Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes
A BRIEF HISTORY OF GLOUCESTERSHIRE PROVINCIAL GRAND LODGE
1898 to 1909
Very little has been written of the foundation of Buffaloism in the Gloucestershire area. The first reference that could be found was the existence of a District Primo Lodge, as it was known in those days. This was opened in Gloucestershire in 1898 by the Grand Primo Brother John Archdeacon R.O.H… It had four lodges meeting under its jurisdiction; these were Ye Old City of Gloucester, Ye Old Central, and Royal Victoria, meeting in Gloucester, and the Diamond Jubilee meeting in Cheltenham. Subsequently further lodges were added, one of which was the Royal Duke of York Lodge. This lodge originally opened under the Grand Surrey Banner and seceded to the Grand Lodge of England in 1900.
At this time the Province was beginning stamp its mark on the running of the Order at Grand Lodge, through their first delegates Brother R. Orchard followed by Brother George Pearce, who also represented the Province at the Convention held in Worcester in 1903.
During the period from 1897 too 1902, Grand Lodge had been struggling to raise sufficient capital to open an orphanage, for which land had been donated in 1900 in the Manor of Aldridge, this being near to Walsall. This problem was solved in no small part by a motion for a Bye-Law within the Royal Duke of York lodge, this being ‘That a book shall be kept in the Lodge by the City Registrar and opened each Lodge night and that all members and visitors attending same shall register their names and pay the minimum sum of ½ a penny, the total raised be paid to the R.A.O.B. Orphanage Account.” This can be confirmed from the Minutes of the Grand Lodge Meeting held on December 3rd, 1902, where we obtain the following record:
“Gloucester P.G.L. (Minute No. 31, October 1902) Bye-Law for Lodges requiring visitors and members to register in an Orphanage Registration Book and pay a minimum sum of ½ a penny, the amount so collected to be paid to the Orphanage Account. The Grand Secretary read a letter from the Orphanage Board that the Board recommended the idea, and the Bye-Law was granted on the proposition of Brother J. Gordon seconded by Primo T. P. Simpson, with liberty for other Lodges, if so disposed, to adopt a similar course.”
From little acorns BIG oak trees grow. In due course, this method of raising funds was adopted by a large number of lodges, and finally by all lodges, and from a financial position where the use of the Orphanage had to wait on information as to subscriptions, the Directors had the happy experience that they could meet all maintenance costs and were able to put aside a very substantial sum for investment for the future work of the Home.This ½ penny idea did something even more important, for it brought a general realisation that our future was not dependent upon efforts which had more than a flavour of begging in them or of insufficient gifts from the wealthy. It was realized that it was well within the means of the ordinary brother and by the specific and regular payment of a small sum; great schemes could be planned and brought to fruition. The Great War Annuity Scheme was based on a single ½ penny per registration, and our Convalescent Scheme, with its heavy outlay and maintenance costs, was well founded on the same principle.It can be confirmed that the lodges were still active in the area in 1904, because there are reports of them raising further monies for the orphanage by way of concerts and the sale of penny bricks etcetera is a record that the first amount sent to the Aldridge maintenance fund was received from the Royal Duke of York Lodge in the sum of £4. 18s. Od. However from this date it would appear that the lodges went into decline and by 1907 no lodges were operative in the Gloucestershire area. The next reference to Gloucestershire comes when in 1909 we are told that the headquarters of the Order moved to Cheltenham.
REVIVAL 1909 TO 1918
It was in 1909 that Brother W. H. Rose came to Cheltenham. As the Grand Secretary, he found no lodges were operative in the Gloucestershire Area. He worked tirelessly to rejuvenate the Lodges, which initially came under the jurisdiction of the Wiltshire Province. However in December 1912, the District Primo Lodge was re-opened with five lodges, at the King’s Head, Cheltenham, by Brother R. Hickling R.O.H. Grand Primo for 1909. During the next five years more lodges were formed and many new members initiated; which enabled the next step forward to be taken.
However we leap forward to quickly. It would be amiss of us if we did not include reference to the heroic feats and efforts made by the brothers of Gloucestershire during the Great War. Many members went to the front, and as history tells gave their all for their country. Whilst those left behind made their contribution by raising funds towards ambulances that were so desperately needed on the western front. It is recorded that the first of the eighteen ambulances paid for by The Order was driven by one Brother George Pearce R.O.H. of Cheltenham, both of which received their baptism of fire at Ypres early in 1915 and another, ambulance No 8, was driven with distinction by Brother S Earnest Harding R.O.H. The Province was also successful in raising enough money to purchase Ambulance No 9 outright.
THE NEXT STEP
In June 1918 the District Primo Lodge was closed in favour of the Gloucestershire Provincial Grand Lodge. The Warrant was issued in Cardiff on June 20th. 1918 and signed by The Grand Primo Brother John Gardner R.O.H., Deputy Grand Primo Brother J. W. Gaze K.O.M., Grand Secretary Brother W. H. Rose R.O.H… Other signatories include Provincial Grand Primo Brother J. Harvey K.O.M., Deputy Provincial Grand Primo Brother H. Bowd R.O.M., and Provincial Grand Secretary Brother T. Andrews K.O.M…
From the date of the formation of the Province, it went from strength to strength. Thus by 1925 it contained 34 Lodges and covered an area from Tewkesbury in the north to Charfield in the south, a distance of nearly 50 miles. To do the Province justice it was felt that six of the lodges in the south of the Province and with the sanction of Grand Lodge should form a new Province to be known as The South West Gloucestershire Province. This new Province continued to grow, and is still functional today. This left the Province with 28 Lodges, and from that time to the present the numbers have fluctuated until today when we have 14 Lodges.
It is pleasing to note that since the Province received its warrant we have hosted Grand Lodge on two occasions, these being 1962 and 2000, both held in Cheltenham. Also two Conventions, 1922 and 1946, again both in Cheltenham. There have also been quite a few Grand Lodge Officers elected from amongst the ranks of the Province and it is with pride and pleasure that these are listed on another page.