’ [cccxcvii] While some funeral processions went ahead as usual and there were other ‘exceptions’[cccxcviii] brethren of Newcastle’s IOOFMU Loyal Union Lodge decided ‘that there be no procession or regalia on the occasion’ of meeting the Governor on the wharf in January 1847.[cccxcix]
Late in 1846, Melbourne’s Provincial Grand Orange Lodge, uncertain, it said, of the final form of the legislation, but perhaps more because their new building was not yet ready, had announced there would be no 5 November celebration. Assuring the authorities of their principled obedience and ready willingness to assist the keeping of public order, the announcement carried the proviso that should the new law prove to be of ‘an arbitrary and unconstitutional nature’ Grand Lodge would not hesitate ‘in pointing out to the Brethren the means by which it may be set at nought.’ The day after 5 November, Guy Fawkes Day, the Argus reported that the police had confiscated ‘a cart load of effigies of the famous Popish conspirator’.
Melbourne’s Odd Fellows Split, Again
In September, 1846 an anonymous par claimed that once again: ‘A rumpus has recently made its appearance amongst the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, in consequence of certain defamatory expressions used towards a brother by a member high in office.’ [cd] This time, a new lodge was the result,[cdi] its self-description in November repeating the alignment of the title ‘Ancient’ with Sydney’s Protestant Odd Fellows: ‘The Melbourne Duke of York Lodge of the Ancient and Independent Order of Odd Fellows, acting under and in compliance with the Australian Supreme Grand Lodge, who hold their Supreme Dispensation from the Grand Metropolitan Order of England.’ [cdii] The ‘Duke of York’ notices do not mention the IOOFMU, not even as a fraternal family member.[cdiii] One, in August 1846, mentioned an ASGL memorial for Governor Gipp’s patronage, and his positive reply. This provoked IOOFMU, Melbourne into a very angry response:
‘(The) Lodges of the UNITY acting under Dispensation of the Parent Lodge at Manchester, DO NOT IN THE MOST REMOTE MANNER, ACKNOWLEDGE OR RECOGNISE any other Society using the name of Odd Fellows, NOR ALLOW ANY SUCH PARTIES TO PARTICIPATE IN ANY OF THE BENEFITS OR ADVANTAGES of Lodges belonging to the Manchester Unity.’ [cdiv] (Emphasis in original)
How MU could restrict use of the title ‘odd fellows’ to MU-aligned lodges is unclear. The role and number of Catholic Odd Fellows in Melbourne is also unknown. This new lodge appears to have resulted from divisions amongst Protestants, as the second major schism in Sydney had. Of the five acknowledged founders of the first Melbourne OF lodge in October, 1840, all of whom were Protestants – Greeves, Strode, Sugden, Graham and Hays – Strode has by 1846 dropped from public view but Greeves, Graham and Sugden have adopted firm IOOFMU stances. The ‘Duke of York’ alignment with the ASGL and the fact that all the ASGL notices appear in The Argus implies that Williams and Kerr were working together. Truth was certainly proving a casualty of the war. The notices continue the claim that the ‘Grand Metropolitan Order of England’, an Order that has thus far eluded all research, was first in numbers of lodges, members and honorary members among those ‘branches’ which make up ‘our Institution’.
In November, 1846, Protestant Editor Statham of The Australian in Sydney denied any problem within the ‘Independent Odd Fellows’, and claimed total separation of the IOOFMU from the IOOF: ‘Our contemporary is wrongly impressed if he thinks there has been a ‘split’ in the Institution denominated “The Australian Supreme Grand Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows”. The Order in New South Wales and elsewhere, under the direction of the Manchester Unity authorities, has no connexion whatever with the ‘Australian Independent Order’, whose branches extend to the most remote parts of the habitable globe.’ [Emphasis in original] [cdv] MU’s lodges[cdvi] subsequently posted a number of notices, one of which was a reward of £10 for information leading to the arrest of the person who assaulted IOOFMU’s Port Phillip Grand Master [Greeves?]in April 1847 and left him for dead. The alleged assailant was arrested but released when insufficient evidence could be found. The killer of another Protestant in rural Victoria, a self-proclaimed Papist, was reported as saying, before his execution in December, 1846, that ‘he should never be satisfied until he had the blood of an Orangeman on his soul.’
