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Origins of the Orange Order in England

Col. John Silvester (Sylvester) of Chorley was the commander of the 2nd Battalion Manchester and Salford Rifle Volunteers, the regiment raised and financed by Col. Samuel Taylor (First Most Worshipful Grand Master of The Grand Orange Lodge of England). This regiment during it's time serving in Ireland is known to have opened Loyal Orange Lodge 1128, this warrant was one of the first carried back to England by the Volunteers, and the lodge continued to meet under the auspices of The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland until 1807, when The Grand Orange Lodge of England was born.

John Sylvester was a Magistrate and he owned mills in Atherton and Chorley.

James Worrall Sylvester the second son of Col. John Sylvester, joined the Orange Institution in 1820 and was working for the Grand Lodge a mere seven years later, in 1929 he was appointed to the Grand Commitee by The Duke of Cumberland Lord Kenyon. In 1835 the House of Commons concerned about the influence of the Orange Order in political society set up a Select Committee to investigate it. The Grand Orange Lodge of England was ordered to disband itself in 1836 following a negative report from the Select Committee.

This disbanding of The Grand Orange Lodge of England saw many of the local lodges continue in different ways, in Liverpool the Loyal Orange Institution of Great Britain was formed - none of the original Manchester Lodges joined this body, many just continued to meet as private lodges or as Conservative Operative Societies. James Worrall Sylvester convened a meeting on 28th May 1836 at the Ramsden Arms in Huddersfield where the Grand Protestant Confederation was formed, a code of Laws and Ordinances was adopted and a Grand Lodge was established to govern it - James Worrall Sylvester was elected as the first Grand Master of The Grand Protestant Federation of Loyal Orangemen. The Confederation was widely seen as the Orange Order continuing under a different name.

In 1844, further change happened when a group of lodges from Liverpool agreed to join the Confederation, with a further name change to The Grand Protestant Association of Loyal Orangemen, and The Earl of Enniskillen was Appointed as Grand Master.

In 1850 there were 269 recorded lodges operating in the Protestant Association including districts in Manchester, Bolton, Rochdale, Chowbent, Middleton, Oldham, Bury and Ashton-under-Lyne.

Simply put if it wasn't for Col. John Sylvester of Chorley carrying that warrant back, and James Worrall Sylvester's initiative to keep alive lodges that had been ordered to disband, we would not have the Orange Order in the same way in England today, as Pro. Frank Neal wrote 'there is no doubt Sylvester is the unsung hero of the English Orange Order'

James Worrall Sylvester died at the age of 63years and is buried in Atherton Cemetery.

Red Rose 'Harold Smith HDGM Memorial' District 13 are currently looking to find out more about the Sylvester's so if you have any information you'd like to share please email [email protected]