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The Order of Druids
|History of the Order of Druids|
The Order of Druids was a Friendly Society formed from Lodges who seceeded from the Ancient Order of Druids on 1st November 1858 and by January 1860 they had already been registered under the Friendly Societies Act.
From a history written by J W Shaw and published by the Order in 1936 it is clear that the real push behind the split from the AOD came from their Lodges in Cheshire probably for the same reason that the Lodges who formed the UAOD had broken away 20 years earlier. These were mainly a perceived inbalance in financial burden on the norhtern Lodges and the desire to provide guaranteed financial benefits to members. The oldest Lodges at that time were in Cheshire at Crewe; Macclesfield and Northwich.
The OOD set up their Board of Management who were elected every 3 years in Manchester. The Order grew to be the largest of all the Fraternal Druid Orders and even by 1935 when many of the Friendly Societies were shrinking rapidly; still had 35 Districts (with the largest in Sheffield), 580 Lodges and over 85,000 members. It also had Lodges in New York, Panama, Guyana and the West Indies.
The Orders ritual refers to a foundation leglend based around Noah. In the charge to the initiate the claim by the order to ancient origins is explained:
"It now remains to me to inform you of the nature and antiquity of our Order, which is the most ancient under the heavens and may be traced back to the antideluvian worl; but we do not consider it necessary to go any further back than Japheth, the son of Noah, who was father of Gomer and Magog. These two brothers travelled from Asia to Europe; the northern part of the latter fell to Gomer, from whoes loins sprand the people who anciently inhabited this Island, whose priests and governors were denominated 'Druids'.
The role of Druids was explained..'When feuds arose in the plains among the Britons, the Druids flew to the place with the mistletoe and so sure was the man of prayerappeared, each Briton threw down his weapon....'Only youths of noble birth were admitted to the Order and then after 20 years of study of the mysteries. They were acquainted with astronomy, philosophy, amthematics and almost every science. They could raise a massive stone and place it in such a manner as is not in our power by any known machine today. They likewise had a knowledge of the creator. The Christmas Holly, the tree the druids swore by is now stored in our houses on Christmas day'.
The largest district of the OOD was in Sheffield. With the demise of the Order this continued to exist independently as the Sheffield Equalised Order of Druids. The Sheffield Druids exists today but sadly only as purely a mutual financial organisation.
|The Druids were part of the community. Here we see A Druids Under-17 Football team from North Staffordshire|