On the night on which the Duke of York Dispensation was welcomed from the ASGL in Sydney, Melbourne’s new Mayor, Henry Moore, and George Cavanagh were both named as candidates for initiation but neither attended. Though McCombie was there to see the lodge officials ‘(perform) their duties in an admirable manner’ he does not name any and no author is given for the following significant disclosure: ‘A history of the foundation of the lodge in Sydney [the ASGL] was…given, and of Mr Williams, its founder.’ [cdvii] A celebratory procession was not held on this occasion, but in February, 1847, a funeral in the name of the ‘Ancient and Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Lodge No 10’ wended its way to Melbourne cemetery, the brethren wearing the mourning regalia for Odd Fellows of ‘white aprons bound with black ribbon, and scarves’. The deceased was a Protestant.[cdviii] In January, 1847, an anti-Popery pamphlet from the UK appeared, claiming among other things that ‘Popery (was) the master-piece of Satan, the corruption of Christianity, the deceiver of nations.’[cdix] No procession occurred before Kerr’s laying of the foundation stone of the Protestant Hall in Melbourne in April, 1847, in his capacity as Provincial Grand Master of Port Phillip’s Orangemen. The ceremony included ‘the customary formalities’, hymns, the National Anthem and ‘a round of Kentish Fires.’ When opened in April, 1848, the ‘extensive and elegant edifice’ was decorated with patriotic banners, ‘the mystic device of the five-pointed star’ and a large silk banner with the motto ‘Maintain the Truth and Fear Not.’
Low-key 12 July, celebrations passed without incident in 1847, but in October, Mayor Moore was forced from office when it was revealed a ‘compromise’ with St Patrick’s Total Abstinence Society six months earlier had resulted from his private approach to the Catholic administrators before they had even applied for permission to parade. This came out when he attempted to pressure ‘his’ lodge, the Duke of York Odd Fellows, from parading on their first anniversary and they, who included Kerr, insisted the Act did not apply to them: ‘Not having the fear of the Mayor before their eyes the members walked in procession from the Lodge Room, Waterman’s Arms, displaying their colours and insignia.’ [cdx]
Ecstatic Orangemen escorted Kerr when he defeated O’Shanassy at the November Corporation elections but were downcast when he was roundly defeated in the contest for Mayor by Russell who was immediately feted by No 2 Lodge of IOOFMU. Kerr also lost the ballot for MWM of Lodge Kilwinning. In January 1848, a representative of Kerr’s Ward, Councillor Cashmore resigned and election ferment was once more rampant: ‘The resignation of Councillor Cashmore will, most likely, once more bring forth those evil passions of the human mind, that too frequently detract from the usefulness of popular elections…The ward elections (have been) turned into arenas for the display of the worst passions, under the name of religious partizanship..’ [cdxi]
In April, 1848, Kerr’s house was raided by bailiffs and any saleable items taken, including pots and pans, as a result of his having been successfully sued by ex-Mayor Moore for libel. Nevertheless, he continued his support for ‘Trades Benefit Societies’ such as the ‘Melbourne Cordwainers’ Society’, over 200 brethren of whom, ‘all respectably attired in the sable garb of woe’, had followed the remains of a young boot maker to his graveside:
‘Other trades who are without such societies as that which the Cordwainers have would do well to follow the example of that body, for who can question their utility when their operations include the providing of physicians for the sick, and a respectable interment to the dead.’ [cdxii]
The Argus returned to its ‘Popery vs Odd-Fellowship’ theme early in 1848 by referring to a priestly intervention into the funeral service of a ‘Romish’ Duke of York Lodge member, the cleric insisting that the brethren not wear their regalia.[cdxiii] For its part, the Duke of York Lodge was faced with competition from yet another source:
‘..Until lately they were not aware such an Order was in existence. They further beg to say that they should have treated the notice with silence, had it not emanated from parties who were originally made Odd Fellows in the Duke of York Lodge, and who now fill (self-elected) the principal offices in the Lodge under the title of the (UNKNOWN) ‘Grand United Order of Odd Fellows’. [cdxiv] (Emphasis in original)
The Grand United Order of Odd Fellows, [GUOOF] celebrated its Australian Sesquicentenary in 1998.[cdxv] Although it was known that GUOOF had set up its first local lodge in 1844[cdxvi], in 1908 it was determined that as 1848 was the year a dispensation was granted by the UK administration to form a Committee of Management, that that was the year the Society ‘could claim to have been established in Australia.’[cdxvii] ‘A dark horse’ which apparently preferred the shadows to public disputes for pelf and power, Grand United in Australia was just beginning a steady increase in lodge and membership numbers which took it into all other mainland States and to the position of NSW’s strongest Friendly Society in the early 20th century.
