Royal Arch Purple

The Royal Arch Purple, properly the Grand Royal Arch Purple Chapter of Ireland,[1] is an organization related to the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland. It is a "higher degree" of initiation within the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland.


  • History 1
  • Name 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


It was first used in 1795 shortly after the formation of the Orange Order and was the original system put together by the founding members of the Orange Order. The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland disliked the ritualism and tried to suppress it as early as 1798 however, the main reason for the opposition to the Royal Arch Purple Degree was that many rural Lodges were practicing other degrees in addition to the Royal Arch Purple degree and the gentry deemed this as unacceptable and realised the need for a central system of degrees. The Royal Arch Purple degree was practised in secrecy for a period after the Grand Lodge (in Dublin) deemed the degree illegal, however it was kept alive by the Lodges around County Armagh as it was the system of 'travel' closest to the original ritual put together by the founding members of the Orange Order in 1795. The Grand Lodge maintained their position in not recognizing the degree throughout the nineteenth and into the early 20th century until 1911, but it now recognises the Royal Arch Purple as an official Order.[2]

It was re-constituted in 1911,[3] with the explicit intentions of promoting the Reformed Faith,[4] Charity amongst all men[5] and maintaining historic Orangeism.[5] It was granted its Royal title by the Duke of Cumberland, King William IV, whom he succeeded as King of Hanover. As Duke of Cumberland Ernest Augustus had been Grand Master of the Orange Order in England until it dissolved itself at the request of the King William IV following a government inquiry into public disorder in Ireland caused by Orange marches.[6]


The term "Arch" is used in the same way as "Archbishop" or "Archetypal", that is to say it means "chief".[7] 'Purple' comes from the one of the colours, mentioned in the Bible, which were used to make the tabernacle (the others being Blue and Scarlet).[8] Some state it is of Masonic origin[9] although this has been repeatedly disputed,[10][11][12] with overwhelming evidence proving the degree to be descended from the Orange Boys of the Dyan (prevalent around the early 1790s), which in turn based their degrees on the early Boyne Societies which dated from the late 17th century. The Royal Arch Purple Degree itself is constructed along Christian lines, with Christian faith, hope and charity being commended to the new brother. To be a Royal Arch Purpleman, one must be a professing reformed Christian, sober and temperate, not prone to cursing or swearing, and a faithful attender in his Church. Marksman for example within the Royal Arch Purple refers to the Israelites who marked the location of the Ark of the Covenant.[13] The Royal Arch Purple Degree is now established as a separate Order, in Ireland at least, and has over 30,000 members. The collarette of a Royal Arch Purpleman is a collarette of Orange and Purple in which the colour purple predominates.

The Royal Arch Purple Degree is now established as a separate Order and is widely practised as a natural step of advancement from the Orange Institution to the Royal Black Institution.


  1. ^ "The Official website of the Grand Royal Arch Purple Chapter of Ireland." [1]
  2. ^ The Orange Order from the Evangelical Truth website
  3. ^ See Title Page of the "The Report of the Annual Meeting of the Grand Royal Arch Purple Chapter of Ireland, Reconstituted 1911, held in Sandy Row Orange Hall Belfast in 1915
  4. ^ See "Qualifications of a Royal Arch Purpleman" dated 1846, found in Schomberg House Archives.
  5. ^ a b See "Qualifications of a Royal Arch Purpleman" dated 1846, found in Schomberg House Archvies.
  6. ^ Bird, Anthony (1966), The Damnable Duke of Cumberland, London: Barrie and Rockliff, OCLC 2188257
  7. ^ a combining form that represents the outcome of archi- in words borrowed through Latin from Greek in the Old English period; it subsequently became a productive form added to nouns of any origin, which thus denote individuals or institutions directing or having authority over others of their class (archbishop; archdiocese; archpriest). Arch- 1 has developed the senses "principal" (archenemy; archrival) or "prototypical" and thus exemplary or extreme (archconservative); nouns so formed are almost always pejorative. See -
  8. ^ Exodus 26:1 - See
  9. ^ "The ritualists were those renegade Orangemen who adhered to the neo-Masonic Royal Arch Purple Order and Royal Black Preceptory degrees. Their unflinching aim was to introduce these ritualistic degrees into the Orange Institution and as a consequence make it a mirror of Freemasonry." Orange Lodge hostility towards the RAP and Black degrees from the Evangelical Truth website
  10. ^ A History of the Royal Arch Purple: Murdie, Cargo and Kirkpatrick 1993
  11. ^ Behind Closed Minds: The GOLE's Rebuttal of Mr. Malcolmson
  12. ^ The Royal Arch Purple Defended
  13. ^ A History of the Royal Arch Purple: Murdie et al, 1993

External links

  • Orange Chronicle
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