Orangemen, a secret political society of the British empire, whose official designation in its own records is " The Loyal Orange Institution." It is composed exclusively of Protestants, and its professed objects are to support and defend the reigning sovereign of Great Britain, the Protestant religion, the laws of the country, the legislative union of Great Britain and Ireland, and the succession to the throne in the present royal family so long as it remains Protestant. They associate also in honor of King William III., prince of Orange, whose name they bear, "as supporters of his glorious memory." Members are admitted by ballot, six sevenths of the votes cast being necessary to admission. Every member must belong to a subordinate lodge, and can only be admitted on proof that he is a Protestant of known loyalty and over 18 years of age. The association is divided into five orders or degrees, the first of which is the orange, and the fifth and highest the scarlet degree. The officers of the lodge must be of the scarlet degree, and consist of a master, deputy master, secretary, treasurer, and five committeemen, who hold office for one year. Any member who marries a Roman Catholic must be forthwith expelled.
Three or more subordinate lodges constitute a district lodge, of which the officers bear the same titles as the officers of the lower lodges with the prefix of "district." The district lodge meets four times in a year. Next above the district lodges are the county grand lodges, whose officers bear the titles already enumerated with the prefix of "grand," and are elected by the officers of the district lodges in the county. The county grand lodge meets twice a year. Finally there is in each of the three kingdoms of Great Britain and in Wales a grand lodge, which meets twice a year, and consists of the above mentioned " grand " officers, and of a grand committee elected by the officers of the county grand lodges; and these grand officers also constitute the imperial grand lodge, at the head of which is the grand master of the empire, "who is its chief and supreme head. His office is permanent and uncontrolled." There are also grand lodges in the principal colonies. A collateral order called the " Grand Black Order of Orangemen," or "Royal Black Knights of the Camp of Israel," exists within, but separate from, the Orange institution, to which no person is admitted who has not taken the higher de-grees of the exterior society, or who does not profess to believe in the holy Trinity. Its grand, county, district, and subordinate lodges are called chapters and preceptories, and the individual members are called knights. - The Orange institution was founded in the north of Ireland in 1795, ostensibly to counteract the Roman Catholic secret associations called "the defenders" or "ribbonmen." These two opposite associations were soon involved in fierce hostility with each other, and nearly all the peasantry belonged to one or the other.
Whenever the opposite factions met in any considerable numbers, insults were exchanged and riots often ensued. The law was powerless against them, because witnesses were intimidated, and jurymen sometimes refused to convict culprits belonging to their own order. In 1828 immense assemblages of the Orangemen and of the "Catholic association" gathered tumultously in the north of Ireland, and blood was shed. In 1829 the Orange celebration of the anniversary of the battle of the Boyne, July 12, caused bloody conflicts, and the military with difficulty suppressed the disturbances. In 1835 a parliamentary investigation detected Orange lodges in 34 regiments of the army; and in 1836 the imperial grand master, the duke of Cumberland, was compelled to dissolve the institution in Ireland. It was revived in 1845, and is still extensively diffused in the British islands, though its processions are there forbidden by law. It was introduced into British America in 1829, and in 1801 it had 1,200 lodges and about 150,00O members. Its processions there are not illegal, and its political influence is very great.
Much excitement was occasioned by the attempt in 1860 to compel the prince of Wales during his progress through the provinces to recognize the order and to pass under its arches and banners, a recognition steadfastly refused by the prince and his suite. In 1871 the Orangemen of New York and its vicinity celebrated the 12th of July by a procession which was escorted by the police and by a considerable body of militia. Some Irish Catholics attacked the procession as it passed through 8th avenue, and were repulsed by the military with the loss of about 60 lives among the assailants.