Also in 1848, the ‘ASGL, IOOF’, according to a lengthy account in The Port Phillip Herald, had recently received from the ‘Grand Lodge of England of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows’ a Dispensation dated 22 January, 1846, legitimating the ASGL in all its powers to create or cancel lodges in ‘New South Wales and its Dependencies.’ The accompanying text claims the ASGL was ‘Established 24th February, 1836.’ All mention of the ‘Ancient and Independent Order of Odd Fellows’ has again disappeared.[cdxviii] This may be because an ‘Apollo and Hercules Lodge No 1, AIOOF’ having set up in Adelaide in 1847 had begun extending into Melbourne.[cdxix] The ASGL now claimed eleven lodges, including ‘Loyal Brisbane’, two in Hobart and ‘Worthy Brothers’ in Adelaide.[cdxx] Two others, the ‘Fitzroy’ in Melbourne, and the ‘Loyal Brothers’ in Geelong quickly followed in 1849.[cdxxi]
In August, 1849, a Report of a Committee of the Legislative Council which concluded that Sydney’s Corporation should be sacked because of councillors’ concentration on their own interests and because of the formation of a very strong clique among its members was reflected upon in Melbourne for obvious reasons. A letter writer to the Melbourne Morning Herald in October set out claims of electoral roll malfeasance centred on Kerr, Orangeism and the Protestant Hall, recently opened. A second letter writer defended the current Mayor, Bell, against a charge of stealing 300 pounds:
His worship has been urgently solicited by the upper classes and Magistrates, to occupy the civic chair for another year, and thus save the citizens the disgrace, and the Police Bench the contamination of having for their Chief Magistrate one of the low demagogues who preside over the waning destinies of the Argus.[cdxxii]
Bell had consented, the letter writer opined, convinced that if he did not, either Kerr or a crony called Johnston would have been elected Mayor ‘by the ruling clique of our city.’ The Argus struck back but was immediately given return fire in the MMH:
The Argus, of this morning, having taken a turn at everything else and been foiled, has commenced an outpouring of its wrath upon the Odd Fellows of Gipps Ward, as respectable, loyal body of citizens as can be found in Melbourne. The object of the Argus is two-fold, to avenge his recent defeat, (and) to satisfy the petty spleen of one…who has on some dozen occasions endeavoured to obtain admission into the Lodges of Odd Fellowship..(The) Odd Fellows would have no Fellowship whatsoever with such a person.[cdxxiii]
The ‘defeat’ was the election of ‘Dr’ Greeves’ as Mayor and again huzzahs went up:
‘..The great curse of the Melbourne Corporation from its commencement up to the present hour has been improper combination; the clique appeared so strong that no person would come forward…The spell is broken; the hallucination of clique power has been dispelled…’ [cdxxiv]
Faith-based politics were by no means finished, nor were resorts to violence. Fighting marred the result of the 1850 municipal election when O’Shanassy was defeated by one vote.[cdxxv] With the Party Processions Act in limbo, the pending separation from NSW brought the societies out for shared celebrations and as long as blatant Orange/Irish Catholic politics were not apparent therein, the authorities acted with circumspection. They were clearly prepared to accept, as their UK counterparts were doing, public display by societies still formally illegal.[cdxxvi] Tolerance was not, however, always practised by those societies espousing it.
Melbourne’s Benevolent Asylum stone-laying procession in June of 1850 was exuberant and colourful, but Catholic representation was nil when Bishop Goold declared the Freemasons’ decision to have prayers from a Protestant clergyman ‘an insult to the Catholic community.’ The two Rechabite Orders marched with their symbolic paraphernalia, and the various Odd Fellows carried wands, swords, axes, dispensations and banners.[cdxxvii] In November, at the opening of Princes Bridge the same societies were joined by Journeymen Butchers in ‘blue frocks [aprons?], white trousers, straw hats (and) emblems of their trade.’ The German Union of Melbourne and the Printers Society also paraded, the latter with an operating press on a wagon.[cdxxviii] Albeit clearly divided, fraternalism was now well on its way. Wherever the flow of humanity went, it, and conflict, was spreading as naturally as the clothes in which miners, rouseabouts, shepherds and commerce-minded ‘gents’ stood.
