Thursday, 9 June 2016

Week 23: What on earth is the R.A.O.B.?

So as I have mentioned before, I am constantly searching for mentions of our ancestors in the newspapers.  I especially like it when I can find a lengthy obituary for a person.  In the obituary, I could find what the person did, what made him tick and who the mourners were.

Sometimes I get a surprise and find something that I never expected or even heard of before.

In this particular case I found a funeral recap for William Anthony Palin in the Cheshire Observer April 17, 1943. 

I had never heard of ROAB and went to look it up.  The acronym stands for Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes.  According to Wikipedia it states “The Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes (RAOB) is one of the largest fraternal organisations in the United Kingdom.  The order started in 1822 and is known as the Buffs to members.  The RAOB organisation aids members, their families, dependents of former members and other charitable organisations.  The Order's motto is "No Man Is At All Times Wise".”

Not being satisfied, I went looking for more information and found their home site.  There it states that the organization was formed by stage hands that were not given the same freedom and luxuries that actors were given in London in 1822.
Being prevented from attending meetings of the Lushington’s after a number of years enjoyment of that privilege, the stage hands and theatre staff starting holding their own exclusive meetings that had ’nuffin to do wit them acter fellas’.
As the theatre staff moved around the country in pursuance of their profession, Lodges would have been founded in the various cities, towns and villages.
Pearce Egan, a well known London Theatre critic of the period attributes the founders as being Joseph Lisle, a well known eccentric and William Sinnett. In his book ‘The History of Tom and Jerry’ he cites one of the aims as being the promotion of an hitherto neglected ballad ‘We’ll chase the Buffalo’.
Why Antediluvian? The Order was founded in 1822, which certainly was not before the flood, and no satisfactory answer can be found in the records that have survived the ravages of time. We must remember that the bulk of our members at that time were involved in one of the theatre professions, and skilled orators would have written their own ceremonies, often designed to impress the unenlightened with the great antiquity of the Order.
The desires of mankind to relieve the poverty of ones fellow have been around since the earliest ages, and if that is not antediluvian, what is? Certainly the word has a better ring to it than ‘ancient’. So! Antediluvian we became!
In order to show to the authorities that the Buffaloes were not subversive to the interest of the state, the Order decided to describe itself as the Loyal Order of Buffaloes. It only needs a slip of the tongue for ‘loyal’ to become ‘royal’ and in a very short time Joe Public accepted that the Order was indeed Royal.
The introduction of the Royal Warrant Act, in the early 1900s, required anyone using the ‘Royal’ prefix to register with the Lord Chancellors Office and to stop using the title if permission to continue doing so was not granted. Since the Buffaloes had been using the title from the 1840s the Lord Chancellor agreed that no objection would be raised on the our continued use of the title on the grounds of long usage, provided no act by the Order arose which would disgrace its use.
In the early days of the R.A.O.B. it is clear that there must have been members who were also members of the various Masonic Orders since there is much in R.A.O.B. ritual and regalia which can be identified as being Masonic in origin as well as from other societies.
The R.A.O.B. is a Philanthropic and Charitable body, Lodges and Provinces are at liberty to undertake whatever activity they consider appropriate for the needs of the community in which they work and live.
Charitable funds exist at Lodge, Province and Grand Lodge levels to assist members of the Order and/or their dependents who are in necessitous circumstances.
Grand Lodge owns and operates two convalescent homes to provide rest and recuperation facilities for members, their wives or widows recovering from illness or medical treatment
The costs of running these two properties, as well as the benevolent grants for our aged and necessitous members or widows, and the education grants for dependent children are all funded from the Grand Lodge portion of the membership fees, voluntary donations and the proceeds from the investment portfolio.
Our basic desire – Is to defend the weak, to help the unfortunate and render assistance to those in difficulty or need’. These honorable principles have existed in man since the earliest ages and in this respect our Order may be regarded as “ancient – or Antediluvian.”

I absolutely LOVE google!  It is like having a current encyclopedia to world and almost anything can be found.  All you need is as little patience and a whole lot of time!

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