Exactly what was behind a struggle for control of the ‘Hobart Town Total Abstinence Society’ is not known at this stage, but in August, 1849, and again in August, 1850, notices ‘To the Public’ appeared damning ‘a party of men, belonging to a sect or club, who denominated themselves Rebeccaites or Rechabites’ for a ‘gross and riotous’ intervention into meetings in July and August, 1849. Twelve months later this group was being accused of having as their object
‘not..the diffusion of the principles of Temperance, but merely to be provided, at the public expense, with a convenient place in which to hold their secret meetings; and..to solicit subscriptions from the public, alleging it to be for the purpose of paying off the debt on ‘Temperance Hall’..[cdxxix]
When, in 1848, Hobart’s Protestants had determined on an Orange Lodge, they had sought a Charter from Sydney, not Melbourne. Although denying membership himself, the man regarded as its sponsor, John Morgan, publisher at the time of The Britannia and Trades Advocate, announced the lodge ‘is held under warrant received from the Grand Master of the Orange Lodges of New South Wales…’[cdxxx] In August, 1847, this particular herald had begun an offensive against Roman Catholics with an article based around the refusal of the settlement’s Vicar-General to marry a tradesman, who was a Catholic and a Freemason, even to another Catholic. The two subsequently married at the Protestant St David’s Cathedral.[cdxxxi]
Morgan was an assiduous advocate of Odd Fellows, Freemasonry, trade unions and improved health and cultural facilities. First designated the ‘Operative Lodge of Free Mechanics, etc’ and a ‘House of Call’, what became the important ‘Free Labour Movement’ to protect the interests of non-convict tradesmen against the pro-transportation policies of the then-Governor Denison stemmed from his agitations.
This ‘Movement’ had, in May, 1847, argued for houses of call for ‘every description of free labour’ and a plan of opposition to stop free mechanics being driven out of the colony by ‘the probationers’ or emancipated convicts.[cdxxxii] In August, spokesmen complained that amongst the wrongs faced by ‘free mechanics’ was use of convict police to drive farm labourers out of the interior, and pressures on ‘all descriptions of free labour’ to leave the colony altogether.[cdxxxiii] Later that same year Morgan publicised a membership card for the ‘Trades Union’ showing an open hand surrounded by branches of wattle and gum and the slogan, ‘United we Stand, Divided We Fall’:
‘We repeat that such free tradesmen’s Unions as are founded in Hobart ought to be established in every district. Could we spare the time and the necessary resources, it is the object to which we would individually devote ourselves, as it would be spreading the seeds of rational liberty throughout the land.’ [cdxxxiv]
Under similar auspices, popular agitation against transportation continued into the next decade, an effigy of Earl Grey being burnt in Hobart in August, 1851 as part of the ‘grandest spectacle ever seen in this hemisphere’, at least its supporters thought so:
‘..Every measure was resorted to, to awe the people from their purpose, and to show the sons of the soil that they had no business here. But the transportationists were defeated. About seven o’clock a few people commenced to arrive in front of the Treasury; in a short space of time the few had gathered to an immense multitude.’ [cdxxxv]
‘The Trades Union’ members were joined by ‘all the most respectable citizens of the town’ and ‘the Native born’ to make the point:
‘Then came the band down Macquarie-street, followed by the Native-born and the Trades Union; five stalwart men of the former carrying the star-spangled banner of the Australasian League, which shone beautifully in the torch-light.’
‘Three cheers’ were given for the founder and President of the Australasian League, ‘Mr West’ and ‘Mr Cowper’, three for native lasses and native youths and various political candidates, for ‘Mr Kemp the Father of the people’ and, lastly, for ‘Mr Jeffery, the President of the Trades Union.’ Evidence suggests that the ‘Australasian League’ began life in JD Lang’s hands as the ‘Australian League’, and that a hectic travel schedule early in 1851 was partly to establish ‘Branch Councils’ of it and the ‘Anti-Transportation Council’. The Victorian Council of the League, meeting in March in Melbourne, and at which Lang announced he was en route to Tasmania, was dominated by Kerr and his local cronies, Johnston, Annand, Bell, Westgarth, and others.[cdxxxvi] The Empire observed on the pending election for a League delegate from this ‘Branch’ to be paid to go to England to lobby government that Lang and Kerr had nominated but that ‘Mr JC King, Town Clerk of Melbourne’ was most likely to be successful.
I return to this when discussing Henry Parkes, MP.